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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Brewed in Bloomington

Categories: Wine & Culinary

This article was originally published in the Bloomington Visitors Guide. Request your copy of this year's guide here.

The hunt for a memorable meal is paramount when traveling. The same can be said for finding the perfect watering hole after a busy day. Bloomington is known for being a foodie town but we have an impressive roster of brewers, winemakers, and distillers as well. Visiting their tasting rooms and pubs is a complete sensory experience. Headquarters like these are hubs for creativity and conversation; you never know what you’ll get to try or who you might meet. From craft pre-prohibition pilsner to cyser and tiki rum to traminette wine, Bloomington has something pleasing for every palate. 


Oliver Winery

oliver winery

When your wine-making hobby turns out to be a lot more fruitful than expected, the next logical step is to open a commercial winery, right? That’s exactly what Professor William Oliver did back in the 1970s and Oliver Winery has since grown up to be the largest winery in the United States east of the Mississippi River. Tour their world-class winery and taste your way through their delicious selection of wines. 

Sustenance: Reserve a picnic package ahead of time and they’ll do all of the packing for you, china plates and all. 

Tours, tastings, and carry out sales available.


Butler Winery

butler winery

Family owned and operated, Butler Winery has produced wine since the early 1980s. They’re passionate about using locally-grown grapes in their wines and giving people a beautiful place to enjoy them. Sample twenty different wines at their downtown tasting room or at their vineyard just north of town.

Sustenance: Make your own cheese and charcuterie board and enjoy the sweeping views of their vineyard from their patio.

Tours, tastings, and carry out sales available.


Upland Brewing Company


Upland was created in 1998 and has been at the forefront of craft beer in the Midwest ever since. Stop by their original brewpub downtown for a bite and a beer. The draft menu features their flagships, hoppy Dragonfly IPA and Upland Wheat, along with other unique seasonal ales and lagers like their Oktoberfest and Teddy Bear Kisses Russian Imperial Stout. If you want to try some extremely rare barrel-aged sours, walk next door for a tour and taste at the Wood Shop. This world-class sours facility features 10 barrel-aged sours on tap and tours that will intrigue and excite your mind and palate.

Sustenance: You can’t go wrong with a burger. Try one with Bad Elmer’s BBQ sauce, or their famous Blueflame spread. 

Tours, tastings, and carryout available at Upland Brewing Company & Upland Wood Shop.


The Tap

the tap

This craft beer bar and brewery is a favorite on the downtown square, offering 15 different beers made in-house. You can drink The Tap’s creations in their tasting room off Kirkwood Ave. or in the brewpub while dining on creative pub fare. They also serve a huge variety of beers from around the United States and the world, 450 different ones to be exact. 

Sustenance: Order the Tap fries. You're welcome. 

Flights, crowlers, and growlers available.


Bloomington Brewing Company

bloomington brewing

The Bloomington Brewing Company, the oldest brewery in Bloomington and the oldest brewpub in southern Indiana, opened its doors over 20 years ago. BBC is a favorite among Bloomington locals, emphasized by their mantra, “Think globally. Drink locally.” Their pub, Lennie’s, features delicious pub fare and gourmet pizza. Tours are available by appointment. 

Sustenance: Go for brunch over the weekend for some killer chicken and waffles.

Tastings, flights, and growlers available at Lennie’s Brewpub.


Function Brewing

function brewing

Driven by experimentation, Function Brewing has brewed over 175 beers since opening in 2014. They don’t adhere to trends and brew what they want to drink. In their downtown pub, you’ll find a few mainstays but you can always discover something unusual to try on their list; think Jalapeno IPA and Szechuan Peppercorn Pale. They also make some of the tastiest paninis in town. 

Sustenance: Order the Southern Gentleman (pimento cheese, candied bacon, peppers, & arugula; OMG is right) with a side of blue cheese slaw. 

Tastings, flights, and growlers available.


Switchyard Brewing Company

switchyard brewery

The newest addition to Bloomington's breweries has become a quick favorite. Switchyard opens at 8 am (10 am on Sundays) to be an inviting, collaborative, and creative space for entrepreneurs, students, and the remote workforce. The dog and family-friendly space is BYOF (Bring Your Own Food) and has a food truck outside every day of the week. However, if you're looking for small snacks, they do odder pastries, coffee, and tea. Switchyard has become a place for all kinds of event such as trivia, yoga, and game nights. They have daily deals including $5 crowlers on the first Friday of the month. 

Sustenance: If The Big Cheez is outside, try the mozzarella sticks. You won't regret it.

Flights, crowlers, growlers, and private tours and guided tastings available.


Oddball Fermentables

oddball fermentables

Ever heard of cyser? We hadn’t either until recently. Oddball Fermentables brews dry cysers which are a unique hybrid of mead and cider. They feature five signature cysers and use ingredients like hops, dates, and oranges so there’s no way your taste buds will ever be bored. Cozy up to their fireplace or have a seat on the patio and taste away. 

Sustenance: Follow them on social media for updates on visiting food trucks or BYO food.

Tastings, flights, and growlers available.


Friendly Beasts CIDER COMPANY

friendly beasts

Named after their sweet but prickly rescue dog, Friendly Beasts is the latest addition to the B-Line Trail. They create small batches of hard cider infused with some really unique ingredients like local hops, cinnamon, and more. Sip on some samples on the patio with a view of Bloomington’s B-Line Trail.

Sustenance: Friendly Beasts doesn’t have a kitchen but sells snacks by the scoop, or you can BYO.

Tastings, flights, and growlers available.


Cardinal Spirits

cardinal spirits

To round out our craft beverage adventure in Bloomington you have to pay a visit to our first and only craft distillery, Cardinal Spirits. Also on the B-Line Trail, this is the place to go for one of the best cocktails you’ll ever have. The shrubs, bitters, syrups, and of course the spirits are all made by hand. Their menu changes seasonally but they can make the classics anytime. Enjoy delectable shareable plates for dinner at the distillery any night of the week or brunch on Saturdays and Sundays for a real treat. 

Sustenance: Their menu changes with the season but whatever you do, make sure you try their bread and butter. Their sourdough is made in-house, making it a must-try. 

Tours, tastings, and carry out sales available.


Other Boozy Locales in Bloomington

Big Woods Bloomington
Features craft beer from Quaff On in neighboring Nashville, Indiana as well as other regional breweries. 


Emily Hines

Emily Hines