Monday, July 31, 2006

R.I.P., Dave Streckfus.

With sadness, here is the obituary as published in the Tribune and Evening News.

See also: Wine and Beermakers Supply owner battling cancer.

In the present age, has any single person served the Louisville area's beer- and wine-making community for as long as Dave? Our thoughts go out to the family.


Frank David Streckfus ... 68; Army veteran

Funeral services for Frank David Streckfus, 68, of Sellersburg, will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, at Garr Funeral Home in Sellersburg with burial to follow in Sellersburg Cemetery. He died Friday, July 28, 2006, at Clark Memorial Hospital in Jeffersonville.

He was a native of New Albany, the son of the late Frank and Mary Ross Streckfus. He was a graduate of New Albany High School, a veteran of the United States Army, and a member of Jacobs Chapel United methodist Church where he served as choir director for three years. He was a Kentucky Colonel and sang with the Kentucky Opera. He was also a member of the Kentuckiana Woodworkers Club and the American Association of Woodturners. He and his wife Dina owned and operated the Winemakers Supply Co., since 1972, and previously owned the General Rental Center.

Survivors include his wife of 47 years, Maria Enedina “Dina” Streckfus; daughter, Loreana Sutherlin and husband Doug, Sellersburg; sister, Judy Pangburn and husband Bob, Denver; grandchildren, Giovanni, Lily, Sophia and Olivia; nephews, Chris Pangburn and wife April, and Steve Pangburn; nieces, Marilyn Pangburn Bauer and husband Don, Kathy Rosa, Barbara Sparks, Benerly McVay and Pat Sparks.

He was preceeded in death by his sister, Anita (Lance) Sparks and niece Linda Careases.
Visitation will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.

Expressions of sympathy may take the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Orlando: One hell of a package store, Jason.

Over the next few days, you'll be reading about the highlight of my journey to Orlando, Florida, for the annual Allen family reunion.

With apologies to my kinfolk, it wasn't the JW Marriott resort, although things worked out from the standpoint of family affairs and a good time was had by all.

On Saturday afternoon, we were rescued by the estimable Tom Moench, longtime brewer, beer lover and evangelist in the "beer wasteland" in and around Orlando, and now owner of a wholesale company dedicated to good beer. Tom took us on a brief crawl to some of the better stops, including his den, and kicking off with one of the best spirits shop beer selections I've seen in the United States:

Knightly Spirits
2603 Hiawassee Blvd.
Orlando FL 32835

Pictured above is Jason, store manager and resident beer consultant. I'm having trouble imagining a more knowledgeable beer ambassador. All the best Belgians (Jason's particular passion) are there, as well as a fine overall selection of imports and microbrews.

Some of them currently are reposing in the Curmudgeon's cellar, awaiting the call of the webmaster for sampling ...

(more as the week goes on) Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 28, 2006

Soulessness (and stadium pricing) at a JW Marriott somewhere in Florida.

A young waiter originally from Iowa, by way of time living in Denver, and now working at one of the restaurants at the very bottom of the 23-story JW Marriott, itself one-half (with a Ritz-Carlton) of the three-year old Grande Lakes Resort, all of it built to resemble any number of grandiose orange-pink exurban strip malls in neo-Mussolini-esque, and located somewhere to the south of downtown Orlando – the presumed existence of which could not be confirmed by ubiquitous, glossy tourist literature hawking petting zoos, Australian steak houses and Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede – said of course: Guinness was available.

He continued: “You have to have Guinness to be a real bar, and I can send someone to get you one … and we serve it right, so it’ll take a few minutes.”

Outside the window of the Citron American Brasserie, there is a swimming pool built to resemble a meandering tropical waterway, not coincidentally precisely the type of natural design feature obliterated in the course of building the sanitized humanoid version.

One hundred yards further along, a championship golf course designed by Greg Norman between catastrophic tour collapses beckons to those of like mind, who later were to be found congregating in the main hotel lounge on barstools near ours, making it difficult to hear the man as he explained that there were no genuine Irish pint glasses for the Guinness, which instead would be served in a pilsner glass or footed stemware appropriate for a Belgian Trappist ale, of which (of course) there were none … and no beer selection, bottle or draft, comparable to the expensive decanters of single malt Scotch and $220 room service Dom Perignons.

Well, you get used to that sort of thing, and since I’d already taken the Iowa-Colorado-Florida waiter’s suggestion earlier, during dinner, and properly paired my “fruit de mer” pasta with the $6, half-pint Guinness in the wrong glass (but, indeed, poured correctly otherwise), my first after-dinner beer was a Yuengling Lager. At the opposite end of the horseshoe bar, in front of the sushi station, sat two Japanese tourists.


In route from the Orlando airport to the hotel, the first cluster of housing units viewed were off the highway but in the middle of a large expanse of undeveloped land. The concrete block and balsa wood structures were protected by walls and gates – and, presumably, the solemn word of the Republican National Committee that diversity would be ruthlessly vetted before being allowed through the gates.

But we’re planning on making a break … perhaps later tomorrow morning. When the garbage trucks pass through, we’ll hop on the back of one and ask that we be deposited somewhere near “real” Orlando or environs.

And they’ll glance back incredulously and murmur, “Real? Here? Crazy damned tourists!”

Looks like the world-famous petting zoo, after all. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

How we operate: Beercycling in Central Europe, 2006.

In recent years, I've become joyously initiated into the wonderful world of beercycling, generally (not always) in Europe. The core beercycling gang began these trips in 2000 (Belgium) and 2001 (Belgium and Germany), both times renting bicycles locally. In 2003 (Germany and Austria) and 2004 (Belgium) we took our bicycles with us, as we will again this year.

Here's the prospectus for the forthcoming trip. I offer it here in the hope that some readers might be able to join us in the years to come.

(Cross-posted at the New Albany Bicycle Coalition)


Here’s updated information about the forthcoming beercycling trip to Germany, Czech Republic and Austria.

Six participants and their arrival schedules.

Craig Somers
Craig will be in Bamberg by August 25.

Graham Phillips
Graham flies into Frankfurt Airport on Sunday morning, August 27, and he plans to proceed to Bamberg by train.

Roger A. Baylor and Kevin Richards
We’ll be arriving in Frankfurt on Monday, August 28, at 09.20 (Delta Flight 20 from Atlanta). We plan to take the train from Frankfurt to either Schweinfurt (57km from Bamberg) or Nurnberg (62 km from Bamberg) and do a first-day ride into town.

Bob Reed
Also arriving on the 28th, but specifics currently unknown.

Tim Eads
Mysteriously vowing to be in Bamberg by the evening of the 30th.

Our accommodations in Bamberg will be at the Bamberger Weissbierhaus, which is located a couple blocks down the street from Spezial (which unfortunately closed during the period of our stay, although the Spezial-Keller on the heights presumably will be operational). The Bamberger Weissbierhaus is a short walk from the train station.

See: Bamberg Beer Guide.

I’ll be faxing the Weissbierhaus accommodation some time before the week is out. Now that both Bob and Craig have been ticketed, here’s the requested rooming situation at the Weissbierhaus:

Aug. 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 & 30
Craig Somers, single room

Aug. 27
Graham Phillips, single (becoming a double on the 28th)

Aug. 28, 29, 30
Graham with Bob Reed, Kevin Richards and myself, in two doubles.

Aug. 30
Tim Eads arrives and sleeps on someone’s floor.

Budget: Any way we cut it, the rooms should cost each of us less than 30 Euros a night, or close to it.

Of course, I’m hoping for a Schlenkerla brewery tour on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon. Matthias asks that this be a last-minute confirmation owing to the work they’ll have to do following the weekend Sandkerwa street festival (August 24-28; take note, Craig and Graham).


Thursday, August 31 remains the transfer day from Bamberg to Prague. I have contacted Maria Beer, owner of the Bavarian travel agency I used for the group trip in 2004, and asked for her advice and help in arranging the train tickets.

Here’s the scoop:

I have checked availability of the trains with German Rail this morning. Unfortunately the both trains you have figured out are not allowed to be used with bikes.

The most suitable connection with the possibility to bring bikes at the same time is as follows:

Bamberg – Hof
Dep 09:41am
Arr 11:24am

Hof – Dresden
Dep 11:40am
Arr 02:41pm

Dresden – Praha
Dep 03:55pm
Arr 06:27pm

This means – I’m sorry about this – two transfers, one in Hof and the second one in Dresden.

But it is definitely the best available connection for travellers with bikes.

The rate is total for the party of 6 travellers 189,60 EURO plus 10 EURO per person for the bike.

Total 249,60 EURO, which is per person 41,60 EURO.

At this time the bike transport for these trains is on request, please reply as soon as possible if I should confirm this booking.



That’s open and shut.

Budget: I’m booking the tickets and paying. You can pay me back once we’re there.


Prague accommodations still are at the Drusus campground (in cottages or bungalows) for the evenings of August 31, Sept. 1 & 2.

Budget: 300 Czech crowns per night, per bed; less than $15 a night per person (22 CZK to a dollar).

Also, I’ve heard back from Mike of Mike’s Chauffeur Service:

Dear Sir, here I am finally with the info about hop fest in Zatec: It will start on Friday the 1st of September (afternoon) but the main programme will take place on Saturday the 2nd: 17 different breweries from all over the Czech Republic will offer their beer, there will be music of various styles being performed from Czech singers in the evening. Could be fun to be there. I look forward to hearing from you again. Sincerely, Mike.

This now appears to be on for Saturday, as in a follow-up, he suggests departing at 10.00 a.m. for the drive (1.5 hours each way). That leaves a full day Friday for Prague sightseeing.

Also: Zatec Brewery, and Czech hop history & museum.

Budget: As relayed previously, Mike has quoted a price of 4,500 Czech crowns for a minibus (8 seats + driver), which comes to about $35 per person for the day trip to the hop festival (payable in dollars, crowns, Euros).


Note: Craig will be headed back westward and will not be accompanying us on the biking segment in Czech Republic and Austria.


Mr. Stanek at Camp Drusus has indicated that it’s about 7 km from his camp to the trailhead of the Prague-Vienna Greenway, and that’s close, according to the maps Kevin received. Further information (in Czech) is at the CykloServer website.

Camp Drusus to Znojmo is 270 km/167 miles. Granted, this takes no account of terrain, but that’s only a bit more than 40 miles per day for 4 days to arrive there on Wednesday.

If we begin biking on Sunday morning, Sept. 3, it’s probably a bit far to make it all the way to Tabor (circa 120 km). At Tabor, the train could be used for Bob and Graham to go to Ceske Budejovice (and Cesky Krumlov), or they could bike there from just south of Tabor (roughly 60 km).

At any rate, whether we go together or separately, and get there by bike, train or a combination of the two (Ceske Budejovice to Znojmo is roughly four hours by train, with at least one change), we should meet at Znojmo on Wednesday. I’ve booked an apartment in Havraniky, which is a few clicks away from Znojmo, astride the trail, and adjacent to the National Park Podyjí:

Pension & Restaurant Ham-Ham

That would leave three whole days to ride toward Vienna via Mikulov (160 km/circa 100 miles) through the South Moravian wine country, so as to arrive by Sunday evening (10th).

My initial effort to arrange the brewery tour at Hostan for afternoon on Thursday has met with indifference (i.e., language concerns), but I’ve asked the owner of the pension for help. He also offers to advise guests on local wine cellar visits and the like.

Budget: No less than 350 Czech crowns per night, per bed; less than $15 a night per person (22 CZK to a dollar).


The remainder of the trip will be winging it in route to Vienna, where I have a room for the evening of the 10th, and will be meeting Diana on the 11th. Bob’s wife Ellen also is coming into Vienna on the 11th. I know that Graham will be training it to Brugge, Belgium, following his Vienna stay.

Central Europe’s New Breweries
Czech Beer FAQ
Czech Breweries – Style, History, Beers
Greenways Travel Club (Vienna to Prague)
Vienna Pub Guide

Monday, July 24, 2006

UPDATED: Previews: Lupulin Land & Saturnalia (2006) and Gravity Head (2007).

(Updated 07/24 ... additions in green ... and to Karl, yes, I'm checking into it)

It’s never too early to begin planning our annual draft festivals, so here are the lists so far for the next three big events. These beers either have been ordered or already are in stock.

Of course, there’ll be many more before we’re through … but after all, the foraging has only just begun.

Lupulin Land Harvest Hop Festival 2006

We’ll be exceeding OSHA’s legal limits on IBU’s per square foot of floor space when Lupulin Land 2006 begins on Friday, October 13. It is our fifth harvest hop celebration, and a good occasion for Kentuckiana’s hopheads to unite over a pint or two of America’s most bitter beer. Residents of New Albany should note that the Harvest Homecoming Parade takes place on the previous Saturday (October 7), and Booth Days run from the 12th through the 15th.

Avery Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale

Bell’s Hop Slam Imperial IPA

Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale

Great Divide Titan IPA

Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale

Houblon Chouffe

NABC Oaktimus

Rogue I2PA

Rogue JLS Integrity IPA JLS Release #14 (2006 redux)

Shmaltz Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A.

St. Georgenbrau Keller Bier

Stone Ruination IPA

Saturnalia MMVI
Beginning Friday, December 15, NABC, Rich O’s Public House and Sportstime Pizza pay tribute to the ancient pagan origins of Christmas with Saturnalia, a draft beer festival showcasing seasonal specialties and festive ales.

Bell’s Hell Hath No Fury

Great Divide Hibernation Ale

Hitachino Nest Celebration Ale 2006

New Holland Blue Goat Doppelbock

Gravity Head 2007
The ninth edition of our annual festival celebrating the brewing world’s biggest and best will kick off from its customary March starting time: March 9, 2007.

Avery Thirteen (Weizen Doppelbock)

Avery "The Beast" 2006

JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Scotch barrel aged; 2005; pin)

NABC Thunderfoot (2006)

Rogue Frosty Frog (John’s Locker Stock #12; Rogue Issaquah Brewhouse)

Rogue XS Old Crustacean Barley Wine (date TBA)

Shmaltz Genesis 10:10

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Yesterday's "Speak Easy Art Show" at Rich O's.

Here are views of yesterday's Speak Easy Art Show at the Public House.

For the record, I'm deeply impressed with the efforts of our artistic young employees, who tranformed the Prost special events wing into the place to be on a New Albanian afternoon in July. I'm told that a few of the works were sold ... and that's a great bonus.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Wine and Beermakers Supply owner battling cancer.

Sad news from my friend and fellow downtown New Albany resident, Ann Streckfus:

Roger, I'm not sure if you know Dave Streckfus or not, but I imagine your paths have crossed at some point. He and his wife Dina are my cousins and they own Wine and Beermakers Supply on Westport Rd in Louisville. Thought I'd pass this on in case you know him. He has been fighting cancer for over a year and unfortunately it's getting the best of him. He doesn't have much time left. I thought some of the FOSSILS group might want to know -- Dina mentioned that some of them had been patrons of their store.

Beyond the deeply personal nature of any terminal illness, consider the business standpoint. The Streckfus’s have been running their shop since 1972, when you-know-who was president and the federal government had yet to sign off on the legality of homebrewing (it happened later, during the Carter Administration).

LAGERS club secretary Dan Flaherty reports that the future of the business is tenuous, indeed, with Dave in hospice and not expected to return home.

Spare a thought and say a prayer for Dave, and recall the good he and Dina have done for the Louisville area’s beermaking and winemaking communities.

Verily, they’re local legends.

Friday, July 21, 2006

BBC among the restaurant forum threads.

Many readers know that I'm a habitue of the Louisville Restaurants Forum, and given that one of the most frequently asked questions I receive throughout the year is, "what's the deal with the different BBC's?," I'm delighted to provide Pat Hagan's answer. It was posted on the forum earlier today.


My name is Pat Hagan and I am one of the owners of the BBC on Shelbyville Rd. I believe I can help answer some questions and respond to some of the comments on this site. The topics and threads are varied so I will try not to ramble all over creation.

Trudy is correct in that Dave is no longer the brewer at the BBC on Shelbyville Rd. Dave is the brewer and director of brewing operations at the
BBC on Main St. Jerry Gnagy is the brewer on Shelbyville Rd. Both Jerry and Dave are great brewers and both have won numerous medals at various events including the Great American Beer Festival, which is the largest microbrew competition in the U.S. Jerry is a great fit for our operation and has been with us for three years now.

Currently all of the BBC's are owned by different entities, yet we all work together for the common goal of making and selling great BBC Beer. The BBC at 3929 Shelbyville Rd is the original BBC and Dave was the original brewer. The BBC on 4th St., BBC on Main St. and the BBC's in the Louisville and Cincinnati airports are all licensed BBC operators. All of the beers are brewed at either the Shelbyville Rd. location or at the Main St. location.

Dave created some great beers while working at Shelbyville Rd. and all of our core beers are made using the same recipes at both locations (Alt, American Pale Ale, Dark Star Porter and Nut Brown Ale). We do use a different yeast here on Shelbyville Rd. Dave uses an American yeast strain that is noted for not imparting any yeast characteristics to the beer. On Shelbyville Rd. we have used a London yeast strain for these core beers for well over two years now.

The London yeast does impart a slight difference in the taste of the beer. It is used by a number of Pubs in Great Britain and we wanted to bring a little of that British feel and taste here to the BBC. We have had very few people comment on this and in all reallity, 90%of beer consumers would not be able to differentiate between the beer made at either location in a blind taste test. We make a lot of specialty beers here on Shelbyville Rd. so we also use Belgian yeast, German Lager yeast and the same American Ale yeast that the Main St. BBC uses.

Jerry stays very busy during working hours but he still tries to take some time to talk to patrons on different beer topics. We have established a "Meet The Brewer" on the first Wednesday of the month and it usually runs from 4pm until 9pm or 10pm. We have a special beer for the occasion and Jerry will be around the bar area to talk to patrons and answer questions.

As far as the food goes we have always tried our best here. We have a great chef now in JJ Kingery. He is a Sullivan grad, worked at Coast Brewing Co. in Biloxi Mississippi, Napa River Grill, Bravo Italian Kitchen and opened The Pub on 4th St. The food has never been better nor has the kitchen ever run smoother. JJ will be putting his touches on a new menu by September. I appreciate the good review and I am sorry that Robin was caught in the crossfire because of the mysteries of the BBC.

If anyone has any further questions they can contact me at or Jerry Gnagy at

Thanks for your patronage and keep drinking BBC Beer no matter where it is brewed, or where in the U.S. you are drinking it.


On the topic of BBC's yeast, Shelbyville Road brewer Gnagy had this to say earlier in the week on the forum:

When I first started at BBC, three years ago, the house strain of ale yeast was British Ale, about 6 month later we changed to London Ale, which we have been using ever since. We like the London ale for its aggressive attenuation and good floccuation, although it is different from a California Ale yeast which BBC main st uses, in all practical puposes the differences are negligible.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stratto's featured in LEO ... they have one good beer, too.

Don't forget, Stratto's is serving NABC Bob's Old 15-B on draft.

LEO's Eat 'n' Blog: Stratto's boosts fine dining on the Sunny Side, by Robin Garr.

A few excerpts:

As far back as most of us could remember, folks in Southern Indiana who wanted to enjoy a fine-dining experience were pretty much obliged to hit the bridges to Kentucky if they wanted anything more sophisticated than diner fare or a fast-food chain.

It might seem rude for a Kentuckian to say such a thing, but let the record reflect that it's deeply rooted Hoosier John McCulloch saying this, pledging to make Stratto's - the fine new Italian eatery where he's executive chef - a dining destination that will raise the bar for gourmet-style dining on the Sunny Side ...

... It joins a handful of other recent Southern Indiana arrivals, including Bistro New Albany and Federal Hill in New Albany and RockWall in Floyds Knobs, that offer Southern Indiana its own upscale dining options ... and that offer Kentuckians a credible reason to head north for dinner.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Elector -- Between Two Lions.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I know nothing about Between Two Lions, a band from New Albany. Here’s a recent Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO) article about the group:

Five Important Questions: With Between Two Lions, by Anthony Bowman.

I liked this band as soon as I heard them, and then I found out that they’re from New Albany, which made me like them even more. (Being from across the river myself, it’s exciting to see a really great band coming out of my hometown.)

But the band knows me – well, sort of. Member Brent Engle’s response to one of LEO’s questions is quite flattering:

LEO: If music were food, what kind would yours be?

BE: Probably a pizza and a beer from Rich-O’s Public House. I always feel great after a couple of slices of pizza and a few Electors. I hope that is how people feel after listening to our music — completely satisfied.

Brent, if you’re reading, thanks for the kind words. And some day, I’ll crawl out of my cave and catch a gig.

Maybe bring a growler or two of the beer, at that.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Speak Easy Art Show this Saturday, July 22, at the Public House.

A conscious blending of local art and local beer will take place on Saturday, July 22, when the first ever Speak Easy Art Show is held from 1:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Prost special events room at Rich O's Public House.

NABC artist-in-residence Tony Beard is among the organizers of the show, which will feature art from Tony as well as other current employees and their friends.

Thanks to Tony, Kevin, Whitney, Josh, Misty and everyone else who has taken the initiative to plan the event and/or display their artwork on Saturday. Inquiries should be directed to Tony Beard.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Recap: Bastille Day Bieres de Garde dinner at Bistro New Albany.

In 2006, Bastille Day came two days late … to New Albany, but a hardy group of 26 revelers beat the heat at the Bistro New Albany yesterday and celebrated French cuisine and fermentation science.

France’s proudest original beer style was traditionally made by farmers in the beer-loving north of France, near the border with Belgium. Brewed in the colder months of late winter and early spring, it was bottled in wine and champagne bottles, then laid down in cellars to be shared with family and friends in the warm months, when the heat made brewing impossible. The beer had to be strong and hardy enough for cellaring, yet light and refreshing enough to quench a farmer’s thirst at the height of the summer.

 from the web site of Shelton Brothers (importers of most ales below).

Sincere thanks to all in attendance, and to Dave and Dave, proprietors of bNA, for making this event possible. Even more appreciation is due those who joined us for the bicycle ride earlier in the afternoon. See Freedom of Navigation Exercises for a recap.

This dinner and beer tasting evolved in a very spontaneous fashion, given the desire of the Daves to stage fun events, multiple cases of Bieres de Gardes stacked in the Rich O’s storage area, and the overlap of Bastille Day with the Tour de France, which a few of us have witnessed while riding our own bikes in the vicinity. All these factors came together, and a fine time was had by all.

The idea was to spend little time on tasting notes and beer descriptions, but to have a good time. I speak no French, and in truth, have little idea how to pronounce the names of the beers, but that didn;t seem to matter. We were not overly concerned with proper glassware,and pourings were expanded from an original goal of four ounces to six ounces for each of the nine ales (except the closing splash of Pome).

The menu, including pairings, follows.


Bastille Day aperitif

St. Sylvestre Gavroche (8.5% abv)
Amber "red" ale, French for “street urchin.”


Hors- d ‘ oeuvres

-Canapês au Duxelles (mushroom canapes)
-Oeufs Farcis Garnis (stuffed eggs)
-Boucheés au Chevre (puff pastry with goat cheese)

Thiriez Blonde (6% abv)
Farmhouse blond brewed in French Flanders, near the Belgian border.

Thiriez Amber (5.8% abv)
Lightly roasted amber and red malts from Northern France.

Thiriez Extra (4.5% abv)
Farmhouse bitter with French barley and English hops.


Soup Course

- Pureé de Cèleri (celery soup)

Cuvee des Jonquilles (Biere de Garde de L’avesnois) (7% abv)
Blond ale, bottle conditioned.


Salad Course

-Salade de Betterave (beet-root salad)

Jenlain (6% abv)
A classic amber Biere de Garde from the Duyck brewery.


Entree Course

- Suprême de Vollaille á l’ Arlesienne (breast of chicken with fried eggplant)

La Choulette Ambree (8%)
Another classic amber Biere de Garde, bottle conditioned, top-fermented.

La Choulette Les Sans Culottes (7% abv)
From the importer’s website: “This, the brewery’s masterpiece, proudly pays homage to Les Sans Culottes – the “trouserless” craftsmen who could not afford uniforms but unflinchingly did the handiwork of the French Revolution. A number of brewers were included in their ranks.”

Dessert Course

-Tartlettes aux Nuisse (nut tartlette with blue cheese)

La Choulette de Noel 2004 (7% abv)
Malty seasonal specialty, aged in the Public House walk-in and expected to be have developed an oxidized, sherry-like quality. Cross your fingers.

E. Dupont POME 1996 (17% abv)
Previously unannounced. A very special blend of E. Dupont's unfermented apple juice and his one year old Calvados . This blend was filled into 5 year old empty calvados casks in 1996 the tannins of which were still at work. It has been aging in these wooden barrels ever since. As the name "Pommeau" is legally reserved for such blends not exceeding 30 months of aging in those wooden casks the term "POME" was created to celebrate this very special 10 year old blend of apple juice and calvados.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Tony's artwork for NABC Artemsia, Jenever.

Here are NABC artist-in-residence Tony Beard's depictions of the two newest "gruit ales" created by brewmasters Jesse Williams and Jared Williamson.

Artemsia Ale ... brown ale brewed with 80% Simpson's Golden Promise two-row and molasses, and flavored with mugwort (the "dream herb," related to sagebrush and a cousin of wormwood), sweet orange peel and chamomile. 4.5% abv.

Jenever Rye ... 80% Simpson's Golden Promise two-row and rye, with crushed juniper berries in the mash and the hopback. Golden orange. Circa 7% abv.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Browning's is in the ballpark, just not in the ballpark.

As reported earlier in the week, the Curmudgeon family enjoyed a respite at Browning's Restaurant and Brewery last Saturday prior to venturing inside Louisville Slugger Field for a baseball game.

Honestly, both the ESB and the IPA at Browning's are far superior to the Redhook ESB sold on draft at the pork chop stand past the center field berm, but since Browning's is not a part of the Anheuser-Busch distribution network, Louisvillians are offered subpar ale from Seattle rather than fresh beer from a loud foul's distance away.

How many other ballparks in America boast a brewpub this nice in the building?

How many other baseball clubs make virtually no use whatsoever of such an asset?

Very, very sad, isn't it?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dave, on the conclusion of DaveFest 2006.

Dave, the DaveFest 2006 honoree, has decreed that his namesake festival is officially over – and so it is.

Here are Dave’s thoughts on the matter, as copied from his blog.

Speaking for myself, I’m delighted that a concept so nebulous at the outset managed to come together, providing overdue recognition for Dave as a loyal customer, and also giving us a platform from which to expand the idea in years to come.

As for the selection process for next year’s customer appreciation festival, I’m considering various options. I’d like to make it into a contest to be held around Christmas, during Saturnalia, so as to allow sufficient time for preorders of hard to find beers.

It was great fun, and thanks to Dave for his graciousness in being the first.


fresh out of fat ladies, so i sang myself

Okay, it's over. I have declared it to be so.

The last pint poured during DaveFest 2006 was a Rogue Smoke (230), and it was yummy. The festival is now over.

Sure, that last keg of Rogue Smoke is still on, but it's the last of the special-order beers. Guinness and Smithwick's are still on, but they're always on. If I waited for those two to run out then DaveFest would last for a year.

Hmmmm, The Year Of Dave ...

Nope, too late. I have declared it to be over.

More than that, even. I've removed the little DaveFest thingies from the beer board, and I've stolen the DaveFest sign that hung at the Rich O's front door.

No going back now.

Now is as good a time as any. I've never hidden the fact that, for me, the whole point of the thing was to give Roger a reason to bring back Rogue Chocolate Stout. Well, he did bring it back. And now it's gone. It must have blown sometime on Monday. To have the thing drag on when the star of the show is gone just wouldn't seem right.

Besides, and speaking of the star of the show, I'll be in Chicago for the next few nights. What's a DaveFest without a Dave? A ThatOneDudeFest?

So, it's over. And I have a few closing remarks.

For Roger, and for the regulars at Rich O's, and for the strangers and idiots that have come in over the last 6 weeks, DaveFest has either been a pleasant diversion, or a cruel joke, or whatever. For me, for me it's been a singular honor. I send my heartfelt thanks to everyone involved. From Roger, who had the idea in the first place, to Tony, who did the artwork, to Tim, who made the shirts, to all of the bartenders, and to all of my friends and family members who came in and treated the thing like it was real, I am eternally grateful.

And that goes double to everyone who bought a DaveFest shirt. Take care of those things. They're collectors items now.

Roger has indicated that he may have more of these customer appreciation festivals. I hope that he does. I also hope that whoever gets picked for the honor always takes it seriously and appreciates it as much as I do.

This was the first one. The first one at Rich O's, and the first one like it anywhere as far as I've been able to determine. DaveFest 2006 made news on beer sites all over the country. I hope the concept catches on. People everywhere should have the opportunity to receive this type of honor.

Like I said, this was the first. And because it was the first, there were some kinks. If, next year, there's going to be a TimFest or a Bobfest or whatever, what can be done to make things go more smoothly? I have some ideas.

1. Beer

The next honorees should really take their time in their beer selections. I really just kind of threw my list together because I didn't think it would ever really happen. The next people won't have that excuse. They will know that Roger doesn't fuck around when it comes to beer. I should have known this myself.

2. Advertisement

DaveFest 2006 was advertised in two places: my 'blog and Roger's 'blog. No matter what Roger and I might like to think, there are better ways to get the word out. I'm envisioning a sign on the wall at Rich O's, a big sign with 180 days until MargaretFest or whatever. A countdown sign. Get people wondering about the thing well before it happens. DaveFest came as a surprise to nearly everyone. In fact, on the day before it started, one of the bartenders still hadn't heard of the thing. There should be flyers at the bar at least a couple of weeks in advance.

3. Beer Again

This year, the two Rogue kegs were two weeks late. This wasn't really the fault of any one person or organization, it was more of a cluster-fuck designed by the universe to screw with me. This is something that should be watched more closely in the future.

4. Shirts

The shirts were a fantastic thing, but they were too late. We waited too long to do the artwork, and that meant that the design got to the t-shirt guy too late. So I missed out on having DaveFest shirts for the opening weekend. And now I'm left with $300 worth of shirts that may never sell.

5. Beer Menus

Usually, when Roger has his beer festivals, there'll be special Beer Menus made up that list each of the beers along with a brief description. I'd thought about doing this for DaveFest, and I'd even talked to Roger about it. Well, I dropped the ball. I kept putting it off, and I just put it off too long. The festival beer lists are probably the best advertisement that these festivals have. Future honorees should take the time to write about the beers they've chosen and have a nice beer menu put together. Plus, this would make an excellent souvenir.

6. Dancing Girls

The DaveFest Dancers that Roger ordered for opening night never showed up. Future festival dancers should be given better directions.

I guess that's it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Good local beer in Louisville Slugger Field? Now as before, don't count on it.

Potable Curmudgeon: I know you don’t care, and you didn’t actually make the sign, but I’m going to tell you, anyway: Blue Moon isn’t from Belgium.

Worker: Oh, yeah? So, where’s it really from?

PC: Well (reaching into the ice and pulling out a bottle), it says here Denver and Memphis, so that’d make it Coors, right?

W: Suppose so. Having a beer?

PC: (Gritting teeth) Redhook, please.

Later … my second trip to the beer stand …

W: Hey, there he is. You want one of those American beers?

PC: Sure. The one from Seattle. You have any Ichiroll?

Last Saturday evening, I accompanied Mrs. Curmudgeon to an exciting baseball game at Louisville Slugger Field, where the hometown Bats rallied from behind to defeat the Columbus Clippers.

It was a fine evening, with warm summer breezes sans excessive humidity, and of course an obligatory pre-game trip to Browning’s for a meal of assorted appetizers and brewmaster Brian Reymiller’s excellent house ales – IPA and ESB, to be precise.

Unfortunately, some things never change, and twenty paces past the Browning’s entryway bring the visitor through the central concourse to the turnstiles, and as in the past, once inside the ballpark itself, “abandon hope for good local beer/all ye who enter here.”

That’s an ongoing shame, and one that would be a community scandal if the hypocritical upper management of the organization were capable of feeling shame about the missed opportunities to market to all segments of the public, and not just the lowest common denominator served with a profound lack of originality by Centerplate, the team’s made-for-Slugger Field concessionaire, and flagrantly abetted by the front office’s naked greed.

To be perfectly honest, during the past few baseball seasons, I’ve steadily lost interest in the topic of good beer in the ballpark. My solution has been to quit attending games -- not because I enjoy the game of baseball any less, and not because I couldn’t bring myself to watch a sporting event without imbibing alcoholic beverages.

Rather, it ruins it for me knowing that year in and year out, the club’s management operates in such a manner as to flout utter contempt for my preferences, both at the concession stand and in my working life, while at the same time I can look in all directions and see business entities queued, willing and eager to cater to the needs of a target demographic that is willing to spend freely to enjoy the finer things in life.

Like a craft-brewed local beer, served predictably at selected locations around the field.

Here’s the last piece I bothered to write on the topic, which was published in the FOSSILS newsletter in September, 2002. Looking over it, I can see places where slight revisions might be made, but overall it remains accurate four years later.

I’m here to admit openly that there was no consumer campaign in 2003, and so the Philistinism rages on with no end in sight.

Until there is improvement, televised major league baseball with the beverage of my choice will remain the household norm – unless, of course, I enjoy Browning’s and return home, comfortable that I kept a few dollars out of Gary Ulmer’s pocket.

Not to mention A-B's.



Several weeks ago, when the freelance LEO reviewer Marty Rosen approvingly surveyed the dining and drinking options in Louisville Slugger Field (home of the Triple-A Louisville Bats), something within me snapped.

I remembered what I’d read in numerous publications about new and exciting food and beer choices in less parochial minor league baseball parks across the United States, paused to compare these progressive examples to what traditionally has been available to us in Louisville, and became massively annoyed with the beer-and-skittles mentality prevalent at the ballpark.

My question, then as now, is this: Exactly what must happen for us to have good, locally brewed beer to drink in our good, local ballpark? Geography speaks volumes. Cumberland Brews is a couple of miles away, BBC a block down the street, and Browning’s in the same building … and all three brew excellent beer, yet there was no locally brewed beer at Louisville Slugger Field in 2002. However, as always, there was plenty of beer brewed in St. Louis, Seattle and other corporatist outposts nationwide.

What explains this state of affairs?

You can forget arguing that good beer is its own sales pitch, or that small local businesses should get a fair shake in a facility constructed with governmental assistance. It all comes down to this: How many of us know what is involved with being permitted to vend products in a sports venue?

Product placement in these situations is one of the last great bastions of unfettered payola, a consideration of cash as opposed to quality, and an opportunity to perpetuate a good old boy network of palm greasing whereby the big players tithe in large amounts so as to prefigure the playing field for everyone else, irrespective of size. It’s informal, not illegal in any written, contractual sense, but it goes on just the same, and anyone in either the beer or the baseball business who says otherwise is a fool, a liar, or both.

There’s the rub. Minor league baseball routinely markets itself as the antithesis of large-market shenanigans like those described in the preceding paragraph. The minors? Listen to the party line: Hey, we’re not the same as the majors. Our team is the local team, playing in the local ballpark, charging reasonable ticket prices and involving the community in whatever way possible, from honoring little league teams to hosting workplace group outings. No strikes here, no sirree; we’re the good guys.”

Taking all this into account and digging a bit, I found myself provoked far beyond mere annoyance, into the realm of indignant irritation, by learning the degree to which the Bats, the team’s “localdownhomefriendlyimagery” aside, have been extorting local brewing businesses by asking a huge sum in “voluntary” advertising before the concessionaire opens the first tap. It is a sum that is unaffordable, one that would preclude profit on the part of a small producer, and one that probably contributed to the demise of the last brewery (Oldenberg) who dared chance it.

It runs counter to all logic. With so many positive experiences in other minor league ballparks, why would the management of the Bats be so blind to the possibilities of involving local breweries at an affordable “price”? How could the management of the Bats ignore the segment of ticket buyers who want something more than warm Budweiser?

Egad! Could it be that the sheer volume of financial support from big players like Anheuser-Busch has, ahem, clouded the team’s vision all along? Am I wrong, then, in concluding that one of two things must be true: Either the management of the Bats is awash in St. Looeyback developmental funding (and the exclusivity that these valuable coupons imply), or it’s just plain stupid -- dull tools in a shed reeking of dishwater beer and business as usual.

Judging by the precious few responses to all our questions, grudgingly proffered by the management of the Bats as though we were seeking the plans to build a dirty atomic bomb, it’s difficult to tell which of my conclusions is the case. Many people have written to LEO and to Bats officials. How many of you got a response?

Or, in the case of general manager Dale Owens, a coherent response?

From the start, the team’s reaction has been vintage, obstructionist Nixonian: Change the subject, circle the wagons, refuse to answer, and finally, when all else fails, defame the messenger and the motives of those with the temerity to demand accountability from local “movers and shakers” who are so busy flattering the corporate egos of Missouri-based brewery executives that they seem to have forgotten the identity of the community they somehow purport to move and shake.

It was a sadly predictable response from people who, in team president Gary Ulmer’s own words, already had decided with certainty that “the vast majority” of Louisville baseball fans “want the basics at the ballpark.” Left unspoken was the corollary: “While we allow Anheuser-Busch’s money to make the decisions for us and the fans, majorities and minorities notwithstanding.”

The Bats baseball season is over, and there’s nothing much to be done now. But the fall and winter approach, and it is my intention to use the time I have to organize our campaign for next spring. Perhaps, behind the plainly arrogant façade that has greeted our legitimate questions this year, there is a glimmer of recognition in the executive suite of the Louisville Bats that we are not going to go away. I hope so, because all rhetoric aside, I know full well that the team’s management is capable of doing the right thing.

If it does not, then we must plan to be there next season to remind them of the errors they’re committing. And if they do the right thing, and good, local beer does come into the park, we must be ready to support it, both by drinking it ourselves and by educating the other baseball fans. I know that we’re up to the challenge. Is the team?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Previews: Lupulin Land & Saturnalia (2006) and Gravity Head (2007).

It’s never too early to begin planning our annual draft festivals, so here are the lists so far for the next three big events. These beers either have been ordered or already are in stock.

Of course, there’ll be many more before we’re through … but after all, the foraging has only just begun.

Lupulin Land Harvest Hop Festival 2006

We’ll be exceeding OSHA’s legal limits on IBU’s per square foot of floor space when Lupulin Land 2006 begins on Friday, October 13. It is our fifth harvest hop celebration, and a good occasion for Kentuckiana’s hopheads to unite over a pint or two of America’s most bitter beer. Residents of New Albany should note that the Harvest Homecoming Parade takes place on the previous Saturday (October 7), and Booth Days run from the 12th through the 15th.

Avery Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale

Bell’s Hop Slam Imperial IPA

Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale

Great Divide Titan IPA

Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale

Houblon Chouffe

NABC Oaktimus

Rogue JLS Integrity IPA JLS Release #14 (2006 redux)

Shmaltz Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A.

St. Georgenbrau Keller Bier

Stone Ruination IPA

Saturnalia MMVI
Beginning Friday, December 15, NABC, Rich O’s Public House and Sportstime Pizza pay tribute to the ancient pagan origins of Christmas with Saturnalia, a draft beer festival showcasing seasonal specialties and festive ales.

Bell’s Hell Hath No Fury

Great Divide Hibernation Ale

Hitachino Nest Celebration Ale 2006

New Holland Blue Goat Doppelbock

Gravity Head 2007
The ninth edition of our annual festival celebrating the brewing world’s biggest and best will kick off from its customary March starting time: March 9, 2007.

Avery Thirteen (Weizen Doppelbock)

Avery "The Beast" 2006

JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Scotch barrel aged; 2005; pin)

NABC Thunderfoot (2006)

Rogue Frosty Frog (John’s Locker Stock #12; Rogue Issaquah Brewhouse)

Rogue XS Old Crustacean Barley Wine (date TBA)

Shmaltz Genesis 10:10

Monday, July 10, 2006

Baltic, Russian and Ukrainian bottled beer blast: Porter and more.

Some will suggest that Baltic Porter isn’t appropriate for the hot and sticky Ohio Valley summer, but my view is that any time of the year, different styles of beer work in different contexts.

While mowing the lawn? Well, I’ve never consumed beer while cutting grass, so I wouldn’t know. Perhaps Samichlaus isn’t the best choice for such an occasion.

Afterwards, following a spell of rest and regeneration in the air conditioning? It seems to me that once the heat and humidity have been removed from the equation, almost any beer has a chance of tasting good.

It’s all in the mind, anyway. To hell with tiki bars and palm fronds; think pebbly beaches with cool summer breezes, brick-laden seaports and trays of smoked eel and pickled herring.

At any rate, I’m a longtime of Baltic Porter precisely because the style is nebulous and all over the stylistic map. As the BJCP description indicates, English-style Porter and strong Stout may well have been the original impetus for dark beers brewed in these countries, but German lager brewing techniques have long since modified the plan, with results that vary from place to place an provide much tasting adventure.

Bottles of Baltic Porter currently stocked at the Public House include these (an * indicates a newly added choice):

Alderis Porteris (Latvia)
Baltika 6 (Russia)
*Utenos Porter (Lithuania)
*Obolon Porter (Ukraine)
*Okocim Porter (Poland)
Sinebrychoff Porter (Finland)

For good measure, here are two other specialty beers from the general region:

Baltika 9 (Russia)
*Svyturys Baltijos (Lithuania)

Baltijos probably should be considered an Oktoberfest/Marzen style (6% abv), while Baltika 9 is a strong lager (circa 8%; think “malt liquor” without the usual American imagery).

Because these beers (except for Sinebrychoff) are produced outside the Euro zone, they’re excellent value for half liter bottles.

Here’s the style definition from the Beer Judge Certification Program.

12C. Baltic Porter

Aroma: Rich malty sweetness often containing caramel, toffee, nutty to deep toast, and/or licorice notes. Complex alcohol and ester profile of moderate strength, and reminiscent of plums, prunes, raisins, cherries or currants, occasionally with a vinous Port-like quality. Some darker malt character that is deep chocolate, coffee or molasses but never burnt. No hops. No sourness. Very smooth.

Appearance: Dark reddish copper to opaque dark brown (not black). Thick, persistent tan-colored head. Clear, although darker versions can be opaque.
Flavor: As with aroma, has a rich malty sweetness with a complex blend of deep malt, dried fruit esters, and alcohol. Has a prominent yet smooth schwarzbier-like roasted flavor that stops short of burnt. Mouth-filling and very smooth. Clean lager character; no diacetyl. Starts sweet but darker malt flavors quickly dominates and persists through finish. Just a touch dry with a hint of roast coffee or licorice in the finish. Malt can have a caramel, toffee, nutty, molasses and/or licorice complexity. Light hints of black currant and dark fruits. Medium-low to medium bitterness from malt and hops, just to provide balance. Perhaps a hint of hop flavor.

Mouthfeel: Generally quite full-bodied and smooth, with a well-
aged alcohol warmth (although the rarer lower gravity Carnegie-style versions will have a medium body and less warmth). Medium to medium-high carbonation, making it seem even more mouth-filling. Not heavy on the tongue due to carbonation level.

Overall Impression: A Baltic Porter often has the malt flavors reminiscent of an English brown porter and the restrained roast of a schwarzbier, but with a higher OG and alcohol content than either. Very complex, with multi-layered flavors.

History: Traditional beer from countries bordering the Baltic Sea. Derived from English porters but influenced by Russian Imperial Stouts.

Comments: May also be described as an Imperial Porter, although heavily roasted or hopped versions should be entered as either Imperial Stouts or specialty beers. An ABV of 7 - 8.5% is most typical.

Ingredients: Generally lager yeast (cold fermented if using ale yeast). Debittered chocolate or black malt. Munich or Vienna base malt. Continental hops. May contain crystal malts and/or adjuncts. Brown or amber malt common in historical recipes.

Vital Statistics:

OG 1.060 - 1.090
FG 1.016 - 1.024
IBUs 20 - 40
SRM 17 - 30
ABV 5.5 - 9.5%

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Yet another Louisville beer dinner -- this one guaranteed to offend purists.

For the third day running, the Curmudgeon is here to notify you about a metropolitan beer dinner in the works.

First, a recap:

Sunday, July 16 will be “TOUR DE GARDE”: Bistro New Albany's Bastille Day Biere de Garde Dinner and Bike Ride.

Wednesday, July 19 is the "Brewmasters of Louisville" beer dinner at Limestone Restaurant.

Today’s Courier-Journal offered information on yet another pairing of food and beer:

Friday (July 13), Equus, 122 Sears Ave., will host Anheuser-Busch master brewer George Reisch for a pairing of food and beer.

The pairings will include beer-battered barbecued oysters, mini Maryland crab cakes and pork adobo with ginger hoisin glaze with a Japanese beer,
Kirin Ichiban, Parmesan-crusted sea bass with Spring Heat Spiced Wheat beer and ale-marinated grilled skirt steak with Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale.

The dinner starts at 6:30 and costs $75. Call (502) 897-9721.

Kirin’s an A-B acquisition, Spring Heat is one of the company’s many recent attempts to dress down to beer aficionados, Kona’s presence is unclear (perhaps it’ll be in the shopping bag soon as A-B desperately pans for brew niche credibility), and the whole idea of such an event makes me want to gag.

But you can go if you like. The food should be excellent.

Perhaps Equus will permit you to carry in your own (real) beer.

Friday, July 07, 2006

"Brewmasters of Louisville" beer dinner at Limestone Restaurant, July 19.

Thanks to Dave Pierce for forwarding this information.


Limestone Restaurant and resident beer geek Bill Kehrwald are pleased to announce our "Brewmasters of Louisville" dinner scheduled for Wednesday, July 19 at 6:30 pm.

Featuring three of Louisville's exceptional collection of brewmasters, Matt Gould of Cumberland Brews, Brian Reymiller of Browning's Brewpub, and Dave Pierce of Bluegrass Brewing Company; Chefs Mike Cunha and Jim Gerhardt pair Limestone's New Southern Cooking with their locally brewed beers.

Themed as a lighthearted look at traditional summertime fare with tongue-in-cheek interpretations of "bar foods," our five course menu is sure to be as entertaining as it will be delicious.

The meal will be $60 per person plus tax and gratuity and will include a souvenir pilsner glass. Reservations are taken at 502-426-7477 or requested online at

The menu is listed below.

Hors d'oeuvres
Browning's St. Hildegard Helles

First Course
"Shish-Kabob"- grilled monkfish Brochettes,
Browning's Dharmahead Belgian Tripple

Second Course
"Chips and Salsa"- Gazpacho,
Cumberland Brews Matt's Red

Third Course
"Bar Snacks"- Mixed greens with pretzels, peanuts, and pickled egg,
Bluegrass Brewing Company's White Wedding Ale

Fourth Course
"Burger and Fries"- Lamb crepenette,
Bluegrass Brewing Company's Nut Brown Ale

Fifth Course
"S'mores"- Baked Alaska with graham cracker crust,
Cumberland Brews Nitro Porter

Limestone is located at:
10001 Forest Green Boulevard,
Louisville, KY 40223
Phone: 502.426.7477
Fax: 502.426.7479

Click here for more information including dress code, parking, and a map:

Thursday, July 06, 2006

“TOUR DE GARDE”: New Albany's Bastille Day Biere de Garde Dinner and Bike Ride, Sunday, July 16, 2006.

In France, Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14, which falls on a Friday, so we've decided to celebebrate two days later with a bicycle ride through New Albany, a multi-course French meal and the long-awaited French Bieres de Garde tasting -- all at or near the Bistro New Albany.

New Albany's Bastille Day Biere de Garde Dinner and Bike Ride
Sunday, July 16, 2006

At 2:30 p.m., we'll embark on a bicycle ride.
Beginners and intermediate riders should be fine to ride this course, whch is generally level ground: Tour de Garde Ride July 16th, 2006. Park by the Farmers Market or near the Bistro New Albany (corner of Market and Bank), because when we return, it'll be time for relaxation, war stories and a few introductory tipples as we await dinner. Note that in the event of inclement weather, the ride will be cancelled. Naturally, you need not join the bike ride to dine and sample later in the day.

Circa 5:00 p.m., the meal will begin.
Weather permitting, we intend to use the courtyard, but can go indoors if necessary. The French menu will be accompanied by the Bieres de Garde, roughly four ounces per person of each selection listed below. The exact beers to match the various courses will be revealed here before the day of the show, but it should suffice to say that the metropolitan Louisville area has not seen such an assembly of Northern French ales.

Chef Dave Clancy's Menu:

Hors- d ‘ oeuvres
-Canapês au Duxelles (mushroom canapes)
-Oeufs Farcis Garnis (stuffed eggs)
-Boucheés au Chevre (puff pastry with goat cheese)

Soup Course
-Pureé de Cèleri (celery soup)

Salad Course
-Salade de Betterave (beet-root salad)

Entree Course
- Suprême de Vollaille á l’ Arlesienne (breast of chicken with fried eggplant)

Dessert Course
-Tartlettes aux Nuisse (nut tartlette with blue cheese)

Bieres de Garde/Northern French Ales:

Cuvee des Jonquilles (Biere de Garde de L’avesnois)
La Choulette Ambree
La Choulette de Noel
Les Sans Culottes
St. Sylvestre Gavroche
Thiriez Blonde
Thiriez Amber
Thiriez Extra

There'll be additional bottles of most of these ales, priced reasonably, and available for those wishing to sample further. There's no possibility of carry-out sales on Sunday. Remember that although these ales are of moderate alcoholic strength, you are obliged to arrange your evening's transportation accordingly.

The price per person for the Tour de Garde meal and beers is $50, with service not included. Those wishing to partake of a non-alcoholic meal will pay less. For this event to work, we need no fewer than 20 people to reserve spaces, with a limit of 30 at the most.

Reserve soon by e-mailing me: Roger A. Baylor.

See also: Dreaming about Northern French ales? I am.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

From 1998: "Being, Pretending and Other Assorted Daydreams of an Outsider."

The annual festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain, begins tomorrow. I was in attendance in 1994, 1996 and 2000, and stayed for the whole gala (it ends on the 14th each year) in 1998, when the following was written. My cousin Don is there again this year.


More than seventy years have passed since Ernest Hemingway decided to borrow a largely unknown religious festival in a dusty Spanish market town and to use it as the setting for the critical second half of his first successful novel, The Sun Also Rises.

By doing so, he brought the town of Pamplona and its annual celebration, the Fiesta del San Fermin, directly into the gaze of the English-speaking world.

For Anglos, particularly Americans, Hemingway provided a behavioral framework for a prototype of intelligent, self-aware "expatriotism" that has endured up to our own time. In his novel, first in Paris and then in Pamplona, foreigners who are respectful of local colors and traditions are contrasted to fellow countrymen who are overseas for all the wrong reasons, and who don’t understand why Paris is not Peoria.

More specifically, Hemingway established the drinking norms for several generations of travelers. It may not seem like that much of an innovation now, but when I first read Hemingway in the early 1980’s, I marveled at how cool it was for his characters to be drinking wine with meals. Imagine the effect on readers in America in the 1920’s, during Prohibition, of incessant apertifs, teeming sidewalk cafes and sweaty pitchers of cool lager beer in the hot Iberian sun.

To be sure, the behavior of expatriates has been defined and expanded by many books and films, but The Sun Also Rises remains at the head of the list, if for no other reason than the ongoing existence of San Fermin. Each year, the festival affords Anglos the opportunity to walk, talk and drink like Papa, and in many of the same places he did. I’m no exception. In 1998, during my third visit to Pamplona for the festival, I thought about it quite a lot – at least when I was sober, which was seldom, and which itself puts me right back in Papa’s formidable track.

My observations aren’t designed to be comprehensive, and I’ll say little about the bulls and the bullfights. This is an oversight, albeit an intentional one, although I’ll begin with a small bit of ephemera related to the bulls.

July, 1998 found four and sometimes five foreigners (three Americans, a New Zealander and a Frenchman) sharing a bare-bones apartment for the eight-day duration of San Fermin. Other foreign friends and acquaintances encountered during the festival were a number of Englishmen (some firmly aristocratic and of the old school, and others the obvious products of entrepreneurial Thatcherism), as well as Swedes, Finns, Germans, a resident of Andorra, and of course a good many fellow Americans.

My little group arrived two days early, having traveled from Warren Parker’s home near Perpignan (on the Mediterranean) by car to the Atlantic resort city of Biarritz. Like Jake Barnes in Hemingway’s novel, we drove across the border from France, through the Pyrennees, right into Pamplona’s central Plaza del Castillo for drinks.

We left town on the morning after the festival’s last day, so for the first time, I was able to witness the atmosphere from beginning to end.

Once the festival started, and as modern day interpreters of the Hemingway tradition, we took our obligations very seriously. Disregarding the previous evening’s pain, I’d set my watch to beep at 7:35 a.m. This would give me enough time to throw on some clothes, hang tight as the elevator took me down to street level, dash down the block and into the bakery on the corner, and snag pastries.

Meanwhile, Don Barry would be heating water for instant coffee. At eight, we’d gather around the living room table, sweeping aside the last evening’s cigarette butts and bullfight ticket stubs, and watch the running of the bulls on television.

That’s right, on television. Before anyone jumps me for not running, I’ll remind all of you that Hemingway himself never bothered. I’ve come up with three very good reasons why I don’t run with the bulls. First, it would be hard to avoid spilling my drink. Second, the route is several hundred meters long, and I couldn’t run that far drunk, sober or anywhere in between. Third, I’m a coward.

I’ve no idea what Hemingway’s excuses were.

One morning I did make it out for a walk fairly early. The crews were sweeping and hosing down the streets. Many locals were preparing to dive into San Fermin, and just as many were on their way home for a nap before hitting it again.

In one of the plazas in the old part of town I saw a little boy riding high on his father’s shoulders. Both were wearing white cotton pants and shirts with matching red scarves and sashes.

One of the perpetually marching bands was rounding the corner, and the child was giggling in step with its discordant progress. Seconds later the Gigantes (huge puppets on the backs of men) emerged from the same alleyway. The laughter stopped and his eyes grew wide in confusion. He held on to his father’s neck as if to choke him for bringing him into contact with these huge, strange figures.

Primitive man, I thought. Simplistic awe at the unexplainable, these elongated "giants" becoming symbols of power and authority, to be feared and worshipped.

Perhaps not. Recovering from his initial shock, the child took his cue from the crowd and reverted to festive mirth. The Gigantes weren’t threatening at all. They danced in the plaza with the band, and moved on to the next crowd. I was left to ponder the many aspects of San Fermin that have eluded me.

Another time we were in a bar feasting on tapas (tasty bar snacks) and draining small glasses of the rather uniformly adequate Spanish beer. Everything that wasn’t bolted down had been removed: Smoke-edged rectangles on the wall showed where pictures usually hung, and scuff marks on the floor the location of tables and chairs. All had been taken away until the end of the festival, but at least the beers still were being served in glass. People were singing and dancing, and the bartenders were trading glasses and bits of food for pesetas in rapid-fire fashion. Spanish bar etiquette is a wonderful thing, even at the peak of San Fermin’s madness.

Warren and Reggie bantered with the workers in Spanish. Our bill was lower than it should have been. We objected, and the proprietor waved us off.

Outside, basking in the sunlight, it occurred to me that I was "tight". Hemingway used the word freely throughout "The Sun Also Rises." The characters debate the merits of being tight. They’re hardly ever without a drink. They’re hardly ever not tight. During the festival, tightness is an epidemic.

In 1998, my favorite place for getting tight was the Meson del Caballo Blanco, a bar perched atop the city walls off a narrow street that sneaks into the maze of elderly buildings by the cathedral. The stone building that houses Caballo Blanco is very old and dignified, and the effect of drinking in the small barroom at ground level is that of drinking in an old chapel, which it might well have been at one time.

During the festival, Anglo expatriates typically hold several parties in the small pedestrian plaza in front of the Caballo Blanco, from which one can look out beyond the ramparts and into the valley. Although the valley is rapidly being filled with housing blocks as the modern city expands, it’s still an excellent view, and it isn’t hard to imagine it the way it appeared during Hemingway’s day.

Once, after one of these gatherings began to degenerate, Don, Warren and I slipped into the Caballo Blanco and began drinking beer. I enjoyed a few rations of Pacharan, which is a liqueur native to Pamplona and the province of Navarra, and inexplicably is something that wasn’t mentioned by Hemingway. In inexact terms, Pacharan is rather like a wine-based schnapps flavored with anise and sloe berries. Two years before, I’d been introduced to Pacharan by Arthur and Maria Burton, with whom I roomed and shared numerous rounds of the liqueur along with black coffee.

Standing at the bar of the crowded Caballo Blanco in mid-afternoon, filled with the bread, salami and cheese from the party out in the plaza, cradling a Pacharan, all was relatively peaceful. Suddenly a group of Basque men from France began singing traditional songs in the obscure and lovely Basque tongue. Drinks were bought and exchanged as the singing continued. At some point, the day disappeared and I was in another place and time. I was tight. We hopped from bar to bar in the old part of town. The rest is hazy.

There are numerous stories to tell. There was the "pig walk," an excursion to a restaurant specializing in roast pig led by a wheeler-dealer British ex-Shakespearean actor that included a long layover (both coming and going) in a bar (the Savoy) where I had the best gin and tonic of my life.

There was our trip up into the mountains with Arthur and Maria, to the town of Aoiz, where we enjoyed an outstanding multi-course meal, and there were a half-dozen other fine culinary experiences that rarely cost me more than $25, wine and service included, for quality at twice the price.

There were times spent watching the scalpers work in front of the bullring, the dancing and singing in the parks and pavilions, and the long-suffering sanitation workers blasting and hauling the refuse. There were so many of these times, and most of them were good.

I began this piece intending to discuss San Fermin and the phenomenon of expatriates who follow in the wake of Ernest Hemingway by returning to Pamplona each year. I was going to take the critical view and expose some of them for the frauds they are, and others for the boors they are, and yet as I wrote, I found my attitude mellowing at the memory of the good times I’ve had during the festival. Most of the expatriates I met were neither frauds nor boors. They merely were enjoying the festival in the only way they knew, which sometimes seemed harmonious and sincere, and other times not.

In the end, perhaps the best thing about San Fermin is that it still belongs to the people of Pamplona and Navarra in spite of the presence of legions of foreigners, many of whom wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Ernest Hemingway and Ernest Borgnine, or be oblivious to the existence of both, or be far too intoxicated (not tight, mind you) to care.

Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive about the whole phenomenon, for as much as I’d like to be one of the knowledgeable expatriates, the fact remains that in three visits to San Fermin, I haven’t really surrendered myself to the local euphoria. I’ve remained aloof, analytical, foreign, and very much on the outside, looking in.

Then again, most of the foreigners who come to Pamplona for the festival, then as well as now, are on the outside, looking in – even those who pride themselves on preserving the Hemingwayesque "traditions." Many of them are perfectly well-meaning. They’re older now, and they see themselves both as inheritors of a noble heritage of foreign presence in Pamplona and guardians of it. To them, the youthful Americans and Brits partying in the streets – wine stained, hormonal satyrs staggering past the dark huddles of Euro-trash – are entirely lacking in proper understanding.

Sadly, the older generation doesn’t do much to share their inheritance. I disagree with their view of the young people who are coming to Pamplona now and discovering San Fermin for the first time without the legacy of Hemingway and James Michener to weigh them down.

Somewhere, perhaps in a campground on the outskirts of the city or in a flat downtown, where a dozen arrivals sleep atop their packs and each other, there’s a 22-year-old American who’ll be stepping out into the madness and befriending a native, playing with Pamplona’s children, eating mixed salad and bean soup, drinking Tinto, being led into the chapel cellar for a look at the relics, managing to learn a sentence in Spanish and two in Basque, kicking around a soccer ball, and completely forgetting that there is a world outside Pamplona during festival time.

In eight days, this new American devotee of San Fermin will never even meet one of the classically trained expatriates – and be all the better for the omission.

There’s a place for both, I guess, and I know where I’ll probably be.

On the evening of the festival’s last day, Don and I arranged to meet Ray Mouton at the Café Iruna, which featured prominently in The Sun Also Rises. Appropriately, Ray is a writer. More importantly, he is a witty, engaging and fascinating person who might well be the only legitimate contemporary keeper of the flame insofar as the expatriate community’s knowledge of and respect for San Fermin’s traditions are concerned.

Ray neither suffers the fools among the expatriates gladly, nor does he speak Spanish or Basque and become totally immersed in the local scene. He loves the bulls. He floats along the periphery of San Fermin, pausing occasionally to offer a pithy comment, participating when he feels like it, and remaining alone when he doesn’t. He’s an original, and I love him dearly for it.

We were to have dinner together. Ray, quite possibly the only teetotaler ever to enter the city limits of Pamplona and survive to tell the tale, finished his orange soda. He paid and tipped the waiter. The three of us began walking toward the spot adjoining the city walls where a street comes up the hill and the bulls are penned prior to their daily run to the bullring and their destiny.

The final bullfight was over, and the pens had been removed, a fact we observed as we ascended a narrow cobblestoned walkway leading to the top of the wall. There we were greeted with a cool, mournful, cleansing breeze and a vivid orange sunset hugging the gray tops of the mountains and framed by the black, infinite night above us.

Below, in the now populated and modern valley, so few electrical lights had yet to be switched on that a comforting illusion of nature was conjured. Behind us, Pamplona was strangely quiet after eight days of chaos. The city felt spent. The curtain seemed to be dropping. Ray, Don and I walked slowly along the deserted city walls, lingering in the rushing air that carried the festival away to be refreshed for the following year, into the park near the citadel, to a restaurant where we were the only customers. As we ate, drank and talked, we heard the fireworks that brought San Fermin to a close.

That’s as good as it gets, expatriate or not. It was a good run. Let’s do it again someday.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

REWIND: The surreal absurdity of Pabst Blue Ribbon as alt-retro-chic.

(Originally published on July 4, 2005)

“Just as young consumers might wear '70s-look sneakers or sip '50s cocktails, many are bellying up to the bar for the beers Grandpa drank — maybe a Rheingold, a Leinenkugel's or a Utica Club.

“They're sometimes called ’retro beers,’ brands that might bring to mind old men in ribbed undershirts but are finding new life with the young. It worked for Pabst Blue Ribbon, and now others are trying.”

From Marketers use word of mouth to pop the top on retro beer, by an unidentified USA Today staff writer.

Readers will be shocked to discover that I’ve had my share of Pabst Blue Ribbon, beginning in the 1970’s and continuing sporadically into the Reagan years, then screeching to a complete and well deserved halt for more than a decade until a mercifully brief refresher course was experienced during an evening or two in 2003.

One thing kept coming back to me as I read USA Today’s throwaway fluff piece about the latest marketing trend that has nothing whatsoever with the essence of the product being vended.

That’s the way Pabst tasted back when Grandpa actually drank it, long before the Internet and cell phones. It was a distinctly flavored product, and one that has very little to do with the inoffensive beer as it is currently manufactured.

Back in the day, you may or may not have liked Pabst, but you couldn’t accuse it of being watered down. In those days, you could pour it in a glass, and if you cared to risk your flatware, insert a spoon and see it stand straight up.

Now Pabst in a glass probably would be mistaken for Evian.

Today’s PBR, known primarily as Dennis Hopper’s beer of choice in “Blue Velvet,” and currently the darling of yet another blithely unaware target consumer group that drinks beer because of what they see and not what they taste, reminds me of the dastardly 70-calorie Pabst Extra Light of the early 1980’s.

The Pabst signature flavor is still somehow in evidence, but it is so compromised that it bears almost no resemblance to the rough-edged, grainy golden olfactory monster I remember seldom being able to get through without choking.

Oh, well. Sometimes I wish I could follow trends instead of always creating my own. It’s a curse, but at least the beer that passes between my lips does so because of its flavor -- and not because of an accrued image of Americana accepted as gospel by those who never experienced the genuine article.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Huauzontle and ... Croupier?

Seeing as La Rosita is only three blocks from our residence, I’ll be sure to try this one out – and contemplate the sort of beer that would go with it.

Currently, Israel stocks the usual range of Mexican bottles and a couple of mass-market American beers, but he’s indicated interest in installing a keg box at some point in the future, and perhaps selling a beer from NABC alongside Dos Equis on tap.

Whenever he’s ready … until then, here’s an excerpt from "The Dish":

Great greens; Get familiar with huauzontles at La Rosita, by Sarah Fritschner (The Courier-Journal – some links are short-lived).

The average American doesn't know all that much about huauzontle, and it turns out that even in the halls of academe, information is scarce.

But Israel Landin is smitten with it, and makes a dish that tastes so good you really don't care if you know that much about it.

He's serving huauzontles (he spells it huanzontles) these days as a special in his New Albany restaurant, La Rosita, 1515 E. Market St.

Huauzontle, according to Landin, is a plant that is not only well loved in Mexico but is also very good for you.

The well-loved part is easy to understand; Landin is a local treasure when it comes to authentic Mexican food.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

From 1994: "Beer Guru Michael Jackson’s November 19 Visit to Louisville."

It was a banner day in 1994 when Michael Jackson came to town, and there are photos on the wall at the Public House to prove it.


A large number of FOSSILS, LAGERS and unaffiliated beer enthusiasts gathered at Bluegrass Brewing Company on Saturday, November 19 to greet renowned beer writer Michael Jackson, who for all practical purposes invented the genre of beer writing and has gone on to provide the intellectual foundation for the brewing renaissance in America.

Jackson's visit to Louisville came on short notice, with details arriving only five days before the man himself, but his hastily-conceived itinerary went off without a hitch and must be viewed as a major boost for Louisville-area beer enthusiasm in general and for BBC in particular.

The legendary Beer Hunter arrived at Standiford Field alone from Chicago, carrying with him a "portable office," a couple of carry-on bags and one small suitcase. After checking in at the Seelbach, Jackson was escorted to the BBC, where he tasted the brewery's current lineup and was given the grand tour by Brewmaster (and FOSSILS President) David Pierce.

Beginning at 4:00 p.m., Jackson signed books and chatted with all who ventured forward to meet him -- and there were enough beer lovers in attendance to keep him busy for three hours, including one well-wisher who brought his young son and told Jackson that although his child wasn't old enough to drink yet, he would see to it that only good beer would be consumed when the time came.

Shortly after 7:00 p.m., the scene shifted to the Silo, where Brewmaster Eileen Martin conducted a tour and tasting for Jackson. Many of those in attendance at the BBC followed the party to the Silo, and then to Rich O's Public House for an impromptu nightcap.

The following are a few random thoughts and facts about Jackson's visit on the 19th:

Jackson was preparing to return briefly to his home base of London, having spent much of the previous two months constantly on the move here in the States, amassing material for an upcoming book on American breweries.

His visit to Louisville was not Jackson's first. Previously, he had been to the area to do research for his World Guide to Whiskey.

Jackson wouldn't be pinned down as to a "favorite" beer, saying that he prefers to drink what is unique and local (maybe he'll have the chance to sample some of the BBC's Kentucky Common beer on a return visit someday). However, he conceded that his favorite brewing area is Belgium.

In personal terms, Jackson is soft-spoken and reserved, incisive when seeking information and very funny when the opportunity for a quip is presented. There were no traces of pomposity or abrasiveness during his visit.

Jackson wants to do another Beer Hunter series for television, but must wait for some snafu to be corrected by the sponsoring network in Britain.

He said that BBC's Kolsch was one of the better American brewpub versions of the style that he has tasted, but pointed out that none seem to capture the essence of the style as it is brewed in Cologne, Germany.

Apparently overcome with emotion upon meeting Jackson, former FOSSILS president Stan Brown was able to do no more than very quietly whisper the words "we are not worthy" to me before toppling off a bar stool.

Jackson's parting words from Rich O's, where he enjoyed a pint of Sierra Nevada Porter and was exhaustively briefed on the lurid details of the FOSSILS revolution by Vice-President Mark Keeler: "I've been to many pubs in America, and I've never seen one quite like this."

Accepting these words as some variety of divine sanction, we immediately played Nirvana at high volume, suspended the Mark Francis Memorial "No Singing!" Decree, and continued to serve free beer to the usual suspects, some of whom lingered on until the wee hours.