Winter(fest) is Coming

UPDATE: 1/31/17 2:44 p.m. Updated to correct the number of breweries, the article incorrectly stated there were 83 breweries in Indiana in 2009, it has been corrected to only about 30.

Over the last nine years the Brewers Guild of Indiana has brought Hoosiers and their favorite breweries together for a party that celebrates everyone’s favorite hoppy, malty, and alcoholic beverage: beer.

Over 100 breweries and over 7,500 people will be coming together in the West Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds to find a new favorite brewery, drink a lot of incredible craft beer, and raise money for charity. Early bird tickets are already sold out but general admission and designated driver tickets are still available here.

Since the first Winterfest the beer selection, both at the festival and around the state, has exploded. According to Tristan Schmid, communications director for the Brewers of Indiana Guild, there were only about 30 breweries in Indiana with only 21 breweries participating when they kicked off the first Winterfest, now there are nearly 150 breweries.

Of the nearly 150 Hoosier breweries, 101 of them will be offering samples at Winterfest, along with a few “world class” beers hailing from around the country and Europe, and Hop Cat will also be bringing a few beers that you can only get at their booth.

“The variety is astounding,” Schmid said. “At this festival we will have more Indiana breweries than ever before.”

With so many beers on tap Schmid recommends bringing a plan of attack. If there are any specific breweries you want to hit make sure to head straight to them just to be sure that you get to try them before the event closes at 7 p.m. He also wrote a blog post on his recommendations to have the best time while drinking responsibly.

Although each pour is only 3 oz., it is possible to become inebriated a lot faster than most people would guess. Based on last year’s mix of choosing favorite breweries and jumping into the shortest lines I was able to get a sample every 7 minutes.

                                                                                          Image from @terri_stacy on Instagram: 

Schmid and the rest of the guild recommends drinking water and eating food to combat the alcohol consumption. Pretzel necklaces are allowed in and they are the perfect fashion statement to any beer festival. They provide snacks to pair along with the beer and make the other festivalgoers jealous.

If you’ve never been to Winterfest and aren’t sure what to expect, The Campus Citizen, went last year and did some gonzo journalism capturing a day at winterfest.

Breweries all bring swag, whether it’s a koozie, a sticker, or a cardboard coaster, they’ll help you remember just what you drank and you can make your friends jealous with swag from the out-of-town breweries.

Winterfest is more than an excuse to drink beer. Although it’s a pretty good one, it’s also a charity event for Joy’s House. During the last two Winterfests they have raised $40,000 for the charity and plan on continuing to raise money. All the money from coat-check and $3 from every ticket benefit the charity.

Flat12 Bierwerks is coming back for the sixth time this year and are as excited as ever. They have made a name for themselves, not only for bringing great beer, but also for the costumes they wear at the booth. Over the last few years they have done luchador themes, game show themes, and this year they are doing a goth kids theme.

Illustration courtesy of Lily Groot

Illustration courtesy of Lily Groot

Erik Fox, a brewer for Flat12, is looking forward to this year’s theme and believes that Winterfest helped establish the brewery in Indianapolis. They’ll be rolling out eight new goth themed beers ranging from an IPA, to a porter, to cask and barrel-aged beers. Fox suspects that the most popular beer available to sample will be the Alice Cooper’d, a barrel-aged milk stout with cloves.

“[Winterfest] has been bigger and better each year. It’s fun to put on face paint and come up with band related names,” Fox said. “The hardest part is coming up with themes, the beer is easy.”

Fox and other will be holding down the Flat12 booth at table 41 handing out drinks and swag.

Winterfest also showcases Indiana’s mead, cider, and new this year hard soda if beer isn’t your thing. There will also be coffee and food available for purchase.

Schmid and everyone involved with Winterfest wants to make sure people are responsible in their drink consumption and getting home safely. Call a taxi, get a Lyft, have a friend pick you up or drag one of your friends along to be a designated driver, just don’t slip them a drink or you both could be thrown out of the event.