Saturday, August 20, 2016

Arts Council's "Bourbon, Beer and Barbecue" fundraiser is August 26.


Neither the poster nor the press release mentions specific "local" beer and bourbon, but the "local" chain newspaper comes to the rescue with this:

Beer will be available from Donum Dei Brewery and the New Albany Brewhouse, Jim Beam bourbon and wine from French Lick Winery.

Um, that's New Albanian Brewing Company, but otherwise, it's good to know all the facts. Following is the press release.

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Bourbon, Beer and Barbeque
Artist Showcase and Fundraiser
August 26, 2016
6:00 - 10:00 pm
Pepin Mansion, 1003 East Main Street
New Albany, Indiana
Tickets $40.00

The Arts Council of Southern Indiana is pleased to announce our annual fundraising event: Bourbon, Beer and Barbeque, Jazz and Blues Artist Showcase.

Musical entertainment and local art provide the backdrop for this memorable evening. This event is an opportunity for the ACSI to recognize arts supporters and gives artists the opportunity to practice their craft and display their work to a supportive audience.

This event is presented by The Arts Council of Southern Indiana and hosted by the Pepin Mansion.

All proceeds benefit educational programing, exhibits and art events at the Pat Harrison Arts Center.

Featuring
Special Musical Guests:
Jamey Aebersold Jazz Quartet
Waitin' For Dave,
The Phoenix Collective - Fire Performers

Catering:
Shawn's Southern BBQ
Capriole Chesse
Smiles Cakes
Café 157
Aladdin's Cafe

Libations:
ACSI Cocktail
Local Beer and Bourbon

Featuring Artists:
Andie Davis, Jeff Reinhardt, Wini Harrison,
Dawn Johnston, Roxy Lentz, Lyn Oaks,
Cody Presley, Kim Raber

Tickets are $40.00 and can be purchased:
phone at 812-949-4238, online www.artscouncilsi.org,
or Arts Council, 820 East Market Street, New Albany, IN 47150.

For more Information please contact Julie Schweitzer:
812-949-4238 or Julie@artscouncilsi.org

Friday, August 19, 2016

No hype, just the "Death of a Brewery Salesman."

"My friend once showed me how he explains the three tier system of alcohol to lay people. He picked up his glass and moved it from in front of his right hand to in front of his left hand and then stuck out his other hand and said 'That'll be 30%, please.' There is often a feeling among brewery people that distributor people would be just as happy delivering turkey basters."


I wasn't ever the primary sales rep at my (former) brewery, but even in an ancillary capacity, I experienced enough of it to feel this guy's pain.

Unfortunately, there probably isn't a solution. Let's hope the colleges and universities continue to produce cannon fodder; meanwhile, I intend to curl up with a growler from the brewery down the way.


Death of a Brewery Salesman, by Matthew J. "Heff" Heffernan (DCBeer)

 ... It's a strange dynamic that leads many people to believe that being a beer rep is quite possibly the best job on the planet. That's what the buying public generally sees us doing: drinking beer on an expense account. They don't see us awake until all hours of the night building presentations to show at wholesaler meetings (which are often at 7am the next day). So they think this job is great. They don't see the truly unfortunate amount of time you have to spend analyzing sales data to make any sort of headway at retail, or with your wholesaler partners (about all of whom, I don't think it's any secret to anyone who knows me, I've openly had some very negative things to say about in the past, but we'll get to that in a minute). The public definitely doesn't see the embarrassing and regrettable conversations that sometimes go on out in the market or during a sales call. The horse trading, the sucking up, the falseness, agreeing when you actually disagree, smiling when you actually want to judo chop the person in the neck. These are some things I'm pretty good at. None of them are sexy, but I guess they do separate me from your average homebrewer. Still though, it's the cool shirt that must make them want me there. Or maybe the hope they will receive a cool shirt of their own simply by hosting?

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

You can't roller skate in a buffalo herd, and "You Can't 'Open' a Dive Bar."




The great Roger Miller died far too young. Songwriters need time to develop their musical craft, and if you can't roller skate in a buffalo herd, it's equally impossible to charge $8 for a beer in a "dive" bar.

I'm guessing there'll be those who disagree.


You Can't 'Open' a Dive Bar, by Naomi Tomky (City Lab)

Hole-in-the-wall spots need time to evolve.

Dive bars are the antithesis of change. Regular customers expect the same person to serve them the same drink, and that it will taste the same, the bar will smell the same, and that nothing will ever surprise them there. Sarah Jewell, who managed Seattle’s Central Saloon, called many of her regulars “ritualistic.” But whether it’s ritual, habit, or comfort, dive bars are the opposite of trendy, and the opening of a new bar is the opposite of everything for which the dive bar genre stands.

But entrepreneurs rushed to capitalize on that hard-earned vibe and open places that imitate the same spots that have been gentrified out of a neighborhood. (See practically-dive-themed bars like King’s Hardware and Montana in Seattle.) The thing is, you can't rush dive bars. Like antiques—or, more appropriately, whiskey and wine—much of the value of a dive bar comes with the passing of time: butt grooves in banquettes, moisture stains on the bar in the shape of one million pint glasses, and a bartender spewing the kind of surliness that requires decades of practice. Dive bars aren’t opened: they evolve.




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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Let's flip this over: The Life of the Flagships.



I didn't read Chelsie's piece until after I'd already written these words.


AFTER THE FIRE: Before the deluge, or knowing how this whole beer business started.

... My contrarian instincts tell me that the beer climate is ripe for a modest, thoughtful return to basics, emblemized by a relatively small list of classics on draft, and in bottles and cans, to be accompanied by some good, old-fashioned beer education, which seems to have been tossed aside in the era of mile-wide, inch-deep “craft” fandom.


It would be churlish to differ with Chelsie on stylistic grounds, because all the relevant points are there for consideration.

She is describing reality as it is viewed by the digital white whale chasers, and if the digital white whale chasers view their scene as reality, so it must be -- it says so right here, on the Internet -- except the contrarian in me stubbornly believes that this viewpoint skips past the default setting of a significant chunk of better beer lovers.

Hence my current fascination with piloting the vessel straight back to the future, and establishing a pub beer program that is as stolid and set as the remainder of "craft" beer is flashy and ever-changing. Lots of people are drinking Victory Prima Pils and Saison Dupont. If not, these brands wouldn't be available.

Why not consciously appeal to beer lovers who don't chase the white whale, don't stockpile swap booty, and just wish to enjoy a good beer or three over conversation?

Maybe it's impossible, but maybe it's just being undervalued. Maybe it isn't being tried, though maybe the tried and true is tomorrow's freshest approach.


Death of the Flagships: But Why?, by Chelsie (Stouts and Stilettos)

I must admit. I have had this post swirling around in my head for well over a year now… maybe even longer. I’ve often talked about the downturn of flagship beers in great length to many-a-folks who belly up to the bar with me and on Twitter with fellow craft beer minded individuals. Now it’s time to document it all and get it out to the masses, because it’s a recent phenomena that’s really disheartening to some and to others it’s “goodbye. good riddance!” It’s an emotional parting of something classic and sacred yet on the other hand a parting of something boring and forgettable.


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Monday, August 15, 2016

AFTER THE FIRE: Listening to "Dixieland" jazz, and thinking about drinking a beer.

AFTER THE FIRE: Listening to "Dixieland" jazz, and thinking about drinking a beer.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

The book is Lost Chords: White Musicians and Their Contribution to Jazz, 1915-1945, by the late Richard M. Sudhalter. It is a massive and scholarly tome, and allowing time for numerous visits to YouTube in search of cited songs, my progress has been painstakingly slow.

Insofar as there was anyone left alive to care all that much upon the publication of Lost Chords in 1999, the book apparently provoked mild controversy, in that Sudhalter was seen as challenging the orthodoxy that jazz must be viewed almost exclusively as an African-American domain.

However, I don’t believe this criticism of Sudhalter is justified in the main, because he doesn’t seriously question the African-American bona fides. Rather, he offers testimony on behalf of white jazzmen of the pre-WWII period, some of whom were neglected even before seven or more decades elapsed.

Naturally, this assumes a coherent definition of jazz itself. Louis Armstrong may or may not have said, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know,” but this sentiment bears a large measure of truth. It’s a very big, nebulous tent.

Speaking personally, I’m not overly concerned that Sudhalter’s book will send me spiraling into bigotry. Growing up in the 1960s, my parents exposed me to both types of their favorite music, swing and jazz, and if there were prejudices about music in the Baylor household, it wasn’t racial in the least.

Instead, it was directed against filthy long-haired hippies of any skin color playing that horrendous rock and roll. In due time, I managed to overcome this homefront institutional bias and revel in the electric guitar. In the interim, I was fortunate to be imbued with jazz from both black and white sources: Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton; Bix Beiderbecke and Benny Goodman; and Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck.

Yes, the roots of jazz overwhelmingly lie in the African-American experience, and yes, white musicians are known to have played it, too – and still do. The music long since has become a universal language, capable of being embraced by almost anyone, and may it survive another hundred years in ever widening spirals of diversity.

As this purports to be a column about beer, not books or music, please know that I’m currently in route to the general point, although it must be revealed that books and music are as important to me as beer and baseball. They’re items of long-term personal interest, and as cultural markers in my internal world, they’re seemingly woven together, completely inseparable and mutually reinforcing.

It’s hard to imagine life without them.

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In the chapter entitled “Dixieland,” Sudhalter examines a musical genre seemingly defined as much by audience perception as actual notes and sounds. At this late date, the differences may seem academic, but I was deeply affected by the discussion.

It goes something like this: Youthful (read: rebellious) white musicians in 1920s-era Chicago brashly copied what they heard being played by others, both black and white, many of whom came from New Orleans. In the process of creating a “new” amalgam of older forms, they soon experienced a predictable arc: First rejection, then acceptance and a measure of success, before yielding all too soon to typecasting.

Sudhalter holds that black musicians playing music of a similar style were better able to escape a “Dixieland” genre stereotype at least in part because the word originated as dog-whistling marketing code delineating white players from black – and once locked safely into place, predominantly white audiences refused to allow their heroes to evolve.

Why? Sudhalter believes the answer has more to do with rosy audience nostalgia than overt racism.

By the time these jazz players were in their late thirties, white listeners already regarded the music of their youth as akin to “classic jazz,” not unlike today’s “classic rock.” They weren’t interested in hearing new songs or the progressive aural shadings of bebop.

The musicians quickly learned that they could adapt to these expectations and continue to pull gigs, or reject them and be greeted by shrinking pay packets.

They chose to eat.

Specifically, Sudhalter’s description of this phenomenon is as eloquent as any I’ve ever read. He speaks of the 1940s, only 15 years after the Dixieland repertoire (as it were) came into existence.


The listening audience, moreover, was aging; in that generational way peculiar to American fans, it embraced the music more tenaciously, and less for strictly musical reasons than personal and psychological. It symbolized their youth, the well (if selectively remembered) time in their lives when the future seemed limitless, immortality theirs for the asking. Reminded them of a Zeitgeist, vivid and enjoyable, before time and change edged it into memory.


Many years later, Bob Seger stated it more succinctly (and wistfully) in the rock and roll vernacular:


I awoke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain't it funny how the night moves
When you just don't seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in


Play it again, author: “When the future seemed limitless.” That Richard Sudhalter sure knows how to hurt an old fart.

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Annoyingly, there is nothing at all inaccurate about the way this ancient Dixieland musical history lesson mirrors existential sub-currents in my own soul, as they pertain to the past and future of better beer and my own place in it … or out of it.

It grates even more because whatever the nature of the topic at hand, I’ve always struggled mightily to avoid nostalgia and live in the present tense, and to remain psychologically (as well as physically) a functional component of the contemporary world as it is.

Unfortunately, those ghosts of mine just won’t let me be.

Thus, comes the time of day when I’m thinking about drinking a beer, and with so many local, regional, national and international choices close at hand – with the abundant fruit of the revolution’s success ripe for plucking right down the street at breweries, restaurants and package stores, even within walking distance in otherwise forgettable places like New Albany – all I can think about are enriching vignettes and tasty beers from my past.

As with last week’s remembrance of 10-degree golden Czech lager from the brewery at Benesov, poured straight from an earthenware pitcher, and consumed in the yard of a Bohemian weekend house in the company of a personable Communist party member and his family.

Like the time in Brighton, listening to the Manic Street Preachers in a pub with the cask-conditioned Brown Porter, then hitting the late night curry house for a bite before stumbling back to the hotel.

Or during most of those glorious times bicycling in Belgium, working up a powerful thirst and slaking it with ales of all strengths and hues in cafés like The Dazzling, ‘t Brugs Beertje or any number of local dives with a Jupiler sign painted on the facade.

Naturally, what these experiences have in common isn’t so much the beers consumed at the time, although they were wonderful, but the timeliness of the situations, yielding to timeless snapshots of suspended moments, when the future seemed limitless and immortality mine for the asking.

Of course, they’re gone; completed, finished and cashed. I might leave tomorrow on a journey to revisit each of these specific locales, and while I’m sure it would be fun, devoting the money and effort to reliving memories would be this fool’s ultimate wasted errand. It cannot be done.

Although agitated in the best of time, I’m no idiot, and I understand that all these previous lives were extinguished milliseconds after they occurred, but in spite of this rational clarity – perhaps because of it – the ghosts flit teasingly about, tempting me, and often I yearn to recapture the feeling of exhilaration and discovery, of being utterly lost in the moment, of refusing to be the omniscient guide, of eschewing the ephemeral cutting edge, and in placing no more significance in the act of drinking a beer than the chain of muscle processes necessary to swallow it.

But it’s so very hard to forget what you’ve learned. A consistent theme of Sudhalter’s is to ignore much (though not all) of the so-called expert musical testimony and judge by the results, because listening to records should be absolutely colorblind. However, complete objectivity is a myth and an over-simplification ... and maybe those olden times weren't quite as carefree as they seemed.

When it comes to beer, I’m happy to have come so far, and wouldn’t trade this accumulated knowledge for anything, even an hour of previously squandered innocence during Reagan’s first term – when there wasn’t as much to lose.

At least I don’t think I’d turn down the trade. Instead, as usual, I'll try to treat the symptoms by throwing the ghosts a few scraps – listening to Keith Moon play drums, reading a chapter of Ball Four, and writing about a beer I drank somewhere in Hungary back in '87.

The ghosts will disappear for a while, but they’re persistent, and after all, we’ve known each other for a very long time. After every such dispersal, I ponder the same basic question: How does one hold onto his own traditions and values in a changing world, without lapsing into nostalgic self-parody?

Beats me. Whatever it is, I'm doing a poor job of it right about now.

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August 8: AFTER THE FIRE: A pre-digital Bohemian vignette, 1989.

August 1: AFTER THE FIRE: The devil made me drink it.

July 28 (at NA Confidential): ON THE AVENUES: An imaginary exercise tentatively called The Curmudgeon Free House.

July 25: AFTER THE FIRE: Before the deluge, or knowing how this whole beer business started.

July 18: AFTER THE FIRE: Moss the Boss, his dazzling beer café, and what they taught me about “craft.”

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Naong Negroni, perhaps? But maybe he prefers a nice Altbier.


This orangutan might prove to be the ideal taster, bartender and bouncer, all rolled into one. It makes me wonder how Naong would fare in a beer tasting, with the major question being horizontal, vertical or kitchen sink?


Accounting for taste: cognitive mixology (The Economist)

What can I get you? Naong, a male orangutan in a Swedish zoo, knows just what he wants. Given apple vinegar and cherry, rhubarb and lemon juice to taste separately, he learned their flavours, showing his preferences when given free choice of which to keep drinking. When he was offered various mixtures, prepared in front of him, he learned how those flavours tasted in combination. Then the real test: he watched novel mixtures being made and was allowed to choose between them ...

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

An overview of Barrel Aged Imperial Stout and a profile of Brooklyn and The Butcher headline the current issue of Food and Dining Magazine.


The latest issue of Food & Dining is on the street, as I speak. Click through to the preview and compendium of articles, then follow the links to issuu.

Or, go straight there:

Food & Dining -- Fall 2016, Vol. 53 (August/September/October) 

I have my usual beer column byline in the current edition ...


Hip Hops: Bourbon-barrel-aged Imperial Stout — The complex but agreeable relationship between beer and used Bourbon barrels.


... and there's also a detailed profile by the inimitable Greg Gapsis about Southern Indiana's own Ian Hall and his Brooklyn and The Butcher.



Vision and Experience in a Historical Setting — New Albany restaurateur Ian Hall adds another jewel to his crown with the sharp, elegant restoration of a historic downtown building.


Printed copies are available throughout the metro area in bars, restaurants, coffee shops and bookstores -- and they're free of charge.

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