Friday, February 16, 2007

Complete details: Extreme Belgian beer dinner at Bistro New Albany, March 5, 2007.

February 19 - 27: PC's in Europe. Be back soon. Ciao.

Bistro New Albany and the New Albanian Brewing Company are proud to present “EXTREME BELGIAN,” a six course meal and eight ales that celebrate Belgium's finest cuisine and brewing traditions.

Cheese Course
DeuS Brut des Flandres … Sparkling “Champagne Method” Ale (Buggenhout, Belgium)

Brusselae Kasse Frommage de Bruxelles/Beauvoorde/Herve/Limburger

Panil Barriquee … Flanders-style Oak-Aged Red/Oud Bruin (Torrechiara, Italy)

Mossels Gekookt en Hun Eigen Nat
(Mussels cooked in natural juices)

Soup Course
Urthel Hop-It … Belgian-style American India Pale Ale (Berkel-Enschot, Netherlands)

Karnemilk Soep Met Appelkes
(Buttermilk Soup with Apples)

Salad Course
Ommegang Hennepin … Belgian-style Saison (Cooperstown, New York)

St. Jabob Schelpen Opeen Bedje Van Witloof
(Bay Scallops with Belgian Endive)

Entrée Course
Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek … Belgian Lambic (with cherries) (Beersel, Belgium)

Konyne Rug met Kriek Bier en GedRoogde
(Slow roasted Rabbit with Cherry Beer)

Savooikool op Z’n Vlaams
(Flemish style Savoy Cabbage)

Nieuwe Aardappelen met Peterselle
(Parslied New Potatoes)

Dessert Course
Allagash Musette … Belgian-style Scotch Ale (Portland, Maine)

Tart Flamiche met Chocolat
(Sugar Tart with Chocolate)

Avery “The Reverend” … Belgian-style Quadrupel (Boulder, Colorado)

Trappistes Rochefort 10 … Trappist Ale, brewed by the Abbaye Notre-Dame de St. Remy(Rochefort, Belgium)

What you need to know:
The meal begins at 6: 00 p.m. on Monday, March 5. The Bistro New Albany is located at 148 East Market Street in downtown New Albany. Please place and confirm your reservations with Bistro New Albany at (812) 949-5227.

The price is $65 per person (18% gratuity), and includes 2-oz or 3-oz samples of the featured beers. The Publican (Roger A. Baylor) will introduce the beers, while Chef Dave Clancy holds forth in the kitchen. Many of the beers also will be priced for consumption during the meal, including Urthel Hop-It, which will be the only draft of those being featured. Each diner will receive a complimentary Belgian beer glass as a keepsake.

Special thanks to World Class Beverages, Cavalier Distributing and The Keg Liquors for kind assistance and consideration.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The European jaunt is shaping up.

Since my last report on our forthcoming fact-finding mission to Belgium and the Netherlands, most of the itinerary finally has fallen into place.

Guy, our favorite Poperinge hotelier, faxed to confirm that he and his wife Beatrijs have retired from operating the Hotel-Restaurant Palace. The business has been sold to a local man and will proceed as before, with a room reserved for us, the bar “at our disposal,” and the promise that we’ll all be meeting for drinks while there.

We’ll also be meeting the whirlwind known as Luc Dequidt, director of the Poperinge tourist office, having a few beers with him, and enjoying our usual discussions about the state of the planet. I’ve often noted the excellence of the “Hoppeland” tourist infrastructure in and around Poperinge, and we all should be aware that it doesn’t happen by accident. A truism, perhaps, but hard work and organization are absolutely required to be welcoming. Poperinge does it right.

Brugge still looks to be a wash, as the Brugs Beertje beer café will be closed on Tuesday, and we’ll miss seeing Daisy during our stay. However, it is likely that somewhere in the city, excellent beer is being served. Perhaps in the very same establishment, there’ll be mussels. We intend to find both.

Another cuisine item that should be available is “new herring.” Today I received a warm note from John Dennis, who accompanied me on several past trips. Here’s an excerpt:

On one of the bus trips, you were kind enough to include me in a side trip to Haarlem. A couple of things from that visit have really hung with me. The fresh herring from the little cart/wagon in the square. Picturesque, unique, delightful, delicious. But the 40's music in the Cafe with all of the World War II memorabilia tugged at my emotions in ways that I wouldn't have imagined. I can still feel it today.

Me, too. I haven’t forgotten that special time.

The international birthday party starts in Haarlem on Friday the 23rd, and should extend through Sunday evening. In short, Haarlem offers the entire Amsterdam experience, but (for my money) on a more manageable, less frenetic scale. It’s only twenty minutes away from its more famous neighbor, and equally accessible from the airport.

I’ll continue posting here through Monday, and then take a few days off. If there’s an opportunity to comment from abroad, I’ll do so, but don’t count on it. After my return, we’ll be in full Gravity mode.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Velocity beer reviewer strikes again.

At least give Velocity, otherwise known hereabouts as the Courier-Journal’s shameless “Generation ?” advertising supplement, a slight degree of credit for knowing not to challenge its readership's ever shorter attention spans.

Year of the Beer: Celebrate the Chinese New Year with a sampling of Asian brews, by Danielle Bermingham.

We toured the beer world to bring back some Asian brews for you to imbibe while embracing another culture (and a great excuse to party).

The majority of the brews we sampled had a pungent sour flicker and a gold to golden-red tone. The beers were light and best served cold, a perfect accompaniment to spicy curries or zinging stir-fry.

Surprise -- each beer reviewed today is a standard golden lager, none of which have anything to contribute to a good meal other than a price tag higher than that of bottled water. Singha? Admittedly good when fresh, perhaps better than many, and still inferior to numerous world pilsners and even a few Euro lagers.

Imagine the possibilities with those “spicy curries.” Foreign-style export stout, India Pale Ale … Aventinus Weizen Doppelbock.

Frank Zappa was right to suggest that a country must have a beer to be a real country, but just because a country has a beer, it doesn't mean the beer is worth a damn. The time-honored "shop for beer by national flag" approach always struck me as ironic at best, since most of the imports are weak lagers with the most to lose during transit. Consequently, whole generations have grown to adulthood thinking that cardboard is a noteworthy flavor profile of imported beer. And it is -- just not in a favorable way.

I swore to myself that I wouldn’t let this reviewer get to me, but so far she’s done fruit beers, light beers, Asian beers … it’s enough to make me run to the fridge for a delectable, dark, rich Okocim Porter.

Wait … I actually have one.

No cabbage rolls or mushrooms, though. Looks like I’ll just have to drink it all by itself.

That wasn't so hard, was it?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Steve Hall's winning "SteveFest 2007" essay.


For my essay I want to try something different. Instead of just listing 12 beers that I really enjoy, I will list my favorite beer styles and name beers that are representative of that particular style as well as why I appreciate it.

(1) Cask conditioned

Cask conditioned ale is truly one of the joys of the beer connoisseur, when one can actually obtain it. Sublime, complex, with only natural carbonation to avoid getting in the way of the intermingling of malt, hops and yeast, cask conditioned beer is simply beer at its best. I love to sample the cask selection when I’m at Rich O’s or if I happen to stumble into BBC St Matthews on a Thursday evening. I’m usually not disappointed. Some examples I’d like to try in the cask are local brews Elector and Conesmoker, both lovingly created at NABC. Think globally, drink locally is one of the mantras of the publican at Rich O’s, and so let’s pursue that approach.

(2) Smoked

Described by cognoscenti as nectar of the gods and by the unwashed and unappreciative as liquid bacon, one is either passionate about smoked beer or wrinkles the nose at the mere mention of the stuff. I love smoked beer in its many incarnations, be it smoked porter, marzen, bock, or doppelbock. My favorite two applications would be Rogue Incinerator Doppelbock and Schlenkerla Marzen Rauchbier. In a very close third place I would stake claim to NABC Bonfire of the Valkyries smoked schwartzbier. Yes, it is a house beer but how many pints will be available when Saturnalia is but a pleasant memory?

(3) Wood aged

Funky, rich, and unrepentant, a fine wood aged beer will stand comfortably alongside single malt scotch, a fine blended red wine, or a nice ruby port. A recent sampling taught me to appreciate New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk with its supple, caramel kiss that was almost quaffable save its hefty 11% abv fire. I am also fascinated by the intimacy of beer and liquor, be it port or whisky. Yes, that does cross over into the realm of wood aging, but so be it. My pairings would be 1) J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale (Sherry aged) and 2) J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale (Lagavulin aged).

(4) Porter

Three Floyds’ Alpha Klaus Xmas Porter: What could be better to quaff in any season than robust porter. I know that It’s not traditional with its generous mix of Mexican chocolate and honey, but I simply love the over-the-top, outrageously yummy Alpha Klaus Xmas porter. Nothing screams epicurean, pagan, sun worshipper better than a couple of pints of that stuff. For a consistently good porter that’s available year round I choose BBC Dark Star Porter, always a winner, always satisfying; with a spicy hop finish thrown in for free.

(5) APA/IPA:

I don’t really count myself as a hophead because not everything I drink has to be 100+ IBUs to be worthy, but I simply love the layering of hops in a well made beer. I love the aroma, the bittering, the different varietals that weave their way into the dance with a solid malt backbone of a well made IPA/APA, as well as a dry hopped finish. Yes, I do love hops so maybe I don’t mind being called “hophead”. It sure beats “fathead” any day. This category is a tough one. Roger said not to pick easy beers but the first beer that comes to mind is Hoptimus; solid, over the top, hoppy goodness. Arrogant Bastard, with its many hoppy variations, would be another choice. I like the Arrogant Bastard ale the best of all of its brands. In the same breath, a solid, well made brew like APA from BBC, Clay & Main location is a 2-3 pint per session beer. I remember last summer sitting in the BBC taproom watching World Cup play while the publican and brewmaster, Dave Pierce poured me several pints of the nectar. That was both a pleasurable and civilized experience that I will cherish.

(5) Trappist Ale (Belgium)

I remember the first time I sipped La Trappe Quadrupel Ale. My heart started pounding, my face got flushed, and I’m sure I was babbling incoherently. And that was only after a few sips. Truly a wonderful beer in every sense of the word, sweet, full, malty, spicy, with hops lingering in the background, what a remarkable beer. My second choice in the Trappist column is Chimay Grande Reserve (blue label). Such a well balanced beer, and something I sip reverently, almost like Communion wine. I don’t know that I’ve ever had it on tap but I would sure like to try. And please serve it in the glass goblet, so cool.

(7) Red (American ale?)

Red beer seems to be an obscure style, but one that I find endearing, perhaps because of its rarity. Rogue Dry Hopped Red and Cumberland Brews Matt’s Red are my favorites in this often overlooked category.

8) Flanders Red Ale

Yes, this style is also red in color but much different than the last category. Rodenbach Grand Cru, a rich, winey tasty beer, my mouth is puckering in anticipation, is my first choice in this rare and savored style. Another beer that I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted from the tap; it is a brew that is meant to be sipped and savored. A tap beer from this style category that I have savored several times is Mestreechs Aajt Flemish Red Ale, an intensely sour drink reminiscent of musky cherries and old wood, it gains in complexity and tartness the longer the publican keeps it on tap.

I think I counted 19 beers in my essay. I could list more styles that I enjoy but believe that the styles and their representatives are sufficient for a beer fest in my honor.

Respectfully submitted,

Steve Hall

Monday, February 12, 2007

Steve Hall is the winner ... and SteveFest 2007 begins on June 1.

The judges have deliberated, and the verdict is in: The next installment of NABC’s (Your name here)Fest will begin on June 1, and it will be called SteveFest 2007, honoring essay contest winner Steve Hall.

From eight to twelve taps will be provided for beers chosen by Steve. I know already that not all of his choices can be procured, but I’m optimistic that many, and possibly most, will be available … and there may be a surprise or two on the way.

If you’re just tuning in, (Your name here)Fest was conceived as a consumer’s choice beer festival, with the Publican (that’s me) attempting within reason and various distribution and wholesaling constraints to assemble an annual contest winner’s ideal draft lineup.

Last year’s first such consumer-driven gala was DaveFest, named for Dave Siltz, who graciously agreed to serve as judge for this year’s installment along with Todd Antz of Keg Liquors and your humble correspondent.

This year’s hopefuls were asked to submit essays explaining in detail their answers to the question, “What would your ideal draft lineup look like?”

As observed previously in this space, five uniformly excellent entries found their way to me. These were edited to remove names and obvious references that would reveal the identity of the author(s), and then transmitted to Todd and Dave, thus permitting them to read without bias. A vote was taken, and there was discussion before a winner was chosen by acclamation. It was not easy. In fact, it was very difficult. The judges were forced to take occasional samples or suitably enticing beer choices, and persevered until finality was ensured.

Steve Hall has been a rock steady Rich O’s/NABC regular customer for more than a decade. As a genuine beer aficionado, Steve’s approach is analytical and cerebral. Tomorrow his winning essay will appear here, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Although initially it occurred to me to publish the essays of the other contestants, I’ve since decided against it, the reason being that there’ll be another round in 2008, and it would be improper to give too much away as the plotting begins for an event that shows numerous signs of becoming another NABC institution.

Congratulations, Steve. Please send a photo of yourself, or in lieu of that, let me know your ideas for the t-shirt design. We’ll produce a limited number for sale (of course, Steve’s is free of charge) when the fest begins on June 1.

Sincere and hearty thanks to all who entered, and kindly consider trying again next year. We got a tremendous kick out of the essays you wrote.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Recap: Belgian beers and appetizers at Classico.

Last evening’s Belgian Beer sampling at Caffe Classico was another great event, thanks primarily to Chef Josh and his superb selection of Mediterranean-influenced appetizers. To have one of his fried risotto balls is to swear off Scotch eggs … well, at least for a while.

Thanks to Tommie Mudd for organizing another winner.

Certainly the high point of the evening for me was the appearance of Mark Allgeier and Matt Gould (owner and brewer, respectively, at Cumberland Brews), Jerry Gnagy (Bluegrass Brewing Company brewer) and Michael Borchers, former brewer and employee at New Albanian Brewing Company. That’s a high powered group, and somewhat intimidating, yet it’s heartening to see members of the good beer community gathered together.

For the record, here’s the cheat sheet I prepared for use by the crowd at last night’s event. There were some dynamite pairings, and I hope we can do it again this summer.


1. Lindemans Gueuze with " pan tumaca" … toasted blue dog pugliese bread with spanish olive oil, tomato rub and shaved manchego cheese

Belgian “Lambic” is brewed from a mash of barley and unmalted wheat, hopped with (intentionally) stale hops as preservatives, then transferred after boiling to large, flat, rectangular pans for overnight exposure to all the wild yeast the Belgian breeze can muster. Aging takes place in oak barrels previously used for wine, sherry or port. Unblended Lambics are rare. Generally, batches of young and old Lambic are blended to achieve house character, yielding Gueuze. If fruit is added, as in the cases of local cherries (Kriek) or raspberries (Framboise or Frambozen), a second fermentation occurs.

2. Abbaye de Leffe Blonde with “baccaloa moderne" … salt cod fritter, with blood orange and aioli

The Abbaye Notre Dame de Leffe in Namur province licenses the use of its name for the production of a line of popular ales, and was among the first to do so more than a half century ago. Abbey-style ales sometimes have such direct connections to their source, and other times not. Think of this example as less a kissing cousin to a certified Trappist than a Belgian Pale Ale.

3. Hennepin Farmhouse Saison with "mussels muniere" … mussels sauteed in garlic, tomato, shallot, parsley and butter

The Ommegang brewery in Cooperstown, New York, is an American outpost of authentic Belgian brewing culture, and its Hennepin Saison upholds the rural tradition of brewing in Wallonia – Belgium’s French-speaking half. Originally these “farmhouse” ales were bottled, stored and kept for drinking during summer months when heat made brewing difficult. Saison is a consummate food beer with rich malt but a hoppy balance with peppery, refreshing notes.

4. Duvel with "risotto frito" … deep fried risotto balls with sofrito

Duvel (“The Devil”) originated when a prominent Belgian brewing scientist isolated multiple yeast strains in an ale from Scotland. These were used by the Moortgat brewery to ferment a strong dark ale. After World War II, the brewery substituted light-colored pilsner malts and stepped up the German and Slovene hops, and the resulting blonde ale became an overnight classic — top-fermented and boasting subtle fruity notes, yet aged like a lager.

5. Duchesse de Bourgogne with "flemish" … sausage, red cabbage on potato cake

Firm, ruddy red and brown ales from Flemish-speaking West and East Flanders (respectively) were traditionally stored in oak barrels for aging before bottling. The interplay of ale, wood and time produces burnished but pleasingly tart beverages derived from blends of older and younger oaked batches, and quite simply are to be regarded as among the prime glories of not only Belgian, but world brewing culture.

6. Chimay Blue with "curso fromagio" … port salut, and alta nivel manzanilla olives

For certification as a Trappist brewery, the brewing operation must be located on the grounds of the monastery; monks must retain overall control of the brewing operation (secular brewers are permitted); and a portion of the profits accrued from the brewing must go to charitable purposes. Belgium boasts six official Trappist breweries that produce ales only loosely related in terms of style, but uniformly delicious overall.

7. Scotch de Silly with "pan chocolat" … toasted baguette slices with chocolate, olive oil and salt

Malty, sweet ale in the Scots tradition came to Belgium along with troops from the British Isles during two world wars, and now a handful of varieties are produced with a fruity, estery Belgian yeast twist. “Silly” is a town and a brewery in Hainaut province … and this is dessert.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Just a few musings.

When I sat down yesterday to do the weekly NABC newsletter update, it finally dawned on me how insanely busy the last few days had been.

Beginning last Thursday night with NABC’s appearance at the Jeffersonville Main Street fundraiser, followed by two days of very successful art and music in our Prost special events wing, then the special Super Bowl opening hours on Sunday … and for me, a marathon New Albany city council meeting on Monday night, a blog meet ‘n’ greet on Tuesday and a sprinkling of personal civic commitments on Wednesday and even more on Thursday … all have combined into one continuous, unbroken blur accented by occasional dosages of medicine – otherwise known as craft beer.

The craft medicine's necessary because I have a bum left shoulder that needs to be repaired, and will do so, as soon as Gravity Head gets pushed away from the dock on March 9. It's a torn rotator cuff that unfortunately was not injured while throwing nasty curves – if that were the case, and given the traditional value of southpaws, I’d be considerably wealthier at this point – but probably cumulatively damaged and deteriorated during years of daily chores, bicycling and keg lifting. In short, an age-related annoyance, and one that must be repaired before the pain gets worse.

I mention the city council meeting because it was the occasion for the introduction of a smoking ordinance for the city of New Albany. The ordinance was tabled pending a committee review of what currently is an unwieldy, elephantine document that would be impossible to enforce given New Albany’s historic inability (or unwillingness) to observe its own laws. However, it will be coming back, as it is personal goal of the current council president to see some form of the ordinance passed this year.I’ll have more to say on this matter in the coming weeks, and some of it may surprise some of you. Here’s the short version.

Personally, I regard some variety of smoking ban as inevitable, and I’ll not be contesting the notion of indoor smoking regulation based on a scientific methodology that has determined second-hand smoke to be hazardous to workplace safety. In my view, it is the workplace safety angle that is carrying the anti-smoking day, and those many discussions of “rights” that arise during such legislative times primarily are instigated as, ahem, “smoke screens” to keep opponents distracted and off point.

However, I’m intent on seeing the end result be consistent, with the pain to be borne by all, and not some. Either second-hand smoke is harmful or it isn’t, and if it is, there can’t be exceptions, although you can expect numerous exceptions to be proposed during the forthcoming debate. To me, it’s all or nothing at all.

As for NABC, we’ve been moving in the direction of greater non-smoking access, and will continue to carve away at that perimeter whenever possible while awaiting the verdict. We’ll comply with whatever ordinance ultimately is passed. I understand that bar and restaurant customers who smoke are not going to be happy, either now or in the future, and we’ll try to accommodate our smoking clientele with outdoor areas if permitted to do so.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Gravity Head update.

Here's a Gravity Head list update, as of February 8.

Most of the beers listed are firm, and roughly half are already in-house. There could be as many as 60, including two firkins and a pin. The vast majority are half-barrels or 50-liter kegs, with only two or three 5-gallon kegs, meaning there should be plenty to go around.

The schedule is shaping up, too. Look for special events on March 24 and April 7, with visits from Schlafly Brewing and BarrelHouse Brewing, respectively. St. Patrick's Day falls the second Gravity weekend, along with the NCAA tournament.

But as we're saying: March isn't just about basketball any more ...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Beer lineup for Extreme Belgian 2007.

Here is what, barring the unexpected, should be the final beer list for the Extreme Belgian dinner, to be held on Monday, March 5 at Bistro New Albany. The ball's now in Chef Dave Clancy's court, and when his side of the ledger is complete, so will the pairings.

DeuS Brut des Flandres … Sparkling “Champagne Method” Ale, brewed in Buggenhout, Belgium.

Beers with cuisine (not in order):
Panil Barriquee … Flanders-style Oak-Aged Red/Oud Bruin, brewed in Torrechiara, Italy.

Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek … Belgian Lambic (with cherries), brewed in Beersel, Belgium.

Urthel Hop-It … Belgian-style American India Pale Ale, brewed in the Netherlands for the Belgian De Leyereth brewery.

Ommegang Hennepin … Belgian-style Saison, brewed in Cooperstown, New York.

Avery “The Reverend” … Belgian-style Quadrupel, brewed in Boulder, Colorado.

Allagash Musette … Belgian-style Scotch Ale, brewed in Portland, Maine.

Closer/parting glass:
Trappistes Rochefort 10 … Trappist Ale, brewed by the Abbaye Notre-Dame de St. Remy outside Rochefort, Belgium.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Small Brewers Caucus in the US House.

From the Brewers Association comes news of a potentially useful development.

"Today, the Brewers Association is taking a significant step in our on-going work to promote and protect the interests of America’s small brewers. Right now, letters and emails are hitting the desks and inboxes of every member of the U.S. House of Representatives inviting them to join the Congressional Small Brewers Caucus."

Here's the text of the letter from Peter DeFazio and Greg Walden, Members of Congress:


Dear Colleague:

As Members who recognize the important place that America’s small brewers hold in our communities and their unique contributions to our culture and economy, we are forming the Small Brewers Caucus to provide a forum in which Members and staff can learn about the science and art of beer and brewing as well as the relevant business, regulatory and societal issues.

America’s 1,300 small brewers (those producing less than 2 million barrels of beer annually) face all the very real challenges any small business must overcome to succeed, but they also must operate in one of the most highly regulated business sectors. In spite of this, they are important economic generators in their local communities, avid promoters of our agricultural economy, and tireless in communicating the history and traditions of brewing and the message of responsible enjoyment of their craft made lagers and ales.

The primary mission of the Caucus is to provide an interactive opportunity to learn about the dynamics of running a small business as a brewery, the brewing process itself and the quality and value of their beers and brewing activities. Some of the main topics the Small Brewers Caucus will explore include:

The Art and Science of Craft-Brewed Beer

• Flavor and Diversity: What makes beer different
• Beer as a food and beverage
• Brewing basics: ingredients, process, quality control, beer flavor and character
• Savoring the Flavor Responsibly
• Responsible presentation and enjoyment of beer
• Responsibility to the American community

Small Breweries as Businesses
• Market Access
• Consumer access to choice and quality
• Retail Sales
• Wholesale Distribution
• Marketing and Advertising
• Regulation – Accounting for Brewery Differences: Large vs. Small
• Impact on Operations
• Government and Agencies

Monday, February 05, 2007

As requested, Chef Tony's 15-B Pot Roast recipe.

For those in attendance at the Stratto’s beer dinner last week who asked for Chef Tony’s delicious pot roast recipe, here it is. Note that although the recipe was originally prepared with NABC’s brew, you could easily substitute many microbrewed Porters and achieve comparable results. If you choose to come and buy Bob's Old 15-B for cooking, remember to buy two growlers – one for cooking, and one for the prep time. You may need another for dinner.

Stratto’s/15-B Pot Roast Recipe

10 lbs shoulder of beef
¾ cup olive oil
4 tbsp kosher salt
1 & ½ tbsp ground black pepper
3 tbsp granulated garlic
4 bay leaves
2 medium yellow onions
3 large carrots
4 stalks celery
½ cups peeled garlic cloves
72 ounces Bob’s Old 15-B Porter
2 quarts beef stock
6 cups water

Pat the roast dry using paper towels to remove any excess moisture.

Place the roast onto a large plate or tray and rub the entire roast with the salt, pepper and garlic.

Chop the onions, celery and carrots into 1” pieces.

Heat oil in a large pot with deep sides, medium to high heat.

Add the seasoned roast to the pot and sear on all sides until a golden brown crust forms.

Remove roast from pot and set aside.

Discard any excess fat left in the pot.

Place pot back on stove and heat on high.

Add all the vegetables to pot and cook for five minutes.

Add the Porter to the pot and scrape the bottom with a spoon to loosen any leftover remnants.

Place the roast back into the pot and add remaining ingredients, making sure the roast is almost completely submerged by the liquid.

Cover the pot tightly with foil and place into a 350-degree oven for 3.5 hours.

Remove the pot from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes.

To remove the roast, be sure to use utensils large enough to support the weight so the roast won’t fall apart.

Strain the remaining broth and vegetable mixture into a large sauce pot.

Bring the strained stock to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and reduce by a third.

Serve … and eat, drink, and be merry.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A beer's not as good as a wine -- to a blind legislator.

As noted previously, my pizza & beer business will depart from our customary Sunday closing time and open the doors for the Super Bowl. We've done it for the last four years, and if experience is any indicator, Sportstime Pizza will be selling quite a large number of carryout pies on Sunday afternoon and evening as game time draws near.

However, we’ll not be selling carry-out growlers of locally brewed beer, because the state of Indiana prohibits all Sunday carry-out sales of alcoholic beverages.

But wait – that’s not entirely so.

At the same time as the state of Indiana bans the vast majority of beer, wine and spirits sales on Sunday, it permits small craft wineries to sell their wines for carry-out ... on Sunday. This is seen as promoting tourism, but more so than that, it's a testament to the wine industry's dazzling, decades-long success at espousing the notion that a 750 ml bottle of the grape is more worthy of approbation (and legislative exceptions, and free rides) than our 64-ounce growler of the grain.

It’s hypocrisy, and a transparent travesty, and in the end, the major difference between a small craft brewery and a small craft winery is the ability of the latter to lobby effectively without the dead weight of America’s mainstream beer barons (A-B, Miller, et al), which for a half-century have pursued a policy of self-defeatism by persistently behaving in such a boorish manner as to give the “beer = dumb/wine = smart” stereotype undue credence -- and by doing so, unintentionally and hilariously spawning the Mike "Workingman's Drink" Seates of our nation.

However ... once again in 2007, there will be legislation introduced to rectify the native Hoosier inanity. This time around, it appears to be part of a startlingly comprehensive regulatory reform package that is long overdue and makes perfect sense – and consequently, probably has next to “zero” chance of passing.

The following update comes from the Indiana Beer website:

House Bill 1323 was introduced by David Crooks this week is one of the most far-reaching we've seen in Indiana in quite some time. "Requires a local alcoholic beverage board to allow an individual to make oral comments at a public meeting or hearing. Provides that a holder of an alcoholic beverage permit who is authorized by law to sell alcoholic beverages for carryout may sell carryout on Sunday from noon until 6:00 p.m. Allows a retailer to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the licensed premises on Sunday from 10 a.m., prevailing local time, until 3:00 a.m. Allows alcoholic beverages to be sold on election day from noon until 3 a.m. Allows alcoholic beverages to be sold for carryout on New Year's Day."

Perhaps apart from those rare times when the Colts advance to the Super Bowl, it isn’t quite as obvious in Indianapolis as it is to those of us on the borders that each and every Sunday, Indiana fairly hemorrhages tax revenues to surrounding states.

Furthermore, to me, Sunday sales restrictions are a vestige of faith-based blue laws that need to be scourged from the books.

Hey, I’d just like a level playing field – both commercially and conceptually. Craft is craft, whether wine or beer – what’s so hard about understanding that, guys?

And what's so bad about keeping tax revenue right here in Indiana?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Cash Bar Talkin' Swill Blues: Depressing, but no fault of the organizers.

On Thursday evening, I attended the Jeffersonville Main Street Chili & Beer Bonanza on Groundhog's Eve at Kye's II in Jeffersonville, and had a ball pouring generous samples (“how much would you like?”) of NABC’s Kaiser 2nd Reising and Old Lightning Rod.

It was a retro Thursday, given the pre-Prohibition and Colonial motifs, respectively, of the beers we chose to showcase.

Fellow brewers BBC (Main & Clay) and Upland also were on hand to help quench the flames and raise funds for downtown Jeffersonville revitalization. It was a first-rate event, and I look forward to participating next year, but I must confess that I saw something profoundly disconcerting while manning the taps.

You’ll notice that with the price of admission guaranteeing virtually unlimited portions of 13-14 different craft beers from three different breweries, some in attendance chose instead to pay for bottled mass-market swill at the cash bar.

I couldn’t believe my own eyes, and that’s why the camera came out.

Verily, you can lead a person to ideas, but you can’t make him or her think. Apart from my personal angle in espousing the joys of craft beer, there is a philosophical consistency to the ethos of craft beer and downtown revitalization. Consider that one fundamental purpose of a fundraiser such as Jeffersonville Main Street’s is to raise consciousness about buying locally and supporting local businesses, and yet more than one or two workers for the small businesses on hand dispensing chili, not to mention at least two prominent community “movers and shakers,” refrained from local beer in favor of paying for multi-nationally brewed Budweiser.

In effect, they were paying twice (or more, in fact) for one inferior product – hardly something to be expected from “real men of genius,” but funny in an apocalyptic sort of way.

Thanks to Jesse and Jared for setting up, and Todd for helping me tear down and corrupting the remainder of my evening.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Preview: Killer Belgian ale & appetizer evening at Caffe Classico, February 10.

On Saturday, February 10 at 7:30 p.m., I’ll be emceeing another beer and food pairing at Caffe Classico, Louisville’s bastion of continental-style coffee. It’s located at 2144 Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, and is a must-visit whether or not you attend the function described here.

Owner Tommie Mudd offers elegant Italian-roast espresso, a solid café food menu of soups, salads and paninis, short lists of beer (including Duvel and often Chimay) and wine, and eclectic evening entertainment on weekends.

The price per person for 3-ounce samples of seven different Belgian ales and the mouthwatering appetizers described below is $38.

Call Tommie at Caffe Classico to reserve your spot. As of yesterday, the event was almost half subscribed (absolutely maximum is 40 people).

1. " pan tumaca"
toasted blue dog pugliese bread with spanish olive oil, tomato rub and shaved manchego cheese.
Oud Beersel Gueuze

2. “baccaloa moderne"
salt cod fritter, with blood orange and aioli
Abbaye de Leffe Blonde

3. "mussels muniere"
mussels sauteed in garlic, tomato, shallot, parsley and butter Hennepin Farmhouse Ale

4. "risotto frito"
deep fried risotto balls with sofrito

5, "flemish"
sausage, red cabbage on potato cake
Duchesse de Bourgogne

6. "curso fromagio"
port salut, and alta nivel manzanilla olives
Chimay Blue

7. "pan chocolat"
toasted baguette slices with chocolate, olive oil and salt
Dessert beer to be announced

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Beer-induced, Flaming Cougarhawk mania.

Perceptive reader Edward has noticed the inscription on the Gravity Head 2007 mascot’s basketball jersey, and he asks, undoubtedly smirking:

Can you tell the story behind Flaming Cougarhawks?

Not without pain, but here goes.

It is a widely and deservedly forgotten fact that while serving acne time during high school, your faithful Curmudgeon was a two-year varsity basketball player at Floyd Central. My active hoops participation ceased after our ignominious defeat in the morning session of the Seymour regional in 1978, after which spent the afternoon drinking Little Kings with friends in their Daze Inn hotel room before proceeding to an equally lackluster career of grabbing innings of varsity baseball pine.

Upon graduation, a regimen-free summer was spent lounging with like-minded pals, especially those with skills at being served, which magically added 25 pounds of non-muscle mass (i.e., goo) to an otherwise spindly frame.

A steadily growing affection for beer in its cheapest available incarnation accompanied four years of intramural basketball competition at Indiana University Southeast, and it should come as no surprise that my best-ever senior IM squad was called the Inebriates. By the mid-1980’s, activities like softball, walking and riding trains between European beer shrines had replaced organized basketball as my generally preferred forms of exercise, but as so often is the case, and without warning, there was to be an entirely unexpected roundball comeback.

It happened in 1999.

A group of Rich O’s Public House regulars, all of whom love the game of basketball – some of them can still be glimpsed limping to the bar for their daily medicinal pints – somehow fell into a summertime routine of meeting on Sundays atop the asphalt parking lot of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and shooting hoops, which led to half-court games followed by restorative ale drinking at the Shelbyville Road location of BBC … and, fueled by these post-game sessions, led eventually to a bizarre delusion that we were good enough to compete in the autumn YMCA recreational league in Clarksville.

Mark, our starting guard and coach, did the paperwork, and I purchased garish bluish purple team jerseys for the team, which had been dubbed the Flaming Cougarhawks in honor of … owing to … hmmm, the ironic thing is that I have no memory of the naming process other than to suggest that we must have been drinking BBC APA when it happened.

When the newly minted Flaming Cougarhawks stepped onto the hardwood for their first-ever game, the average age of the starting lineup was about 35, and it quickly doubled when we suddenly realized that a regulation full court is very, very big, and that the opposing team of recently graduated 19-year-olds was very, very fast.

We outweighed them, though, and this came in handy on those rare occasions when one of us could catch up with one of them. Calling on long-neglected reserves of thespian talent, I duped the referee into calling a shooting foul and scored the first point in team history on a free throw. Moments later I jammed my right ankle and was lost for the season. The Flaming Cougarhawks dropped each and every game on the schedule, although we came close enough once to justify another BBC drinking spree.

Those young pups couldn’t touch us there, on our true home court.

(Thanks to Jared and Tony for remembering)