Category Archives: Publications

Spirits Are Moving: The Rise of Indiana’s Craft Distillers (Indianapolis Monthly)

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Indianapolis Monthly —  Not too long ago, ordering a beer generally meant choosing from a menu of taps that offered everything from Budweiser to Bud Light. Today, there’s a craft brewery on every other corner, a cleverly christened IPA for every town. In short order, beer went from something monopolized by a wagon-circled posse of famous names to an indicator of witty naming conventions, taste, and local pride. If the men and women on these pages have anything to say about it, the next logical step is upon us. “The spirits side is just getting to where beer is,” says Travis Barnes, founder of Hotel Tango. “We’re at the infancy of that cycle.”

Make no mistake, the boom is on: In 2017, the American Craft Spirits Association reported that more than 1,500 craft distilleries currently operate nationwide. In 2010, there were about 200. It’s lively locally, too: There are more than 20 in Indiana, and the number is going up. That’s largely thanks to the 2013 passing of the Indiana Artisan Distiller’s Permit, a law that allows distillers to sell directly to consumers. Initially, there was a catch: The long-delayed permit required distilleries to wait three years before being eligible. In 2017, that wait was reduced to 18 months.

As such, Indy’s distillery surge is partly due to legalese and paperwork. But it’s also cultural. We’re all good with craft beers, but, jeez, those have a lot of carbs. Mostly, spirits are the next evolution in the maker movement as it pertains to alcohol. “Craft beer’s been at it for a while, and craft wine for longer than that,” says Dave Colt, cofounder of Sun King, the city’s preeminent brewer, which is getting into the distillery game. “Spirits are the next wave, that natural progression.” And, as with the craft beer revolution, the local insurgents are taking dead aim at the big guys. “I don’t see 8th Day or Sun King as competition,” says Barnes. “We’re trying to flip the switch for guys who only buy Jack or Jim Beam to try local or state spirits. The rising tide lifts all ships.”

Meet the makers on the cover of this month’s Indianapolis Monthly. 

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The 10 Greatest Things I Witnessed at My First Gen Con (via Indianapolis Monthly)

OH GOD LOOK OUT THE ESCALATOR IS ABOUT TO END

 

Indianapolis Monthly — If you are a gamer, Gen Con is like hitting the sundae buffet on your birthday: It’s one of the few times you are allowed, if not obligated, to put aside your cares, concerns and core humanity to plunge into the goodies with your face.

If you are new to Gen Con—as I was—it’s more like materializing at a bus station during rush hour on some exceedingly distant planet. One minute you’re wandering your hometown on a beautiful Thursday; the next you’re stupidly spinning in circles trying to process an unending flock of orcs, card towers, and paunchy Deadpool cosplayers. It’s like learning what ice cream sundaes are, and then being told to go make yourself one using three million toppings. There is no way to process all of it in one day, so in no particular order, here are 10 things that stuck with me after I returned to my decidedly unmagical and +20 suburban home office.

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What Are My Children Doing Atop That Large Mountain Over There (via On Parenting at the Washington Post)

This is four billion times higher than it looks

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Washington Post — Here’s a neat travel tip about Yosemite National Park: It contains a multitude of tall mountains. Its ribbon-thin two-lane roads wind around tall mountains, climb tall mountains and then, having basically reached space, plunge back down tall mountains at angles that cause the brakes of your rental van to smoke in petulant protest. Every time you drive 30 yards, you go up or down about 14,000 feet. I am from Indiana, where to achieve that degree of elevation change, one generally has to be wearing a jetpack. (Mellencamp sells them.)

I don’t have a fear of heights, necessarily, but I do have a fear of slipping on pebbles, tumbling over ledges and kissing hard ground at 35,000 mph, so, in conclusion, I have a fear of heights. (I also have a fear of brakes that spontaneously burst into flames, but I feel like that’s fairly universal.) This sets me apart from my relatively fearless children, who didn’t inherit my self-preservation instincts, and by “self-preservation instincts” I mean nerves of silky gossamer. They press their faces against the windows of skyscraper observation decks, they leap into dark ocean water, they purposely ride in hot-air balloons. Earlier this summer, this became a serious problem.

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Review: Foo Fighters in Indianapolis, the Best Dad-Rock Band on Planet Earth

This man loves Honda Odysseys more than I do.

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Indy Monthly — Dave Grohl and company put on the best dad-rock show on planet Earth, full stop, and if this sentence reads negative to you, please put down our website and get back to, I don’t know, standing in front of national parks taking pictures of your face or whatever you people do, for it is intended as the highest of compliments.

Where to start about Thursday evening’s show by Foo Fighters, who, after 23 (!!!)(!) years, are officially a band of astonishing stability: 22 songs, two-and-a-half-hours, “Everlong,” Dave Grohl’s running gag about the pure dependability of Honda Odysseys (accurate), 95 singalongs, two Queen covers, and one my-hand-to-God mashup of “Imagine” and Van Halen’s “Jump” that would bring “Weird Al” Yankovic to actual tears? In his endless drive to maintain peak crowd enjoyment, Grohl says “Okey dokey artichokey,” encourages us parents to sing along, gets giddy about the moon, and pretends to be paternally disappointed in Chris Shiflett’s guitar solo. The man even brings his seventh-grade daughter up to sing background vocals, for God’s sake, that is PARENTING.

More on the band’s Noblesville stop at Indianapolis Monthly.

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Why Are Summers So Short Now? (via On Parenting from the Washington Post)

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On Parenting from the Washington Post —  Are summer breaks shorter these days? Or have they always been this short? Is my memory of summer — days that ramble and roll with no particular end in sight — a revisionist lie, a trick of my aging and nostalgia-craved brain? Because that memory is a languid stream of pleasant boredom, a near-cliche mix of comic book hoarding, lunchtime wake-ups, improvised baseball games and the semi-regular side hustle mowing lawns for Camelot Music money. And in the memory, summer feels bottomless.

In the present, summer lasts nine criminally abrupt weeks, many of which feel spent before they’ve begun. It’s mid-July and we’re talking to fence-neighbors about teacher preferences and bus schedules, all of us feeling the end closing in. With just a little effort, you can almost see the gathering of autumn clouds. Somebody changed summer.

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Play Like a Dad: 20 Father’s Day Activity Ideas (via Parents / Family Fun)

photo / Robyn Breen Shinn

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Parents / Family Fun — In her job as a physician’s assistant, my wife has been required to work in the E.R., get ready for 6 a.m. surgeries, and be on call—all things that have led to a rewarding career but nothing close to what our parents called a “normal work schedule.” As such, it’s often just our two sons and me, the three Vrabel men, waking up to a day full of endless possibility and promise. And these days tend to begin the same way: with me making breakfast and asking, “So what’s on the agenda today?” and the boys responding with…well, abject silence, since they’re upstairs furiously Minecraftingwhile I talk to a stack of speedily cooling Belgian waffles.

Given the opportunity, my sons would be pretty well satisfied devoting one to 48 hours of their day to Minecraft, Roblox, and some curious digital pastime known to me only as “Goat Simulator.” (I once asked the 6-year-old how to play it, and he responded by tilting his head, looking at me as though I’d just sprouted a second head, and saying, “Uh, you simulate goats.” I’d never been so shut down by such a weird sentence.)

Every dad wants to fill his children’s hours with activities that will empower and enrich them; every parent has stared at a wall repeating, “Yeah, I have no idea what that is.” To that end—and to celebrate Father’s Day—here’s an incomplete list of DAD THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS, as written by actual dads, prominent bloggers, musicians, and me, a humble writer-slash-Belgian-waffle aficionado.

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‘American Ninja Warrior’ Hosts Say a John Daly Appearance is Really Just a Matter of Time (The Loop / Golf Digest)

Ninja go

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The Loop / Golf Digest — INDIANAPOLIS — I’m standing in line to get my fancy “American Ninja Warrior” media pass, a red clip-on badge that announces to everyone, “F**k no I’m not doing this, it would aggravate my back arthritis,” but the kid behind me talks to me anyway, glancing quizzically at my snappy blazer/jeans combo before asking if I’m running the course. No no, I say, joking that I’m too old for that kind of thing. “Nah man, it’s OK,” he shoots back with a trainer’s enthusiasm, “Lots of old people run it.” Lots. Lots of OLD PEOPLE. Break an arm falling from a steel trapeze, pipsqueak, and don’t come crying to me in 15 years when all your energy-drink sugar turns into side fat and diabetes.

Now in its 10th season, NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” spends its springs traveling to a half-dozen cities before resolving into its finals in Las Vegas. Tonight they’re in Indy, dropping a giant obstacle course onto Monument Circle and lighting the surrounding buildings with appropriate Hollywood fervor.

And they’re here because Indy turns up for this.

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An Actual Indiana Person’s Guide to the Indy 500 (2018 Edition) (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

Golf Digest — The Indianapolis 500 goes green this Memorial Day weekend, as it has (just about) every Memorial Day weekend since 1911. To pay tribute, here’s a quick refresher lap around two-and-a-half miles of pure, unbridled America.

 

What is it?

The 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500, still the Largest Single-Day Sporting Event in the World, no matter what those jerks from Wrestlemania try to tell you. The race remains the sports pride of the state, although the Pacers basically coming one blown goaltending call away from toppling LeBron is a real good second.

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Is this still a big deal?

WE IN INDIANA WILL HAVE YOU KNOW that the 500 remains the biggest event in our state AND yours: More than 300,000 cooler-toting jorts-rocking sunstroke-developing exhaust-sniffing Race Fans will begin streaming into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 6 a.m. on Sunday, when an actual cannon is fired to signal the opening of the gates and wake up every last dog in Speedway (the town containing the Speedway is actually called Speedway, because we are proud literal folk.)

 

The full guide at … um, Golf Digest.

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Eat Your Way Around the Indy 500 (via Indianapolis Monthly)

69,492 points

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Indianapolis Monthly — Fun fact: In addition to hosting the Largest One-Day Sporting Event in the World, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds the Largest One-Day Volume of Chicken Tenders Put in the Mouths of 300,000 Humans. There are untold regions from which to obtain chicken tenders here: There are tents devoted to them, and concession counters flush with them. I’m pretty sure you can get some from Letterman’s luxury box. Today, on Fast Friday, I am simply sitting in Pagoda Plaza in the midst of a chicken-tender Fantasyland that would paralyze my children with joy.

But I am here in search of OTHER FOODS, the non-vaguely identified poultry parts that make up the culinary options at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To do so, I wandered the Pagoda Plaza and drifted down Georgetown Road like a creeper, circumventing the entire outside of the oval and doing my due journalistic diligence while pre-emptively working off turkey legs (HA. Just kidding; to do so I’d need to walk 3,499 more laps). Sure, IMS houses plenty of traditional concessions—your tenders-on-a-bed-of-waffle-fries ($10), your burger-esque objects ($10), and your Indy Dogs ($5), which are like regular hot dogs, except made of pollen. But my assignment was to wander a bit off the track (SEE WHAT I DID THERE) and see what I could find.

The main takeaway: Everything is very healthy.

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Searching For My Lost Cave of Salt, or, Can Salt Caves Cure Allergies: Yes or Na? (via GQ)

via GQ

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GQ — In the mid-1800s, a Polish doctor inspecting laborers from a local salt mine started noticing something consistent and strange: Everybody looked fantastic. Clear skin, no rashes. No colds, no flu, no coughs. People were breathing just fine—not even fine but perfectly. For sweaty Polish miners who spent their days underground hacking away with axes, this was a surprise.

It’s also the legend behind salt caves, the geologically oriented self-care destinations suddenly sprouting all over your reclaimed-industrial-park and repurposed-firehouse communities. As spas with a kind of chemical pedigree, salt caves are said to refresh your pores, scrape out your respiratory system, and restore you, your skin, and your stressed, anxious mental condition to the pure state of the early-19th-century Polish miner.

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