Time for beer and football: A trip to Lucas Oil Stadium

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The best compensation for having to go back to teaching classes this time of year is that it also quite neatly coincides with the beginning of football season.  Having completed what felt like a full week of pre-semester activities, my husband and I headed up to Indianapolis for a teeny, tiny little mini-getaway involving two of our favorite things–beer and football.

There are trains in our hotel

Union Station
Trains inside Crowne Plaza Union Station

If you’re going to go to a football game, there’s going to be beer.  And if there’s going to be beer, there’s a good chghance you should not be driving.  So we went ahead and got a hotel room as close as we could to the stadium on Hotels.com.  This turned out to be the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Union Station.  I’ve been driving through Indianapolis for years and I had no idea this hotel was there.  It’s basically built inside what used to be the train station.  So there literally are trains in the hotel.  And you can stay in a room that’s on the old train, which we didn’t know beforehand, but will definitely be checking out next time.

Beer technology

My husband and I purchased i-Phones after the heart-breaking experience of not being able to find a decent place to get a bagel in Baltimore.  This mini-trip to Indy was our first technologically-assisted trip, and thank god, it led us to good beer.  We googled breweries in Indianapolis and found the one closest to our hotel (we didn’t want to have to drive anywhere because…the beer drinking), Ram Brewery and Restaurant.  I’ve heard of several Indy beers, including Sun King, which they serve in town at Shooter’s.  But this was the first time we’d heard of Ram Brewery.

Ram's Brewery and Restaurant
$2 pint of Big Red IPA

They’ve been open since 1971 and all their beers are brewed in-house.  We had their Big Red IPA, which was delicious.  The bar was pleasant, with lots of big-screen tv’s, and the food was good.  They had many vegetarian options for me and fish and chips for the husband.

My husband and I got there pretty early as we’d had a late breakfast and were following up with a late lunch before the game.  So at first, there was no sign that a football game was imminent just blocks down the street.  By the time we left, folks were lining up at the bar.  But this place should have been so, so much more crowded, because….it was $2 Pint Night!

Every time we asked ourselves the question, “Should we have another beer?”, the answer was clearly yes, because they were $2, my friends!  The guy sitting next to us, when he realized it was $2 Pint Night said, “Why isn’t everyone in this place a whole lot happier?”  Good question.  Obviously, my husband and I were thrilled.  Not only were the beers $2 a pint, but the pints were a whopping 18 ounces, a whole extra 2 ounces of beer.  You may very well find us at Ram’s every Thursday night from here on out.

The big event

Well, really, after having found $2 Pint Night, the football game was kind of an anti-climax.  Lucas Oil Stadium is a beautiful field.  Our seats were almost exactly in the same location as my father’s Bengal’s season ticket seats, which was kind of weird (13 rows back in Paul Brown compared to 11 rows back in Lucas Oil).  But unlike our seats in Paul Brown, these were behind the opposing bench, and the opponents were the Bengals.  So I got to watch my guys up close and personal, which was very exciting.

For example, I had no idea what one of my favorite Bengals players, Brian Leonard, looks like.  Turns out he’s quite an attractive young man, if a bit restless.  After his three carries for 27 yards, Leonard spent the rest of the game pacing the sidelines.  I believe I only saw him sit down once.

Lucas Oil Stadium
Lucas Oil Stadium

I very much liked to see a lot of our young lions hanging out together on the sidelines–Andy Dalton (aka the Red Rifle), Rey Maulaluga, and A.J. Green.  Dalton looked good up until he bruised his arm and went out of the game, but we weren’t expecting to see much of him in the 4th preseason game, anyway.

This was the first preseason game I’ve seen for the Bengals, and they looked ready.  They especially looked ready as compared to the Miami Dolphins, for whom I’m predicting an epically crappy year.  Marvin Lewis looked cool and calm on the sidelines, which maybe had to do with the completely meaningless nature of the game, but was comforting all the same.

Here’s one thing that was definitely different about Lucas Oil Stadium as compared to Paul Brown–it was quite full and quite loud when needed.  There were a lot of occupied seats for the 4th preseason game.  And while there was none of the charged-up feeling you get with a regular season game, when the fans decided to turn on the noise, turn on the noise they did.  Sadly, this does not quite seem to happen for the Bengals in Paul Brown.  Perhaps after 10 or so years of consistently going to the playoffs with Dalton we’ll get there.

It is encouraging to know that the Bengals will be playing on the season opener of Monday Night Football this year, against the Ravens.  And yes, I am officially ready for some football.

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