Tuesday, January 31, 2006
A brief history of Gravity Head, 1999-2006.
Gravity Head has evolved in strange and incredible ways since its humble and improvisational beginnings in 1999. With the eighth such celebration now visible on the horizon, here's a glance at past Gravity Heads.
Gravity Head Version 1.0 … April 29, 1999.
The Gravity Head concept dates to 1999, when we decided to inaugurate our newly completed walk-in beer cooler by featuring as many “hoppy” beers as could be located on short notice. The ensuing festival would be called “Hop Head.”
Subsequently, more “gravity” beers were available than “hoppy” ones, and the festival accordingly morphed into Gravity Head.
According to our flier, the inaugural Gravity Head would last “until each keg has passed away into memory’s warm glow of the greatest draft beer line-up ever seen in the metropolitan Louisville area.” Many of these beers, including Delirium Tremens and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, have since become standards in the Rich O’s draft lineup.
“We’ve just signed legislation outlawing light beer forever … the bombing begins on March 31, 2000.”
In 2000, we upped the ante by offering six barley wines simultaneously … along with five Belgian strong specialty ales, four German bocks, three English strong ales, three imperial stouts, and two other American ales for good measure. It was the first year for t-shirts (featuring the phrase above and a catapult), “The Gravity Form,” the enshrinement of the starting lineup announcement and running the gauntlet as rites of Gravity passage.
March 9, 2001: “Light beer? I’m sorry, sir, but you’re cut off.”
The local debuts of draft Samichlaus, Eggenberg Urbock 23, Hair of the Dog’s Fred and Adam, Scotch de Silly and Gale’s Millennium Brew, but more importantly, three cask-conditioned gravity ales were dispensed during the first three weekends of the festival.
Gravity Head 2002, beginning March 8, 2002: “Liteweights need not apply.”
The emphasis in 2002 was placed on microbrewed gravity beers: Three powerhouse ales from Rogue in Oregon, three from Kalamazoo (Bell’s) Brewing in Michigan, two from Victory Brewing (“Malt Advocate” magazine’s Brewery of the Year) in Pennsylvania, and one from Brooklyn Brewing in New York. There were three cask-conditioned ales in 2002, and altogether, 16 first-time draft beers, including some that were making their Kentuckiana debuts.
Gravity Head 2003, beginning March 7, 2003: “Guilty as charged, Liteweight.”
18 first-time drafts led the way, including Bell’s Expedition Stout and our own NABC Solidarity. We bid a fond farewell the 1996 vintage of Rogue Old Crustacean Barley Wine - Crusty, we hardly knew ye!
Gravity Head 2004, beginning March 12: “Raise Your Glass to the Gravity Head Diet.”
Thanks to the experimental use of a cold plate, it was possible to have 18 gravity beers on tap at once. Also, once again, 18 first-time “Gravity Head Friendly” contestants were recorded. The recent trend of emphasizing microbrewed gravity beers continued, as it was becoming progressively easier to obtain the best in American brewing.
Gravity Head 2005, beginning March 11: “It’s a Whole New Dementia.”
The seventh edition of Gravity Head will be remembered for the Publican’s questionable decision to contract pneumonia and be absent for much of the first two weeks. A diverse selection of gravity textures and flavors included 15 first-time drafts, with NABC’s own NobleSmoker moving fastest.
See "End of January update: "Gravity Head 2006: Reality ABV" advance orders preview" for the latest on this year's edition.