Hoosier brew heads for big time at fest
Brewed IN the Fort taps locals at Headwaters
An ever-growing list of local breweries and cideries are apparent when considering the enormous growth of Brewed IN the Fort, now in its 21st year.
An event begun near the end of the 20th century, Brewed has changed most profoundly in the last few years. It might be surprising to note how humbly it started out.
“When we started it in 1998, it was just on the parking lot of our Broadway restaurant,” said Josh Volz of Mad Anthony Brewing. “We just had a few regional breweries and brought in some places from around the state like Lafayette Brewing and 3 Floyds. It was really just a party in a parking lot, but it’s grown a lot since then.”
Now hosted on the larger east side of Headwaters Park, Brewed IN the Fort has become a chance for Mad Anthony’s, the city’s first major brewery, to celebrate not only the drinking of beer but the remarkable and steady expansion of offerings in Fort Wayne and around the entire region.
“We want to put the emphasis on Indiana breweries and Indiana beers,” Volz said. “And we’re also shining the spotlight on local foods and on Fort Wayne itself.”
Altogether the event will host 56 booths with offerings from around the state, primarily beer but also ciders and mead. Volz also noted that they’re branching out a bit this year, bringing in Three Rivers Distillery to share some of their products.
Big event, big effort
Pulling this event together, now that it’s no longer just a party in a parking lot, takes a bit of effort.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Volz. “We’re a pretty small team. There’s just a couple of us. After the event is over we give ourselves a couple of months break from it, but in January we start right back up again. But it’s really a labor of love.
“Then the day that everything happens, we run around like our heads are cut off. It’s all worth it though to see how happy everyone is when they’re there and as they leave. It’s great to have the people who make the beer there sharing what they do. It’s all just super, super rewarding.”
Volz said that each of the breweries will be represented by a two-member team including a brewer (and in many cases there is only one brewer) who can help those sampling to make good choices.
“It’s great to have the brewers there to give the right information, and it lets them show their stuff. We’ll have a lot of our regional breweries plus some of the big guys like Sun King, Upland, 3 Floyds. For a person who sees this stuff on a shelf and doesn’t really know what it is, they can come and try these beers and find out there’s some really cool stuff happening. It’s a great chance to hang out with friends and learning about craft beer.”
Don’t get tapped out
For those who have not attended a beer event of this magnitude, there are a few tricks to not overdoing it.
There will be six food trucks on hand to allow for some eating between sips. Among those vendors will of course be Mad Anthony’s own Shigs In Pit, a must stop for barbeque fans.
Bravas will also be on hand, as will Caliente Cuban, Soul Kitchen, King Arthur’s Trolley, and Big Apple Pizza, recently named 2019 Pizza Food Truck of the Year.
There’s also a chance to burn off some beer by dancing since live music will be provided by Rogues & Bandits, Horizon Arcs, and Three Cities. And it’s reasonable to expect some pretty decent walking weather as September moves toward fall.
And speaking of walking, Brewed IN the Fort is also a fundraiser for Fort Wayne Trails. As the elaborate trail system continues to grow and interconnect, Brewed IN the Fort has been helping the effort, last year raising close to $20,000 toward that cause.
One way to further raise money has been through the event’s silent auction, which also supports Fort Wayne Trails. There should be some good items on which to bid, including guitars donated by Sweetwater.
For those hoping to snag VIP tickets, which provide early entry among other advantages, Fort Wayne Trails is your connection there as well. Regular VIP tickets sold out quickly, but a few can still be had by contacting Fort Wayne Trails where they can be purchased for $100. General admission is $40 and designated-driver tickets are $10.
Having a designated driver is a good idea, but Volz said there are plenty of ways to spare yourself regret at a great event like Brewed IN the Fort.
“There are unlimited samples, and we encourage people to enjoy as many as they can responsibly drink,” he said. “Have some food and enjoy everything there is going on that day.”