Rock Bottom Brewing Company
2801 Lake Circle Drive
Visited on January 12, 2008
There exists a Rock Bottom in an area a bit north of downtown Indianapolis and it’s just about everything you’d expect a Rock Bottom to be. There’s nothing incredibly distinctive about the location – it’s roughly the size, shape, and atmosphere of most Rock Bottoms I’ve been in. Similarly, the beer is nothing special but it’s well-done and very consistent. There’s nothing too inventive or palette challenging; everything is brewed to fit the typical American consumer. The same can be said about the food, though it is certainly a step above most American chain restaurants. I’d eat here in a heartbeat before Applebees and etc.
Although it’s not located in a historic or intricate building, the setting leaves nothing to be desired. Highlighted by a neon sign that can easily be seen from the street, and sitting on a small pond, this brewpub looks the role of a popular night spot. Inside features warehouse-style ceilings, hanging lights, a huge bar, plenty of seating, and plenty of plasma screens for the sports enthusiast. Seems like the perfect place to watch a game, even if you’re not looking for the popular or local event.
I have yet to be disappointed by a Rock Bottom in the food category, and this one was no different. The smoked salmon fish and chips I had were so tasty, I almost wish it hadn’t been fried. Now when was the last time you wished something wasn’t fried? The French fries were nothing to write home about, but the sweet potato hash was extremely good. On the other side of the table, the jambalaya was large and in charge, if not quite spicy enough, and the St. Louis style ribs were well cooked, but the sauce overpowered the flavor of the meat. On the third side was very good coleslaw, which was obviously handcrafted because it was crisp and delicious, and I’m not a big coleslaw fan. As for dessert, a colossal carrot cake on a bed of caramel dipping sauce was awesome. I especially appreciate the fact that the caramel wasn’t drenching the cake, so you could have some bites with, and some without, because the carrot cake itself did not need any additional help on taste.
Except for when I first tried a handcrafted beer at a Rock Bottom in Cincinnati (and didn’t know any better), I have yet to be impressed by a beer at a Rock Bottom. They are all extremely drinkable, but there is nothing to keep you coming back again and again. They are all mild and meant to be palatable to the majority of beer drinkers. However, the Circle City light did impress me with its crispness and subtle fruitiness. The Heartland Red, which is an ESB, was promising in the taster, but failed to live up to expectations for a full pint. The brewer’s choice was an 8% Belgian which was extremely spicy and yeasty, and very good. I guess this is the spot they reserve for true experimentation into the craft of brewing.
Update: After several more visits for beer, I’ve decided to lower their beer ranking. The seasonal is sometimes good (I just had an adequately hopped Pale Ale), but in general, the hops are almost always underdone, and there is absolutely nothing distinctive or flavorful about their beers.