MUNSTER — Brewers from across Northwest Indiana met up Wednesday morning at 3 Floyds Brewing Co. to watch the mashing of locally malted, locally grown corn for the inaugural IN Beer Brigade beer.
All 22 Northwest Indiana craft breweries collaborated to make Corn King IPA, a citrusy IPA brewed with Indiana corn, Simcoe and Citra hops and malt from Sugar Creek Malt Co. in Lebanon.
“We’re using an Indiana malt company, Sugar Creek. We’re doing a pilsner malt with them,” said brewer Adam Conway of 3 Floyds. “The corn, we’ll get a lot of sweetness out of it. However, we are making this kind of like a dryer, standard double IPA. This is the second time we used corn. We just brewed a malt liquor called Region Riot.”
The limited-edition beer will only be brewed once, and will only be made available to members of the IN Beer Brigade, a new membership program that supports The Brewers of Indiana Guild. The nonprofit trade association promotes Indiana’s $1 billion craft brewing industry, such as by staging four craft beer festivals, operating the Drink Indiana Beer app and lobbying the Statehouse for reforms like letting craft breweries sell to-go growlers on Sunday.
“This is going to help promote the state of Indiana’s brewing,” said Barb Kehe, owner/brewer at Ironwood Brewing Co. in Valparaiso.
The Brewers of Indiana Guild, which represents more than 125 craft breweries around the state, is selling annual memberships for $40 and premium memberships for $75. Members get T-shirts, stickers, glassware, and the Corn King beer that will be released at private parties in October.
Though the events might not draw thousands of people from all over the world like 3 Floyds' popular Dark Lord Day every April, the special beer release should still bring people in, said Heather Becerra, chief marketing officer of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, which runs the South Shore Brewing App to draw craft beer lovers to Northwest Indiana.
“All these breweries working together has been really great for us, and I think it will bring lots of people to the area,” Becerra said.
Every year, brewers in a different region of the state will collaborate on a new, one-time-only brew.
Next year, Sun King and other Indianapolis breweries will get together to make the special one-off beer for IN Beer Brigadiers, Brewers of Indiana Guild Communications Director Tristan Schmid said.
“Basically, the Indiana Beer Brigade is an exclusive enthusiast membership program for craft beer lovers to explore and celebrate Indiana’s craft beer culture,” Schmid said. “It’s mainly a way for members to buy into guild membership, to show their support for the breweries they love and help them to continue to do the things they’re doing. It’s a way to show support for the industry and get some really cool stuff.”
The Brewers of Indiana Guild – which was founded by the owner the state’s oldest craft brewery, Broad Ripple Brewpub in Indianapolis, and other craft brewers – has been an important voice for a fast-growing industry that’s often hampered by outdated laws, Schmid said. The trade association for instance helped successfully lobby state lawmakers to raise the limit of how much beer large brewers like 3 Floyds and Sun Kings can sell in Indiana.
All 50 states have craft brewery trade associations, but Indiana’s is the first in the nation to offer its own special craft beers.
“We’re pretty proud this is the first-ever collaboration beer for enthusiast members only,” Schmid said.