By Pete Smith
The explosion of locally-made craft beer knows no limits, and two Carmel business partners are hoping to make new converts still.
Mike Sale and Ryan Coyle have made a name for themselves by running Brew Bracket, a contest that uses a bracket to eventually pick a crowd-sourced winner among locally-produced beer varieties.
Now they’re changing their concept so that people who attend the Indiana Flower & Patio Show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds from March 8 through March 16 can experience the pleasures of craft beer in a setting that resembles their backyard.
“It’s about education,” Sale said. “We’re glad to be part of the show.”
Dubbed the Backyard Brewfest, beer enthusiasts can sample four different beers of the same style, such as amber or brown ales, so they can appreciate the variations within just one style.
The cost is $8 for a flight of four 3.5 oz. samples, and four different sets of flights will be available.
“Hopefully you can find something within Indiana beer that you can enjoy,” Sale said of the chance to explore the types of beers people commonly see at stores like Trader Joe’s or Kroger but might not have tried before.
Neither Sale nor Coyle have any affiliation with local breweries. They were just friends who were interested in exploring new beers.
And they view their enterprise less as a business than as a way to introduce people to the local beer scene, help them have better conversations about beer and, of course, give back to the community.
Their seven Brew Bracket events have raised more than $10,000 for local charities, and a portion of sales from the Backyard Brewfest will benefit the Indiana State Fair Foundation.
“It’s a fun tasting event, and people are always glad that their money is going back to do some good in the community,” Sale said.
Participating artisans include Upland Brewery, Sun King Brewery, Flat12 Bierwerks, Fountain Square Brewery, as well as Barley Island, Oaken Barrel, and Triton brewing companies.
Four tasting stations will feature the following flight styles:
● The Lighter Side (Wheat/Blonde/Hybrid) – Upland Wheat, Sun King Sunlight Cream Ale, Barley Island Sheet Metal Blonde, Oaken Barrel Razz Wheat
● The Malt Shop (Amber/Brown) – Triton Four Barrel Brown, Sun King Wee Mac, Flat12 Hello My Name Is, Oaken Barrel Indiana Amber
● Hop Garden (Pale/IPA) – Flat12 Half Cycle, Sun King Osiris, Fountain Square Hop for Teacher, Triton Railsplitter
● Dark and Delicious (Porter/Stout) – Flat12 Pogues Run, Fountain Square Backyard Porter, Triton Deadeye Stout, Upland Bad Elmer Porter
“For this show, it’s not so much about getting the ‘people’s vote,’” Coyle said. “Our main goal is to introduce people to craft beer, educate them on what to look for and just make them feel like they’re out in their backyard enjoying a beer.”
The biergarten admits adults ages 21+ only, and will be open from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 3 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
A special Brewfest and general admission show package is available at the show’s box office only for $18; general admission is discounted to $10 for Brew Bracket participants.
General show admission is $13 for adults at the door, or when purchased online. Children 12 and under are free. Downloadable $3 discount coupons are available on the show’s website, and are not valid combined with other promotions.
Senior Day is Monday, March 10, when showgoers 65 and older with proper ID are admitted for $9 per person.
Parking is $5 per vehicle. For more information visit www.indianaflowerandpatioshow.com or call 576-9933.