Friday, August 26, 2016

Give AB InBev the finger and read this article about antitrust and the importance of supply chains.

Beer is not mentioned in this article, but if you're reading it while drinking a Goose Island product, you're probably better off heading back to Thrillist.

What Role for Antitrust in the Era of Rising Inequality? The Importance of Power in Supply Chains, by Marshall Steinbaum (Pro-Market)

Concentration of power in supply chains is a prime mechanism by which dominant companies consolidate power and profits.

The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was passed almost unanimously and with one goal in mind: to keep the cartels that dominated the nation’s railroad network from shaking down yeoman farmers. If they wanted to sell their goods, farmers had to pay the railroads’ exorbitant prices for freight, and any time demand increased, the railroads increased their prices and so captured the entire windfall. The Sherman Act, along with later U.S. antitrust legislation, aimed to diffuse market power in supply chains. The premise of the act was that individual small-scale producers should be allowed to make a living without paying powerful gatekeepers for the privilege.

For the most part, that has not been the standard applied by regulators and courts in enforcing antitrust law over the last four decades. Instead, they have looked almost exclusively at consumer welfare rather than the relative power of different suppliers to set prices and other trading terms. And policymakers and experts have tended to assume that large suppliers serve consumers’ interest by competing out inefficient producers—meaning that concentrating power in supply chains is, at least most of the time, beneficial to the public. That intellectual trend is reflected in the prioritization of different types of cases by the antitrust enforcement agencies, and also in the judiciary with the Supreme Court’s move to consider vertical price-fixing cases under the Rule of Reason following the 2007 Leegin case.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Foodies, pretentiousness and "a pox on your loft."

Yes, the mag's mentioned.

Wait -- you don't think a few of Powell's razor-sharp observations (well, only two or three dozen of them) are applicable to "craft" beer?

Substitute the words "beer snob" for "foodie," and have a deep think.

Curb Your Foodieism: How pretentiousness undercuts Louisville’s food scene, by Michael C. Powell (LEO Weekly)

... Additionally vexing, many people who fall somewhere on the spectrum of the creative class often toss around this term carte blanche, even though there’s nothing particularly creative about being a foodie. You’re not creating something — that’s what the chef just did, even though “foodie” is a badge worn proudly with at least a modicum of self-congratulatory importance by the same folks. Identifying as a “foodie” does not define anything about an individual, save for one simple fact — it is a public proclamation that a certain amount of disposable income is available for you to eat at trendy restaurants at will. And that, friends, is an odd thing to brag about in the same sentence as your preferred sports franchise, unless actively posturing a sense of exclusivity based on your means is worthy of note. In which case, nuts to you. A pox on your loft.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Beer archaeology: "The beginnings of civilization were spurred on by fermented beverages."

Photo credit: The Smithsonian.

Many of us have been exposed to ancient narratives like this, but it's vitally important to stress the intertwined history of beverage alcohol and humankind.

I always began my beer tastings with a few riffs on the fact that fermentation is a natural process. Fundamentalists like to pretend otherwise.

I always try to ignore fundamentalists.

Beer Archaeologist: How Alcohol Shaped Our Civilization, by Paul Ratner (Big Think)

Patrick McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has one of the coolest jobs in the world. Some have called him “the Indiana Jones of Alcohol” or “the beer archaeologist”. What he does is recreate the world's oldest drinks by finding and utilizing organic material at archaeological sites. A world authority on ancient alcoholic beverages, he’s found humanity’s oldest drinks and re-made some of them, like a beer from the legendary King Midas's court and a 9000-year-old Chinese rice and honey drink from the Neolithic period.

In a recent interview with National Geographic, McGovern shared his insights on the importance of alcohol in creating our civilization ...


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

BIG: "As the industry grows and technology changes, guilds can have a stronger voice than ever."

Admittedly, I haven't been playing very close attention, but The Brewer Magazine ... based at 719 E Kentucky Street in Louisville? The articles seem solid. Can someone bring me up to date?

Meanwhile, it's gratifying to see some good ink for the Brewers of Indiana Guild.

Guilds Find Ways to Connect Breweries with Consumers & Each Other, by By Jon Sicotte (The Brewer Magazine)

A state guild can be key in connecting fellow brewers to other brewers, and state breweries to the consuming public.

Finding new and exciting ways to do that has been on the mind of the Brewers of Indiana Guild, which has seen the number of breweries in the state nearly double in the last two-plus years. That means needed communication and more resources for not just educating the public on craft beer in the Hoosier state, but also educating and introducing the various breweries to each other. That partnership can lead to strong communal ties and a bigger voice in unison when needed.

“As the industry grows and technology changes, guilds can have a stronger voice than ever,” said Brewers of Indiana Guild Communication Director Tristan Schmid.


Monday, August 22, 2016

AFTER THE FIRE: Drink, smoke and enjoy.

AFTER THE FIRE: Drink, smoke and enjoy.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

This column dates to October, 2012. It was originally published at, and has not appeared in its entirety here at the blog.

I must note with sadness that Billow is no longer with us. However, The Office Cigar Shop and Lounge in Floyds Knobs and Riverside Cigar Shop/Match Cigar Bar in Jeffersonville have expanded local options exponentially.

It also should be said that a return to temperate weather would be much appreciated.


Tolerable front porch weather resumed in September this year, and temperate temps lasted well into October. Suddenly, as though gripped by an obscure internalized auto-pilot, I found myself queuing at various local cigar purveyors, and layering my humidor.

New Albany is fortunate in this regard. There’s Kaiser Tobacco, which has operated on Pearl Street for more than 175 years, and also Billow, celebrating a year in business on Market Street.

Billow’s strategic location is especially pleasing to the senses when those days when the planets are aligned. Just next to it is the Quills coffee shop, and across the street Habana Blues, a Cuban restaurant. Aromas of cigars, coffees, teas and spicy roasted meats can be pervasive in that area, reminding us of how very important our retained impressions of smell can be, combining with sights and sounds to conjure wonderful memories.

And then there’s beer.


In 1995, on a sunny fall afternoon in Antwerp, Belgium, we’d started drinking early at the Elfde Gebod (Eleventh Commandment) café, where religious statuary both sacred and profane lines the walls. The eccentric tableau is just creepy enough to be inspirational, so for those seeking a view of “Jesus with the head of a dog” while sipping Westmalle Tripel, the Elfde Gebod is just your kind of place.

Later that afternoon, my pot of North Sea mussels steamed in dry white wine was superb. Endless, graceful “bollekes” of locally brewed De Koninck amber ale were equally fabulous, and there remains a sneaking suspicion that we found Rodenbach on tap somewhere at a bar upstairs on the other side of the cathedral.

Belgium’s diamond capital is a city filled with food, drink and nightlife, and the specific reason why the memory of this particular day returned to me recently was a cigar, cradled in my hand, burning ever so slowly, emitting puffy smoke rings – the fruition of a long, patient process of growth, cultivation, harvesting, curing, hand rolling, packing and distribution.

It took me back to the conclusion of our Antwerp session so very long ago, because we ended the long day’s session at the famous beer bar called the Kulminator, where Dirk was featuring ten-year-old vintage dark ale called Breughel, brewed by a long defunct brewery (since then, it has been revived), as salvaged from a forgotten stash hidden in a friend’s garage.

Miraculously, the process of aging had been quite friendly to the Breughel. Oxidization offered a velvety patina of sherry-like nuttiness to concentrated fruitiness, on the order of plums, pecans and toffee. I drank one, ordered another, and lit an authentic Havana: The Romeo y Julieta Churchill, purchased a few days earlier at a tobacconist’s in Brussels.

At the time, I was quite sure it was the best cigar I’d ever smoked. Finely conditioned, properly humidified and boasting a clean draw and steady, stately, dead-even ash, it was full-bodied and unapologetic in flavor, and the sensory qualities of the tobacco were simply overwhelming. Not only that, I had a complex, nuanced beer to go along with the cigar. The match of power vs. power seemed ideal.

At the same time, as one who regularly enjoys good beer with good cigars, I must confess that at some level, doing so is counter-intuitive. Puffing on a cigar changes the way a beer tastes. Conversely, drinking a beer also changes the way a cigar tastes. Can partaking of beer and cigars together change the way both taste, but in a positive way, one modifying pleasurable aspects of each and yielding a harmonious, hedonistic whole?

I think so.

When given the chance to nip at a beer I haven’t previously tasted, my general inclination is to avoid cigar smoke; after all, the first Breughel in Antwerp went down before the cigar came out. This is a personal preference, and simple enough to keep straight. The point to me is that because quality beer and cigars both appeal to me, I’m likely to continue making simultaneous use of them, and with a wee bit of forethought, the experience can be enhanced.


On the cigar side, the logical place to assess the range of pairing choices is the wrapper, which contributes much to the flavor profile and offers visual clues. Wrappers range from lighter to darker shades, with subtle, spicy notes common in the light wrappers and cocoa or chocolate hints noticeable as the color nears black.

Albeit imperfectly, these wrapper shades correspond to beer colors as a preliminary basis for pairing.

The base malt of beer is golden, with hues added through the use of specialty malts, which also provide flavors ranging from roast to espresso to wood smoke. Color alone doesn’t always indicate the strength and character of a beer, and it should be obvious that the lightest styles of beer won’t always pair well with tobacco even if the cigar is innately mild.

For instance, a golden-colored beer might be light and delicately hopped (Kolsch), medium-bodied, estery and phenolic (German Hefeweizen) or strong and malty sweet (Maibock). With a yellowish-brown Claro wrapper, Kolsch’s subtlety would be missed, and the assertive Maibock might overwhelm it. Among these three beer styles, a reasonable starting point might be Hefeweizen; a touch of clove and fruit for complementing the Claro’s spiciness.

Aggressively hoppy beers, including American Pale Ales and English ESBs, excel in the middle of the wrapper color range, especially Colorado (brown). Hops also can complement a cedar-like flavor component in cigars (sometimes gleaned from their modes of storage), but hoppy beers lacking a firm malt component, like an everyday Pilsner, often lack the heft to compete.

The greater the coffee, cocoa and chocolate content of the wrapper (Maduro and Oscuro), the less utility of either hops or spices, and far better the match with beers offering similarly dark character: Stouts, Porters, Belgian Dubbels, and any number of unclassifiable stronger, dark and blacker specialty brews.

As suggested long ago by my old friend Paul Mick, the residual sugar found in many bigger, darker beers serves as a leveling agent in the struggle for balance with fuller-bodied cigars. In a primal and purely axiomatic sense, the pinnacle of full-on-full pairings could well be oily, black Maduro cigars alongside bourbon-barrel-aged Imperial Stouts.

Of course, these musings will be familiar to cigar smokers with a taste for Port, and those already enamored of the wider world of whiskies. Kentucky’s legendary bourbon whisky pairs well with cigars because both possess woody flavors. The alcohol in the bourbon cleanses the palate; and the corn mash sweetness of the whisky balances the absence of sweetness in the tobacco. Or so it seems to me.

Indeed, the utility of experimentation never diminishes. So, what is your own strategy for beer and cigars?


August 15: AFTER THE FIRE: Listening to "Dixieland" jazz, and thinking about drinking a beer.

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.


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.


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.

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

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

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,
or Arts Council, 820 East Market Street, New Albany, IN 47150.

For more Information please contact Julie Schweitzer:
812-949-4238 or

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?