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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hanging at Hunter's: One Year Down, Cheers to More

Last year, I had the pleasure of checking out Hunter's Brewing soon after they opened. I missed the rush of people and got to really sit and enjoy their brews. Since then, Mr. K and I have gone back nearly every weekend to check out their new tap selections and hang out in the the low-key atmosphere. The owner-brewers go out of their way to make visitors feel welcome.

Their welcoming atmosphere and amazing brew selection have paid off for Hunter's. They had a one-year anniversary celebration yesterday!

Since I wrote about Hunter's last March, they've kept the same feel, but have expanded to really root themselves into the community. They've expanded their tap list, released over 40 new recipes, kept some flagship brews, participated in local events, and forged relationships with local food trucks to add high-quality food to the experience.

When they started out, they had six taps flowing. Now they have eight with a Tap 9 for specialty, limited-release brews. They've shared more than 40 recipes with us, most of which I have notes for here. Sure they have visitors that are singularly devoted to the Mild Child Brown and Threadsplitter IPA, but for the more adventurous patrons they don't disappoint. They've had a range of Belgian-style brews, Irish, Scottish, American, and English. They've released barleywines, rice ales, dunkelweizen, weiss, saisons, stouts, strong ales, smoked, farmhouse, cream ales, porters, reds, tripels, pale ales, and IPAs. They've introduced us to their chile-infused, strawberry-infused, tea-infused, and coffee-infused delights. Unlike some breweries trying to set themselves apart, they don't over booze, hop, or artificially flavor it up. They stick true to the styles and execute it perfectly. Brewing is an art as much as application of their vast knowledge and expertise.

Hunter's enriches the local community. They have participated in events like County Line Orchard's Farm-to-Table Festival and Brews in the Barn. They've partnered with the Octave Grill for a beer pairing dinner. They've showcased their beers and brought some special treats to local beer festivals.

They've partnered with local food trucks, so visitors can grab a bite or a full meal while enjoying Hunter's brews. Hungry, Inc. and The Rolling Stonebaker have made Hunter's a regular weekly stop. Hungry, Inc. has incorporated Hunter's brews into dishes, like beer cheese soup and marinated steak/portabella mushrooms, to add to the beer experience. They have meals that pair with the beers well, not just during their Oktoberfest specials. In addition to pizzas, Rolling Stonebaker has worked up special menus to offer up at the pub. Recently, they made a rich and flavorful molĂ© (which quickly sold out) and set up shop selling vegetable sushi rolls. At one point Early Bird, a vegan and vegetarian food truck, stopped by to fill our stomachs as we drank. Hunter's gives these food trucks a stable place to operate during the winter months. They started something good with these entrepreneurs focused on high-quality food.

A year has passed, and Hunter's Brewing is still around. They still have the same good vibes as when they first opened and consistently delicious beer to match. I think they are here to stay. They are firmly planted in Chesterton and making the pub a home. They finally hung their pictures on the wall!

The Beers
At the anniversary celebration, Hunter's busted out some favorites and special brews. Surprise...they were all delicious. It was a great blend of styles some great for the winter season and some with a hint of springtime. Mr. K and I split small pours of all of them. Some we'd had before, but it was great to try them all together.

  1. Lady Greensleeves | English IPA
    This gold brew was super effervescent. It had a white ring for head. It smelled earthy and woody. It was hard not to savor the mellow hops. It was a deep bitter like an ESB. I had a pour of this last week and took a growler home after this trip to enjoy while it was still available.
  2. Chasing Stars | Saison with Galaxy Hops
    I'm a sucker for saisons as of late. It's all I brewed in 2012 and seems to have replaced the IPA as my go-to beer when I go out. This saison was something special. It was a light gold with a white head. The smell of the light and fruity hops was wonderfully uplifting for the cold winter day. I don't know why pollen was the first thing that popped into my head when I was tasting it. It was musky, tropical, and honey flavored. The fruity yeastiness was amped up by the galaxy hops. 
  3. Mild Child | English Brown
    This brown ale is a good representation of the style. It's smooth and malty with a slight bitter roast. It's no wonder it's become one of their unofficial flagship brews.
  4. Barrel-Aged Porter County | Porter Aged in Journeyman Ravenswood Rye Barrels
    This brew was out of this world. It had all the mellow and smooth flavors of Journeyman's rye, but it was still distinctly Porter County. It had a rich coffee-colored head with a roasted and caramel aroma. The rye came though, but this came in at just 6% ABV. It was clearly Journeyman rye barrel flavors with no additions. They just let it sit and really absorb all of the flavors in that barrel. Hunter's gave this one enough time and did this justice. With a local Michigan distillery and a this Chesterton brewery, it's seriously the best this region has to offer.
  5. Archer's Paradox | Pale Ale with Caliente Hops
    This gold ale left very thick white lacing on the glass. It was another brew in their line up that showcased a flavorful, rich, hop variety. This was a balanced ale with a smooth malty sweetness to match the piney hops.
  6. Threadsplitter | American IPA
    This grassy, hoppy brew is great example of an IPA. It's grassy-floral flavors make it stand out from the standard pine-heavy or pithy-citrus Imperial IPAs. It's flavorful, bitter, and everything I look for in an IPA. It was nice to have this again.
  7. Porter County | Robust Porter
    I made a point to try this side-by-side with the barrel-aged version. It was just as rich and roasted as I remembered. It is such a great brew to end an evening with.
  8. Bossa Nova | Belgian Barleywine
    This was a beer I had been waiting for. We got a sneak preview when they used the second runnings in October for A Date to Remember (Belgian Strong Dark Ale). This was an incredibly smooth and incredibly complex barleywine. I could sip it all day. It had a high ABV, but didn't have the alcohol burn. This shared the dark fruit flavors with the Belgian Strong, but had a more burnt sugar flavor, with a stickiness. I picked up some tobacco flavors too. It was so thick it coated the glass. They served this in 6 oz pours. It was so rich and sippable that 6 oz was more than enough to satisfy me.
  9. 80/94 | Peated Scottish Ale
    I'd had their Exit 26 Scottish Ale before. It was good and balanced. This Peated Scottish was so rich and grainy with a smooth caramel flavor. It was chewy and damned hearty. It was smoky and delicious. I ended up with a pint of this before we left. 

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