Brew Haven 2014 (the place for craft beer lovers in Northeast Indiana)

It's that time of year again in Northeast Indiana. Time for a craft beer festival called Brew Haven! Another massive crowd lined up and invaded downtown New Haven, IN for a tremendous amount of beer samples.

The first thing I noticed this year is how smooth and well organized the event was. Much better than in years past. The area was well laid out with a food tent, a larger tent for the majority of brewers, two smaller tents, and two tap trucks (one with 15 Three Floyd's). It was spaced out where with enough walking room to help avoid the being overcrowded. There was a decent amount of brewery representation as I always find it fun to actually talk those making the beers and a lot of beers to try.

This year I finally talked a couple of friends in joining me on this adventure. They had a great time and will be returning. We had VIP tickets as I personally like to get in ahead of the big crowd and find it to be worth the extra cost. With my hit list in hand and marked, I had forty I wanted to try, the first couple of hours I hit it hard with samples and grabbing free swag. Then spent the last few hours calming down a bit and talking to people. I never got to all the new to me beers I wanted to sample (very close though).

There was a VIP section of the back tent this year where the sponsors came and talked about their beers. I thought this was a neat idea, but didn't seem to be a big hit. I had fun chatting with a couple of them. The area could have definitely used a few chairs to go along with the tables and about half the area was actually used. I would be surprised to see it return next year.

Shortly after the general session folks started coming in, the hard rain fell for about thirty minutes. People packed in under the tents. Luckily, one still could move around. After the sun came back and it was a nice afternoon. It seems the Fort Wayne Homebrew Club (MASH) were once again a big hit and with good reasons. This group knows how to brew good beers.

Indiana has a growing scene for craft beer. Nice to see drinks from Triton, Iechyd Da, New Albanian, Granite City, Big Dawg, Quaff On, Tin Man, Daredevil's. Taxman, Flat 12, Great Cresent, Burn Em, Mad Anthony's, Fountain Square, Carson's, Shoreline, New Day, Three Floyds, Sun King, Cutters. Upland, Summit City Beirwerks, Bloomington Brewing Co., Three Pints, People's, Chapman's, New Boswell, and Olde School Brewhaus being poured. Maybe a few Hoosier breweries will come back or join for the first time next year.

Now mostly I give praises here, but not were a couple of glaring issues to me that I  have to bring up a couple of things.

First off, as a VIP ticket holder you are suppose to get a shirt. We were about the number fifty in line and the XXL shirts were gone when we got to the stand. I am not sure if they simply did not order enough or their was a shipping problem, but its a tad annoying. I'm really not certain how you dont have enough bigger shirts available. And they had a cool design too. A voucher or something would have been nice since it is part of the package.

Second, there needs to be more bathrooms. The lines were terrible for the second year in a row. Good news is I have already heard there will be more next year. So that will help big time.

Third (final and minor), I was really looking forward to trying some samples from Evil Twin and Clown Shoes as they are two of my favorite breweries right now. They were suppose to be on the larger tap truck, but I never found them there or anywhere. It is a possibility that I I just missed them.

Favorite New To Me Breweries:

Burn Em Brewery - Hands down my favorite brewery which I never had before. These guys out of Michigan City are doing very unique and outstanding beers. They are very friendly and chatty too. Combinations like a coffee wheat (Joey Wheat) and coconut pale wheat ale (Coconoats) does not sound appealing at first read but are simply amazing once they hit the palette. The Boomerango (mango IPA) and MCA (IPA) both hit the mark as well. Watch out for these guys! Hopefully a tap house and further expansion to this side of the state will be coming in the near future.

Taxman Brewing Co. - This brewery on the South side of Indianapolis brews Belgium style beers. La Maison (a farmhouse ale), Deducation (dubbel), and Exemption (tripple) all made the mark for delicious. Another brewery that I would love to see distribute up this way.

My Favorite New To Me Beers:

Apricot Sour Ale by Tin Man Brewing. An explosion on sweet apricot in taste and aroma quickly followed by a slight puckering tartness. I could drink a lot of this beer.
This Evansville brewery, and co-sponsor for the 2nd year, is doing things right. And if they start selling there product this far North, then I will be buying it.

Good Game by Oskar Blues. This abbey quad is simply one of the best American style quadruples I have ever tasted. Period.

Overall, another fantastic Brew Haven. Big thanks go out to the Trion Tavern and their staff, the co-sponsors (Brewers Art Supply, Sierra Nevada, Tin Man Brewing, Iechyd Da Brewing Company, MASH Club, Five Star Distributing, and Daredevil Beer), and all of the volunteers for the event. An outstanding job was done by all.

I look forward the fifth annual Brew Haven in 2015. My calendar is already marked!

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