Best New Breweries: Cannon Ball

One of the smallest taprooms in the city is also one of the greatest.

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If you were looking for a brewery location, you might settle on a more auspicious one than the rough (albeit fast-developing) Kennedy-King neighborhood. As you built your brand, you’d almost certainly serve at least one regularly occurring beer. Cannon Ball Brewing has done neither of these things. Yet the tiny taproom along the Monon Trail brings bikes to a screeching halt for its small-batch ales and unmatched fine-dining menu.

With a two-barrel system, owner/brewer Mark Swartz can only offer six or seven beers at a time. But those six or seven tend to be showstoppers. On a recent visit, the One Night in Bangkok Thai-basil golden ale stood out for its aromatics and subtle herb flavors. The smoky 2 Speed IPA was an unusual but pleasant riff on the best-selling craft variety in America. Most brews here take their name from motorcycle racing, as does the establishment itself. Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker, a Crawfordsville native, won the first two-wheel competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

As solid as the beers are, the food is off to an even faster start. Swartz recruited chef Erin Kem from R Bistro when the Mass Ave destination closed. In a “kitchen” no larger than a dining table, she now prepares paninis, salads, and entrées that comprise one of the most adventurous taproom menus in the state. On a given night, you might find mussels en escabeche or rabbit and crumpets. Many of the desserts showcase both Kem’s skills and Swartz’s, such as the beer float and the Swedish chocolate balls with beer caramel.

As Cannon Ball starts to gain traction, its size may be a problem. Four tables and a few barstools only go so far. But this place has all the ingredients to become one of the city’s destination breweries.

1702 Bellefontaine St., 317-426-5978, cannonballbrewingindy.com

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