Indiana State Fair, craft brewers prepare for beer at the fair

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The 2014 Indiana State Fair will have something new: beer and wine.  It’s the source of excitement for fair officials and local brewers.

Fifteen years ago, there were no craft brewers in Indiana.  Now, there are 80 and soon there will be 100. It’s the products they make that will be featured at the State Fair.

Awards hang on the wall at the Sun King Brewery.  Some of them were won in a State Fair brewers competition that takes place before the fair begins.

“The fact that you can’t actually enjoy any of these great award winning beers while you’re at the fair,” says Clay Robinson of Sun King, “is a bit ironic.”

That’s because the fairgrounds, a place where concession stands will sell beer at an automotive show this weekend, is a place where alcohol has been off limits during the 17 days of the State Fair since the 40′s.

“We’ve had no beer since ’47, I mean, that’s a long time,” says John Hill of the Broad Ripple Brewpub.  “A lot of dry people out there.”

Hill is one of the people who pushed for a beer garden during the Fair.  This week, the legislature voted to make it happen.

“For us, it’s very important,” says Hill, in reference to the Brewers of Indiana Guild. “It’s a wonderful outlet for us.”

One potential location for a beer garden at the fair is the Agriculture and Horticulture Building.  The idea is that there would be beer and wine available both outside and inside the building.

“You will have a controlled, family friendly, responsible environment,” says Fair spokesman Andy Klotz. “21 to enter.  Beer and wine won’t exit this area.”

“(It would be) cool to do,” said beer drinker Chris Spradlin. “Walk around, have a beer at the Fair.”

But for the people who brew beer, it’s also a way to reach new customers and expand their business.

“We want the ability to showcase our products right alongside with everything else that’s great about Indiana,” said Robinson.

The governor still hasn’t signed the State Fair bill, but it passed the Indiana House with 75 votes and that means that it’s not likely a veto candidate.

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