Sunday, October 16, 2005

NABC will simplify its core portfolio during brewery expansion (Fall, 2005).

During almost three years of craft brewing, approximately twenty different beers have appeared under the NABC banner.

In its own way, each of these has been good – in some manner, to some one. We haven’t poured out any of them, even the ones that didn’t turn out as expected (Hop Scotch, the result of a ambitious mashing experiment gone awry, springs to mind). Every NABC patron has a favorite brand, and so do I, and given the natural limitations of our small scale of production, it became evident early on that we’d never be able to offer all the favorites, all at once.

Taking this into consideration, and promising to return soon to the era of unbridled experimentation, permit me to serve notice that from October until early 2006, we’ll be curtailing the stylistic repertoire in order to make possible the achievement of three primary goals.

First, and foremost, this is to simplify brewing operations during the time required to complete our brewery expansion project, which calls for the installation of two fermenters and the remodeling of space in the Sportstime seating area to accommodate four serving tanks, which in turn will be brought on-line to a new serving area in the Rich O’s seating area.

Second, this time of brewing simplification can be used to good purpose in focusing the marketing effort on a core of brands rather than many, in refining our graphics and presentation, and then applying the same principles to rotating beers and seasonals once they return to the fold, because …

third, a proportion of the production of the core brands will be earmarked for off-premise sale to an account in downtown New Albany, one that remains in the planning stages but might be up and running before Christmas.

Accordingly, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:

Q. What’s this off-premise account I keep hearing about?
A. I can’t say, at least yet. Stay tuned for further details.

Q. What will be the “core” beers?
A. For the immediate future, these will be Community Dark, Croupier, Elector, Hoptimus and Bob’s Old 15-B.

Q. Why these five?
A. All have been consistently good sellers, and most importantly, all are brewed with the same house London ale yeast. Taken together, they represent very different flavor profiles and styles, with distinct identities.

Q. What about Tunnel Vision?
A. During a time when simplicity is the order of the day, Tunnel Vision has a few factors weighing against its inclusion in a scaled-down rotation. It uses a special Belgian yeast, expensive honey, and has proven to be a difficult beer to brew. Once capacity is expanded, the Tunnel Vision yeast can be used to brew other Belgian specialties (Blonde Abbey, St. Alfonzo, etc.), and you’ll see it return to the lineup.

Q. What about Bourbondaddy?
A. Bourbondaddy requires three to four months of cold storage for four huge, 50-gallon whisky barrels filled with maturing stout, and once these are arranged, it is impractical to move them. Given that there may be some reconfiguration of the brewery during the equipment installation, immovable barrels might be an impediment to finishing the project. We’d rather wait and do the next batch of Bourbondaddy after everything’s safely in place.

Q. What about Beak’s Best?
A. It was a tough choice, but we decided to give Beak’s a break and return to it next year. For no particular reason, we’ve always had problems with the consistency of Beak’s, and every time a little something’s gone wrong in the brewery – a smidgen of Belgian yeast crossover, the glycol system failure – Beak’s has always been the beer affected by the unexpected. It will be back, but not until after the first of the year.

Jesse and Jared will still have a specialty or two during the approaching “return to basics” time, and in 2006, we should be able to have the core brands and quite a few others on tap at the same time, as the goal of the brewing capacity increase is to be able to keep seven or eight beers on tap, not just four or five.

If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me at

1 comment:

Brandon W. Smith said...

Community Dark, Croupier, Elector, Hoptimus and Bob’s Old 15-B.

Yessssssssssssssssssssss...3 of my favorites made it.