eating indie in indy

Brewery

Books and Brews 6420 Cornell Ave.

This a local chain with about 9 locations with the Mothership up around 96th Street. According to their website franchising may be available so I have no idea how many if any are franchises. The concept is rather novel. All of their places have print book libraries where you can browse and read with your lunch. The books are also available for sale.

https://www.booksnbrews.com/broad-ripple

All of their beers and menu items have literary names and to be honest some are pretty cheesy; but that’s okay. Beer and cheese go well together. Pat ordered off the Special menu and got the Return of the King

In addition to Panini style sandwiches they offer Naan-Fiction. That is their version of pizza. The flat breads can be ordered with choice of sauce and various other toppings. The options are red sauce, BBQ sauce or buttermilk Ranch. I really don’t get the Ranch at all, but I am sure they offer it for a reason.

My piece of Naan-Fiction was called the Wilbur. Pulled pork with mozzarella, cheddar cheese and garlic salt. With that combo I went with BBQ sauce. It was really pretty good. The Naan made a nice crisp crust. The sauce seemed exceptionally sweet but not excessively so. The amounts of pork and cheese were a trifle sparse but all in all not a bad lunch for $9. I would probably do it again, but more than likely I would try one of their other options.

This is a nice little joint. It is North of the Canel. That is the quiet part of the Village. It is also the part with trees in the front. We ate on the porch so it was more like having lunch at a friend’s house. I want to get back and enjoy the quiet and their beer and food again.

 


Liter House 5301 Winthrop Ave.

https://literhouse.com/

This was Bent Rail Brewery and now it is another part of the Sahms Family empire. I thought their Big Lug was ambitious but this could at least rival that location. As you can tell from the name that they have a German theme going on with a beer Garden planned. They also have a large smoke house in the works. They hope to have the whole project completed by Oktoberfest.

As an appetizer I was tempted between the rabbit pate and the Cornwurst. They were out of the pate; so by default it was the Cornwurst; pulled pork corn dogs, curried ketchup, rutabaga mustard for $8.

These little things were crazy. A nice pulled pork wrapped in a beautiful corn dog type batter. The curry ketchup and the mustard were very good complements to the corn-ness. The only possible critique would be the dryness of the “wurst”. In order to shape and coat the pork balls they were limited on the amount of sauce they could use. More ketchup would help.

For my main lunch I ordered a Bratwurst. They don’t make their own sausage yet. They do make their own buns though. Right now they have Smoking Goose make their sausages to their own specs.  The brat was excellent, full of flavor and a very nice snap to it. The mustard creme fraiche brought a nice creaminess to the sandwich which balanced nicely with the fried shallot.

For my side I got a simple side salad. However it was hardly simple in taste.

I ordered it with their smoked peach hefeweizen vinaigrette. It was a clean and fresh dressing that clung to the greens and enhanced their taste. The way I think a salad should be. It could be my imagination but it seems as though every salad I have gotten from a Sahms restaurant has been a cut or two above other joints. This new place is another home run for the Sahms and I am looking forward to Oktoberfest.


Happy Brewing 3902 N. Illinois Street

I am sure some people will ask the same question that is always asked when a new brewery opens. “Do we really need any more breweries?” Well I don’t see how that is possible. Can you have too much happiness or too many smiles? I don’t think so.

Happy Brewing opened in one of the defunct Double 8 grocery stores. It opened about 2-3 months ago with typical brewery hours. No lunch just evenings and noon opening on weekends. My first trip there was on a Sunday to sample some beer. I really enjoyed the beers I tried. They have a nice ale and a great cream ale but the show stopper was their Happy Hopper. Be advised though it has a ABV approaching 11 so it is best consumed in small quantities. Their cream ale is less than 5 ABV so it is more like a session beer. A brew you can drink while mowing your lawn. I think the owner Gabe has plans on canning it in the future. As of the past week they took the bold step to open for lunch.

Their menu is small and concise and it is all done in a kitchen without an exhaust hood. For those who don’t know all commercial kitchens require an exhaust hood when the cooking process produces fumes or smoke. Further more you will also need a fire suppression system. All of this runs into a bunch of dollars. Dollars they did not want to spend at this time. So now they have an impinger conveyer belt oven, a Panini press and a soup warmer. I think they pulled it off well.

On my first trip there I had their Italian sausage. It was a solid sandwich. The sausage had a slight spiciness to it but what carried the dish was the red sauce. It was very good. I ordered it with chips and pickle but in the future I will probably just opt for the sandwich alone. Beer carbs are superior to chip carbs.

On my return trip I ordered a pizza. They buy all the pizza product from Delco a Hoosier firm founded in 1957 that sells all things Italian related. That includes the raw dough they use for the pizza and the Calzone.

I thought it was a nice pie. The crust had a slight chew and again that marinara sauce has great flavor and richness.

I have only tried 2 items on their menu but I plan on trying more. This joint is very close to home so I can see myself there weekly. I had a very good conversation with Gabe on my first lunch trip. He has some great plans for his place. Patio seating and even a rooftop beer garden and in time he would like to have a “proper” kitchen. I am always excited for new places to eat. Especially one so close.


Bent Rail Brewery 5301 Winthrop Ave. (Revisit)

We visited this place about 2 years ago, right after they first opened. They weren’t brewing their own beer yet but they did offer some quality grafts. Now they are now offering their own brews. There are a couple of eating places close by that I thought we could try and then stop at BRB afterwards, but we couldn’t agree so here we are. New beers and a new menu makes this like a new joint.

The menu on their website isn’t up to date as they changed it about a week ago. The biggest change may be the bread they use. The menu suggests several different bread options but all we saw was Texas Toast. I hope they have other breads because, as much as I like the TT I don’t think it works on every sandwich. Pat’s BLT for example.

Unless you plan on using a pound of bacon I think 3 full slices of Texas Toast is a bit much.

I fell back to my comfort food zone and ordered the Meat Loaf Sandwich. Their version was a big slab with bacon, fried onion straws and smoked Gouda cheese. Alas the cheese was of the shredded variety and I am not a fan of shredded cheese on a sandwich. The fried straws added a nice crunch along with the bacon. The poor cheese was pretty over whelmed though. The meat loaf itself was quite nice and I really appreciated the “bark” on the edges. I would have it again with a few alterations.

The beer is top notch as well. Their wheat beer is oh so drinkable. They sell pints for $5 to $5.50  They also have a an interesting selections of house cocktails in the $7 to $9 range. Our sandwiches were $9.50 each and for an extra buck fifty we were able to pick our sides. Normally the sandwiches come with chips. All in all this joint is working out to be the joint I thought it would be. Good food made in-house and now some great beer to go with it.

 

Bent Rail Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


ZwanzigZ Pizza 1038 Lafayette Avenue Columbus Indiana

On the road again. Of course we picked one of the hottest days to do it but we had a reward of cold beer awaiting us. ZwanzigZ is not just a pizza parlor it is a small brewery as well. It has won awards for their effort so they take their beer seriously. Their menu is small; revolving around fresh dough, sauce and cheese.

I decided on one of their specials a 3 meat slice with 2 bread sticks, dipping sauce and drink  for $ 5.49. I am not sure what Pat’s sandwich cost because of his modifications but the total was less than $11; with tax. That is the deal of the year. No wonder the place was full with a line.

My slice was huge. The crust was more bread like than I like but the sauce and cheese more than made up for it. It was a really nice slice and with the bread sticks a carb coma inducing bargain.

You order at a cashier station, take a number and they bring the food to you. We sat in the bar area so we could have some beer.

The beers we sampled were quite tasty. The ales were not overly hoppy and the wheat beer had a nice finish. The most unique was the Chocolate beer. It was a sweet amber beer loaded with vanilla. The stout was probably our favorite. The beers are as reasonably priced as the food. A flight of five is $7.50 and a growler refill is $7. This place may be new to us out of towners but it is definitely a success with the locals. It is only a 40 minute drive from Indy and I think it is worth it. There is also the added attraction of Zaharakos Ice Cream. We’ll save that for another time.

 

Zwanzigz Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Hoosier Brewing 155 Holiday Place Franklin Indiana

We just love new Breweries. We especially love the ones open for lunch. Quite a few don’t open until 4:00 PM. This particular one has been opened for a while but I didn’t discover it until recently. It is quite the drive; 27 miles from me and 20 miles from Pat’s. Even with a map we still got lost.

Now what would be a trip to a new brewery without a flight of beers.

We opted for the flight of 8 for $10. I think only 6 of the beers offered are brewed at Hoosiers, the remaining two were guests. I was not sure which beer was which I just drank ’em. I think they may want to find a way to name the brews for the patrons without relying on the memory of the server. At least they may want to have a beer list.

They have a nice sized menu; featuring the usual stuff and a few “surprises”.

https://www.facebook.com/HoosierBrewhouse/menu/

I was intrigued by cod for the fish and chips and the  tenderloin. Both are smoked then battered and fried for service. Pat wasn’t too sure about cold smoked cod so he opted for a tenderloin sandwich for $9.99.

In addition to a sandwich they a General Tso’s Tenderloin in a bowl. That would be a bowl of rice topped with Red Flyer battered tenderloin bites with Tso sauce and green onion. Sounded good and it was.

I enjoyed the slight smokiness of the meat and the batter was a pleasant alternative to a more conventional breading. Their Tso sauce tasted a lot like Mae Ploy; a sweet Thai chile sauce. That was fine I like Mae Ploy. I usually keep a bottle on hand at home. I would have liked some sauce between the rice and meat as well as on top; or at least some soy available. Over all a pretty good lunch for $8.49.

So these guys brew some pretty good beer. A nice stout? As well as one with a coconut flavor to it. They seem to have a nice balance of hop and malt in their selections. As for the food they offer a smoked ribeye steak dinner for $19.99 in addition to a respectable lunch menu. That may be the reason for a return trip.

Hoosier Brewing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Big Woods Speedway 1002 W. 10th Street Speedway In.

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Big Woods is a brewery AND distillery and originated in Nashville Indiana. They also have a joint in Bloomington Indiana. I believe last year they decided to make the move north to Speedway. The home of America’s Greatest Spectacle in Racing; the 500. It is a big beautiful building with an amazing interior of varnished wood.

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Quaff On is the name of the beer they produce. Also each beer has an individual name. So when you order a Quaff On flight you get 5 five ounce pours of beers that are representative of their brewing skills.

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I am not going to begin to describe each beer. I will say they were excellent examples of their craft. All for $13.

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As soon as we pulled up I could smell their smoker. I love smoked meats. I find pulled chicken boring. Brisket is still hit and miss around here. A good smoked pork butt is getting easier to find and from the aroma of their smoker I figured this one should be pretty good.

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It was excellent. A great smokiness and the pickled veggies were a marvelous counterpoint. Of course I would have enjoyed more and a larger variety but carrot and onion are pretty commonplace in most kitchens. The bun was nice and I appreciated the sauce on the side. Their side options were kettle chips with truffle oil and parm, fries or kicked up slaw. For some reason I chose chips. They were okay but I think the truffle and parm bit looked better on paper. I forgot all about the slaw option. That was silly. Next time. My sandwich was $11.25 and Pat’s 2 topping pizza pie was $10.95.

In the beginning I mentioned that Big Woods was a distillery too. Their brand of liquor is called Hard Truth. They offered Vodka, Rum and Gin at first. Now they have a whisky. It is a clear liquor; like moonshine. So in keeping with the spirit of adventure I ordered a Manhattan cocktail.

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It was a wonderful beverage. It was incredibly smooth. Too often when all the components of a cocktail are alcoholic the first taste can be a bit astringent. Not here. That is a testimony to the bartender and the liquor. In my opinion.

Pat and I had a swell time. The food is good. The beer is good. The surroundings are good and the service was outstanding. I think Pat and I will both be back;even though it is a drive for both of us. We think it may be worth it.

Big Woods Speedway Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Four Day Ray 11671 Lantern Road Fishers Indiana

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This joint brews beer. But it is more; it is a Gastropub. I have seen that word around a lot more recently. That led me to believe it was possibly more than a made up word. Like Gastronaut. I looked it up on Google and this is what I discovered.

gas·tro·pub
ˈɡastrōˌpəb/

noun

BRITISH
  •                   a pub that specializes in serving high quality food.
 Yelp even offers a list of the “best” gastropubs in Indy. According to the list I have eaten at a few of these places and I hadn’t even noticed. I am guessing that if their menu uses the words confit and or aioli you may be at a gastropub.  What ever the joint calls itself as long as the food is done well that is all that matters.
As I mentioned this is a brewery. The picture I started with is on the outside of the building in the parking lot. The place is huge and appears to have been constructed just for this operation. They have an upper level  that allows them to seat more than 200 eaters and drinkers.
four-day-ray-006The sandwiches are in the $10 to $13 range and the beers are $5.50 per pint. The going rate at most breweries; and most joints in Fishers. A cautionary note about their beer flights. They serve the flights in 5 ounce pours; as many as you would like at $2.50 each. I think that is a bit high for anywhere.
four-day-rayfour-day-ray-005Since Pat got the BT I opted for a burger. I just feel better when we order different things. I noticed they had a double burger available which made me ask the server how big a patty they serve. He had no idea. He just said they were “big”. Hopefully he will learn his menu soon. I ordered my burger Mid-rare. It came out close to medium. They use a 2-year-old cheddar from Fair Oaks Farms as one of their cheese choices. That is what I ordered and it was delicious. As a matter of fact the burger was pretty damn good, overcook and all. I was also impressed with the fries. They had a crunchy exterior and a soft interior and the sprinkling of coarse salt really made them exceptional. For what it is worth the burgers appear to be 6 ounce.
four-day-ray-004So I wouldn’t mind going back but I agree with Pat about the distance. Maybe when the weather warms again.

Four Day Ray Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


The Tap 306 Mass. Ave.

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Well one more brewery has come to town. Actually this one isn’t brand new. It originated in Bloomington where it still does a brisk business they just thought they would follow some of the grads to Indianapolis. Be careful with the address. The place is right on the corner of New York and Delaware in the new Pulliam Square project. Where the Indianapolis Star and News building used to be. How they managed to get Mass. Ave out of this I have no idea. This Pulliam Square is a rather swank affair and The Tap blends in well.

The Tap 005

It is a large venue with 2 rooms and 2 bars. Above the main bar is a stage for a DJ and a pull down screen with a rear projector for sports. After all the Big Ten football tourney will be coming to town in December. In the above picture the forlorn Santa looking fellow is Pat,and behind him is the row of beer taps. Seventy of them. It doesn’t seem too long ago that a joint having 6 drafts on-line was a big deal. Progress.

Their menu is the new typical for a brewery/bar. The Zomato link has a path to their website showing both food and beer menus. They offer pizza which uses a pre-made dough that comes in frozen and they stretch it to shape. Pizza is always a great choice with beer.

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The Tap 001

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I was drawn to the Ahi salad. A seared to rare sashimi grade Tuna on a salad bed. The bed is a coleslaw, sans dressing, topped with chopped romaine and cheese. In place of croutons they used crisp noodles. The kind that come in a bag that you serve over some Chinese dishes. Frankly I like them,they give a nice crunch without adding a big flavor. The tuna was expertly prepared. Rare and melt in your mouth tender with a great little punch from the Teriyaki glaze used. The salad part was so-so. I have had better salad mixes before. The shaved Parmesan would have been a nice touch had there been enough to have noticed. It was almost as if it was added as an after thought. One very nice part of the assembly was the half-dozen grape tomatoes on it. You don’t usually see that many. The dressing they served is a cucumber wasabi creation. I don’t know if they make it in-house or buy it ready-made but it was very good. I think you could take some fallen leaves from your back yard and add this stuff and it would be delicious.

The Tap 010

So, overall I really enjoyed my salad, and like Pat. I would order it again. After the pizza;and burger. Another thing I like about this joint is that the windows let in a bunch of natural light so taking pictures is great. Also you can access their WiFi almost without trying. Parking;while hardly good;is better than a lot of places downtown. Of course the Pulliam Project is on going. There is a huge hole at the corner of New York and Penn. Still;I think it is worth a trip.
The Tap Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Big Lug Canteen 1435 E. 86th Street

Well we have another Brewery in Indy. Or as some folks called it a few years ago Nap Town. This particular place is unique if only in the fact that it is part of the Sahms’ Family of businesses. The Sahm family has been involved in the restaurant business for more years than I can remember,and I think their total stands at 10 across the city. So we have pretty high expectations for this, their first endeavor into brewing. They opened this past Monday and on Tuesday I went in to have a look. The place is a two-story beauty right on the Monon Trail at the corner of 86th St. and Westfield Blvd. To ease some of the traffic problems on 86th they provided a cut in onto Westfield Blvd. Good for them.

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This sign is a large sheet of plate steel with the name cut out by laser or water jet. Pretty dramatic. I was told that the cutouts were used for a sign in the upstairs dining area. I didn’t check that out then I thought I would wait until I came back. They offer their beers in sizes ranging from 20 oz. to 7 oz. The prices go from $6 to $3. So that means you can try 2 different beers and consume less than a pint doing it. I had a pint of their IPA and a Hoss-Dip appetizer for $7. The app was melted mozzarella cheese,topped with avocado mixed with Greek yogurt;Greekamole; spicy hummus and a black bean and corn salsa served with a big side of Frito scoops. The dip was pretty tasty. A nice bite to go with a beer.

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Today we both went,and we were both impressed with the space. An up stairs deck;overlooking the trail and an expansive patio mere feet from the Monon.

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These are the cutouts from the outdoor sigh;downstairs.

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These are the remaining letters.

Not only do they offer smaller pours for their beers they also offer half sandwiches and half salads. They even have a Big Lug Half N’ Half. That is a half a sandwich and a half a salad for 2 bucks off the regular price. That is what I opted for. A Bahn Lug; their facsimile of a Vietnamese sandwich with Smoked Pork Belly, Chicken Pate and Bahn Mi vegetables. I married that with a half Judo Chop Salad. The salad was a bowl of mixed greens topped with ham and cappacola as well as olives and bleu cheese. My choice may seem odd but all the flavors worked well together and there could not be any complaining on the size of my meal.

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Patrick decided on a BLT with grilled chicken and avocado; a full size and a half salad as a side.

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We spent $11 each for our sandwiches, a price I think is more than reasonable. The menu they give is unique and from what I have had well prepared. So. Good food. Good beer. Good prices. I especially liked that they offer “specialty” salads and each one offered a protein,be it chicken, veggie patty or ham. Basically all of their salads;except the House salad was a version of what could be called a Chef Salad. I am really excited about this place and what it can do to revitalize Nora.

Big Lug Canteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato