Thursday, September 29, 2016

Floyd County Brewing Company is an indie alternative during Harvest Homecoming.

Floyd County Brewing Company‎ is promoting TASTE-IN in the Biergarten, an event running on Friday and Saturday, October 7 and 8.

It coincides with Harvest Homecoming booth days in downtown, which close streets and alter normal indie business routines from October 6 through 9.

Very excited to announce the first annual TASTE-IN festival. Come hang out in the Biergarten and enjoy 16 Indiana Craft Beers from 11 Indiana Breweries. There will be delicious food available and fantastic live music both Fri (Robert Rolfe Fedderson) and Sat (The Pirtles).

FCBC also has an alternative (and constructive) take on New Albany's purely unofficial "beer (swill) walk" during Harvest Homecoming.

Sounds like good advice any day of the week.

Harvest Homecoming festival has finally arrived, and the harvest craft beer crawl is what kicks it off. Join the community by walking through downtown New Albany, seeing the Renaissance that's happening while imbibing on the delicious craft beer we offer.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

North Korea's first beer festival proves the superiority of Socialist beer rating schemes.

Or some such. I'm sure RateAdvocate is right on it.

For a brief period in 1989, I was slated for attendance at the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students in Pyongyang. Eventually my credentials were revoked by the American governing body of Young Communists (sic), which I concede was fitting and proper considering I'd never been a member of their organization.

Of course, this is irrefutable evidence that I'm not a Commie, but this is another story for another time. Perhaps my next brewery project should be called Fellow Traveler, with a graphic depicting Robert E. Lee's horse.

Ironically, later in 1989 in Copenhagen I was able to taste a North Korean bottled beer brought out of the country by a Danish friend's relative, who if memory serves worked for Aeroflot.

The beer tasted like the drippings of a rusty drainpipe atop a chicken coop, filtered with moldy cleaning rags. Other than that, it was fine. Now there is Taedonggang beer, and by all appearances it's a considerable improvement.

In 2008, the New York Times explained the brewery's origins. It originally was used to make the Ushers brand of ale in England. Now the brewery produces lager beer in North Korea, and perhaps there is some confusion among coverage providers, as when the Guardian writer uses the word "ale" to describe "lager" flavor characteristics:

"With an alcohol content of 5% and a taste resembling British ale."

No matter. If anyone snags some, can you bring me a bottle? Thanks in advance.

Photo credit: The Guardian.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Alltech recalls two of its ales, and the Pour Fool speaks of pumpkins.

Just the facts ... and I'm sparing readers my take on all things pumpkin, which pertains to one of the two beers being recalled, and although the Pour Fool doesn't hesitate to provide his point of view, which isn't what you might think.

The Pumpkin Beer Thing: A Short View

I could list a slew of pumpkin ales that don’t commit that most common mistake of Pie In A Glass but I’m not going to.

Now, the Alltech Bourbon Barrel Ale recall -- that's a shame.

Check your fridge: This Kentucky brewer is recalling two ales, at Business First Louisville

Alltech Inc. has recalled two of its ales because of problems with flavor and color.

The Herald-Leader reports that there are no health are safety problems with the two brews, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale and Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale. A spokeswoman for the Nicholasville-based company told the Herald Leader that "these particular batches did not meet our stringent quality standards for flavor and color."


Monday, September 26, 2016

AFTER THE FIRE: The seasonality of Oktoberfest in time, beer and year.

AFTER THE FIRE: The seasonality of Oktoberfest in time, beer and year.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

Let the record show that in 2016, our Kentuckiana (Indyucky?) weather became tolerable again by Monday, the 26th of September.

The air conditioning had run constantly from the beginning of June, and it was a pleasure to switch it off. There were no 100-degree days I can recall, although temps topped 90 for a record number of days. We also had frequent rain, contributing to a steaminess more commonly associated with Florida.

Taken together, these atmospheric variables wreaked havoc on our five tomato plants, which grew like weeds but only began yielding fruit in early September.

The point to all this is that having endured three and a half months of pain, autumn conditions arrived overnight, and with them the impulse to drink an Oktoberfest (or Märzen) beer.

Naturally, by this point they’d been on store shelves for weeks, as had a profusion of pumpkin-influenced marketing exercises. Well, to each his own. I’m no fan of pumpkin-anything, even when it isn’t used as pretext to flavor beers with baking spices best left in their jars, and yet if I were to crave one, 90-degree weather isn’t the time for it.

To be honest, I’ve nothing profound to add to the seasonal beer timing debate, by now a staple of poorly written click bait portals. Rather, my aim is to remark upon how wonderful it can be to enjoy seasonal beers in their appropriate season, especially when they’re well-crafted lagers.

Oktoberfest always was misleading to American ears, this being a “German” concept confined largely to Bavaria and its capital, Munich, and beginning in September, not October.

Back in the 1980s, when we first began receiving shipments of Oktoberfest beer from Bavarian breweries, these tended to be malty brown-shaded lagers. Subsequently they seemed to lighten in color, while remaining malt forward, impeccably balanced and of slightly higher alcoholic strength than the norm.

I couldn’t ever separate them from two primary influences.

The first was Michael “The Beer Hunter” Jackson’s descriptions of Oktoberfest as festival and seasonal beer, and the second was finally being there in Munich in 1989 to witness one and drink the other.

Kindly indulge a look back.


In September of 1989, after an eventful summer spent chasing history in the East Bloc, the leaves were beginning to turn in Copenhagen when it was time for the rail journey to Munich. I’d never been to Oktoberfest, and meant to redress this oversight.

We stocked up on beer, salami, beer, cheese, beer, bread and more beer before boarding for the overnight journey to the Bavarian capital, where reservations had been made at an inexpensive “pension” (small family-run guesthouse) near the Hauptbahnhof, or central train station.

Upon arrival, it was still morning. We hurried down the platform to the famous Imbiss at the foot of Gleis (track) 16. The Imbiss is long gone, victim of extensive remodeling, modernization and gentrification, and it wasn’t all that much even in its heyday, but during the 1980’s this simple, functional train station concession stand was a genuine Munich destination for budget travelers the world over.

There were two long windows with outside counter space, plentiful tile and stainless steel, wonderful beer taps, kitchen equipment for preparing basic snacks and several customarily greasy, though by necessity efficient, employees in blue smocks.

In front of the Imbiss were a handful of tables that resembled smaller, elongated versions of the telephone wire spools that used to litter backyards in the Georgetown of my youth. Standing at the tables in morning, evening and night were locals, tourists, commuters, vagrants and assorted hangers-on, the majority of them savoring the Imbiss’s only true specialties: Cool Hacker-Pschorr golden lager at a reasonable price and a portion of Leberkäse, a high-quality form of all-meat bologna cut from a warm deli-sized square loaf, weighed and priced, and served with a crusty roll and plenty of mustard.

The Imbiss at Gleis 16 never disappointed, and with breakfast under our belts, it was time to claim the room and prepare for the main event: Oktoberfest, 1989. A few hours, unburdened of luggage, with Deutschmarks in hand and harboring a powerful thirst, a vast fairgrounds lay before me. It was crowded with carnival rides, arcades, food vendors of every stripe and giant prefabricated beer halls.

There was at least one Oktoberfest beer hall for each of Munich's six major breweries, all having every appearance of being permanent structures, and yet they would be completely dismantled and stored away at the end of the two-week festival.

Thousands of people of all colors, creeds and nationalities were spread out before me, reveling in Bavaria’s most notorious celebration of beer as a beverage, as a foodstuff and as a way of daily life. My favorites were the natives dressed in folkloric Dirndls and Lederhosen. Later I learned that Oktoberfest is far more localized during the afternoon, yielding to foreign visitors by night.

I'd come to the grounds by way of the U-Bahn (subway), where scores of policemen assisted in the packing and unpacking of underground trains at a station built overly large for peak usage during Oktoberfest’s annual run.

Emerging into the cool dampness, I plunged into the throng and was carried through the Midway by the crowd, past bumper car arenas and target-shooting booths that wouldn’t be out of place at an American state fair, and toward beer halls that assuredly would.

Soon the mass of people parted in near Biblical fashion to reveal the majesty of the Paulaner hall. Gaping at the vision before me, I went off-tackle and bulled ahead. From fifty yards away, the interior was visible through several sets of opened double doors; trancelike, my eyes focused on the octagonal bandstand in the center, where an oom-pah orchestra twice the size of any I'd seen before held forth to the undisguised delight of hundreds of glass-wielding drinkers.

The temporary structure seemed to shake and roll, and to no surprise: Half the people inside were dancing and singing atop the heavy wooden tables, tables that surely had been constructed with precisely that sort of punishment in mind. Obviously, considerations of decorum -- those restraints on behavior customarily observed by society -- had been forgotten, to the obvious edification of all those present.

I stopped at one of the outer doors. Just yards away, absurdly long rows of whole chickens were being roasted on spits. Signs decreed the price of the liter-sized Masses to be six Deutschmarks, 75 pfennigs - or was it 7.10? Either way, think of it as $8.50 for 33.8 ounces.

Just like in the photos, matronly waitresses toting anywhere from two to ten of the deliciously full Masses rushed past. Pretzels the size of large plates were being eaten.

Still standing at the door, I beheld this veritable city of beer, and as I started to enter, a greenish-hued man staggered past me and began vomiting violently next to a steel support beam.

Finally, it seemed that I'd found home.

Im Himmel gibt es kein bier! Darum trinken wir es hier!


Consequently, and unsurprisingly, these sources and sensations have combined to produce an inner barometer.

To see an Oktoberfest beer on sale in mid-August is an optical illusion to me. If I buy one, it is destined to remain in my cupboard until the Ohio Valley adapts to Bavarian climatic norms. If this occurs in mid-September, that’s fine. If it doesn’t happen until October, even better.

And if I might be in Munich some sweet day to once again experience the real thing … but maybe not. Nothing can match the memory of the first time. Better to board a train for the countryside, find a weekend harvest celebration in a small town, and do it together one more time.


September 19: AFTER THE FIRE: This week in solipsistic beer narcissism (2014).

September 12: AFTER THE FIRE: England, or one man's heightened cholesterol panic is another man's nostalgic repast (2013).

September 5: AFTER THE FIRE: Beer stories and bedtime for gonzo (2013).

August 29: AFTER THE FIRE: In the Red Room, we’re all left – right?


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Biers on Parade returns to the Farmers Market on Harvest Homecoming Parade Day (Saturday, October 1).

On Saturday, October 1, 2016, NARBA Presents:

Biers on Parade

A pop-up at the New Albany Farmers Market

Local beer and food at the Farmers Market (City Square), at the corner of Market and Bank in downtown New Albany, 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 1.

The New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association (NARBA) once again is partnering with the New Albany’s Farmers Market and Harvest Homecoming to stage Biers on Parade, a family-friendly food and drink showcase at the Farmers Market pavilion at the corner of Market and Bank Streets on Saturday, October 1.

Biers on Parade coincides with the Harvest Homecoming Parade through downtown New Albany. The Farmers Market will operate from 8:00 a.m. to around 1:00 p.m. on October 1, then Biers on Parade will set up shop. Food, beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks will be available from 2:00 p.m. through 6:00 p.m.

Biers on Parade offers beer brewed by all three of our city’s breweries: New Albanian Brewing Company, Donum Dei Brewery and Floyd County Brewing Company.

There’ll also be food prepared by Taco Steve, Chef Walker BBQ, Mama’s Kitchen and Boston Joe’s Lobster Rolls, as well as wine from River City Winery.

Proceeds benefit NARBA and Harvest Homecoming’s selected charities. NARBA is applying for non-profit status as a 501(c)6 professional trade group:

The New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association (NARBA) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit trade organization serving the independent restaurant, bar and on-premise food and drink industry in New Albany, Indiana. NARBA serves as the unified voice of its members on government and public relations issues. It also provides programs that offer educational and operational benefits for members. NARBA represents New Albany’s best known and most vibrant local independent business segment, and is dedicated to the advancement and preservation of New Albany as an urban community.

Harvest Homecoming’s booth days in downtown New Albany begin on Thursday, October 6 and run through Sunday, October 9. For more information:

Oct. 1: Biers on Parade at New Albany City Square
Oct. 1: Harvest Homecoming Parade
Oct. 6 – Oct. 9: Harvest Homecoming Booth Days


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Remembering Mamut, a badass Bratislava beer hall that is no more.

Halušky with bryndza cheese, kapustnica soup and Zlatý Bažant dark beer.

For reasons unknown, a 1991 travel vignette from Bratislava came to mind earlier today.

In the fall of 1991, I was living and teaching conversational English at the university hospital in Košice, a city in the easternmost region of what is now independent Slovakia, but at the time remained part of a unified Czechoslovakia.

My "boss" was the hospital administrator, Dr. Roland. He asked me if I'd like to accompany him to Bratislava, the Slovak capital, for his governmental meeting. While he was busy with the bureaucracy, I could walk around the city and be a tourist, then meet them (we had a driver, thankfully) back at the ministry, after which we could eat and drink at a beer hall he was certain I'd want to experience.

It was a grueling drive through mountainous terrain, somewhere between four and five hours each way. In 1991, Bratislava did not strike me as a tourist haven, but then again, most of the cities in the former Soviet Bloc were just beginning to recover from decades of neglect.

However, Dr. Roland was absolutely right, and the beer hall was well worth it. It was called Mamut (mammoth), and in a rare instance of clever Communist adaptive reuse, it occupied the former municipal malting house, Stará Sladovňa.

My memories are faint, and yet Mamut made a deep impression. It was big, reputedly the largest in the Bloc, surely capable of holding crowds comparable to those in more famous Munich establishments -- perhaps 1,500 - 2,000. It was stately and quiet on the day of our visit.

Mamut had at least two floors, maybe three, and what made it truly unique is that by the standards of the time in this part of Europe, there really was a choice of beers.

In my recollection, there were at least two serving stations per floor, each pouring beers from different breweries. Velkopopovický Kozel was there, and Zlatý Bažant -- and even Budvar.

It was kid-in-the-confectionery time for me, sampling as many of the 40-cent pints as possible and throwing back a plate of bryndzové halušky before commencing the long drive back home, during which I slept a lot.

(By the way, bryndzové halušky is a plate of pea-sized potato dumplings topped with sheep cheese and bacon. Someone needs to add it to their menu here in New Albany, as better beer food has yet to be invented).

The feel was so old-fashioned and venerable that I was shocked to learn Mamut had been a beer hall for less than twenty years.

Unfortunately, Mamut did not remain a beer hall. In 1997, I returned to Bratislava for a follow-up for a follow-up, and in all my travels I've never felt such disappointment upon seeing that the building had been split up -- partitioned, subdivided -- into a garish casino, eateries, and maybe a pub or two.

Probably mafia money; modernity won, and all Mamut's charm was lost.

Happily, Bratislava appears to be the sort of place I'd like to return and give another chance. Twenty years is a long time. A train from Vienna to Bratislava takes only an hour, and then another back to Košice, a place I truly loved.

Best Bars Bratislava

Soon, I hope.

After all, with each passing day, there is less time ahead than behind me.


Friday, September 23, 2016

"Hoosier Brew is about capturing the heart and soul of Indiana's craft beer industry."

They're filmmakers partnering with the Brewers of Indiana Guild. The web site is here.

I'd only like to know when my turn in front of the camera comes ...

Hoosier Brew is about capturing the heart and soul of Indiana's craft beer industry. Over the past 15 years Hoosier beer has become some of the most respected and admired beer in the world. Our goal with Hoosier Brew is to explore the culture, community, and industry that has grown over the last 25 years, and find out what makes Hoosier beer unique.

In partnership with the Brewers Guild of Indiana, we will travel the state and speak with brewers, patrons, enthusiasts, legislators, and anyone else who loves craft beer in order to find out just what makes Hoosier beer some of the best and highly sought after beer in the world.

Our goal is to discover just what makes Indiana beer and the culture that surrounds it unique in the world of craft beer.