In September, I was approached with an idea: What would I think about the INDY joining a collaboration between brewers in Santa Fe, Portland, and the Triangle, to benefit the half-sibling alt-weeklies in Santa Fe, Portland, and the Triangle? (Half-siblings: We are owned outright by Richard Meeker, who co-owns the Santa Fe Reporter and Willamette Week.)

Leading all of this, I was told, would be Rowley Farmhouse Ales in Santa Fe, one of the country’s most acclaimed breweries. John Rowley had already picked out the name: The 4th Estate. On our end, Bond Brothers Beer Company in Cary would take care of things. Out in Portland, land of a billion breweries, would be Oakshire Brewing (which is technically in Eugene, Oregon).  

Obviously, we were in. The only question was what kind of beer to make. In an email thread, Rowley suggested a “mixed fermented heirloom grisette”—if I’m being honest, I have no idea what that is. And so I countered: “When I think of journalism, I think of something big, hard, and boozy—like a high-ABV barley wine that tastes like it’s been soaked in cheap whiskey, cheaper tobacco, and panic attacks. Maybe I’m jaded?”

Since we were planning to do this in winter, everyone settled on a strong dark ale—and the tagline, “A strong ale for dark times.” 

That was how I found myself at Bond Brothers last Wednesday morning, drinking beer and watching beer get made. Rowley had provided the recipe, brewmaster Whit Baker told me, or at least the skeleton of it. They had some lines to color in, and they were working with some malts they didn’t normally work with. The way the recipe was shaping up, Baker told me, the strong ale would probably come out malty and powerful, like a European-style barley wine. 

The next day, Baker texted me a photo of, well, something sudsy that had poured out all over the brewery floor: “It’s super intense even for us,” he wrote. “Figured it was worth sharing. It’s going to be super yum.”

I’ll have to wait a few weeks to find out. Baker says it should be fermented and ready to go by mid-to-late February. No bottles—it’ll only be available at the brewery, and a portion of every purchase sold here will go to the INDY Press Club. (The versions sold in Santa Fe and PDX will help contribute to those papers’ respective fundraising efforts.) 

So if you’re a beer-drinking sort, make plans to head out to Cary and give The 4th Estate a try—or any of Bond Brothers’ brews, for that matter. They’re good people supporting (IMHO) a good cause, and they always make good stuff. 

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at 

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