Wednesday, May 20, 2015

PourGate 2013: It took two damn years, but this new law silences Dr. Tom Harris and the Floyd County Health Department.

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
-- Winston Churchill

Since June of 2013, when the Floyd County Health Department blithely usurped its statutory authority by demanding that NABC obtain temporary food serving permits to pour pints of beer into plastic cups, we have proven it wrong three times.

First, with the Indiana Court of Appeals ruling Ft. Wayne v Kotsopoulus, then with an advisory opinion from the Indiana Attorney General's office, and finally with an actual state law providing even more excruciating detail as to why Dr. Tom Harris should lose his job.

Major thanks go to Rep. Ed Clere for authoring "SECTION 6. IC 16-42-5-30," of House Enrolled Act No. 1311, and shepherding the bill. It is what might be called an omnibus beer-related collection of seemingly minor directives, including the modification of the food service requirement for taprooms (more on that later), but allow me just this one observation.

Most of the media attention during this year's legislative session was centered on Senate Bill 297 and small brewer barrel limits. As time goes by, these limits will become increasingly relevant for our bigger industry players. But right now, with the vast majority of Indiana brewers still quite small, it's the smaller things that matter most.

Rep. Clere understands this, and is to be commended for it.

I've posted the complete tome at my NA Confidential blog. Included is the narrative, text of the new law, and links to the back story.

PourGate 2013: It took two years, but this new law silences Dr. Tom Harris and the Floyd County Health Department.

On June 14, 2013, the New Albanian Brewing Company was peaceably vending beer at Bicentennial Park, by means of a supplemental catering permit issued by the company's governing agency, the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

The Floyd County Health Department arrived and said that NABC also needed a temporary food serving permit.

I said no, that's incorrect.

They persisted, and a two-year-long struggle commenced.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 5 … From Istanbul to Rome, with Greece in between.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 5 … From Istanbul to Rome, with Greece in between.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Fifth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

Planes, trains, boats, buses, taxis and my own two aching feet had brought me to crowded, confusing and utterly beguiling Istanbul. Twelve days prior, I’d never even been outside the United States except for the passage north to Canada. Now my bunk was in Turkey, and like most Americans of my generation, too numerous viewings of “Midnight Express” regurgitated in my subconscious, reminding me this wasn’t Kansas – or Floyds Knobs.

In 2015, tourists plot their routes on mobile devices or various other electronic gadgets. In 1985, we pulled out dog-eared copies of “Europe on $25 a Day” or “Let’s Go: Europe” and tried not to look too conspicuous while trying to determine where we were. Train stations and tourist shops sold city maps, but why purchase one unless you were sure it would be needed?

After all, a couple thousand Turkish lira saved might well be two or more Efes Pilsners earned.

The Sultan Tourist Hostel was fairly easy to find, and upon checking in and agreeing to occupy a three-bedded room with two complete strangers for the absurdly cheap price of $2.50 a night, I was introduced to my roomies.

They were engaging and intrepid Japanese architectural students, whose broken but priceless English-language commentaries on the construction techniques and design features of the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia, three historical attractions lying mere blocks away from the hostel, immeasurably enlivened our daily visits to these shrines.

While in the former Byzantium, one gloriously sunny afternoon was spent on the local ferryboat, zigzagging back and forth through the straits from Europe to Asia, and halting finally at a hillside town with the adjacent Black Sea as an eastern horizon, cheap skewers of grilled lamb and peppers, stuffed tomatoes, and a chaotic bazaar where finally, after nearly two weeks on the road, I paused long enough to take a cue from Hassan and half-heartedly bargain with a merchant over the price of a gaudy yellow bath towel.

The time allotted for Istanbul passed too quickly. Having learned my lesson during the inbound segment of the Turkish excursion, I now trusted the posted train schedules, and the rail trip back to Athens proved idiotically simple, with two memorable stopovers along the way.


The first was Kalambaka, itself a nondescript modern town, but the functional gateway to the spectacular, otherworldly monasteries of Meteora, which are man-made complexes of Orthodox holiness and isolation perched like Technicolor mushrooms atop tall shafts of sheer volcanic rock – accessible by local bus thanks to the wonders of 20th-century roadway engineering, but previously reached exclusively by rope and basket conveyances, pulleys and profuse prayers.

Next came mountaintop Delphi and earnest considerations of the famous hallucinogenic oracle, whose cryptic riddles were puzzling highlights of antiquity.

From Delphi, the serene view southwest over the Gulf of Corinth closed each evening, alongside beers, moussaka and a group of entertaining Kiwis, all crowded together on the veranda of a small taverna, enraptured by the intensity of the sunset. I wasn’t the only one who’d perused Henry Miller’s seminal “The Colossus of Maroussi” before arriving in Greece, and the book came to life as we discussed Miller’s late-thirties experiences and compared them with our own.

On the day I’d chosen to leave Delphi, an uneventful local bus ride to a nearby town, where the railhead was located, provided no advance warning of the scene at the station. Swarms of excited people were streaming aboard the train bound for Athens.

I’d completely forgotten that it was Election Day. It was fast becoming post-election afternoon, and the celebration was beginning in earnest. Andreas Papandreou’s green-coded Socialists, scourge of the Reagan administration, were about to triumph over the conservative, blue-colored New Democrats and the ominous, red-cloaked Communists.

Previously, in Patras and Kalambaka, I’d experienced late-night campaign rallies for both major parties, but nothing like this. Bottles of wine and Ouzo were everywhere. Trays of food were passed up and down the slowly moving train cars. Tickets were not being checked, which hardly mattered, as train seats were non-existent, even in first class, and rail workers partied just as unreservedly as the passengers.

The festive atmosphere more than made up for the discomfort, and I enjoyed hearing the observations of a few Greek passengers who spoke English, as well as the dryly humorous comments of my fellow traveler for the day, a Swiss woman my age who I’d met while at staying at the hostel in Delphi.

Once in Athens, she intended to take a boat from Piraeus to the Greek Islands, while my plan was to move south onto the Peloponnese region. Belatedly arriving in Athens, I accepted her invitation to share a bottle of wine, and we passed time at her hotel during the afternoon hours.


Later that night, I caught the last southbound train, eventually catching a few hours of sleep atop a bench in the providentially warm Argos train station before hopping the first morning bus to the scenic town of Nafplion on the Aegean coast.

Nafpion’s craggy, sprawling 16th-century hilltop Venetian fortress merited a full day’s exploration, powered by fresh raisin bread from the bakery around the corner from my inexpensive guesthouse. One day each was devoted to the museums and archeological sites of Epidavros and Mycenae, both reached by bus from Nafplion’s depot, where chalkboards chronicled departures and arrivals.

Epidavros, home to one of the best-preserved ancient amphitheaters in Greece, and Mycenae, replete with Trojan War imagery and a much-noted tomb, finally sated a desire dating from childhood for insight into the lives of the ancient Greeks.

The visits to Epidavros and Mycenae, coupled with two Athenian afternoons exploring the Acropolis and the time with the oracle in Delphi, brought these adolescent dreams to life, and provided ample opportunities to muse on the differences between our often romanticized views of the past and the helter-skelter reality of modern Greece.

My epiphanies largely complete, Greek time began to run out. Much to my consternation, I’ve not returned there since.

Italy awaited, and to get there, it was time again to board the boat.



The PC: Euro ’85, Part 4 … With Hassan in Pithion.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 3 … Growing up in Greece.

The PC: Euro '85, Part 2 ... Hitting the ground crawling in Luxembourg.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 1 … where it all began.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Leg Spreader's notoriety spreads all the way to Great Britain.

A quantum leap in tasteful positioning?

The second generation Leg Spreader label (the Feds can be astutely discerning) has traveled the electronic superhighway all the way to Great Britain, where a contributor to The Telegraph takes issue with it and other "Neanderthal beer adverts," thus using one of our own Indiana "craft" beers as an example.

It has even made an international "cringeworthy" list.

Fancy a pint of 'leg spreader'? Neanderthal beer adverts leave me frothing, by Claire Cohen

 ... British beer expert Melissa Cole agrees that the industry has a woman problem.

She recently told the Telegraph: “There are still too many people in the beer community who seem totally fine with either appalling sexism or flat-out offensiveness.

“We don’t much like being metaphorically patted on the a--- by the marketers.”

Frequent readers will be feeling a sense of Yogi Berra's déjà vu all over again, but before listing the links to my various rants, permit this acknowledgement of complicity.

Speaking for myself, I'm still troubled by my own brewery's continued use of the word "naughty" (girl) as part of a beer name, though not by the image of a mermaid that we use. I'd like to think that since we first began using the name a few years back, consciousness has expanded overall, and we've all learned more about sexism and diversity.

I'd like to see us change the name, though at this precise juncture, with me taking a leave of absence to run for mayor, I have precious little to do with my own business (and am being remunerated accordingly, alas). In this as with so many other matters, we do what we can, as we are able. I will, when I can.

In the interim, I'm serious about learning more about these issues, and presenting the findings to the Brewers of Indiana Guild. But I'm going to be blunt: It's really hard to put a positive spin on Leg Spreader, and it's really not something for Indiana beer to be proud of -- is it?

January 9

"Craft Brewers Are Running Out Of Names," clever or otherwise.

January 19:

The PC: Ripped straight from the pages of an Onion satire: “13 white males not really so eager to discuss issues like racism and sexism.”

January 27

Brewers of Indiana Guild: "We obviously don’t condone sexism or racism."

Feb 16

The PC: On barrelage, Dean Smith and diversity studies.

March 24

"Does craft beer have a sexism problem?"

May 5

Rants, bar fights and strip clubs. Maybe it's time to become a wine drinker.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Drinkswell installs taps, and then pours from them at the Butchertown Market.

Has it been only 10 years since Ed activated Drinkswell?

It seems like far longer.

As for the delightful eccentricity of a tap room located at a draft line installation company, don't forget that the Butchertown Market is a draw onto itself. The 135-year-old building has been a tannery (as befits a neighborhood that -- duh -- once was filled with butchers), soap factory, paint plant and seed storage facility.

Currently the structure houses 20 tenants pursing varied business interests, and as we now, all that work can make a person thirsty.

Congratulations to Ed and the gang for branching out with a brand extension.

Drinkswell now serving up craft beer at the Butchertown Market, by Sara Havens (Insider Louisville)

Drinkswell is now more than just a service company tucked away in the Butchertown Market. Starting this week, the beer tap installation company will now be serving up what they help others perfect — cold, crisp craft beer from eight taps. It’ll be a tap room of sorts, open Wednesday through Friday from 4-10 p.m.

Edward Bullen started Drinkswell in 2005 because he saw a void in the market. As the craft beer boom hit a few years back, many bars and restaurants needed help expanding their offerings and putting more emphasis in the proper dispensing of draught beer.

With Bullen’s 30-year background as a brewer and his love of quality-served beer, it’s been a growing success. In fact, his company is up 40 percent from last year.

Friday, May 15, 2015

On tasting Cincinnati and the stalking Budweiser attorney.

Brew Professor looks to be a good place to keep up with Cincinnati beer news, which has exploded so rapidly in recent years that a casual observer is hard-pressed to keep tabs.

When I caught the headline below, a song came to mind.

The problem is, I've heard it so many times before.

Taste of Cincinnati, yes. Drinks of Cincinnati, no, by Mike Stuart

One of city’s largest summer festivals, Taste of Cincinnati, is intended to showcase local culinary talent and unique local flavors. Most would agree they succeed on this front but their selection of Cincinnati beers have some room for improvement.

For a food festival there are certainly a large number of beer options (warning, some of these “beers” are Bud Light’s mixed drinks). However, for a locally focused festival, it’s sorely lacking an accurate representation of what is produced locally.

Of the 68 beers, only 15 are local from four of the more than 20 locally operating breweries. Yep, about 20% of the beers offered are made here in our community. The rest range from Cleveland to Kalamazoo to St. Louis to Portland.

Paying to play in whatever convoluted fashion serves only to remind us that American capitalism never has been pure or pristine, and when we hear a politician suggest such, our first reflex should be to reach for the rotten fruit and begin mimicking big league fastballs down the (wind) pipe.

In turn, this reminds me of a tangentially related story at Facebook, as relayed by Tom "Orange Blossom Brewery" Moench, who once saved my life in Orlando by providing alcoholic diversions as we were stranded for an afternoon during a family reunion. I've never thanked you enough, Tom, and your words here are sheer poetry.

What are the chances
I walk into a bar downtown and step up to order a couple craft beers for my crew
The fellow next to me barks out
"I'm a Budweiser attorney, explain to me the big deal this craft beer shit"
I tried to engage him, telling him that Bud is fast food and craft is fine dining
"where do you get off selling 3pks for $9" he says
I then tell him I don't want to talk to him anymore
He wouldn't shut up
We walked 25 feet away and he got up and came over to continue berating craft beer
I say "don't come at me like that"
He then insists on buying us Buds
We walk outside to get away from the fool but here he comes, beers in hand
I refuse them, and he tells me he knows the cops and will wipe the street with me
I hold my own hoping he will take a swing, but he was trying to incite me to swing also
I even called him "little fellow" (he was 6'3', I'm 6'4")
Stay Classy Bud

Bud's always classy, Tom.

Like Joe Stalin.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Long live Mild. Let it be.

It's worth noting that for all of NABC's ups and downs over the years, Community Dark has remained the best-selling house beer in our own two New Albany locations.

Granted, the ingredients are North American, but the outcome is session-strength, traditional, English-style Mild. I've had Milds in the UK, and ours matches well, without toning down the color or adapting with Citra, as suggested (perhaps impishly) in the otherwise excellent overview here. Mild hits the spot with pizza, too, and at the 3.7% abv of Community Dark, it puts the lie to frequent assertions that flavor and strength must cohabit.

You can have a few. To me, that remains important.

CAN MILD ALE MAKE IT IN AMERICA?, by Jeff Alworth (All About Beer Magazine)

Alistair Reece is a peripatetic Scot currently living in Virginia, and a bit of a contrarian. “My dad used to tell me as a kid that ‘if it’s easy, it’s not worth it,’ and anyone can advocate for super hoppy strong ales when they are 10 a penny.” So of course he’s championing mild ale, a style so obscure many Americans have never encountered it in the wild. Each year, the United Kingdom’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) promotes mild ale in May, and Reece decided to launch American Mild Month to run concurrently on this side of the Atlantic. “Mild is such a rare beast that I wanted to give it it’s own moment in the spotlight.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pete Brown on "starved, neurotic, Stella-drunk piranhas."

File under: Wish I'd written this.

I am so fucking bored by the beer discourse of 2015, by Pete Brown at his blog

 ... When I write stuff for the consumer press about beer, I stick to the line - which I believe on good days, when the medication is working - that there's never been a better time to be a beer drinker. More brewers, more styles, more experimentation and inventiveness ...

Seems the medication isn't working. It's been happening a lot to me lately.

Everything was awesome.

But of course, it wasn't really. Just like in the film.

Success makes people uneasy. Remove the easily identifiable enemy, and people become unsure what they're fighting for, or against.

And so as soon as 2014's Christmas hangover wore off, we turned on each other like a pack of starved, neurotic, Stella-drunk piranhas.