Chilly Water Brewing Company | An urban brewpub with super food ...


Proudly patriotic Midwest hub, Indianapolis already had a dozen well-respected brewpubs when CHILLY WATER BREWING COMPANY opened its doors, June 2014. But as the micro-nano brewery scene gained hyperactive nationwide momentum, startups like this fascinating Industrial downtown watering hole became just another prominent member of the ongoing American beer revolution. As of April ’16, its raw, unfinished feel appeared temporary since recent accolades such as Best Brewer at Indiana State Fair makes expansion seem imminent (though the low ceiling and exposed pipes offered a cozily rustic intimacy).

A covered front porch and windowed brew tanks lead to the entrance of Chilly Water. The 12-seat bar accommodates ten taps, two TV’s, and a host of classic rock albums (whose titles make up the name of a few beers) on the nearby wall.

Chili, quesadillas, paninis and soup paired well with nine rounded beer selections available this sunny afternoon. Specializing in a wide array of worldly styles, their lagers are as sublime and expressive as the ‘bigger’ ales.

Light-bodied flagship, Built To Last Pilsner bounced spicy pale malts against lemondrop dollops and grassy Noble hop astringency. Easygoing Chilly Water Lager retained a dry wood tone and herbal respite to contrast barley-roasted pale malt sugaring.

Lemon-soured orange candy delicately embraced Smash Hit Belgian Wit, a coriander-clove-spiced dry body with plantain-banana snips. One Hit Wonder countered subtle grapefruit peel bittering with wispy banana-clove sweetness. Saison Du 92 stayed soft-toned as its mandarin orange spicing picked up light hop peppering.

Meditative moderation, Blazin’ Fiddles Scottish Ale layered sweet caramel malting atop peaty earthiness. Tropical Mosaic-hopped One Hop Wonder brought tangy grapefruit-peeled bittering to clove-spiced banana, pineapple and mango auxiliary.

Taking its moniker from Pink Floyd’s space rock gem, Dark Side Of The Munich Dunkel surrendered brown-sugared fig sweetness, creamy toffee malting and sedate purple-red grape tartness to dewy peat mildew in a definitive manner.

On the dark side, worthy Hey Porter pleated brown chocolate sweetness to pecan, hazelnut and praline undertones. For dessert, outstanding Chocolate Coconut Porter duplicated a Mounds Bar with its dark chocolate malting and toasted coconut center, picking up Pina Colata hints at the nutty mocha finish.



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Inside a multi-storied red brick industrial warehouse a few blocks from Indianapolis Colts indoor football stadium, TOW YARD BREWING opened April 2014. A large concrete-floored facility serving local downtown businesses with expressive libations and good bar food, its sportsbar atmosphere certainly suits the basketball, hockey and football fans attending nearby games.

Tow Yard’s main 20-seat pergo wood-ceilinged bar and smaller right side 6-seat bar serve two community tables, several stooled tables, a backroom banquet area and wraparound front deck.  An enormous well-kept beer can collection spreads across the spacious interior walls and an on-site deli provides sandwiches, burgers, chicken wings and salads to go alongside homemade draught beer.

Purdue bio grad and head brewer, Tony Fleming (who replaced Indiana University alumni, Bradley Zimmerman), provides a wide array of stylistic brews – some of which are slightly off-the-beaten path.

Visited April 2016, I quaffed the three flagship beers first. Each of these approachable offerings are also available in cans for outside consumption.

Easygoing Goldie Hops Cream Ale placed spicy Saaz hops and honeyed wheat malts above a soft biscuit bottom. Using Goldie Hops as the base, Hook Up Shandler, a soda-like Radler shandy, brought ruby red grapefruit sweetness and tart lemonade-powdered granulated sugaring to the fore as iced tea nuances wavered below. Splendid Horsepower Double Pale Ale plied orange-spiced piney hop dryness and subtle peach-mango undertones to barley-grained Maris Otter malting.

Briskly dry-hopped moderation,  Impound IPA, contrasted grapefruit-peeled orange rind bittering against sugar-spiced sweetness. English dark mild ale, Who’s That Brown Ale, tasted like day-old coffee with roasted chocolate tones and a brown-sugared candied walnut glaze riding above the light hop-charred bittering.

A bit unusual, classic brown-hued Japanese malt liquor, Beat Box Samurai, delivered sourly dark-roasted chocolate nuttiness and peated soy sauce brininess to earthen wood tones.

Dark-roasted coffee and chocolate dominated Creamy Behemoth Imperial Oatmeal Stout, deepening its mocha frontage with caramelized oats and wispy nuttiness.

My fave: Oatis Redding Imperial Red Ale retained a silken flow despite its heightened 11% ABV as roasted caramel malting, subtle bourbon sweetness and sugary oats coalesced above mild dry-hopped bittering.





Across a small bridge and wiithin walking distance of Brugge Brasseire was beige tiki-styled BROAD RIPPLE BREWPUB (visited August ’06). In the hip northeast section of Indianapolis along the White River and servicing nearby Butler University, its back bar had olden feel due to antique mahogany furnishings and gold hotel ballroom ceiling tile. Several dinky dining sections found customers munching pizza, fried pickles, mussels, and sandwiches while right side brew tanks offered decent variety of beers.

Light tea-like wheat-chaffed grassy-bottomed Lawnmower Pale Ale, sweet malt-fruited tea-honeyed Red Bird Mild, earthen-wooded peppery-hopped floral-grapefruit ESB, and hazelnut-walnut-almond-blanched hop-charred Diving Duck American Brown were smoothly mild.

Better still were zesty mandarin orange-juiced, lemon-bruised, bubble-gummy Farmhouse Saison Ale, creamy apple-tangerine-grapefruit-dabbed, piney hop-smoked IPA, and coffee-caressed chocolate-milked light body Monon Porter.




Visited Indianapolis’ vibrant Broad Ripple section, August ’06. A recreational riverbank village north of midtown, its small boutique shops and affordable night clubs make this a perfect hotspot for young adults.

Demure tan-bricked BRUGGE BRASSERIE did a fascinating job re-creating Belgian ales in an odd mod upscale environment distinguished by weird purple-blue walls, metal chairs-tables, small central bar, and cozy outside deck. Fab menu included crepes, fritas, soups, and stews.

Better than comparable Karmaliet Tripel was creamy Chardonnay-like Tripel De Ripple, a sticky butterscotch-vexed, tartly mandarin orange-hexed, bruised lemon-soured, cotton-candied treat with a slight medicinal kick. Just as delightful was sweet-n-sour citric-centric fig-pecan-hinted hop-roasted burgundy-barleywine-finishing digestif Dubbel. Docile American-styled Wit had washed-out lemony tartness, candied orange surge, and minor floral-cardamom-chamomile tinge.


Bought bottled selections from Greenwood’s Oaken Barrel Restaurant & Brewery, located 10 miles South of Indianapolis near remote airport. Situated in small Western-styled mall, this exquisite brewpub offered wood-furnished family dining and television-ensconced right side bar (with rear brew tanks). Check Beer Index for reviews of Oaken Barrel’s Alabaster Wit, Gnaw Bone Pale Ale, Razz-Wheat, and Snake Pit Porter.




Across the street from Alcatraz Brewing in downtown area, visited middling RAM RESTAURANT & BIG HORN BREWERY, June ’04. I had dry wheat-chaffed Big Horn Light; blandly wheat-chaffed yellow-fruited Indy Blonde; flat-hopped banana-clove-soured Big Horn Hefeweizen; red fruit-spiced, tobacco-leafed relaxant Buttface Amber; mild Colombian coffee-roasted, black chocolate-affected Total Disorder Porter; and, most important, majestic perfume-spiced grapefruit-orange rind-embittered Big Red IPA.


Beer snobs would be better off at nearby BUFFALO WILD WINGS GRILL & BAR. Unlike other chains, bar manager Brian Forsyth and owner Mike De Weese make sure finest tap brews are available. First tasted fabulous J.W. Lees Harvest Port Cask, fruity Upland Maibock, Mad Anthony Ol Woody Pale Ale, Bell’s Winter White Ale, and Arcadia Lake Superior ESB at this unassuming joint (reviews in Beer Index). Take note: Belgian tap selection rivals Pittsburgh’s Sharp Edge.



June ’04 Mid-America trip brought wife and I to stylish central Indiana municipality. As the state capitol, Indianapolis is the third biggest Midwest city (behind Chicago and Detroit). Along the White River and surrounded by prairie lands, its neoclassical limestone-bronzed Soldiers And Sailors Monument overlooked fine downtown San Franciscan-styled ALCATRAZ BREWING.

Done up in Southwestern motifs and offering decent mid-range brews to go alongside lunchtime fish tacos, burgers, and pizza, this centrally-located restaurant-brewpub attracts businessmen and families. Soft wheat-husked Search Light Golden Ale; light-bodied sunny-spiced citric-hopped sedation Weiss Guy Wheat; and dry red-fruited perfume-hopped caramel-malted Big House Red were readily approachable.

Black tea-embittered grapefruit-peeled floral-dried herbal-hopped Pelican Pale Ale; wood-burnt mocha-malted English-styled Birdman Brown; and mild chocolate-spiced cherry-wooded coffee-roasted dry-bodied Old Glory Stout each had greater character.