18th Street Brewery: Gary, Indiana

I love learning the stories behind craft breweries and how they got into the biz. 18th Street Brewery opened in 2012 in Gary's Miller Beach area in a region that is heavy on microbreweries. However, 18th Street really took root back in 2008 by Drew Fox following a trip to Belguim, where he, of course experienced some pretty dandy beer. He started home brewing and that's what led him on a path to creating his own recipes and offering them up in his own tasting room. 18th Street has evolved to now having a full kitchen with soups, salads and sandwiches and even a kids' menu.

18th Street was one of the breweries featured in the Blue Chip Brewery's media preview I attended last night, where I tried out the Sophomoric Saison with lime zest, lime juice and Citra hops paired with crab salad filled artichoke with lime vinaigrette. While sometimes contrasting tastes make for good pairings, this duo carried the predominant citrus flavor throughout and seriously for a moment took you to a more tropical locale far from our chilly south shore digs.

I meant to circle back around for the Hunter Cherry (Double Milk Stout with Cherries), but had to eventually raise the white flag after making it through twelve tables. The wonderfully charismatic and passionate creative director,  Joey Potts, explained that the Hunter Cherry is the third incarnation in this vertical series.

Although I have tried out 18th Street beers in the past, I haven't yet been to the brewery. My husband, on the other hand, has made several trips there with a buddy. I've been banned from such bro-dates, so I'm gonna have to get there on my own sometime soon and I'm even more excited to do so now that I've perused the kitchen the menu. I've been urging my husband and his craft-beer loving friends to do some guest posts. Stay tuned for that.

If you'd like to sample some of 18th Streets brews, get your tickets for the upcoming Blue Chip Brewfest on April 11, which has grown hugely since its inception five years ago. It will take place in the Stardust Event Center at the casino and in an adjacent climate-controlled tent. There are three tiers of ticket prices, starting at $45 along with designated driver admissions. Go to bluechipcasino.com for tickets.

For more on 18th Street Brewery, check out their website at www.18thstreetbrewery.com.