Soon enough the neon lights of Vegas will be in the rearview mirror as the 2024 Craft Brewers Conference will end and brewers and industry professionals will set their sights on Indianapolis, home of next year’s conference.

“We are planning, and the events team will be heading out there for a site visit on in July,” says Ann Obenchain, the Brewers Association Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “But the crew from visit Indy will be [in Las Vegas] to answer any questions about that. But we’re getting great interest people are excited to go.”

Indianapolis might not sound like the most exciting city, but over the last 20 years the Indiana capitol, once called “nap town” has really grown and is home to a vibrant beer scene. 

“I think Indianapolis is one of the more underrated brewing cities in the country,” says brewer and long-time resident Rob Malad. “We have several breweries that have consistently performed at the Great American Beer Festiva and World Beer Cup including a couple of Brewery of the Year (Metazoa, Moontown, ZwanzigZ) winners.  While Sun King somehow has never won Brewery of the Year, they’ve won about as many medals as any brewery in the world over the last 15 years.”

Obenchain said Indianapolis was added to the CBC list, after it was pulled out of contention several years back.

“We’ve published a ‘how do we select a site process’ to help people understand because there’s so many things that go into selecting a site there’s date availability, there’s space, there’s alcohol, licensing, hotels, travel, financial considerations, as well as member feedback with what that is going to look like,” she said.

“And then we just added the Human Rights Campaign scorecard that looks at the city versus the state and making sure that we’re scoring 80 Plus out of the 100 total score on that scorecard, as well as some other points there. What’s unique about Indianapolis, because I know we pulled out of Indianapolis years ago, is the city, has their municipal laws which supersede anything at the state level.

So something really important for folks that are interested in learning more we’re happy to talk to them.”

Beth Belange, the communications director for Sun Kin Brewery, says that the town will be exceptionally great for those looking to visit breweries while at the conference.

“The craft beverage scene in Indianapolis is thriving,” she says. “From acclaimed craft beers to innovated cocktails and alternative beverages, Indy is a must-visit city. There are 42 breweries that are all conveniently located within walking, biking, or scooter distance, you can easily hop from one to another while you’re in town for CBC 2025.”

For a full list of all Indiana breweries, visit the Brewers of Indiana Guild Website.

Where to Drink?

“Our downtown is essentially built on a one square mile grid so it is pretty easy to navigate,” says Malad.  “Fun fact: There are no open container laws, so while you’re on that walk, I encourage you to crack a can of your favorite local beer.  We often joke that it’s a 12 oz or 16 oz walk as a measure of distance.”

“There are a couple of really great dive bars that I’d expect a lot of folks to end up at.  The convention center is on the west side of downtown but if you head over to the near east side of downtown there is a very walkable stretch of breweries starting at Chilly Water and heading to Metazoa, Sun King, St. Joseph, and Centerpoint. 

After a long night?

“I highly recommend that everyone go to Downtown Ollie’s for breakfast.  I’m not sure if they still do it, but when I lived downtown they had a weekday breakfast special that was a hangover portion for like $3.99,” says Malad. “Amelia’s and Leviathan are great places to grab a pastry, and Side Door Bagel is a lovely bagel spot.  The seminars and trade show run through lunch hours but if you feel like escaping for lunch Goose the Market has awesome sandwiches and is just a couple of blocks from Mashcraft.”

Visit Indy, the tourism board,  offers a free downloadable Craft Pass for guests to enjoy while visiting. Just by visiting breweries and other craft beverage makers (breweries, distilleries, wineries). Each place you check in, you earn points and receive free stuff.

What about food?

“The Indy Culinary Scene offers traditional Hoosier classics like the pork tenderloin from Steer Inn (featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives) to David Letterman’s favorite donuts from Longs Donuts. Attendees can visit James Beard nominees like Bluebeard or Milktooth in historic Fountain Square, Café Patachou for brunch and cocktails, Cerulean located inside of The Alexander Hotel or Vida located downtown Indy, or go off the beaten path to visit Goose the Market for the famous Batali sandwich or Oakley’s Bistro, Chef Steven Oakley beat Bobby Flay,” notes Belange.

Indy, sometimes called circle city,  is home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which will be buzz while attendees are in town.

“The IndyCar teams will be moving in that week to get ready for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing over Memorial Day Weekend. Indy is also home to the world’s largest Children’s Museum, they can catch a game at Victory Field to watch the Indianapolis Indians (Minor League for the Pittsburgh Pirates), there are plenty of live music venues included Duke’s Indy – everyone’s favorite honky tonk and The HiFi that has featured such musicians like Band of Horses, Sturgill Simpson, Trampled by Turtles, the Black Pumas and so many more.”

Next Year’s Craft Brewers Conference in Indianapolis will be held Monday, April 28 – Thursday, May 1.

Andy Crouch contributed reporting.


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