Q&A with Lee Smith, Winterfest Organizer

On Feb. 1, the brew-centric event hosted a few thousand hopheads at the State Fairgrounds. We had a beer with her before that.

Hordes of people brave the lousy weather for this event. Why?

They’re passionate about beer. Weeks before the festival, I have people ask when the maps will be available. They want to create a strategy for where to go.

What’s fresh this year?

There [were] a lot of new breweries. Twenty-five have opened in Indiana since October 2012.

Do you remember your first beer?

I think I was about 7 years old. The morning after my parents had a party, I got up and tried some 10-hour-old Michelob. Not good, but that was my first.

What’s your favorite variety these days?

I’ve really acquired a taste for the hoppy beers. What tasted hideous and bitter the first time now tastes great. But I also like the coffee stouts, especially if they have chocolate in them. It’s all the best things in the world together: coffee, cocoa, and alcohol.

A version of this article appeared in the February 2014 issue.