By James Feichtner
The continuous supply of breweries in Indiana flows as fluid as their taps pouring the beer. While many of the breweries are advocating an Indiana style of brewing, Scarlet Lane Brewing Co. in McCordsville is paying tribute to the Midwest while also incorporating its Northwestern brewing heritage.
“We all kind of met in Oregon,” Scarlet Lane Brewer Simon Sothras said. “Eilise and me were in this little town in Oregon called Eugene. I was brewing beer there professionally for about eight and a half years. Before that I made wine professionally. We were throwing around the idea of maybe doing more of a Northwest style beer and bringing it back to Indiana, where they are from.”
While Indiana brews tend to be lighter, Northwestern beers typically are heavier. What gives the just over a year old Scarlet Lane the more Northwest feel is their hops, among other factors, while also incorporating Indiana brewing characteristics.
“It’s our hops selection,” Sothras said. “That’s the way we decide how thick the malt is. Normally northwest beers are more hefty, so thicker and darker. Like our Vivian Red IPA, it’s a blend of Northwest-style hoppy mixed with a true Midwest malt blend. It’s heavier for the area, but with the Northwest hops. Just the way we brew it. We’re fearless. We throw around ideas and we’ll test batch it and we’ll brew it.
For the ingredients, Scarlet Lane tries to keep the recipes as natural and local as possible.
“Anytime we use any ingredient here it is locally sourced here or organic, so if you see coconut it’s 100 percent natural coconut,” Sothras said. “If you see peaches or cherries or anything on the menu, it’s always straight from the grower and it comes to us. Honey or blood oranges, like Eirik Bloodaxe; [we use]60 pounds of blood oranges and 125 pounds of locally sourced, raw honey.”
Another unique factor of Scarlet Lane is their naming of their brews. While Scarlet comes after the name of a former pet dog, Scarlet, all of the beer names are taken from a literary term.
“Our flagships are Vivian, Lenore and Dorian, but Dorian is ever-changing like Dorian Gray. Every beer is named after a literary term, so Lenore; Edgar Allen Poe, Vivian; Gone with the Wind. Absolem was the name of the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland,” Sothras explained.
As opposed to locating in downtown Indianapolis, Scarlet Lane decided to locate in McCordsville as it was close enough to Indianapolis, but not mixed in with all the other breweries. Its convenient location provides proximity to downtown, but also to the Geist and Fishers area.
“We wanted somewhere that was not too far from Indy, but it’s more like a destination, like, ‘Hey, let’s go out to Scarlet Lane,’” Sothras said. “Up here; Noblesville, Geist and Fishers there’s not really any [breweries]going on. If you want to drive all the way downtown you can go visit a brewery, but it’s not really safe. This way, you’re not too far from [Indy], not to far from [Fishers/Geist].”
Currently, Scarlet Lane has its beers at approximately 250 locations in Indianapolis. Their onsite taproom offers their flagships as well as specialty brews. While they don’t currently bottle their beer, Sothras said the brewery might be chancing it in the coming seasons, but only select brews.
“We’re thinking about planning it this winter,” Sothras said. “Just the high end. Like the coconut stout would be high end. Our flagships, they’re high end, but come and get a growler of that. All of my beers are special, but you can get [Vivian] at a local bar. Go support your local bar.”
Scarlet Lane is also looking to host events at their brewery. Coming in the fall, various nights will offer different events to guest to enjoy while savoring their favorite beer.
“Wednesday nights we’re going to have a Pub Pole,” Lea Newlin said. “It’s individual or you can bring teams in. It’s a newer game like a slight trivia but it’s a little more interactive. Thursdays we are going to do a movie night. $35 will get you a dinner, movie and popcorn.
The brewery can also be utilized for private events. Either the entire brewery can be closed off, of just a section for private parties to enjoy. As for food, guests can either bring their own or order in.
“What we have is a menu from a local restaurant in McCordsville,” Newlin said. “They have a select menu. I call it in and they hand deliver to us. We can order from Kinsey’s and other restaurants. You can have your own food and bring it in. We just basically want you to come in, have a good time, relax and enjoy yourself.”
Lord Henry Summer Ale
Seasonable beer with crisp hops and light malt backbone. Easy drinking patio beer.
5 percent ABV 40 IBU
Katrina Fall Beer
Spicy cinnamon and brown sugar that resembles a snickerdoodle cookie. Unique Fall style beer in a world crowded with pumpkin beers
6 percent ABV 10 IBU
Braggot is an ancient viking beer made with honey, hops, fruit and spices. All natural honey and blood orange mix with an imperial IPA making for a dangerously easy drinking Imperial Ale.
10.5 percent ABV 80 IBU
An American Strong Ale with dark malts, heavy hop profile and higher ABV. Drinks similar to a Black IPA
10.5 percent ABV 90 IBU
Referred to as a “Dank Beer”, Absolem has a unique hop profile that resembles the smell and taste of cannabis. All Northwest based hoping. A unique and fun experience.
7.8 percent ABV 80 IBU