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Mad Anthony’s “Octobeer Fest” showcases Indiana breweries
By Jim Fester
Fort Wayne Reader
There’s more to beer than meets the tastebuds. Like wine, cheese, chocolate, or coffee, some brewers take their product very seriously, and can wax poetic about texture, flavor, body, richness, boldness, etc. Granted, sampling a half-dozen different types of cheese won’t make you want to sing the entire AC/DC catalog a capella (though I’m told doing that will mark you down as an amateur as well as an idiot), but the principal is the same.
People will have a chance to sample some of Indiana’s best microbreweries during “Octobeer Fest” on September 24th, when the Mad Anthony Brewery plays host to 13 area breweries — 11 from Indiana, and a couple from Michigan. Local German band Freudermacher” will be playing from 2 – 4 pm.
Apparently, Indiana has a lot of good breweries, according to Blaine Stuckey, one of the owners and co-founders of Mad Anthony. “Yeah, they’re very good,” he says. “Indiana really produces some awesome beer, and not a lot of people know that.”
Making your own beer for mass consumption is a complicated process. Yet Stuckey appears not to take himself or his profession too seriously. “I like beer,” he says, when asked what lead him to get into the business. “But really, I knew somebody was eventually going to open up a microbrewery in Fort Wayne. It just sounded like a great business. And it is.”
Actually, Stuckey and co-founder Todd Grantham spent years educating themselves in the restaurant and brewery business before they opened Mad Anthony’s. General manager Jeff Neels, a friend of Grantham’s with a lot of restaurant experience, was brought in shortly after they bought the Munchie Emporium. Then, they promptly started winning awards. Their Auburn Lager beat out almost 2,000 entries from over 500 breweries all over the country to win the silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Later, they won first and third place honors at the Indiana State Fair Professional Brewers Competition.
Stuckey says that in the restaurants, it’s the Auburn lager that tends to be the most popular, with the Pale Ale blonde lager coming in a close second. “Instead of grabbing a diet beer, they’ll go ahead a grab a blonde, and that gets them into the market,” Stuckey says. “They drink a few, and they’ll say ‘hmmm, let me try that Auburn lager…’ It’s like coffee. First you try it with all the sugar and cream, and eventually, you work up to black. Same thing. People start on the light stuff.”
And when pressed, Stuckey will get into the nitty-gritty of beer brewing — the process (for the record: brewing can take an eight hour day, then anywhere from six to 12 days for fermentation), the malts, the hops, the characteristics of different types of beer and the misconceptions people have. “ A lot of people think that because it’s a darker beer, it’s a stronger beer,” he says. “Truly, a lot of times, in a lot of the stouts, you can have just as light a body, just use a rich, roasted grain, a barley. So, someone will see one of our Harry Baals Irish Stouts — named after a former mayor, and it’s pronounced ‘Bails’ — and think ‘oh, that’s too strong. It’ll go to my head.’ With craft beer, we can make a beer that’s a lighter style lager, or we can make one that’s got a lot of gravity to it, like a Bock.”
This is the third year for Mad Anthony’s “Octobeer Fest.” “It’s just a great platform to have people sample craft beer from all over the state,” Stuckey says.
Meanwhile, the Mad Anthony recently opened a restaurant in Auburn, with a location in Warsaw scheduled for the end of the year. Stuckey says they’re very happy with the reception their beers have gotten in Fort Wayne and the surrounding area, but says their expansion plans aren’t too grandiose. “We’re really small brewers,” he says. “We realize who the giants are in the industry, but that’s not what we strive to be. We want to be the local brew pub.”
Mad Anthony Octobeer Fest
Saturday, September 24th
Tent and beer garden, 2 pm – 6 pm
Tickets: $20/$25 day of. Available at Mad Anthony and Belmont Beverage