When my buddies and I take our football trip every year to a different conference, there’s a primary consideration for the typically 3 day trip. Either the college town we’re going to is big enough for all 3 days, or we’ll do 24 hours in a nearby major city (usually the airport we’re flying into anyway), then drive over for the weekend. We toured Portland before driving down to Eugene, and explored Atlanta before heading over to Athens. This year, especially with the Cubbies in town at Wrigley Field, we tackled Chicago before hitting the road to South Bend.
If you’re making that trip and you have any fondness for craft beer whatsoever, a stop at the 3 Floyds Brewpub in Munster, Indiana, is de rigueur. Famous for everything from their Dark Lord stout variations available only one day a year to their more readily available but no less sought after Zombie Dust pale ale, the brewpub makes a perfect halfway detour for lunch.
As we walked up on Friday afternoon, they were setting up for a festival, and there was already a line out the door, so I worried I had talked my compañeros into visiting on a day we wouldn’t be able to get in. Turned out they were setting up for a weekend festival showcasing the Warpigs Brewpub they co-founded with Danish brewery Mikkeller in Copenhagen. And the line? Just your typical Friday cohort picking up cases of Zombie Dust to go. They sell out every week and, keeping up with the Joneses, I grabbed one myself.
The seasonally-driven and locally-sourced menu offers better food than anyone has a right to expect of a brewpub, especially one whose beers are also so phenomenal. A house-ground burger on a brioche bun with arugula, or a pork belly pizza with fennel and orange pair harmoniously with the hoppy pales and rich stouts on the tap list. I would usually try a gradual ramping of ABV or IBU’s at a brewpub, but it’s kinda hard at 3 Floyds not to get batted back and forth like a pinball between high octane stouts and mouth puckering IPA’s. I started with a 10% Blot Out the Sun stout, then a War Mullet IPA with an intensely dank, catty aroma, then a face-contorting Skeletonwitch Red Death Sour … and I think I blacked out. Or I had at least scorched my palate. Some water, some snacks, we pressed on.
The consensus favorite was actually the Wigsplitter oatmeal coffee stout, a (relatively) moderate 7.7% ABV, but a rich, full-bodied stout that we immediately decided would make an excellent breakfast beer the next morning with such a robust coffee aroma. After hitting the Crooked Ewe in South Bend later that night, we definitely needed an ameliorative the next morning. Plus, we had a long day of Notre Dame tailgating with that case of Zombie Dust ahead of us. Who does that? Well, we do, apparently. There’s actually an alternate route between Chicago and South Bend with a few more breweries and distilleries (and an extra state) along the way. But if you’re running that marathon, you don’t start sprinting out of the gate at 3 Floyds.