Micro-Manage Your Way Through the Indiana Microbrewers Festival

10 Tips Before You Sip

1. The event sells out in advance, so arrive July 19 with a ticket in hand. Get to the Indianapolis Art Center grounds before gates open at 3 p.m.
2. All types attend Indiana’s largest craft-brew event, from beer snobs to college kids looking for a good buzz. The 6,000 patrons receive a tasting glass to sample beer in two- or three-ounce pours from as many or as few of the 80 breweries (serving more than 200 beers) as they want. Some swillers will be coherent at the end; some will not.
3. Want a head start to get to your favorite breweries? Shell out $55 for an early-bird ticket, which gets you in one hour earlier than those paying just $40. (Oops! Early-bird tickets are already sold out.)
4. Some breweries serve the same stuff you can find at their brewpubs or purchase in bottles from a liquor store. Others kick it up a notch with special recipes. Those beers typically go quickly at preset release times throughout the afternoon. Sun King is famous for tapping something new every half-hour, and some of those offerings have lasted only a couple of minutes before they ran out. Follow specific breweries on social media and check @DrinkIndiana for on-the-fly updates (or just look for the longest lines).
5. In a new twist this year, Flat 12 Bierwerks will serve eight to 10 fan-suggested brews. “We like to challenge ourselves to create unique beers for festivals like IMF,” says Rob Caputo, Flat 12 co-founder and director of brewery operations. “It keeps it fun for us in the brewery, and we hope that it provides value for the festival attendees. They get to try something that we may only pour that one time.”
0714-PRETZELNECKLACE6. The number of craft breweries in Indiana has doubled in the past two years, according to Lee Ann Smith, executive director of the Brewers of Indiana Guild. But the festival (put on by the Guild) predates the boom—it’s been around for 19 years. This time, approximately 75 percent of the breweries hail from the Hoosier State.
7. Two words: bottled water. Pack it or purchase it there, but stay hydrated.
8. There’s free parking along Broad Ripple’s side streets, but don’t plan to drive home. Get a friend to join you (designated-driver tickets are $10 and available at the gate), call a taxi, or summon a private car through Uber or Lyft.
9. Want to look like a regular, not a rookie? Make your own palate-cleansing pretzel necklace.
10. Still on the fence? Two bucks from every ticket (along with a significant portion of the festival’s cash sponsorships) benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Indiana Microbrewers Festival, July 19. $40 to $55. Indianapolis Art Center, 820 E. 67th St., indianabrewed.com/events

This article appeared in the July 2014 issue.