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Alcohol on tap at fair

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Two Columbus-based companies will be among the first in the state to offer wine and beer at the Indiana State Fair.

Simmons Winery — which also plans to sell beer from its brewery, 450 North Brewing Company — and Powerhouse Brewing Company will feature their best selections at the Indiana Beer and Wine Exhibition as part of the fair’s two-week run in August.

This year will be the first time alcohol has been served at the State Fair since 1946.

Companies that apply to participate are assigned one day of the state fair to be part of the exhibition. The exhibition will be open from 1 to 9 p.m. each day of the fair and only to fairgoers 21 and older.

It will be located in the Grand Hall on Main Street, and wristbands will be issued upon entry. Guests will be limited to three glasses of any combination of beer and wine.

Indiana legislators approved removing the nearly 70-year-old ban on alcoholic beverages at the state fair this year.

The Beer and Wine Exhibition will be a good place to showcase the products of Indiana agriculture, said David Simmons, owner of Simmons Winery and 450 North Brewing Company.

“I think that the state fair is a good venue to taste Indiana wines,” Simmons said. “Indiana wine is Indiana agriculture.”

Simmons Winery has participated in wine festivals since it opened in 2000, but Simmons said the State Fair is a unique opportunity for both sides of his business.

“We always like to do new festivals, and this (the Indiana State Fair) is something different,” he said. “This is a chance to kind of showcase our beer (too), which is something we don’t normally get a chance to do.”

The Simmons Winery and 450 North Brewing company will have two types of wine and two of beer available on Aug. 4.

Simmons said he will sell his Honeykolsch and Scarecrow IPA beers and Autumn Late Harvest wine, but he is unsure on the second wine option.

Jon Myers, owner and head brewer of Powerhouse Brewing Company, said he is happy for the opportunity this year’s fair presents, not only for his business, but for a craft brewing industry in the state that has grown significantly in the past decade.

“I’m excited that the State Fair is going to showcase a growing Indiana industry,” Myers said. “In 2006, there were 20-some breweries in the state, and now there are 100. I think this (exhibition) is a nod from the state that it is a valuable industry.”

Powerhouse will be at the State Fair on Aug. 11 as part of the Brewers of Indiana Guild and will offer a selection of beers that has not yet been determined.

The Indiana State Fair is still looking for wineries and breweries to showcase at the exhibition and is accepting applications on its website, Andy Klotz, state fair media relations manager, said.

“I think we have a great representation of breweries and wineries from across the state,” Klotz said. “The biggest benefit for us is being able to promote another important section of the agricultural industry in the state.”

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