Big Woods Brewing Company had been recommended to me by Peter Berkowitz of LEO Weekly — in large part due to the pulled pork nachos. When my girlfriend Cynthia and I made the 80-or-so-mile trip to Nashville, Ind., to check out the place, however, what we mostly encountered was people. Lots of people.
Lots and lots of people.
Eager and hungry, we went to Big Woods’ main restaurant to try and get a seat — only to be greeted by a 90-minute wait. We then decided to check out the Big Woods adjacent pizzeria, thinking maybe it would be less crowded. The result? Two-hour wait.
Ultimately, we ate pizza elsewhere (I won’t say where, because it sucked), and later fought our way through the crowds to make it to the Big Woods “tasting room,” which actually was more of a holding area where you could also get beer while you waited eternally for a seat in one of the dining rooms.
And so, while I was hoping to do a flight and write a longer visit report, I instead settled on having a couple of pints. Because two pints is better than no pints.
Busted Knuckle Ale (7.2 percent ABV, 27 IBU): I love the description of Busted Knuckle on the Big Woods website: “Busted Knuckle is not a brew for sippers, sniffers, swirlers or pseudo-scientific beer analysts who spend more time talking about beer than drinking it. Busted Knuckle is the everyday, all occasion beer of choice for competent Quaffers.” It helps to know that Big Woods’ tagline is “Quaff ON!” Anyway, this is truly a good ale. The guy serving it in the holding area described it as “a cross between a brown ale and a porter,” and he was spot on. It’s nutty, with a big flavor thanks to roasted barley and a heaping helping of caramel malts, with a tiny hint of hoppiness. It’s described as Big Woods’ signature beer, and I can see why. Might have to track down some of this in bottles.
Hare Trigger IPA (6.5 percent ABV, 75 IBU): This one has a big, floral nose with a creamy body (although, the tap had just blown and I got the foamy stuff from a new keg, so that may have played a role — the head was magnificently too big) and a beautiful dark-orange or red color. The hop bitterness is medium, with a nice tingle left behind on the back of the palate. There’s also a nice, subtle malty quality that completes this beer. Solid.
That’s it. I wish I could have tried Cross Hare Double IPA and the rest of the Big Woods offerings, but the wait was simply too daunting. Perhaps we’ll return to Big Woods one day when it isn’t peak-freaking-tourist-season. January anyone?