Twenty years ago, it was enough to simply step into a bar and order a beer.
Now, the discriminating drinker is familiar with everything from India pale ales to Baltic porters to zesty Lambics.
As the craft beer boom continues to roll through Johnson County and all of Indiana, lovers of well-made suds find themselves in an unexpected quandary. New breweries seem to be opening their taps every other week, and with so many options and styles offered by each brewer, it’s easy to be paralyzed by choice.
This weekend, one of Franklin’s newest summertime traditions can help serve as a roadmap to the world of craft beer.
Story continues below gallery
The Beer and Bluegrass Festival returns to the city’s downtown square, providing local residents with drinks and down-home music from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday. Entertainment will be provided by the Birch Creek Bluegrass Band, as well as Tobe and Allie. A classic car show, food vendors and other activities will also be included.
But a main attraction will be the beer garden. Ten local breweries and three area wineries will be serving up a limited scope of their products, selling beer by the pint as well as offering $1 samples so people can try a wide variety of styles.
Study up on the participating companies, and be prepared when the festival starts this weekend.
Hoosier Brewing Co.
Hoosier Ale: A malty and smooth amber, lightly hopped with a nutty finish.
Red Flyer Irish Ale: Hoosier’s flagship brew, it is a classic take on a red Irish ale, balanced between hoppy and malty.
Hospitality IPA: This English-style IPA has a caramel tone, a touch of hop character and a smooth finish.
Shale Creek Brewing Co.
Creekside Cream Ale: A light beer with a smooth, creamy taste ideal for a summer night.
Legend of Nessie Scotch Ale: This traditional Scottish brew has a malty start with a caramel finish, without being overpowering.
Downtown Cocoa Brown: This brown ale balances the powerful taste of coffee with chocolate and malty notes.
Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co.
Where: Based in Broad Ripple, with Scotty’s Brew House in Franklin
Bulldog Brown: A nutty ale with a taste of roasted coffee malts and more hops than a normal English brown ale.
Two Lucy’s Blackberry Wheat: Brewed with Oregon blackberries and cluster hops, this is a tart, fruity take on the traditional wheat beer.
Golden Zoe IPA: Thr3e Wise Men’s flagship beer isn’t as overpowering as some IPAs, with citrus notes and a dark gold color.
MashCraft Brewing Co.
MashCraft Gold: A standard American gold ale, light and crisp for summertime drinking.
Callisto: The brewery’s popular semi-annual wheat wine finished on apricots with a mild tartness.
Java Red: MashCraft Red, a red amber ale, infused with Jamaican Me Crazy coffee beans from fellow Greenwood business Strange Brew.
Planetary Brewing Co.
Parallax: A brown porter combining smooth vanilla creaminess with roasted coffee and chocolate.
Accelerator Complex: This Cascadian dark ale has a mellow caramel flavors and just a touch of hops.
Pulsar: Pale ale with a sweetish start and a nice hop finish.
Taxman Brewing Co.
La Maison: A French farmhouse ale with notes of citrus, grapefruit and pine, while a generous dose of Indiana clover honey creates a bright, refreshing body.
Exemption Belgian tripel: This crisp golden strong ale unites lemon, orange peel, and coriander spices with flavorful Belgian esters.
deFallt bièr de garde: A smooth and spicy with vanilla notes from French oak, blended with cinnamon and Indiana Hunter’s Farm wildflower honey.
450 North Brewing Co.
Scarecrow IPA: American style India Pale Ale with crisp hop flavor and bitterness.
Honey Kolsch: Slightly hoppy with some added sweetness on the back-end from honey produced locally in Indiana.
Farmers Daughter: Brewed to match the old French farmhouse ales with both fruity and spicy notes with a smooth and crispy finish.
Sun King Brewing Co.
Wee Mac Scottish-Style Ale: A malty brown ale with caramel, cocoa, and hazelnut character balanced with toffee undertones.
Osiris Pale Ale: A West Coast-style pale with a distinct citrus hop punch.
Indians Lager: This Vienna-style lager, with balanced malt flavor and a crisp, smooth finish, is brewed specially for the Indianapolis Indians baseball team.
Metazoa Brewing Co.
Nap in the Hammock: A classic cream ale encompassing both the flaked corn base, allowing for traditional flavor and color, but with a smooth, creamy body.
Giraffe Dance: A mildly-hoppy American pale with unique smoothness that comes from first-wort hopping, creating a softer bitterness.
Kinkajou: Named for the nocturnal honey bear, this beer is a lightly-hopped interpretation of the classic German hefeweizen.
Quaff On! Brewing Co.
Busted Knuckle: A smooth porter with a rich complex flavor, an ideal all-occasion beer for people of any beer taste.
Six Foot Blonde: Crisp and refreshing with light golden malts and just a hint of hops to round it out.
Yellow Dwarf: A perfect balance of wheat and barley gives this beer its clean and crisp flavor. A special blend of late addition hops delivers unique tropical and citrus aromas.
Chateau Thomas Winery
Müller-Thurgau: A hybrid of Riesling and Gutadel with floral, citrus, and herbal aromas that pair well with white fish and salad.
Primitivo: Dark purple in color with vibrant aromas of raspberry and black cherry, finishing with black pepper and soy sauce.
Classic Chardonnay: A lightly oaked chardonnay with pear, ginger and baked apple.
River City Winery
Where: New Albany, with a Franklin tasting room opening soon
Kerr Red: A lightly oaked and balanced red blend of Zinfandel and Chambourcin, Corot Noir, Cab Franc and Malbec grapes.
Hoosier Red: A Chambourcin with heavy oak and spicy berry flavor.
Vidal blanc: Complex flavors of tropical fruit underlie this white wine.
Blackberry: Made with 100 blackberries, this wine bursts with natural flavors and aroma of the fruit.
Cabernet Sauvignon: A soft full-bodied, highly tannic wine best served with red meat and pasta dishes with tomato sauces.
Riesling: A German-style, medium bodied semi-dry white wine with crisp flavors perfect with seafood, poultry and pork.
Beer and Bluegrass Festival
When: 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: Downtown Franklin
What: A celebration of twangy bluegrass music and the beer (and wine) made by local producers.
Cost: Admission to the festival is free. A special beer garden will be set up, and admission to it is $5. Pints or glasses of wine are $5 apiece, while $1 sample tickets will also be sold.
5 p.m.: Classic car show
5 to 8 p.m.: Tobe and Allie performing on Court Street
7 to 10 p.m.: Birch Creek Bluegrass Band performing on Main Stage