Upland Brewing Company
350 West 11th Street
Visited many times and again
Having spent a couple of years at Indiana University in Bloomington, it’s only natural that a beer hound such as myself spent ample time at Upland Brewing Company. Ever so slightly off of campus, Upland was usually a decent way to escape at least some of the undergraduate students crawling through downtown.
Having been there a lot, I can say with some certainty that my favorite part about this place is the food. Pub grub is taken up a notch by excellent ingredients and an astounding amount of vegetarian and vegan options. Boca burgers, veggie chili and tofu options are available for most everything on the menu. This pizzas are good, the burgers are good, and the entrees are very, very good.
The location itself is pretty hip. The restaurant shares its premises with the production facility, which can make parking an interesting adventure at times. The interior is pretty well done – it doesn’t feel like you’re in a warehouse – but isn’t anything special, either. Solid, Spanish reddish walls (don’t know what it’s called exactly) are accompanied by a lot of wood and giant posters.
As for the beer, it’s slightly above average. Shooting for the college crowd, most bars in town host their wheat beer, which I’m not a big fan of. You don’t come across many experimental brews all that often, nor much in the way of higher gravity options. The Dragonfly IPA is probably their best offering, but in a world where Stone and Sierra Nevada are readily available, it’s not that great.
The taproom for “Indiana’s Beer” is located just outside of downtown towards the north end of the city. The building looks like a warehouse, and indeed is located next to several. There is no parking lot, but the street is usually ample. The interior is nothing to write home about, but it’s adequate, with televisions available at the bar. There are banners advocating the various awards won, but overall, the location is very typical, if even a bit less than average.
The food is slightly above average. The menu recently expanded to include entrees such as salmon, German schnitzel, and a variety of vegan options, which I will have to give a few points for even though I’m not a vegetarian. The burgers are probably the best option, especially since you can sub in chicken or Indiana-raised buffalo for no additional charge. I do have to say, however, that every fish dish I have tried has been excellent, but accompanied by a heavy sauce, which will do wonders for any hunk of fish.
The beer here is probably the best around (which isn’t saying much). It beats out the other local brewery Blooming Brewing Company, and is far superior to anything I’ve had in the state (note: one of my first brewpubs. There are much better options in the state of Indiana). The wheat is sweet and light—even non-beer drinkers will enjoy this (note: which is why it sucks as a beer). The amber is flavorful, the IPA is hoppy but well balanced, and the porter is a great session beer. I tend to like my porters to have a bit more body, but the taste makes up for it. There is always a seasonal on tap, and this is where the true magic comes from. The Maibock, Saisson, Chocolate Stout, and especially my favorite, the Winter Warmer, keeps you coming back for more again and again and again and again…