Seven years ago, Ted Miller took a chance on mussels. After an epic 16-year global brewing excursion to places as familiar as Seattle and as foreign as Taipei, the Indianapolis native returned to his hometown’s hip Broad Ripple neighborhood and opened Brugge Brasserie, a bistro specializing in Belgian fare and Miller’s own Belgian-style beers. The move paid off: Since then, he opened a downtown production plant, racked up multiple GABF medals for his eclectic sours (“I love sours because there are no rules and they’re rambunctious as hell,” he explains), and plates 40,000 pounds of mussels every year.
In September, Brugge launches a wave of beers to fill the taps at his new (and, as of press time, still unnamed) restaurant at the brewery’s production facility. Local celebrity chef Greg Hardesty takes the lead with a European-leaning menu, and Miller follows suit with what goes in the glass. On top of the roughly 25 styles Miller plans to brew—spanning from his raved-about Belgians to new German and British styles—he’ll also dedicate a few taps to food-driven beers inspired by culinary ingredients sourced by Hardesty. Patrons will also find dishes doused in Miller’s experimental, barrel-aged malt vinegars.
But even with Miller’s focus on the new venture, Brugge Brasserie continues to evolve: He plans to expand the barrel program and “switch up bacteria, micro-flora, barrels and base styles” for his sours. And, having cornered European and Belgian styles, Miller’s bringing it back home with plans to pour traditional American ales through Brugge’s taps early next year—to drink, obviously, alongside a steaming pot of mussels.
Brugge’s expanding sour selection rotates, but the brewery’s poured these two brews since the beginning:
Tripel de Ripple: “When I was brewing a beer in Taiwan, we experimented with a Belgian yeast strain. I walked into the brewery the morning after we brewed, and it smelled like someone left a drum of pear juice in there. I thought to myself, ‘I hope this beer tastes like it smells.’ When we got home, I decided to use that exact strain, but tweaked the fermenting temperatures. I got Tripel de Ripple to exhibit wonderful vanilla and pear notes; in fact, to this day, when you go into the brewery, you still smell the pear.”
Black: “A schwarzbier doesn’t have the bitter astringency you expect from a beer that dark, so we decided to employ similar techniques to deliver the same idea to this Belgian dark strong ale; I wanted it jet-black but approachable. We use the same yeast as we do for the tripel, but those notes of vanilla and pear don’t come through as much because the beer’s eight different malts are clearly dominant. It’s a fantastic three-season beer and pairs extremely well with food, especially meat that’s seen any smoke.”