Sunday, September 30, 2012

Great Crescent Brewing & Indiana's First Beer

Almost 200 years have passed since Bavarian colonists settled what is now New Harmony, Indiana. This group, known as Harmonists, took great care to make their land prosperous and inviting. Unbeknownst to them, their brewery, which used techniques learned from their previous home in Swabia, Germany (which, by the way, is one of the richest beer-brewing cultures in the world), started a home-brewing revolution that is now being re-examined. Each year, the Brewers Guild of Indiana selects a historic local beer, and local brewers attempt to decipher/interpret the "recipe".

Great Crescent Brewing, of Aurora, Indiana, owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Dan and Lani Valas, have done a dandy job creating a dark lager based on "Indiana's First Beer", as brewed in 1816 by Harmonist brewmaster George Bentel. This top-notch lager, called simply "Dark Lager", pours a murky brown/black, with a malty chocolate aroma. Although light in body, this dark beer tastes like a mildly smoked porter, with a hint of cocoa and a mellow roasty finish. Mild and session-worthy, this is a seriously delicious beer.

Also from Great Crescent, I was fortunate enough to sample the brewery's fine "Coconut Porter", which pours a sleek black with a nice and smoky nose. I don't get much coconut in the aroma, but its an appealing mix nonetheless, with hints of chocolate and roastiness. Again, this is thin-bodied (for a porter), but the taste is superb. Not as cocoa or coffee-oriented as some porters, this one's got a distinctive wood-smoke character. Fans of German rauchbier (smoke beer) may find this particularly attractive and enjoyable. I say, a fine and well-done porter, with a lot of flavor and a unique palate. Bravo to Great Crescent!

As of now, Great Crescent has begun to can their beers in pints, and has them available in limited 4-packs regionally (Central and Southern Indiana). I found some at a local store in Evansville, Indiana (Winetree Liquors). 

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