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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Staff Picks - Best Local Beer, Wine & Spirits

Categories: Wine & Culinary

Bloomington is a food focused town, with over 100 independent restaurants in the area covering cuisine types from international to down-home cooking to gourmet.  But it's also a great place to drink too!  After all, this is a college town, so there are plenty of local establishments that serve up adult beverages long into the night.  But Bloomington is also a town focused on authentic artisan experiences too, which makes it a perfect breeding ground for craft beer, wine and spirit makers.  This month, I've asked our staff to name their favorite locally produced drink, something that's bottled in Bloomington.  The responses are as unique as our personalities, of course!

  • Marcia - My favorite go-to beer is Upland Wheat. I don't much care for a "hoppy" taste and Upland's Wheat has just the right balance for my tastebuds! (It's also the best-selling beer brewed in Indiana, so I think Marcia's on to something.)
  • Mike - I can't pick just one favorite beer, in fact I have three favorites -- Dragonfly IPA from Upland Brewing Company and both Ruby Bloom Amber and Quarrymen Pale Ale from Bloomington Brewing Company. Both of these breweries are making quality, hand-crafted beer that they love to drink themselves. I've made friends with a bunch of people who work at both establishments and like me, they love Bloomington and the local vibe you find here. The fact of the matter is, they created that local vibe because of their beer and for being good people. That says it all right there. Is it five o-clock yet?
  • Beer toast
  • Carol - As dark beer fans, my husband and I enjoy both Upland's Bad Elmer's Porter and Busted Knuckle Ale from Quaff On! When we took the tour at Upland's production facility when it first opened, he appreciated looking at a vat of Bad Elmer's. Everyone has their own preferences, but we like the hefty, full-bodied tastes. Well-chilled Oliver Gewürztraminer is a warm weather favorite (I hope we get warm weather soon!) while we like Soft Rose anytime. Robust beers, lighter wines, and Irish Whiskey!
  • Erin - Upland Brewing Company's Sour Ales are by far my favorite local drink of choice. They're made available via a public lottery about 4 times a year, so it's not guaranteed to be available, but definitely worth trying for. The VinoSynth White, made with locally grown Vidal Blanc grapes from Oliver Winery, is probably my favorite sour not only because of its tart, citrus-y flavor but also because it's made because of a great collaboration between two local businesses.
  • Julie - There are so many good drinks around here I'll have to list a few. I've been enjoying the Bisect IPA from Function (hoppy and crisp) as well as Enchantment from The Tap (a medium-bodied Belgian Pale Ale), and the food at both places is pretty darn amazing too! I enjoy all wines, from sweet to dry, especially Oliver Winery's Creekbend label Catawba for summer (it's so sweet and crisp) and Butler's Traminette (Indiana's signature wine, fruity and delicious!)
  • Abby - My new favorite is the White Russian from Cardinal Spirits. I never liked vodka until I tried theirs. Plus the atmosphere is swell and all the staff wear red plaid, completing the true hipster experience. And I love how affordable cocktails are in Bloomington!
  • Pete - Upland is great because of their patio, and with the break in the weather it's nice to be able to enjoy the sunny weather while having a locally brewed beer. Added bonus is they let you bring your dogs to hang on the patio while you grab a beer.Dragonfly is just a solid IPA, nothing too special or unique about it but it has a great taste without the overload of hops that you find sometimes in these kinds of beer. Really any beer you get from Upland will not disappoint.
  • Teal - My favorite local brew has been & always will be the Upland Wheat Ale with an orange slice (or two!). It's light and refreshing, perfect for any time of year, but best when sipped outside in the summer sunshine! I love Upland Brewing Company so much but I love it even more now that I've discovered their Production Brewery & West Side Beer Bar.You can get a tour and then hit up the bar to get your growler filled with your favorite Upland beer. The best part is the outdoor patio complete with fire pit! So bring those marshmallows & your favorite snacks (they let you bring in outside food), grab a pint, and enjoy a sunny afternoon or chilly evening at Upland's West Side Beer Bar!

This delicious list comes just in time for the 2015 Bloomington Craft Beer Festival, where you can sample all the local breweries plus about 40 others from around the Midwest.  And the rest of the year, you can delicious drinks that you know were thoughtfully produced right behind the tasting room counter.  

Julie Warren

Julie Warren

Julie was raised in Bloomington and attended IU, and all of that experience and knowledge comes in handy as the Director of Tourism. She loves live music, ice cream, swimming, craft beer, and of course her adorable family.