Brewers Association President & CEO Bob Pease, in a year-end summary, writes, “Since the onset of the pandemic, America’s small and independent craft breweries have adapted their business models to accommodate local health restrictions, supply chain issues and shifts in consumer habits, many of which have the potential to translate into long-term changes in visitation and spending behavior. 

“This year’s holiday [season] comes at a critical time for craft brewers who are seeing a return in on-premise consumption but are still working to recover from the 9 percent drop in craft beer volume sales in 2020.”

During this moment when most of us are vaccinated and are attentive to wearing masks, the Brewers Association has issued a callout to beer lovers across America of legal drinking age especially to visit their local craft breweries, brewpubs and taprooms on Sunday, Nov. 28, for a nationwide show of support of small businesses that contribute to local communities and economies all year long. 

Small Brewery Sunday [a.k.a. Craft Beer Lovers Sunday]  has an additional purpose this year, cites Pease, because breweries located close to where you live, work and enjoy community, are especially impacted by the pandemic. “We need to encourage Congress to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF),” he writes.  “Small and independent craft breweries provide jobs, give us places to gather with friends and family, and keep our glasses full of delicious craft beer.”

However, another overwhelming challenge just got dropped on small, independent breweries, informs Pease. The Ball Corporation [no longer headquartered in Muncie, Indiana]  changed its way of supplying small, independent craft breweries with aluminum cans. 

This has a tremendous impact on the small breweries that have had to adjust from onsite sales to people stopping by to pick up canned brews to take home. That’s how they have stayed open and viable during Covid-19 when shelf space in stores has been gobbled up by mass producing breweries.

Over the past decade, filling glass bottles, growlers and half growlers directly from the lineup of freshly brewed on tap, has lost out to cans in easy to fetch and carry 4 and 6-packs. The can suppliers set up their hype away from glass. Yes, Ball was at the forefront, unloading their century-old glass operations in favor of an only-aluminum operation.

Now they are removing affordable access to cans for hometown and neighborhood craft breweries.

“These changes… have the potential to change the entire beer landscape for small and independent brewers,” said Pease, making “their products less cost competitive versus larger brewers, who already have scale advantages.”

I reached out to some of our brewers for how this is affecting them. 

Elizabeth Belange-Hood emailed right back: “Sun King has allowed customers to bring growlers from home for several months. We clean the growlers prior to filling them. “Yes, the aluminum can shortage has impacted us. We are fortunate to work with multiple can producers to keep up with our canning supplies. 

David Waldman at Triton, reported: “We bought a truckload of cans early this year to get us through. We can still get cans through our supplier, but the costs have certainly increased. “We would love to return to a growler economy. It has the smallest carbon footprint, very important in our industry as you know. First, people want the convenience of can. Second, the single serving of beer from a 12oz or 16oz can versus multiple servings from a 32oz half growler, or a 64oz growler is also something most consumers appreciate.

I am not sure the likelihood of returning to the growler economy in a big way. We still sell growlers and half growlers and are happy to fill them. 4packs and 6packs are king.” 

So, I am sanitizing my entire stash of glass growlers and half growlers. I’m back to the 1990s when life was simpler at the cusp of craft beer access here in Indianapolis and opening statewide. 

See the Brewers Association news release “Industry Updates: Ball Customer Reduction Program”: https://www.brewersassociation.org/brewing-industry-updates/ball-customer-reduction-program/

[Added note: “For inspiration for Thanksgiving dinner beer pairings from Adam Dulye, Executive Chef at the Brewers Association, see here.]


Girls Pint Out and The Pink Boots Society annual holiday festivity starts whenever you get to Tomlinson Tap Room at The Indianapolis City Market, 222 E. Market St., on Dec. 14. Tom Tap opens at 2 p.m. [closes at 9 p.m.]

No fussing with registrations—just show up and enjoy the company of those who make craft beer, get it to us wherever we choose to gather, and of course, each other. We can bring food up to the Tom Tap Mezzanine from the main floor vendors.

Note: Tom Tap is open Tues.-Thurs: 2:00-9:00 p.m.; Fri.: 12:00 noon- 9:00 p.m.; and Sat. 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. [closed Sun. & Mon.]

Drink Indiana (Brewers of Indiana Guild) Presents: Winterfest 2022 at The Indiana State Fairgrounds on Sat., Feb. 12, 2022.

Buy tickets at https://www.indianawinterfest.com:

VIP Hour:  1:00- 2:00 p.m.

Early access to breweries, shorter lines, and the return of the Cask Beer Tent

VIP Ticket Prices

Early Bird: $65.00 (Pricing ends December 3rd)

Advance Sale: $75.00 (Pricing ends February 11th)

Day of Tickets: $85.00

General Admission:  2:00– 6:00 p.m.

General Admission Ticket Prices

Early Bird: $30.00 (Pricing ends December 3rd)

Advance Sale: $35.00 (Pricing ends December 27th)

GA Price: $40.00 (Pricing ends February 11th)

Day of Tickets (if available): $50.00

“Previous years have included 95+ Indiana Breweries & Guests pouring 100’s of beers, 2022 won't disappoint,” emailed Sean Webster, on behalf of Winterfest.

The Guild is a 501 (c)(6) non-profit with the mission of providing a unified voice for the craft breweries and brewpubs of Indiana.


Other ways to connect now:

Sun King emailed, “Help spread holiday cheer with Sun King and the Indianapolis Indians!

Our second annual Toys for Tots Toy Drive is underway. Now through December 15th all Sun King Tap Rooms (excluding our airport tap room) are collection drop off locations for Toys for Tots Indianapolis. Place your hand-picked new toys for children, from infant to teens, in the collection boxes and we will take care of delivering the toys to our Toys for Tots Indy chapter. The local Indy chapter will then distribute to those families who have applied for toys this holiday season.”

Sun King adds, “If you’re game for frolicking under the stars during cold winter nights, on your own or at Newfields’ Winterlights, you can enjoy our newest Electric Reindeer  Brown Ale brewed with ginger and molasses or opt for Midnight Choir Dark Sour Ale’s tart flavors of raspberry and cherry balanced with a full body and finish.  Find more Sun King brews on tap and on shelves.

“Chilly weather is here, so why not warm up with some great food and beer at Oaken Barrel?” Reads their email, adding they’ll be closed on Thanksgiving day so their staff can celebrate with family.

That reminded me to remind you all—purchase your supply of craft beer from your brewery BEFORE Thursday. 

As we pay attention to history legacy at Thanksgiving time, Upland Brewing Company reminds us to “Honor an Indiana Brewing Legacy” 

“In 1902, Walter Bruhn, the son of German immigrants, created a new beer named Champagne Velvet,” emailed Upland. “The pilsner was so popular it was dubbed "The beer with the million dollar flavor." We are honored to carry Champagne Velvet into the future while celebrating its past. Pick some up for your next holiday celebration! “

Triton has on tap and in cans "for both the chocolate lover and Stout lover, our first Chocolate Fudge Brownie Milk Stout, brewed with chocolate, chocolate malt and a little lactose sugar for sweetness. Stout-y, not gooey! Chocolate Fudge Brownie Milk Stout will be available on draft, in growlers and in 4packs of 12oz cans.

“This week the Triton Bistro is introducing the Thunder Hog Sandwich, our weekly special! Chef John Barker has created this sandwich featuring a toasted brioche bun with a beer brat. house-smoked pulled pork and southern-style slaw. The Thunder Hog is served with a side item of your choice. Keep watching for new culinary adventures to be delivered by your friends at Triton Brewing Company’s® #TritonBistro!

And to round us back to the beginning for this column, here’s the email message from Bier Brewery:

“Wednesday [Nov. 24] is our Anniversary. 11 years of Bier in Indianapolis! It has been such an amazing, fun time getting to make bier and to get to know all our friends and neighbors. We can’t thank you all and the beer community enough for all the support.

“We will be releasing one-time only 32oz glass Howlers to fill with Bier. Come to our taproom and check them out.”

One more notice: Urgent Need blood drive on Fri., Nov. 26: The Bloodmobile is at Bier Brewery & Taproom, at 5133 E. 65th St., Indianapolis 46220, also partnering with The Colts. Check out the protocols for donating: 317-253-2437

Writer Beer & Society

There is nothing that cannot be discussed and worked out over a beer. Join me as I explore local beer, breweries and how they can civilize us.