Eric Strader writes about the craft beer scene in Indiana and Michigan. He's a dad, husband, potter, soccer coach and special education paraprofessional who likes to read, bike, hike and canoe. You can read more from him in his community blog
for The Elkhart Truth, Hop Notes
In spite of Chris Gerard’s recent head injury, the festive, cozy atmosphere at Bare Hands Brewery on my recent visit was just as I have always experienced it. It was fairly crowded with live musicians adding to the fun. I was delivering two Eric Strader Pottery mugs that I had engraved with the Bare Hands Brewery logo. The mugs will be part of the auction to raise money for Chris’s medical expenses as a result of his injury. (For more information about the "Raise a Pint for Chris" Benefit Golf Outing that took place on Monday, June 23, check out the brewery’s Facebook page.)
I had a wonderful talk with Chris’s mom and older brother, and I can assure you that they are so very grateful to the whole community that has come together to support Chris and his family. Over and over again, his mom expressed amazement and gratitude to the generosity of everyone who has pitched in.
Also while I was there, Summer Lewis of Iechyd Da Brewing Company arrived with several donations from other breweries and businesses from throughout the state. Chip and Summer Lewis are Brewer’s Guild of Indiana members (as is Bare Hands), and they are the closest member brewery geographically to Bare Hands, so they have done a huge amount of organizing for Chris’s benefit. At the suggestion of her own brewery staff, Summer showed up with Iechyd Da pizza for the Bare Hands crew, who were doing a great job serving the large crowd at the brew pub.
Read my recent Hop Notes post Indiana craft beer community rallies in support of Bare Hands Brewery’s Chris Gerard, to learn more about what Indiana Brewers are doing for Chris’s cause.
Thursday, June 19, was IPA night with seven IPAs and one cream ale. I ordered a couple - Westy IPA (7% ABV) and Reasoning IPA (session IPA, 4.5% ABV) and I sampled the Eldorado IPA (7% ABV) that my buddy Dale ordered. All had very good IPA traits and different combinations of citrus, pine and spice. They nicely complimented the other rare treat of the evening as well. An employee’s father is an award winning barbecue chef. He has won numerous competitions, including one in Kansas City where he went up against 60 other teams. The pub was serving up pulled pork sandwiches, but had just run out when we arrived. They were expecting more to arrive any moment, and although it was a bit of a wait, it was well worth it.
As I have mentioned many times previously, beer is a very social thing for me, and the visit to Bare Hands was no exception. I ran into no less than four avid Hop Notes readers, a good friend of Chris’s who I recently met as the new Cavalier beer distributor rep and Marc Black from Triton Brewing Company, who was in the area doing some sales work. To read Marshall King’s recent article about Elkhart native Dave Waldman, founder and director of operations at Triton Brewing, click here.
The rarest beer on the menu was Double Thai (9.5% ABV). I love Chris’s Thai P.A. and since the Double Thai has only been brewed a couple of times, I just could not resist filling my bullet growler before leaving. Bare Hands offers plastic bullets (half growlers), which will be perfect for packing in my canoe while in Northern Michigan. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the benefit golf outing, but I hope the event had great success, and I’m sure that there was a huge turn out to support Chris.