Brew Blog

The Musical Lineup | Amber Waves Brew Fest

The much-anticipated festival of the summer is bursting at the seams with musical talent this year. The musical lineup is much different from the previous year.  Amber Waves has brought in a variety of different artists and genres to help round out the musical preferences of all guests.    

From country to 80s rock, here is the musical lineup for Amber Waves BrewFest:

Hastings & Co. Amber Waves

VIP Concert: Hasting & Co.

Hasting & Co., a well-known country band from Nashville Tennessee will be kicking off the VIP party with some upbeat jams.  The country duo just finished performing with names such as Jake Owens and Gretchen Wilson and is traveling to Jasper County to entertain our VIP guests.  The band will be performing an array of covers and originals.  The concert starts at 1:00pm CST at the main stage.

Celtic Rock New Element

New Element

New Element is doing just that, bringing a new element to Amber Waves Brewfest.
 Their uniqueness derives not only from their musical skills but also from their high energy stage show. Sounds and personality are very warm and unique as New Element takes its audiences on a “musical journey” that is a must see.  New Element performs at 2:00pm CST on the second stage.

Boy Band Review

Boy Band Review

Joining us from the Windy City on the main stage is Boy Band Review.  Boy Band Review – Is the best Boy Band Tribute Show in the country! Boy Band Review transports their audience back to the days of choreographed shows and frosted tips.  No need to say bye bye bye, when you can drink a brew and dance to NKOTB.  Boy Band Review will be taking the main stage at 2:30pm CST.

One Man Band MG Bailey

MG Bailey

Bringing excitement and enthusiasm to our second stage is the one-man band himself, MG Bailey.  Enjoy the energy of a full band packed into a single body!  MG Bailey will be performing at 4:00pm CST on the second stage.

All things 80s Rock

Breakfast Club

Joining us all the way from the Windy City and busting out the long hair and neon colors is The Breakfast Club. The Breakfast Club® is the longest running, most recognized ’80’s tribute band in the United States. The Breakfast Club will join us on our main stage.  We are taking it back to big hair and tight jeans at 4:30pm CST on the main stage.

Stairwell 6 Alternative Rock

Stairwell 6

Rounding out the festival, local talent Stairwell 6, joins us for an epic performance on our second stage.  Enjoy this amazing rock performance while enjoying your brews and crew!  Don’t miss the last performance of the day at the second stage starting at 5:30pm CST.

As you can see, the musical lineup this year is packed full of energy, talent and various genres.  Grab your tickets and join us on August 17, 2019 at Amber Waves Brewfest!

Who’s The Brew | John Blichmann of Blichmann Engineering

Amber Waves is getting to know the brewers who will be in attendance in a series called Who’s the Brew. In this special edition of Who’s The Brew we get to sit down with John Blichmann, President and Founder of Blichmann Engineering. John has more than a quarter of a century brewing experience under his belt and he’s also a BJCP judge.

On top of being an Amber Waves Brewfest sponsor, Blichmann Engineering offers the most intuitively designed, innovative brewing equipment with the highest level of quality for brewers who expect the same in their beers. A family run business here in Indiana that has supplied brewing equipment and solutions to several craft breweries that will be pouring at Amber Waves Brewfest including Upland, Teays River and Fenwick Farms to name a few.

John, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions.

Was there any defining factor that took you from brewing as a hobby to turning this passion into a career?

My introduction to home-brewing was when we were invited to dinner at my wife’s coworkers house. We arrived and her husband had a cooler full of oatmeal stuff. I asked what that was and he said “I’m making beer”! Now that was in 1991, so all grain was really uncommon back then. So shortly after I started brewing extract beer at home. Although I did recall my dad always having some beer or wine fermenting in the basement when I was little. I still use the old school bottle capper he uses, and his father before him. So I guess it was always in my heritage to brew!

With the boom of craft beer over the past couple decades, has that changed the scale of the equipment you offer? Has there been a larger demand for pro brewing over home brewing as a result?

As a leader in the home-brew market, and craft breweries being started predominantly by home brewers, getting into the commercial sized brewing equipment was pretty much a natural progression for us. We had been selling out 55 gal kettles (1 BBL batch size) to breweries for years, but we got serious about the pro brewing side of our business a few years ago.

Do you feel that home brewing helps sustain the craft beer industry?

I think the energy and creativity in the home-brewing side really drives things in the craft beer side. And it always has. Home-brewing had really grown over the past 15 years because of the desire for “craft beer” but there was limited availability. But now craft beer is everywhere. So the home-brewing market has slowed down quite a bit lately, but is still a prominent part of the whole beer scene.

What are some of the innovative trends you’re seeing in home brewing right now?

A lot of the innovation has been moving to simple all grain systems that allow about anyone with an interest the ability to all grain brew at home. Oddly, there has been an up-tick in sales to people wanting over-the-top high end equipment. Our ANVIL Brewing line covers the simple systems, and the Blichmann brand covers the high end, and we’ve seen growth in both. In the Pro market, we have really focused on the small breweries (7 BBL and below) developing very cost effective systems tailored to tap rooms and pilot systems. It is interesting how each niche has its own unique needs.

Are you still brewing yourself?

Sure do! We do most of the testing of our equipment in-house. We’ve got a number of dedicated home brewers and we all have a different approach to things, so we have that advantage in creating some really innovative and reliable products.

Have you tried anything exciting lately?

I like to brew a variety of beers actually. I love Lawson’s Finest Liquids “Sip of Sunshine” and have been brewing that. I’ve also done some really big beers like a triple mashed barley wine, a sour wee heavy, and a Russian Imperial Stout. But have also been doing some old school beers like a simple American Amber, and some basic American and English pales, all of which are in that 5% ABV or less. So very drinkable.

I believe Upland Brewing has seven locations now. Have you partnered with them since the beginning? How did that relationship come about?

Upland actually reached out to us for a quote early last year for their upcoming Fountain Square location. They are actually having the grand opening this week. After the 2018 Indiana Brewers Cup, Drew from the Pro Brewing division of the company, ran into Pete Batule at the Upland Tap Room in Broad Ripple. They talked for a while, and Pete expressed his interest in working with an Indiana Company and how that is very important to Upland Brewing. We were excited to work with Upland as well, and let them know that we could absolutely help them out with their brewing equipment needs. We love working with Indiana Breweries and helping them to succeed. After that meeting things really took off. This 7bbl brewery in Fountain Square was right in our wheelhouse. So this was really the first time we have had the pleasure of working with them. The neat thing on this particular project is that they will be using this system for test batches and to do collaborations with other Indiana Breweries.

What is most recent brewery you’ve partnered with?

We consider each sale as a partnership actually. But one brewery I got personally involved with is Textile Brewing in Dyersville IA (home of The Field of Dreams movie). Dyersville is about 20 min away from my hometown of Dubuque IA. Turns out the owner, Tom Olberding, and I were at Iowa State University at the same time, lived in the same dormitory, but had never met! So it has been a great fun helping them to achieve their goals.

Thank you so much for being an Amber Waves Brewfest sponsor. Its a great event that introduces several breweries to the area. Gives attendees a chance to sample something they might not have heard of or had the opportunity to try. All while enjoying some great music on two stages this year. And thanks again for taking the time to talk with us.

Click here for more information or to purchase tickets to Amber Waves Brewfest

Click here for more information on Blichmann Engineering

The Ultimate Getaway Weekend | Rensselaer, Indiana

We’re all looking for that diamond in the rough, you know, that secret little gem where we can hideaway for the weekend and disconnect from our normal everyday life. We’re all looking for that ultimate getaway weekend.

Well, look no further because I have a small little town named Rensselaer that has an immense amount of character, cute little shops and restaurants and fun things to do for the entire family.

We have 10 of the best places to visit in Rensselaer to create the ultimate getaway weekend for you and your family.

Here is the Ultimate Getaway Weekend in Rensselaer, IN:

1. Amber Waves Brew Fest

This brew fest (in its second year) was first created in 2018 and is jam-packed with several breweries, music, and food.  Sample and try brews that you may have never had before!  This exciting festival takes place on August 17, so get your tickets now!  Choose August 17, 2019 for your getaway weekend and enjoy this great festival!

2. Comfort Inn Suites

Hurry up and book your hotel room for the weekend of August 17, 2019.  With the brew fest happening, this is a busy weekend for the hotel, so rooms go fast!  This hotel is only a couple of years old and so the rooms are neat, clean and affordable.  Take advantage of the free wifi, free hot breakfast, and an outdoor swimming pool.  Get a special rate during Amber Waves Brew Fest!

3. Wire Whisk Bakery

Recently opened, the Wire Whisk Bakery in downtown Rensselaer in a must in the mornings!  Walk into this quaint little bakery and take in the aroma of sweets and baked goods.  My go-to is always the cream-filled fresh donuts but whatever you choose, your taste buds are sure to thank you.

4. Fenwick Farms Brewing Company

Stop by this family-friendly brewery for a bite to eat during lunch.  With a pet-friendly patio, you and your whole family can enjoy lunch together.  Try any of their seasonal brews like the Will You Be My Neighbor blueberry ale or the ever so popular, Bravo Four.  Pair those with a juicy hamburger and some ranch fries.


5. The Ritz Theater

Built back in 1928, the Ritz Theater (originally named the Palace Theater) was home to some of the earliest films.  It’s retro-styled entryway and seating area takes you back in time to simpler days.  The theater plays new movies and occasionally even has live shows! This theater is a gem and a must-see.


Commissioned in Summer 2019, the RENARTWLK is a new feature of downtown Rensselaer.  It’s a collection of amazing art pieces created by international street artists.  Walk through the alleys to see beautiful pieces such as sea turtles and Korean beauties.  There are numerous picture opportunities along the way including walking the famous cat of The Station, Stout or protecting yourself from a colorful rain of paint with an umbrella.  Post your pictures online with the hashtag #renartwlk to join the community.


7. Busy Bee

No trip to Rensselaer is complete without a trip to the famous ice cream shop, Busy Bee.  Nestled up against the Iroquois River, Busy Bee has been a long-time tradition for Rensselaer residents and visitors.  It’s soft-serve ice cream and daily flavors that please everyone!  Busy Bee is a seasonal experience in Rensselaer so be sure to visit this little town between Memorial Day and Labor Day for a delicious sweet treat!

8. Shopping

What trip is complete without a little shopping?  Rensselaer’s downtown is jam-packed with several shops.  One of the most popular little shops is Willow Switch, a cute store full of rustic décor.  Not only is this a cute shopping spot but you can grab a coffee while you shop.  Definitely a must!  Along with Willow Switch, check out Country Bumpkin, Unique Finds and more!

9. eMbers/The Station

This unique business is located on the main strip in downtown Rensselaer.  eMbers was the first of the two businesses to open which boasts more of an event venue with occasional special events like concerts, shows, and whiskey tastings.  The Station is a small restaurant connected to eMbers that has the COOLEST pizza oven, a full bar, and a gorgeous patio.  Kids and dogs are welcome on the patio but not inside because of the bar.


10. The Little Coffee Shop on 231

This coffee shop lives up to its name.  Nestled in the strip of shops across from the courthouse, this coffee shop boasts a big personality in a small space.  They have expanded their seating to the outdoor sidewalk.  You will find seasonal coffee flavors and delicious smoothies.  And fun fact…pets are welcome!

As you can see, you can make a great little trip out of Rensselaer, Indiana.  It’s a gem in the corner of Northwest Indiana.  If you want to extend your stay in Rensselaer but are looking for more activities around the area, this little town is a great central hub to Indiana Beach, the Indiana Dunes National Park, and France Park.  It’s also a midway point between Indianapolis and Chicago on I65.

To get your tickets to Amber Waves, visit here.

Breweries at the Festival

See a list of the 30+ breweries pouring at Amber Waves Brewfest. Attendees will be able to sample more than 50 regional craft beers.

18th Street Brewing

Just awarded USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best Brewpub, 18th Street is currently the second largest brewery in Northwest Indiana. Their beers range from saisons to double India Pale Ales to double milk stouts to pilsners and lagers. 18th Street is comprised of hard working, motivated individuals who strive to be the best.

Three Floyds

From their humble beginnings in 1996—armed with only a few hundred dollars, a five-barrel Frankenstein wok-burner-fired brew kettle, repurposed open Swiss cheese fermenters (Hammond Squares) and an old Canfield’s Cola tank—”It’s Not Normal” ales and lagers were born. Three Floyds refuses to compromise “Not Normal” quality and flavor for their incredibly loyal following.


At Upland, their brewers are always experimenting, and putting their own spin on traditional brewing recipes with unique local ingredients. Their beers—from wood-aged sour ales to traditional ales and lagers—are as complex, interesting and approachable as the people who make and enjoy them.

Revolution Brewing

Revolution is Illinois largest independently-owned brewery. The change in the U.S. beer scene has undoubtedly been revolutionary. The evolving tastes of beer drinkers has demanded bigger flavors, more variety, and better beer. That’s exactly what they give you at Revolution Brewing. Between the brewery and brewpub, Revolution produces dozens of different beer styles every year. IPAs, porters, pilsners, Belgian-style ales, pale ales, barrel-aged beers—the list goes on!

Fenwick Farms Brewing Co.

Fenwick Farms Brewing Company is extremely proud to be Rensselaer’s first brewery sharing a lot of the same values as the little town that they call home. They believe in hard work and taking pride in everything they put our name on. A genuine smile, a firm handshake, and an honest day’s work. They work hard to keep all these values at their core – every day, every beer.

New Holland Brewing Co.

New Holland Brewing Company’s deep roots in the craft industry go back to 1997. Their role as an integral member of the artisan approach is something they take seriously, yet engage lightheartedly.

New Holland Brewing believes the art of craft lives in fostering rich experiences for their customers, through creating authentic beer, spirits and food while providing great service. Recognized for their creativity and artistry, New Holland’s mission to improve the lives of craft consumers everywhere is seen in their diverse, balanced collection of beer and spirits.

The Devil’s Trumpet Brewing Co.

At The Devil’s Trumpet Brewing Co., they take pride in brewing quality hand crafted beers. Their mission is to produce aromatic, clean and full flavor craft beer. Brewed with old world tradition and new world imagination.


Their passionate staff brew classic American ales, German lagers, and more with the hope of bringing people together around fresh local beer. Beer for the People… who enjoy hand crafted full-flavored beers.

Greenbush Brewing Co.

Greenbush Brewing Co. is nestled in the historic downtown of Sawyer, MI. Specializing in robust & inspired beers, southern-style barbeque, from-scratch cuisine, artisan meats & a DIY mentality, Greenbush is a haven for both beer and food enthusiasts alike.


The legacy began back in 1871, when Bavarian immigrant Philip Zorn Jr —the son of a signature brewer—migrated to Michigan City to start his own microbrew venture. Today they introduce a new series of exceptional craft beers to rival any of the past. Michigan City’s oldest microbrewery is now its newest.

Crasian Brewing Co.

Not just another craft brewing start up, but a venture of quality, flavor and taste. Tom and Michele Bulington’s family-owned micro brewery is ready to bring Brookston, Monticello and the greater Lafayette area some of the tastiest unfiltered ales, seasonals and one-offs. Crasian’s Brewing philosophy is simple, they want their customers to enjoy that classic old brewery feel combined with small town comfort where one feels at home, no matter where home may be.


Shoreline Brewery has been serving handcrafted beers at the edge of Lake Michigan since it’s opening in August of 2005. To this day Shoreline is family-owned and independently run by its original founder and Head Brewer, Sam Strupeck. With twelve beers always on tap, everyone will find a beer to fall in love with, whether it be the award-winning Beltaine Scottish Ale, the fan-favorite Curse the Goat, or the seasonal Stellar Blue blueberry ale.

St John Malt Bros.

St. John Malt Brothers Craft Brewers offers a broad beer lineup keeping over 17 original beers on tap. On tap you will find a combination of traditional styles, beers with a Malt Brothers twist, some more esoteric pilot batches and barrel-aged special releases.

Evil Czech Brewery

Founded by George Pesek using the same philosophy he’s employed throughout his career as a chef and restaruanteur; use only the highest quality ingredients, surround yourself with people who are as passionate about your product as you are, improve your technique each and every day, and give your customers what they want! The result is a line of fantastic hand-crafted brews that will match any mood you’re in, and enhance any occasion you’re celebrating.


Tony Magee started brewing on a stovetop homebrew kit and, after a couple batches, some stray wort had spilled down the back. When Thanksgiving night came, and the wort caught fire and burned the turkey to a crisp, Tony’s wife Carissa kindly asked him to move his new hobby elsewhere.  

He moved into an old storage shed in the town of Forest Knolls, Calif. (next to the town of Lagunitas, which Tony thought had a cool-sounding name…) and he started brewing more. The beers ranged from vile and repugnant, to delicate and exceptional. Tony grew out of that space and moved just down the road to Petaluma, bringing his recipes and the Lagunitas name with him. Whether supporting local communities by turning beer into money for the cause, or simply fueling stories and songs with IPA and other fine ales, they’ve learned one thing (aside for how to cook a turkey)… Wherever you go: beer speaks, people mumble.


In May 1867, the Leinenkugel family brewery was founded in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin by Jacob Leinenkugel. He was a family man driven by an iron work ethic, and he knew that his German family heritage would play an integral part of his brewery’s success. Today, the sixth generation of Leinenkugels continues to brew some of the same family-inspired recipes that Jacob poured his heart and soul into.

Ballast Point

The perfect balance of taste and aroma. An obsession with ingredients. An exploration of techniques. And while they savor the result, they’re just as fascinated by the process to get there. What started as a small group of home brewers, who simply wanted to make a better beer, evolved into the adventurers known today as Ballast Point.

New Oberpfalz Brewing

Taking their name from a district in Bavaria called the Oberpfalz (“Upper Palatinate”). The Oberpfalz is located in the northeast corner of Bavaria and is comprised of the frontier between Nürnberg, Germany and the German/Czech border. It is a rugged landscape, rich in brewing history, and home to many great beers. The brewery was commissioned in Dec. 2014 and released their first beers in Jan. 2015.

They produce a variety of beer styles, but specialize in classic German beer.

Teays River

At Teays River Brewing & Public House, their focus is always on quality, innovation, creativity, and fostering memorable experiences in a fun, comfortable, and casual environment. Whether it’s a quick stop for a pint or a growler refill on the way home from work, a casual evening with friends, date night, or family dinner with the kids.

Bell’s Brewery

It started with a 15-gallon soup kettle, a quest for better beer and countless batches of homebrew. The passion and personality that began Bell’s continues today through their breweries and Eccentric Café. They continue to grow and evolve, dedicated to their mission; to be fiercely independent, 100% family owned, deeply rooted to our community, committed to the environment and brewers of inspired beer.

10-56 Brewing

Owner/Brewer Erica Hemphill is on a mission to brew mindful, tasteful ales for your enjoyment. She focuses on consistent basics with recipes from Light Pilsners to the darkest of Stouts and many in between.

Firestone Walker

Beer runs deeper than blood. Funny how brothers settle things the old fashioned way. Try brothers-in-law who own a brewery together. David, AKA The Lion, and Adam, AKA The Bear, may battle, epically at times, but at least neither ever forget it’s for the love of beer.

Black Dragon Meadery

Black Dragon Meadery produces the traditional and unique meads of our award-winning Meadmaster rediscovering the lost art of meadmaking as an authentic discipline from the Olde World, dating back to the ancients and producing their motto, “Return to the Olde Ways”. What you get is as close today to what the ancients drank using real natural ingredients (raw honey, real fruit), and natural processes to achieve maximum flavor with maximum clarity without filtration, a flavor-removing process.

And more!…

If you don’t have tickets to Amber Waves Brewfest, now is the time! We are only days away!!

For tickets Click Here

How to Prepare for Your First Brew Fest | Amber Waves Brewfest

Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned professional, we could all use a little help preparing for your first or the next brew fest of the summer.  We’re here to help.  We are about to give you some great tips on how to prepare for your first brew fest.

Purchase Amber Waves Brewfest tickets

Step #1:  Bring a Bag

Trust me, this one has got to be at the top of your list.  Typically, when you go to a brew fest you are going to get so much kick ass swag that you’ll want something to carry it in.  Besides, you need your hands free to sample all of the beer!  We suggest a drawstring bag or something lightweight.

Step #2:  Wear Comfortable Shoes.

Yeah, we get it hot stuff, you want to look cute. But, if you don’t want your little piggies aching by the end of the day, you will want to wear some comfortable shoes.  We’re not saying you have to strap on some Velcro trainers with arch support (although not a bad idea) but you may want to skip the high heels for this type of event.

Step #3: Pace Yourself

Look, we know that once you arrive you feel like a kid in a candy store.  There are so many breweries and so many varieties that your heart starts racing and you start salivating like no other.  However, pace yourself.   This isn’t a race; this is a chance to familiarize yourself with new beer and varieties to widen your horizon.  Besides, you don’t want to be the first one carried out.

Step #4: Deodorant

I can’t stress this enough.  Brew fests happen right in the dead of summer and you will be sweating in places you didn’t realize you could sweat.  Protect your dignity and your neighbors and wear deodorant.  We are all going to be crowded around one another and you want to feel fresh and smell fresh.  Use deodorant!

Step #5: Enjoy Your First Brew Fest

This step is the easiest.  Just enjoy yourself.  Meet new people, talk with brewers, dance to the music and toast to a great summer. 

We hope that these tips help you prepare for your first brew fest.  Don’t forget to grab your tickets to Amber Waves Brew Fest that is scheduled for August 17, 2019!

To purchase tickets click here.

Top 4 American Ales for Independence Day

With Independence Day around the corner, it’s time to salute some of the best American Ales to drink for the holiday.  Maybe these are regulars in your fridge, or maybe it’s time to step outside your comfort zone and toast to these interpretations on classic American beer styles.

American Ale can be traced back to English roots, although Americans put a different spin on these earthy ales.  The American-inspired beer has more of a fruity, pine-like taste to the beer and also embodies a medium maltiness, making it the perfect foodie beer.  It pairs well with most foods because of its diverse flavor and simple ingredients.

Now, that you’ve learned a little more about these American ales, let’s get into our choices for the top American ales for Independence Day, shall we?

1: Agrestic American Wild Red Ale – Firestone Walker Brewing Company

This particular American Ale was the foundation to the Firestone Walker Brewing Company when it first opened its doors in 1996.  This beer was matured in French and American oak making it trés delicious and carrying a wonderful aroma!

ABV: 6.6%


2: 3 Floyd’s Pear Bear American Wild Ale

Are you into the sours?  3 Floyd’s Pear Bear is brewed with pears and leaves your nose and tongue doing tangling happy dance.  Your nose will think you’re drinking gummy candies, but your tongue will recognize the tart flavor right away – think juicy pears!  If you’re into sours, better pucker up!

ABV: 7.5%


3: New Oberpfalz Brewing American Porter

If you’re looking for something a little dark, try this American Ale that leaves remnants of chocolate and coffee.  The smooth semi-sweet taste is that off dark malts and smokey flavor. The robust flavor of this beer does not disappoint.  This American Porter is currently draft only.

ABV: 5.7%


4: St. John Malt Brothers Brewing AP4K American Pale Ale

Rounding out our top 4 picks for Independence Day is the AP4K American Pale Four Thousand.  This beer is fairly new to the world of ale but has received some great reviews from new customers.  It’s pleasant aroma and sweet taste is pleasing beer geeks for sure!  This beer is jam packed with Cascade hops, but it doesn’t overpower the sweet malt taste!  The availability on this beer is limited but worth a try!

ABV: 5.9%


Celebrate Independence Day by toasting to American Ale and don’t forget to purchase your tickets to the 2019 Amber Waves Brewfest to sample and speak with these breweries in person!

The Top 5 Must-Have Beers for a Memorial Day Weekend

Picture this.  You arrive at a cookout or family gathering ready to kick back and enjoy a beautiful day with great company.  You’re ready to relax, eat some good food and remember our fallen heroes. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others and a day to relax and enjoy these freedoms. However, you find out that the cooler is empty.  Suddenly panic sets in, this isn’t what you were picturing for your 3-day weekend.

Memorial Day is just around the corner and you’re probably already making plans for the 3-day weekend.  Whether those plans include a cookout with family or a lake day with friends, I’m sure that beer might be at the top of your shopping list.  Instead of sticking with your regular go-to beers, we’ve got some great options ready to please your palate and your guests.  These are the top 5 must-have beers for Memorial Day weekend.

1: 3 Floyd’s Gumballhead American Wheat

We start our Memorial Day list with an American wheat ale.  This local Indiana legend pours bright gold with nice white head and good retention. Grapefruit aroma rolls off the foam from the hand-picked Amarillo hops. Crisp and clean, this beer pushes the bitterness line without going too far.

ABV: 5.6% IBU: 35


2: 18th Street Best Patio Pilsner

Pick up this patio must-have (I mean it says it right in the name of the lager) and enjoy this light and crisp beer. This beer has a great clean taste for those with a mild palate and a pleasant aroma. If we want to get romantic with our description, it has a light golden straw color. Heavy carbonation gives an ample white head that melts into a nice lace. True to the style which is perfect for the start of summer.

ABV: 4.9%


3: Revolution Freedom of Speach Session Sour

Staying true to honoring Memorial Day, this crushable session sour has a fierce legal talon adorning the can. Brace yourself for this sweet beer that brings fruitiness to the top of our beer list. Though this beer is sweet, it does end with a tart finish and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy (outside) just like a fuzzy peach…. see what I did there?  This is the beer that will take you to the summer nights you’ll never forget… or will forget. Freedom is yours.

ABV: 4.5% IBU: 7


4: Bell’s Official Hazy IPA

We had to hop on the haze craze somewhere on the list. And this beauty pours an opaque lemon yellow bursting with American hop aroma. The can looks like it belongs at a baseball game. The smell takes you on a tropical oasis. Very nicely balanced bitterness against the malt. Highly accessible, easy drinker.

ABV: 6.4% IBU: 55


5: Fenwick Farms Brewing Company’s Bravo4 APA

This flagship recipe from local boys Fenwick Farms Brewing Company was brewed in tribute to co-owner Kenny VanHouten who served about a decade and two over-seas tours in the United States Army. If it’s pouring in the brewpub, he has it in hand. This American Pale Ale pours a sunburnt gold with a one finger white foam head. Hops come from neighboring hop farm Cone Keepers. Fresh flake form uses Cascade and Chinook throughout the boil and dry hopped for 7 days with Comet. Great fresh hop brew.

ABV: 5.7% IBU: 42


We hope you enjoyed this kick ass list of top 5 must-have beers for Memorial Day weekend to kick off your summer.

Join us and all of the breweries on this list on August 17 for Amber Waves Brewfest – where our ABV is 100% and the bitterness stays in the beer, not in the atmosphere.

You can purchase tickets to Amber Waves Brewfest right here.

Jim Estry – President and co-founder of Saint John Malt Brothers

Amber Waves is getting to know the brewers who will be in attendance in a series called Who’s the Brew. As we get ready for the second annual Amber Waves Brewfest, Jim Estry of Saint John Malt Brothers (center in photo) was nice enough to let us steal some time. Their motto is “Great Beer, Great Food & Great Service” and we have yet to meet someone who says otherwise!

Picture from Left to Right – Dave Witt (Co-Founder), Jim Estry (President and co-founder), Dan Cox – (Co-Founder and VP)

Thanks for taking the time to do this Jim. Tell us a little bit about the St. John Malt Brothers & how long SJMB has been a part of the Northwest Indiana craft beer scene.

SJMB has been in business a little over 4 years now and began with 3 neighbors sitting around a fire pit drinking craft beer and thinking, “We should get involved with this business”

How many taps in your tasting room? Any guest taps or are they all yours?

Currently 20 taps, all ours.

Any particular beer your currently very happy with? Any favoritism towards a specific batch?

Tripel Dog Dare (Belgian Tripel), 400ft east IPA, Game Over Man, Kolsch. Our Oktoberfest is by far the best Oktoberfest brewed in the region.

For more information and a complete list of SJMB’s beer click here.

I have memories of when Kennywood was run out of a basement before the shop on the Crown Point square.  Then it moved again to St. John. How was St. John Malt Brothers connected to Kennywood Brew Supply?

Shortly before we opened our Brewery, Bob Heinlein came to me and offered to sell Kennywood to us as he was relocating, it was a nice little business for us, but it took up way too much of our time and pulled us away from perfecting our craft as a brewery. Subsequently, we made the decision to liquidate our inventory and focus on the brewery.

Do you have any advice for home brewers?

Spend all the time you would have used in brewing to visit the local breweries in this area. Northwest Indiana is producing some outstanding brews and is rapidly becoming a destination area for craft brew enthusiast.

You now offer a full menu in the eatery, what seems to be the local favorite? Any signature dishes?

Instead of a breadbasket we provide hushpuppies that are rapidly becoming iconic to the area. We also offer several eclectic dishes that can be found nowhere else, including our “Pint of Bacon”, Savory chicken and waffles, Smoked prime rib cheesesteak sandwiches, fried catfish, as well as several others.

Have you brewed any collaborations? Is there a specific craft brewer you’d jump at the chance to collaborate with?

We have collabed with Crown Brewing and would like to team up with several others but just don’t have the time.

What does the future hold for St. John Malt Brothers?

We are currently moving our brewery to a new much larger location, so we can ad more fermentation capacity. Our restaurant will also be moving to a different location here in SJ in the new development. We have applied for a second brewers permit so we can set up a pilot system in the new restaurant.

We’re looking forward to the new space & definitely looking forward to having you out at Amber Waves this August.

For more information on St. John Malt Brothers.

For tickets to Amber Waves

Sam Yacko of Fenwick Farms Brewing Company

Amber Waves is getting to know the brewers who will be in attendance in a series called Who’s the Brew. As we get ready for the second annual Amber Waves Brewfest we look back when we sat down with Sam Yacko of Fenwick Farms Brewing Company. This year FFBC is a major sponsor and Sam talks about the brewery, the beers and the role it plays in the community.

How long has Fenwick Farms Brewing Company been in business now?

Since mid-august of 2017. We haven’t even been open a full year, but I think we’ve represented the community of Rensselaer well. And we’ve done a good job of servicing the town of Rensselaer by giving them a locally made craft beer option. Currently the only locally made craft beer option.

Why did you feel Rensselaer needed this kind of option?

Ah, I wish Kenny was here to answer that one. I drive down more than 45 min everyday. Whereas Kenny and Ron, the other two co-owners, live right here in Rensselaer and can speak into that a little more thorough. They introduced me to this town and I fell in love with it. It’s this great small town right in the middle of Chicago and Indianapolis. With our location right off I-65 we get a lot of travelers stopping in. Adventurers looking for new craft breweries. And so far we’ve been pretty well received with what we have to offer.

You mentioned you wished that Kenny and Ron were here. Were you all here from the very beginning? Or did Kenny and Ron say, “hey, I know who needs to brew for us…”

We were all involved from the very beginning. Kenny and I met years ago when we worked at the same company in Crown Point. We talked about opening up a brewery together. He moved on to another opportunity and later so did I. We met back up when this building we are standing in became available. There was this perfect storm of events and Ron was on board at this time as well. And here we are now. Still growing, still expanding and trying to do our best every single day.

Were you brewing somewhere before Fenwick Farms Brewing Co.?

Not at the scale I am now. I originally started like everyone else on a piddly, little home brew kit that was nightmarishly messy. I learned a lot from Kenny at this scale and I love the result we are getting. Beats staying in the basement.

You don’t miss basement bucket brewing?

I couldn’t afford a decent home brew setup myself. No question. It’s much better having professional regulators, gauges and testing equipment. It’s a lot easier to hone in your recipes than guessing what went right or more importantly what went wrong. I’m proud of what we are doing. We definitely started this the right way.

Is the beer you’re most proud of, the most popular or best seller?

It’s kind of hard to tell. The Iroquois River Cream Ale gets a lot of attention partially because the Iroquois River runs right through town so the locals love it. It’s an easy drinking traditional light brew that a lot of people gravitate to. My favorite is our Fly Free Wheat Ale. Unfiltered and light on the tongue, served traditionally with a slice of orange. I would stand behind our Hop Yard IPA any day. It’s not an overly hopped IPA. It’s on the mild side. We use locally grown hops from Cone Keepers Hop Yard. We use freshly crushed cones and never pellets. It has made all the difference.

Why did you decide to brew a milder IPA?

Neither Kenny or myself prefer a punch in the face hoppy beer. In our first conversation with Cone Keepers and what they were offering combined with what it is we wanted to brew, I feel like we did them justice. I feel like we developed a well balanced IPA that showcases the floral, fruity, citrus-like, piney American-variety hop character.

Have you considered barrel aging?

Absolutely. That has been part of the conversation since day one. We all love barrel aged beers. And with this location we have this tremendous basement that would be perfect space for housing barrels. However, keeping up with demand has been a little taxing. So for right now we’d like to continue to do the special edition limited offerings that benefit the community before we get into barrel aging.

Update: Fenwick Farms Brewing Company has a Knob Creek maximum char white oak bourbon barrel to age their Snow Angel Holiday Ale for a winter release.

How many flagship beers do you currently have?

We have 6. Fly Free Wheat, Spéirbhean Irish Red, Willow Switch Porter brewed with local Willow Switch coffee, Hop Yard IPA, Iroquois River Cream Ale, and Fort & Outpost Lager. Read more about them here.

Update: They’ve since added a 7th, Bravo 4 APA. An American Pale Ale brewed as a tribute to co-owner Kenny VanHouten. A must try when it’s on tap.

What is the defining differences between your cream ale and your lager?

The yeast that’s used imparts very different flavor profiles. On top of that, our cream ale is brewed with vanilla and ginger just to spice it up a little bit. Our Fort & Outpost Lager is a traditional recipe. I consider that our gateway beer. Being that we are the first craft brewery in town, a lot of our guests are new to these varieties. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “…I don’t really like those bitter tasting things.” So I direct them to our lager for a familiar taste.

Is there something you’re excited to try in the future?

Yeah. I’d love to make a sour. I was hesitant at first. I wasn’t sure how well received it would be. We’ve had a couple on our guest taps and so far they’ve been pretty popular. So that’s encouraging.

One of my favorite beers of all time is Dead Guy from Rogue Ale in Oregon. a German Maibock made with their proprietary yeast. To me that is a perfect beer. I’d love to have an opportunity to do a collaboration with them. I wouldn’t even have to have any input, I would just love to hear what they had to say. I’d love to see what a collaboration at that scale would bring to the community.

How important is community to this brewery?

That has always been the first thought in our minds. We brewed our Snow Angel Winter Ale as a limited release. We discounted it heavily and gave the profits to our local rotary club. If I remember correctly it was just over $1,700 which helped 50 plus families in need within the town of Rensselaer and Jasper County enjoy a holiday meal. We plan on doing that again and taking what we learned last year to make this year even more of a success.

Fenwick Farms Brewing Co. is going to be at Amber Waves. Is this your first brew fest?

We’ve been to a handful but not one at this scale. This will be the largest and most local we’ve attended. We’ve talked with the Jasper County Fairgrounds and they’re excited for it. It’s the first time they’ve hosted anything like this. We’re both hoping it brings a lot of people to Jasper County who have never been here before and it will help put our name on the map.

Update: Second time. Still excited. If not more so.

What’s next for Fenwick Farms Brewing Co.?

We’ve just expanded our building and put in a kitchen, so look for our food menu online soon. We are partnering with local food providers to round out the menu. We get our cheese from Fair Oaks Farms and our meat from Culp Farms.  We’ve got a great staff to help out with that and a handful of people have put in a lot of work to make this happen. So we are really excited about that and excited about the future for this small town.

Update: They’ve hired a chef and you can see the menu here. They’ve added cocktails as well. 

For more information on Fenwick Farms Brewing Co.

For tickets to Amber Waves

Blake Murray of Burn ‘Em Brewing

Today we got to sit down with taproom manager Blake Murray of Burn’ Em Brewing. Blake is one of the original 7 friends who started this journey together. Burn ‘Em Brewing strives to bring their creativity in the way they brew to produce the finest and most unique brews in the region. Blake shares how this all started with a group of friends and some of the new faces they’ve met along the way.

Tell us a little about Burn’ Em.

We are a microbrewery in Michigan City which is in Northwest Indiana right on the Indiana/Michigan border. We started brewing about 4 years ago and opened a taproom a year later. It’s been open for about 3 ½ years now. We started as 7 friends from Highschool all brewing together in my house. Opened our LLC in 2013 and opened our doors in 2014 and it has been a wild ride. It started out just us, and now we are up to about 12 employees total.

You guys are surrounded in some pretty incredible illustrations. Your cans are like graphic novels. How did that all come about?

Oh yeah, definitely. So the first time we wanted to package we reached out to multiple artists. We had a guy that said “My friend Max who’s up in Chicago who draws comics and all sorts of stuff… He’d be perfect for you guys.” He sent us his portfolio. We checked out a few other artists, but once we saw Max Clarke’s work, we really liked his style. We sent him a couple beer names, he sent us some illustrations, and ever since it has been exclusively him.

Max is originally from Ohio. When we connected, he was in Chicago, but now he’s out in Brooklyn. He is an artist and musician. His band the Cut Worms tour all over the place. He’s done a handful of posters for us and probably over 30 cans. We give him a beer name and style, and for the most part, it’s all him after that.

One of my favorites is the “I’ll Be The Same” which is our Sour that we do several variations on. Currently, we are pouring a watermelon variant. We can the standard and dry-hopped version. They’re the same label but different color. Max took a “Where’s Waldo” approach on that label. It’s all the characters from all our other labels we’ve ever done. We don’t put the logo on the front of the can. It’s on the back with the description. But we kept the front open for the illustrations. The first two might have had it on there, but after that, it’s just been the name of the beer and the characters telling the story.

How many cans deep are you now?

We are getting close to 30 but its somewhere in the late 20s. I’ll have to start counting.

Tell us about the Tap Room?

We are open 7 days a week. Our hours are Mon.-Thurs. 2p-10p – 11a-10p F-S and 11a-8p on Sunday. 10 taps, indoor seating year round and two patios in the summer. We do winterize one of the patios, and it says warm even on the coldest of days. We can fit 4-5 tables out there plus 20-30 people. We are looking into adding a fire pit to the other so we can keep it open as well. We’ll see what happens. We have a small food program. We roast soft pretzels out of our spent grain that we serve with pimento beer cheese. And rotational flatbread pizza with seasonal toppings all on pizza dough made by Arturo’s Baked Goods.

We have live entertainment. Every Tuesday Robert Rolfe Feddersen is there doing vinyl night. Between May and October, we’ll also do a two-hour acoustic set. We booked 22 local musicians this summer, and we’ll be doing the same thing next summer. We occasionally do other nights of music spattered here and there. Robert is kind of our unofficial sponsor. He came in our place before we had a taproom and wanted to play. So as soon as we could, we set that up, and he’s been doing it ever since. He committed to our vinyl night and didn’t do that for anyone else. Now, my twin brother, myself, one other owner, a guitarist and Feddersen started playing together in a 5 piece band called Beer Hippies. We recorded a couple songs on 2” analog tape in Chicago with Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, Cheap Trick) as Feddersen always does. We book a show a month. My brother and I stopped playing when we got busy with the brewery, but he (RRF) got us back into it. We’re general rock n’ roll that’s a little folky, little bluesy. Depending on who wrote the song. My brother tends to write bluesy, and Feddersen adds the folk influence. We’re up to about 12 original songs.

The events set in stone at Burn’ Em are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and we do four big seasonal parties. In the middle of January, we do our Long Johns On release. We do barrel aged versions of it. It’s an outdoor winter fest, so we bring out the higher alcohol beers that keep you warm. We do a 420 event on April 20 or whatever Saturday it falls closest to. We serve 20 or so beers and have about 5 bands. 420 is more music-centric whereas the others are celebrating beer releases. Our anniversary party is in mid-June.

What is your favorite beer to Enjoy? What’s the most popular?

We are very varietal. We’re up to about 300-400 recipes now. The 10 beers on tap change regularly. I do really like our most popular beers. Well, actually I’m not a fan of one of our biggest selling summer beers we release from April to October is Coconoats. But that’s just a coconut thing. It’s an American Pale Wheat Ale. Thick and creamy mouthfeel, but lively and refreshing. The coconut becomes more present as it warms. People come in all winter asking for it, but it’s only available in the summer.

The Fourteen Buck Chuck is one of my favorite. It’s our biggest selling beer by far. All Citra hopped American Pale Ale. A lot of Citra in the end boil and dry hopping. It’s very hop forward. Thinker body. A little bit of a haze going on. The illustration on the can is a $14 bill. We can’t keep that one around enough. We always wanted to brew different beers, but we find ourselves brewing that one all the time now.

I really like our sours. Although the interest in sours is growing, the popularity isn’t there yet. My favorite beer we ever brewed was this Beet and Rosemary sour that we only did one keg of and it’s probably not even something we can recreate. It was a wild fermented sour. It was fantastic. It was two different barrels of a wild saison. Once they were at their prime, we blended them together. We added 25 pounds of roasted beets that we roasted in our facility and added some fresh rosemary from our garden. The whole keg was gone within 24 hours. (laughs) We probably can’t make it again, unfortunately.

That’s a bit of a Tenacious D “Greatest Song in the World” Story. The “greatest sour in the world” but you can never taste it. Only the tributes.

(Shared laughter) Yeah, this watermelon “I’ll Be The Same” is one of my favorite sours we have done as well. It turned out really good. We use the same “I’ll Be The Same” base and add different ingredients before fermenting. We recently did a tangerine version that turned out really well. A cherry, a raspberry, etc.… Whatever we can find really.

You have 10 of your beers on tap, 7 growlers, and additional bottles & cans.

We release a new beer every Friday. Depending on the crowd, sometimes we tap two new beers.
Yesterday we tapped three new beers to celebrate the hop harvest. Three wet-hopped varieties and a garden topped flatbread pizza. All to celebrate the harvest.

When did the current recipes come about?

There are quite a few that came from when we brewed at my house. We had about six or seven carboys going that would ferment in my closet. Hop Parade is one of them.

Your clothes had a good yeast smell to them?

Oh yeah, especially when we had one blow up. Over fermented and just covered some shit.

Are there any others that the recipes that started in the closet and moved its way up?

Actually a good handful. We’re so varietal. So the ones that you see in cans our kind of flagships. The Hop Parade, the Cream Corn, those are both long-standing recipes.

Funny story of how Cream Corn came to be… One of our old roommate’s aunts would just stuff our freezer full of these bags of this home-made cream corn. So my brother wrote a cream ale recipe. We didn’t add lactose like some cream ales, we just utilized the lactose from the dairy in the actual cream corn.

Now we use that as our gateway beer. For those who aren’t familiar with craft beer styles and come in asking “what is the closest thing to a standard domestic lager?” we point them in the direction of the Cream Corn. It’s an easy drinking, nice smooth beer, so it tends to win them over.

Have you done any collaborations?

We’ve done close to 100 now. We have one on tap now with Alter Brewing up in Downers Grove IL. It’s a New England style IPA. One of our parties we did 9 collabs specifically for the event. Had them all on tap at the same time. We’ve done collabs with Hailstorm Brewing, Workhorse, 350, Mikerphone, Shoreline, Bare Hands Fountain Square, Flat 12 to name a few. We are talking with Blue Nose now about doing a collab. We get around. We do a lot of collabs in Chicago and Michigan because we can’t sell there without a distributor. So that’s a way we can introduce ourselves into areas we wouldn’t otherwise be.

You are going to be at Amber Waves next week which is a new festival helping introduce the craft beer industry to Jasper County. Do you know what you’ll be sampling?

We’ll figure it out early this week. Matt or Danny on our team will be down there, and they’re probably setting something aside for it as we speak.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this, looking forward to sampling Burn’em out there!

For more information on Burn’em Brewing click here.

Last chance to your  purchase tickets to Amber Waves Brewfest!

Copyright 2019 Amber Waves. All rights reserved