Tuesday, January 30, 2007
It’s time for news from Bluegrass Brewing Company’s original Shelbyville Road location. First, a press release describes a new "cooperative" brewing venture, and then Brewmaster Jerry "Cut 'n' Run" Gnagy provides a heartfelt preview of the latest listed Gravity Head 2007 selection, BBC Leah's Etrange.
Bluegrass Brewing Company in St. Matthews and Heine Brothers' Coffee have teamed up to make a Coffee Stout. Heine Brothers' Coffee is roasting a special “custom” roast for Bluegrass Brewing Company using organic, fair trade, coffee beans from Mexico. This special coffee roast that we are using will bring out smooth, mellow flavors that complement the characteristics of an “oatmeal stout”.
There are many ways to add coffee to beer, and with the help and advice from the Heine Brothers roaster, Todd Stanis, and co-owner Mike Mays, we determined that adding ground coffee to our hot wort (unfermented beer) after boiling would extract good flavor without adding bitterness or burnt flavors. We will also add freshly brewed coffee after fermentation is completed and the beer is ready to be served, to give the absolute freshest coffee flavor and aroma.
We will be serving the stout at Bluegrass Brewing Company around February 9th in 20 oz Imperial pints with a Heine Brothers sleeve around the glass. If the brew is as successful as we anticipate, there is a possibility we will be offering this coffee stout in 750ml bottles at liquor stores though out the state.
BBC’s Oatmeal stouts was brewed with English roasted barley and caramunich malt, to give a roasted and slightly sweet malt flavor. The addition of flaked oats lends creaminess and body to this pitch black ale.
Alcohol by Volume = 6.8%
International Bittering Units = 25.0
Original Gravity = 15.5
Brewed on 1-19-07
When asked what he wanted to showcase at Gravity Head 2007, Jerry offered several possibilities, but this one intrigued me the most. Perhaps he can yet be persuaded to part with a keg of the classic Mephistopheles Metamorphosis ...
Leah's Etrange ... the original name was La Biere Foncee Etrange, but that's too much French for me, so we named it after one of the longtime servers here.
It is strong Belgian dark ale brewed with a bunch of Belgian malts, Amber candi sugar and pureed raisins, then fermented with Trappist high-gravity yeast and Berliner Weisse wheat yeast, which really gives it a tart and fruity finish. I would liken it to a sour Belgian red or an old bruin, but without the bacteria. I think it is one of the most off-the-wall, complex and interesting beers I've ever made.
We are going to put some in a couple side bung kegs with some oak or fruit if that interests you, but it's good just the way it is, too.
Brewed on 8-10-06
Monday, January 29, 2007
Tonight was the occasion of the first ever beer-themed dinner at Stratto's Restaurant in Clarksville. It was an impressive debut by the standards of such events, with a paid and attentive crowd of 51 on a winter's Monday, ample and tasty food prepared by Chef Tony, and a few good beers to go with the meal.
The bar at Stratto's proved to be an ideal venue, affording privacy by virtue of its separation from the remainder of the restaurant, and being large enough to comfortably accommodate the diners while retaining the intimacy necessary to chat about beer without a megaphone.
It is hoped that the chef will provide directions for his 15-B Porter Pot Roast with Roasted Vegetables & Pan Jus, and if so, it will be posted here as requested by several of those in attendance.
We're talking about staging another food and beer pairing at Stratto's in spring (theme and date TBA), and later in summer, hold an outdoor patio beer tasting, with milder hot-weather beers like Imperial Stout and Barley Wine.
That was a joke ... maybe.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Over at the Louisville Restaurant Forum, we’ve had another dust-up over the eternally divisive topic of chains.
Regular readers know that when this discussion breaks out, it is my habit to refer you to Lew Bryson’s classic articulation of principle, “Death to Chain Restaurants.”
I suppose the part of all this that eternally fascinates and appalls me is the willingness of ordinary people to bang their fists on the counter in defense of freedom and the individual even as they swill rancid Budweiser from the bottle, march meekly off to Wal-Mart to shop, and grab a cold Big-Mac while there.
The illogic eventually becomes so grotesquely configured that you find yourself reading a newspaper columnist who upholds the veracity of mass-market, brand-name motorcycle culture while expressing disgust with small-batch, craft brewing. It’s rather hypocritical, but worse than that, it’s utterly self-defeating.
During the course of this recent discussion, someone offered the following alibi, one that eerily parallels the “beer as cheap workingman’s drink” line of non-reasoning offered by the columnist:
"McDonalds maybe the only option for some people."
Indeed, that’s just plain sad. Does anyone read books, or pay attention to news, or observe culture outside that of a television commercial? Consider these contemporary chronicles:
Fast Food Nation.
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.
Lite Doesn’t Make Right (well, I haven’t written it quite yet)
Apparently not. Ever wondered why we’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic?
My stances on these matters don't come from thin air. They also don't come from envy, jealousy or any other shallow “sez you” non-issue designed to deter the real gist of the debate. Rather, and to the surprise of some, there exists such a thing as a matter of principle, and I intend to stand on my principles, or else I’ll throw in the towel and pick a different way to kill 30 more years until I'm gone – although I suspect at this point I’m unemployable.
I suppose it would be nice to have more money, even if I generally have enough for my needs already. Perhaps my business could make more money by selling Budweiser, or installing karaoke, or hiring Hooters girls, or applying a cookie cutter to the operation by watering its uniqueness down and lowering the overall common denominator, which are the inevitable results of cloning, franchising, chaining, or whatever we want to call it.
But I couldn’t do it. There would be this problem looking in the mirror each morning, and besides that, I persist in thinking that this is supposed to be about art as much as it is commerce. Call me the last of the romantics (cynics drink a lot for a reason, you know), and maybe we actually should examine if there’s something in the water to trigger this enduringly insane American genetic trait of judging merit solely in monetary terms.
Hey, it's cheap – but is it good? This concept is profitable – but is it ethical? Same great plasticized layout, coast to coast – but how much soul do we sacrifice to have this cheap, easy monoculture?
Ironically, let someone come along and begin asking questions like these, and suddenly it’s all personal, and people get uptight. Sorry about that, but discomfort is even more reason to be the gadfly, which in the final analysis is my preference in life. In point of fact, I do take freedom very seriously, and to me, the quickest way to lose it is to forget who we are and where we came from, and to begin substituting straitjacketed orthodoxy and artificial atmosphere for the true wonders of diversity and what’s really real.
Mrs. Curmudgeon and I dined at the Bistro New Albany last evening. Chef Dave cooked a custom-built pasta dish for her, while I sampled a small portion of Venetian seafood soup before tearing into a rack of medium rare New Zealand lamb. If a chain restaurant could do it better and cheaper, I’d have only one choice: Order it again at the Bistro New Albany. It’s a matter of principle. I’m truly saddened that principle has gone out of style hereabouts.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
Courtesy of BBC's Scott Roussell, here's a release describing the "test account" for the brewery's cask ale program. That's tonight, sports fans.
And I didn't even know BBC had a stout ...
BBC Beer Co is pleased to announce that Flanagan's Ale House is now serving cask conditioned ale otherwise known as "real ale." Please join us at Flanagans (934 Baxter Avenue) Friday night from 6 - 8 p.m. to kick off this exciting new release and discover how wonderful this rare ale is. We will enjoy BBC's American Stout -a creamy full-bodied ale with roasted malt flavors and chocolate influence.
We hope to see everybody there and remember to Never Buy Beer From Strangers ... Support Your Local Brewery!
To learn everything you need to know about cask ale, please go to the website below:
Thursday, January 25, 2007
I bought my copy today.
Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer & Save the World
Reading this book turns mere beer drinkers in beer activists, ready to fight corporate rule by meeting your neighbors for a pint at the local brewpub - fermenting a revolution one beer at a time.
That’s right down the pipe … in the wheelhouse … total sweet spot. Before I crack the cover, I need to get a bit further into my novel of the moment, Thomas Pynchon’s by turns exhausting and exhilarating “Against the Day,” but when the revolutionary beer book is finally undertaken, I promise to review it here.
Meanwhile, something’s being lost in a week-old comment thread. Reader “Well Hungarian” asks:
What is good beer? Is that not pretty subjective?
Hmm. There isn’t time today to consider this at length, but no, I think it isn’t subjective at all. As I ponder a more lengthy response, you are invited to discuss.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Appearing today was my fourth mini-column in the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO):
Mug Shots: Beer list should equal wine list
Three hundred words still strikes me as little more than a fair-to-middling topic sentence, but in truth, there’s much good coming from the discipline that brevity demands.
The subject is something I’ve been raging about for quite some time, and came up a while back on the Louisville Restaurants Forum. The thread can be viewed (somewhat – click the “quickview” box) here.
My opening lob was this:
Elsewhere it was mentioned that there are certain expectations for 4-star dining, among them being a serious wine program, and yet how many purported 4-star restaurants offer mass market swill as their beer selection? Why is it that fine dining requires wine of a certain type, but not commensurate beer?
As is customarily the case when confronted with obviously crazy ideas originating way out in left field, the denizens of the board didn’t show much interest, so I returned with this:
In my continuing and admittedly stubborn effort to make the point, I'm going to return to this thread. I've spent the past hour perusing the on-line menus of the city's top tables, at least those in the upper numerical echelon of Robin Garr’s ratings system, in search of beer lists.
Not unexpectedly, they're few and far between, which from the outset confirms my observation that "top" restaurants eager to fulfill expectations pertaining to the wine list seldom apply the same principles to beer.
Eventually, I landed on a beer list from a very nice establishment. While perhaps not a top ten eatery in town, is nonetheless is the type of place you would not go wearing a t-shirt and expecting to get a 99-cent Big Buford Jr., i.e., I've spent $75 there before just on my meal without the beverage tariff. Accordingly, the wine program is lovingly detailed, and we are told that several hundred types of wine are available.
Here's the beer list: Amstel Light, Bass, Buckler (N/A), Bud Light, Budweiser, Coors Light, Heineken, Hoegaarden, Michelob Ultra, Miller Lite, Pacifico, Guinness, Pilsner Urquell.
Now, here's my point.
In terms of worldwide beer styles, out of maybe 70+ now internationally recognized and available locally, here we have a grand total of 5: 8 standard golden lagers, 1 stout, 1 pilsner, 1 British pale ale, and 1 Belgian wit. Buckler doesn't count; there’s no alcohol.
Not that it needs to be pointed out, but in large measure, the eight golden lagers taste exactly alike.
A response was offered:
Well, Roger, you probably won't like my answer, but from a consumer's point of view I just don't think I will ever consider "beer" and "upscale dining" in the same sentence. Even fine craft beer. First it’s an image thing. A fine glass of wine in a Reidel stemmed glass is a thing of art. I prefer reds, so I'm picturing rich claret swirling in my glass, sitting on a crisp white table linen. Beautiful. Beer in a pilsner or mug just doesn't evoke the same artful image.
And secondly if I'm out with my DH, having a fabulous dinner, I don't drink carbonated. Fills up the tummy too fast and then I get the burps. A lady just doesn't sound as ladylike with the burps . . .
I only needed to make contact to lash that one down the line for two bases – and maybe more.
You won't like my answer to your answer, but here goes. This is emphatically not a personal attack; I'm merely addressing your arguments, as I find them indicative … and, mistaken.
There is no difference in terms of imagery between the wine and glassware you describe and my vision of a Chimay Grand Reserve Trappist Ale served in the appropriate goblet alongside a medium-rare steak. Your comparison with a mug is a straw man in terms of argumentation. Appropriate beer wouldn't be served in a mug in such a context, just as your wine would not be served in styrofoam.
It's also framing beer in the least desirable way to operate on the assumption that all beer is carbonated so as to induce the stereotypical Homer Simpson belch. Remember that Homer is drinking mass market swill from a mug. You'll not experience the same level of carbonation in bottle-conditioned Belgians or higher gravity specialties of the sort that best accompany food.
In short, you inadvertently prove my point, which is that ignorance about beer in a fine dining context is the reason for its absence, and that the responsibility is shared between consumers who won't glance outside the box, as well as restaurateurs who'll not challenge the clientele with beer as they do with other libations.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Regular reader and frequent commentator Todd Antz is the owner of The Keg Liquors in Clarksville. Those of you who are a wee bit more venerable (read: long in the tooth) and who’ve lived locally for any length of time probably are familiar with the place, and you may be wondering what all the fuss is about.
I’m a fossil in more ways than one, and I know what you’re thinking.
Keg Liquors – isn’t that the place alongside Highway 131 (now Lewis and Clark Parkway)? Just like all the other package stores around town. Sells ice cold Budweiser, Mad Dog and half pints of Kessler. Why go there?
Of course, many of you already know the answer to this rhetorical question. Todd took over the business from his father a few years back, and he’s been working ever since to reinvent it for a changing demographic by carving out a sizeable niche in the local good beer retail market.
And, he is succeeding. It may not be the first time that a Southern Indiana off-premise store has recognized the potential of maintaining a selection of craft-brewed and fine import beers, and likewise it assuredly isn’t the first time that such an establishment has had a beer lover on the inside, making the important decisions and backing them up with knowledge and passion … but it my well be the first time that all of these factors have come together, all at once, locally, and during a time of relative abundance in terms of availability, resources and knowledge.
Todd is onto something special, and his persistence and zeal have had many welcome side effects in my world, among them relieving the pressure that I’ve always felt to be the go-to guy for bottled product, which is a less efficient use of my resources than draft, even before we had a brewery on site.
As indicated here previously, Todd’s presence in the market is prompting a complete strategic rethink on my side of the street – but not from a position of weakness for me. Rather, there are dual strengths, with Todd’s selection ideally complementing my own, allowing me to concentrate on more esoteric bottled beers while keeping the crucial draft lines flowing.
I began this blog entry intending to tout one of Todd’s periodic Keg Liquors beer tastings, and here it is as gleaned from the press release.
January 25th - Beer Tasting with Bluegrass Brewing Company - 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Join us for a very special beer tasting as we host David Pierce, brewmaster for Bluegrass Brewing Company (Main and Clay location) and a lineup of their excellent brews on January 25th from 5 - 8 PM.
Here is what we’ll taste:
American Pale Ale
Hell For Certain Belgian-style Ale
Nut Brown Ale
Dark Star Porter
Bearded Pat's Barley Wine
Jefferson Reserve Bourbon-Barrel Stout
There is also a chance that BBC will be bringing their newest creation, an American-style India Pale Ale called Dank IPA.
Monday, January 22, 2007
In Belgium, that is.
In mid-February, my pal Kevin “Moose” Richards and I are jetting to balmy Benelux for a very brief seven days (two fewer for Moose, who must return to the shop).
The stated occasion is my friend Boris’s 50th birthday party, a milestone of considerable high magnitude in the Netherlands region, and the convenient pretext (if one were needed) for an epic party that will be held in the transplanted Englishman’s Haarlem local, Café Briljant. Among others expected to be in attendance is Kim Andersen, whose colorful globetrotting exploits are recounted here on occasion.
All this came about because of surplus frequent flier miles, so in that sense it has worked out as planned, but much of the rest of the preparation has been downright frustrating.
At first, Moose and I spoke of spending the first three days in Cologne with Kim, who will be in the process of moving his residence to the home of Kolsch during the same period. After much deliberation, and considering that the actual delivery of household items is likely to be occurring in mid-February, we decided against it. He’d be busy enough without us tempting him with strong drink.
Instead, we elected to begin the trip with a three-day pub crawl through selected top beer spots in Belgium, using a shared Benelux 2nd-class rail pass that I subsequently learned has escalated in price beyond my hopes, although it’s still a good deal considering the trips we look to be making. I think.
Upon commencing research, I quickly learned that all three of the destinations we were most interesting in visiting – Brugs Beertje specialty cafe (Brugge), Drie Fonteinen lambic brewery, blending house and restaurant (Beersel) and the Hotel Palace beer café (Poperinge), are closed for business on Wednesday.
Given that our available evenings are on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with Haarlem reserved for Friday and Saturday, and the hoped-for spots too far apart to visit more rapidly than one drink-off and sleep-in per day, one destination had to be eliminated from consideration. We decided it would be Drie Fonteinen, seeing as Beersel’s not so easy to reach by public transportation.
Accordingly, I e-mailed the Palace in Poperinge, and strangely, there was no response. Next I faxed both the hotel and our friend Luc, who is the town’s tourist chieftain. He responded this morning with news that Guy and Beatrijs have sold the cherished hotel/restaurant/café heirloom to another local businessman, and we may or may not get to see them. On a more favorable note, Luc indicated that he’d be happy to meet us on Thursday for drinks, though he didn’t say where.
Brugge on Tuesday and Poperinge on Thursday, with somewhere else in between … good enough.
I then took a quick glance in the most recent edition of Tim Webb’s guide to Belgian beer and brewing and reconfirmed that Brugs Beertje is closed on Wednesday, proceeding directly to the website of the Hotel Erasmus, our preferred choice of lodging in Brugge. There I learned that the Erasmus, which includes a fine beer-cuisine restaurant and specialty café, is closed for remodeling through March 1.
Annoyed, I checked the Ibis chain hotel web site and snagged a cheap, no-cancellation, no-adjustment, off-season room rate for Tuesday, paid for it with Am-Ex, then within minutes learned via a return e-mail from Daisy, the delightful owner of the Beertje, that her world famous café now is closed an extra day each week.
That’d be Tuesday.
So far, the fruits of my labor today have netted me this: Starting with three beer shrines where I’d have liked to imbibe, now there’s no chance of visiting two of them, and only a slight chance at the third, as we’ve yet to determine if it’s open at all during the transition, and if it is, whether we’ll even be able to connect with the great people who were the primary reason for going, along with Luc.
At this rate, we may end up on Luc’s couch.
Another friend, Tim “Flyboy” Eads, had planned on coming into Poperinge on Wednesday night from Cologne, where he’ll be on a brief layover. Now, standing in the rubble of my hopes, I believe we should find the best beer bar in Belgium that’s open on Wednesday (if any) and accessible by rail (Antwerp?), arrange to go there, and be damned happy that I can make such a journey, even if there are pitfalls along the way.
I’ll keep you posted. Already a scheme is coming together …
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Watching the international brewing players -- even the smaller ones, and even the "better" ones -- shuffle portfolios, mergers and acquisitions can be like eying a streetcorner shell game and trying to guess where the ball (or the beer) went.
Maredsous and Rodenbach are coming to Indiana in about the same timeframe. Duvel USA has now released those products for Indiana , but it will likely be a while before the supply chain catches up to that release. Previously, many Duvel USA products were tied up in other distribution arrangements that Duvel had no direct control over, but that is now changing. Maredsous and Rodenbach should both be available in draught as well as bottles.
My memories of Maredsous are sketchy, but Rodenbach's the classic keeper in spite of its recent modernizing treatment. Go to Duvel Moortgat's European-based web site for the skinny on the company's product line, including the Brasserie Achouffe deal -- old news, but something I'd not gotten around to noting here:
I keep meaning to ask the folks at B. United International what Chouffe's acquisition by Moortgat does to their longtime exporting arrangements. Maybe I'll do that this week.
Meanwhile, here's more news from Bob:
Chimay draught is likely to be in Indiana sometime about April or May of this year. Paterno Wines is no longer handling the import of Chimay for the Midwest US, so draught is now a distinct possibility and should be coming in several months.
As of 2004, the only Chimay available in draft form was its Blanche/White. I'm not sure if this is the case now, and at any rate, the notion of Chimay on draft interests me less than the prospect of Rodenbach returning at long last to Indiana.
It is my belief that most Trappists should be bottle conditioned, although I can imagine exceptions, and probably have consumed a few.
But it looks quite nice on a resume ... and the chalkboard.
Just don't tell Mike Seate we were talking about it.
Friday, January 19, 2007
On Wednesday, columnist Mike Seate of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reminded us that P.T. Barnum’s lessons on human nature and hucksterism haven’t been entirely forgotten.
Writes an annoyed (well, maybe) Seate:
Someone please explain to me where anyone in this day and age finds enough free time to worry about the well being of beer or any other inanimate object.
Actually, the preceding quote is from one of two blog entries that Seate has posted since the publication of his Wednesday column, “Beer snobs forget the true meaning of beer,” which begins:
During the weekend, I stopped by the Sharp Edge bar in East Liberty for a few beers. Nothing spectacular about that, except for one small problem: It's one of those so-called beer emporiums, trendy little places that specialize in styles and brands of beer so obscure, you need a Frommer's travel guide just to pronounce them.
I caught word of this tempest in a growler yesterday, but didn’t have time to find the article in the newspaper on-line archive. Then, earlier today, Todd “Keg Liquors” Antz forwarded the link. It obviously doesn’t require BJCP judging credentials or an understanding of lambic brewing techniques to hazard a guess that Seate would be inundated with angry (and to me, a few embarrassing) responses, some of which he’s published in his subsequent blog entries:
Something To Contemplate Over a Beer
Too Much Free Time On Their Hands Dept.
If you ask me, none of this should be taken very seriously.
Seate’s having far too much fun with this “workingman’s” issue to suggest that his initial grenade toss was anything except a shrewdly calculated gambit to elicit the sort of feedback he’s received to date, although I suppose it’s still possible for there to exist an educated adult genuinely unaware of concepts like marketplace diversification, or to put it more bluntly, different strokes for different folks -- and different prices, accordingly.
Think of it as a Fox-News or Howard Stern sort of ploy, and it makes more sense. Writers want to be read, and need to be read, and one way to be read is to be outrageous. Perhaps Seate was insulted by a waiter’s rolling of the eyes, although I stick with my diagnosis of premeditation.
Against my best judgment, I responded to Seate’s provocations with what I consider to be a measured, reasonable tone – for me.
Is it just me, or has somebody forgotten that beer is supposed to be a workingman's drink, as free from pretensions and airs as a kielbasa smothered in sauerkraut?
Apparently so. And until local bar owners remember this, I'll be doing my drinking at home, on the cheap, from a Styrofoam cup.
Actually, your premise is invalid.
You're mistaken in holding that there is a commandment stating that beer is "supposed to be a workingman's drink," and yet the validity of your argument stems from this one assertion.
Beer "can" be such a thing. It also "cannot," in certain circumstances. It all depends on the beer, and there are many and always have been, even when Americans developed a "workingman's" tradition of its own.
Often what we fail to understand, we misconstrue, and dismiss. I find it regrettable that as a published writer, you resort to this sort of invalid argumentation.
Alas, it is something that we (the reading public) all too frequently encounter.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
On Monday, January 29, at 6:30 p.m., I’ll be doing a “Stratto's Beer Dinner with the Publican,” the first of three upcoming beer and food pairings that you are cordially invited to attend.
The first is at Stratto's, which occupies a marvelously adapted 19th-century home at 318 W. Lewis & Clark Parkway in Clarksville. The price is $30 per person. Call Stratto's at 945-3496 for information and reservations, or contact Roger at NABC.
Information will be coming soon about a Belgian and appetizer pairing at Caffe Classico in Louisville on Saturday, February 10, and the much anticipated Extreme Belgian dinner at Bistro New Albany on Monday, March 5.
In beer terms, these have been designed in ascending order of intensity. The Stratto's evening will feature a four-course meal, with seven beers (beginner’s level complexity), including two old favorites from NABC.
First Beer Course
Peroni Lager (Italy)
Second Beer Course
NABC Kaiser 2nd Reising (Pre-Prohibition Pilsner)
Third Beer Course & Appetizer Course
Corsendonk Monk’s Pale Ale (Belgium)
Gorgonzola & Capicola Bruschetta Pizza
Fourth Beer Course & Salad Course
Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse (Germany)
Iceberg Wedge with Creamy Hefe Weizen Dressing
Fifth Beer Course & Entrée Course
NABC Bob’s Old 15-B (Porter)
15-B Porter Pot Roast with Roasted Vegetables & Pan Jus
Sixth Beer Course & Dessert Course
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (Delaware)
Double Chocolate Cappuccino Cake with Pale Ale Anglaise
Seventh Beer Course
Lindemans Framboise (Belgium)
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
As reported during a recent thread at the Louisville Restaurants Forum, here is the current bottled beer list at the L & N Wine Bar and Bistro:
Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold
La Fin du Monde
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
Rogue American Amber
Theakston’s Old Peculiar
Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
Ommegang Three Philosophers
Miller High Life
Erdinger Wheat NA
There's lots of ground covered for such a deceptively small list. All the major brewing traditions, good mix of light and dark – strong ones, mild ones, sweet and hoppy ones. If it were me, I'd add an Imperial Stout (Old Rasputin?) and perhaps Schneider Weisse (very versatile with food).
Of course, L & N is the place to go for wine by the glass, with a Cruvinet dispensing system that provides approximately 100 different wines by the glass. You can design your own wine flights, or better yet, have the server do it for you (my busman's holiday).
Given that wine's their thing, L & N's beer list shows evidence of thoughtful design -- and a hearty "bravo!" for that.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
It’s Tuesday, January 16.
Some of you will recall this announcement, which appeared on December 11:
Here are the contest rules for (Your name here)Fest in May, 2007.
The essay submission deadline was yesterday. I’ve received five uniformly excellent entries, and once the swimsuit portion of the competition has concluded (not really), the panel will begin deliberations to pick a winner.
It isn’t going to be easy. In fact, it's going to be very difficult.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
(Updated Wednesday, February 14)
March: It’s not just for basketball anymore.
GRAVITY HEAD 2007: “GRAVITY MADNESS.”
Much to my delight, with each passing year it becomes simultaneously easier and far more difficult to describe the phenomenon of Gravity Head. It exists on real and symbolic levels, and has taken on a life of its own that sometimes seems to exist quite outside my control.
But I continue to try to control it. It's now crunch time, and I'm redoubling efforts to ensure that we have more gravity beers on hand than any sane person would ever attempt to corral. As of today, the order list is up to 40 (In 2006, 54 beers were listed). Of these, I'm guessing about 30-35 to be sure things. The three from Hoppin'Frog and Ringneck Ohio are provisional at present. You'll notice some glaring absences (Three Floyds, Dogfish, et al), but don't worry yet. Feelers are out, and foraging is being conducted.
Tip off is 11:00 a.m. on March 9th. Start arranging those designated drivers now ...
* never before on draft at the Public House and Pizzeria
# already in stock
Microbrewed Gravity (36)
- #Avery Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale 9.9% abv
- #Avery "The Beast" (Vintage 2006) 14.9% abv
- *#Avery Thirteen (Weizen Doppelbock) 9.3% abv
- *BarrelHouse Belgian Style Winter Ale 8.25% abv
- #BBC Beer Company (Main & Clay) Bearded Pat's Barley Wine circa 10% abv
- *BBC Beer Company (Main & Clay) Dank IPA (cask-conditioned, hand-pulled) 7+% abv
- *Bluegrass Brewing Co. (St. Matthews) Leah's Etrange 9.2% abv
- #Bell's Expedition Stout (keg and firkin) 11.5% abv
- #Bell's Hopslam Double IPA 9.5% abv
- #Bell’s Sparkling Ale 8.9% abv
- #Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale 10.2% abv
- Clipper City Below Decks Barleywine 11% abv
- *Clipper City Holy Sheet 9% abv
- *Clipper City Peg Leg Imperial Stout 8% abv
- *Flying Dog Double Dog 10.5% abv
- #Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA (2006) 13% abv
- Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout 9.5% abv
- Great Divide Old Ruffian Barley Wine 10.2% abv
- *Hoppin’ Frog Boris the Crusher (Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout) 9.4% abv
- Left Hand Imperial Stout 10.4% abv
- *Left Hand Snow Bound Winter Ale 7.6% abv
- *Mojo Risin' Double IPA (Boulder Beer) 10% abv
- #NABC Thunderfoot Imperial Stout (Vintage 2006) 11% abv
- New Holland Pilgrim's Dole 10% abv
- *Ringneck Brewing Im-perle-ial Porter 7.7% abv
- *#Rogue Frosty Frog (John’s Locker Stock #12; Rogue Issaquah Brewhouse) 9.5% abv
- #Rogue XS Old Crustacean Barley Wine (Vintage circa 2002) 11.3% abv
- *Rogue Ten Thousand Brew Ale, 10% abv
- *#Schlafly Reserve Oak-Aged Barley Wine 10.6% abv
- Shmaltz Bittersweet Lenny's RIPA 10% abv
- *#Shmaltz Genesis 10:10 10% abv
- #Stone Double Bastard 10% abv
- #Stone Imperial Russian Stout 10.8% abv
- #Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine (Vintage 2006) 11.2% abv
- #Two Brothers Bare Tree Weiss Wine, 10.2% abv
- *Upland Ard-Ri Imperial Irish-style Red Ale 8.7% abv
Imported Gravity (22)
- #Aventinus Eisbock (Germany) 12.5% abv
- #De Dolle Dulle Teve (Belgium) 10% abv
- #De Dolle Special Extra Export Stout 9% abv
- De Dolle Stille Nacht 12% abv
- Delirium Nocturnum 8.5% abv
- EKU 28 11% abv
- *Ettaler Curator Doppelbock 9% abv
- Gales Prize Old Ale (2005) 9% abv
- Houblon Chouffe 9% abv
- JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale (2006) 11.5% abv
- #JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Scotch barrel aged; 2005; pin) (UK) 11.5% abv
- #Kasteelbier Tripel (Van Honsebrouck) 11% abv
- #Koningshoeven Quadrupel 10% abv
- Kulmbacher Reichelbrau Eisbock 9.2% abv
- *#Les 3 Fourquets Brooklynette (La Gnomette Part II) 9% abv
- Regenboog Guido 8% abv
- #Regenboog t’Smisje BBBourgondier (Belgium) 12% abv
- #Regenboog t’Smisje Dubbel (Belgium) 9% abv
- *Ridgeway Criminally Bad Elf (UK) circa 10.5% abv
- #Samichlaus Bier (2005) (Austria) 14% abv
- Urthel Hop-It Belgian IPA (Belgium) 9.5% abv
- Urthel Samaranth Quadrium (Belgium)12% abv
Scratched as of 15 February 2007
Corrected errant B. United links
Great Divide Oaked Yeti replaced with straight Yeti
De Dolle Boskeun (Belgium) 9% abv
De Dolle Oerbier (Belgium) 7.5% abv
Goliath (Gouyasse) Tripel (Belgium) 9% abv ... unavailable in time
Hoppin’ Frog Gulden Fraug (Belgian Abbey) 10.5% abv ... still possible
Lucifer 8.5% abv ... wholesaler issues
Saturday, January 13, 2007
The date will be Monday, March 5. Stay tuned for more information.
Q: What distinguishes Belgian cooking?
A: Chef Robert Wiedmaier:
"Good question. The big distinction is the Flemish influences. You have a lot of the Flemish aspects of Belgian cooking that really make it different from French cooking. More purees, more rustic. More shellfish. It's more peasantry Flemish cooking. If you take the non-Flemish side of Belgian cooking, it's the same as French. You have carbonade, beef braised in beer. And you can take those and add some finesse and make them interesting. You know, Belgium has some of the best restaurants in the world -- from small cafes to a grand restaurant."
Q. What distinguishes Belgian beer?
A: Michael Jackson (beer writer):
"Belgian beers have become fashionable, yet the pleasures they offer have been truly explored by only a discerning minority of drinkers. The rule, never ask for "a beer" applies especially in Belgium. Such a request will bring forth a perfectly acceptable lager of a type, but one that could just as easily be found in many other countries. The great beers of Belgium are not its lagers. Its native brews are in other styles, and they offer an extraordinary variety, some so different from more conventional brews that at the initial encounter they are scarcely recognisable as beers. Yet they represent some of the oldest traditions of brewing in the Western world."
Last July, there occurred an event unprecedented in the history of metropolitan Louisville.
It was the groundbreaking Bastille Day Bieres de Garde dinner at Bistro New Albany.
This dinner and beer tasting evolved in a very spontaneous fashion, given the desire … 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.
It was so much fun that we vowed to do it again, but for a variety of reasons it wasn’t possible to collaborate again … until now.
With no further fanfare, here’s the idea behind a beer dinner being planned for early March at the Bistro New Albany (exact date to be announced). Chef Dave Clancy will be conjuring a menu of appropriate victuals, and yours truly, the Publican and Curmudgeon, will be matching beers to the food.
Extreme Belgian @ the Bistro New Albany
As the passages above illustrate, epicures and beer aficionados alike already know that tiny Belgium hits well above its geographical weight when it comes to excellence in gastronomy and brewing.
Acknowledging the ever wider range of these culinary and fermentation influences, our notion of an "Extreme Belgian" beer dinner incorporates a gentle twist, because the bill of fare will be influenced by, but not necessarily beholden to, the Belgian classics in both food and drink, allowing for a creative expansion of the possibilities while remaining firmly in the Belgian milieu.
Chef Dave’s multi-course meal might be described as non-traditional, traditional Belgian, drawn from the country’s Flemish and French cultural heritage. The bottled beers I select will be flavorful Belgian styles, though not all from Belgium itself. At this stage, I’m sure of only two:
DeuS Brut des Flandres – Belgian-made sparkling ale matured like champagne with the “methode Champenoise.”
Panil Barrique – Flanders-style sour red/brown ale brewed in Italy (!) and aged in cognac barrels from Bordeaux.
I believe you catch my drift. There are numerous excellent Belgian ales brewed within Belgium, and probably just as many now being brewed elsewhere in the world. I intend to showcase some of the best of these in complementing Chef Dave's expertise in the kitchen.
More information will be coming as planning progresses, particularly the date and time, which I’ll post as soon as possible. Drop me a line and I'll start an e-mail list to keep potential attendees in the loop.
Friday, January 12, 2007
The band is called Ceilí Moss, and it appears to be a folk/rock act from Belgium. Quite by accident, I stumbled across the band's website, and was stunned to see this explanation:
If you're curious where this name comes from: Ceilí (pronounced as Kylie) is a Gaelic word for a party with music, and Moss was the nickname of Alain Mossiat, boss of the pub "L'Eblouissant", where we did our very first gigs.
Moss the Boss!
I don't know where Moss is today. The last any of us heard, circa 1998, he'd retired from pub-keeping in Namur and moved the family to Ireland to work on an organic farm. But when he ran a beer cafe, it was one of the best anywhere.
The following excerpt is from something I wrote back in 1995, and describes a visit to Namur undertaken by myself, David Pierce, Ron Downer and John Dennis. Subsequently, I enjoyed two return trips to L'Eblouissant prior to Moss leaving, and several others, including Ed Parish, also visited. What I remember most vividly is Moss's young son bartending and standing atop a wooden crate in order to pour a pint of Murphy's Stout. Let's hope that Moss, Valerie and all the kids are healthy and prosperous somewhere in the EU - or wherever his muse may have taken them.
In Namur, which is a clean and scenic city with an old citadel on a hill that provides sweeping views of the surrounding countryside, our first move after settling in was to take Tim Webb’s Good Beer Guide to Belgium and Holland and seek out Eblouissant (The Dazzling), a bar featured in the Namur section therein and one highly praised by the author.
Unfortunately, we had an old edition of the book. We found the address, but it was a different establishment. Because the bartender was kind enough to give us directions to the new location (27 Rue Armee Grouchy) of the bar we were seeking, we drank a round anyway before walking across town. Even then, we almost missed it, as there’s really no sign other than an authentic Irish pub front boasting draft Murphy’s Stout.
Inside were two dozen locals who were gathered to celebrate their return from a tour to Sri Lanka. Owner Alain Mossiat welcomed us -- a bit warily at first, then more enthusiastically as we were able to demonstrate our earnest instincts as beer pilgrims. The bar specializes in ales from the Wallonia region, which Alain feels are poorly represented on beer lists elsewhere in the country. After our first selection, we let him choose for us the remainder of the evening. The pinnacle was an aged, homebrewed mead from his personal cellar, which quite simply was the best that I’ve ever had.
It was an eclectic place that set the tone for most of the specialty beer bars we would visit in the following days. We were seated in an interior room that was piled full of junk, bottles and beer advertisements, this being done to get us out of the way of the party. Having embarked upon our sampling and finished eating our spaghetti, a spirited argument ensued as to the true nature of craft-brewed beer in America, with Alain interrupting occasionally to explain the next selection. Expatriates abroad. Drinking, talking. Very cool.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
My third beer column in the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO) appeared this past Wednesday. Here is the archive to date:
Mug Shots: A beer by any other name
Mug Shots: New year, new beer
From Beer to Eternity: Merry Christmas Ale
You'll see that the title changed after the first submission. At 300 words, it's not a lot -- a good topic sentence for me -- but brevity has a charm all its own, and I hope to have fun with the format in the months to come.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Yesterday I was surprised and delighted to receive a telephone call from Charles Porter, who used to brew both at Bloomington (Indiana) Brewing Company and Upland Brewing Company before moving west. Currently he’s part of the team at Full Sail Brewing Company.
In the previously unreleased Gravity Head 1999 photo at right, Charles is laughing at the antics of BBC's David Pierce and then-Bloomington Brewing Co. brewer Joe Brower, Jr.
You may recall Charles graciously sitting in as guest host at the Horse Brass Pub when Graham and I visited Portland last April. Phil “Biscuit” Timperman was unable to keep his date, so Charles joined me at the bar for a lengthy session of quality pints and beer chat.
He phoned yesterday in search of vintage 3 Fonteinen lambic for sampling at an annual “sour beer” fest he hosts at his home. Unfortunately, my stocks of the ’99 Gueuze are depleted, and I couldn’t offer assistance. Speaking personally, Charles’s description of his barrel-aged homebrew batches made me want to fly out for the party.
Charles reports that he continues to devise a business plan for a small scale brewing entity that would specialize in purely hands-on, artisanal renderings such as those inspiring his “sour beer” gathering, perhaps with small batch cheeses and breads, all in a rural farmhouse setting.
Noting the vastly expanded size of Full Sail as compared with its humble beginnings, Charles expressed a desire to create beer at its original, small-scale human level. We agreed that this is difficult to do considering the profit and growth imperative that Americans seemingly are born to possess, but that there’s no reason it couldn’t work, given a good plan, a good product, and a measure of good old fashioned beer-as-craft discipline.
I thought back to my visits to Vapeur, and Jean-Louis’s ale, cheese and bread. Take my word for it: You won’t want to go back home.
Why can’t we do it here, and with beer? Wineries understand the formula. Is it the marketplace, or is it us?
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Readers may or may not find this of interest, but here's the beer order I submitted today to Cavalier Distributing in Indianapolis. The order will be delivered on Wednesday.
Many of the items listed below come from Cavalier's two biggest importers, B. United and Shelton Brothers. Normally I'd be getting more microbrewery beers, i.e., Founders, Boulder, Stone, BBC and others, but what's coming tomorrow is most of what remains from two huge Christmas "special" orders, and ones heavy on the imports.
As you can see, the final wave of Saturnalia second and third kegs is included, as well as a few other goodies that will be put on draft as soon as possible. None of the kegs listed below will be stored for Gravity Head, as is often the case this time of year, but since they all can't be tapped immediately, places to put them will have to be scrounged, seeing as we're chronically short on refrigeration space. Typically, Jared will begin this process in the morning, before I come into work -- usually around noon.
When I arrive, I'll arrange as many kegs as possible to be beneath or near the keg they'll be following, calculate the price, program the cash register, update the dry erase flow chart, and if necessary, craft a tap marker. Then, and only then, will there be time to consider the bottles. Normally, our servers combine their efforts to keep bottles stocked, but when a big order like this arrives, I try to do it during the daytime, simply because it's easier on everyone.
2 Achouffe La Gnomette 20 liter
2 Arrogant Bastard ½ barrel
1 De Dolle Arabier 20 liter
1 De Ranke XX Bitter 30 liter
1 HeBrew Jewbelation 5-gallon
1 Mahr’s Ungespundetes Lager 50 liter
1 Ridgeway Lump of Coal 6 gallon
1 Ridgeway Santa’s Butt 6 gallon
1 Ridgeway Seriously Bad Elf 6 gallon
1 St. Feuillien Cuvee de Noel 20 liter
Bottles (two each)
Bard’s Tale Dragon’s Gold 12 oz
Bottles (one each)
A le Coq Imperial Stout 11.2 oz
Baltika 6 16.9 oz
Baltika 9 16.9 oz
De Dolle Boskeun 11.2 oz
Etienne Dupont Cidre Reserve 2005 matured in Calvados 25.4 oz
Great Divide Hercules Double IPA 22 oz
J W Lees port-aged 9.3 oz
Kulmbacher Monchshof Schwarzbier flip-cap 16.9 oz
La Chouffe 750 ml
McChouffe 750 ml
N’Ice Chouffe 750 ml
New Grist gluten-free 12 oz
Obolon Porter 16.9 oz
Old Speckled Hen 16.9 oz
Reissdorf Kolsch 16.9 oz
Weihenstephaner Hefe (golden) 16.9 oz
Schlenkerla Urbock 16.9 oz
Schneider Wiesen Edel Weisse 16.9 oz
Schneider Weisse 16.9 oz
Stone Smoked Porter 22 oz
There are times when I'm amazed at being able to spend the money I do on top-shelf beer inventory, and to get away with it in a place like New Albany, but the reason is clear. I have quite a few damn fine customers who know their beer. And I appreciate it.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Anheuser-Busch to Import Beer to U.S., by KAREL JANICEK, Associated Press Writer.
PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar NP and U.S. beer giant Anheuser-Busch Cos Inc., who have been fighting a century-long legal battle, said Monday they have "formed a historic alliance" to import Budvar's beer to the United States.
Thanks to Dave for forwarding this link.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Here is the second, and final, installment of the story commenced yesterday: Part One: Once upon a time, the "best beer" in Prague.
Armed only with an inadequate tourist map, Barrie and I crossed the Vltava River on the famed Charles Bridge, ascended Castle Hill, wandered down the other side, crossed the river again at a second bridge, and finally were devoured by the twisting alleyways that we knew eventually led back to Wenceslas Square. At length, having paused briefly two hours before for a sausage dispensed from a tiny streetside window, we glimpsed the familiar green script of Pilsner Urquell adorning the façade of a faded, orange-painted building.
The final steps were the hardest. We passed through the stout wooden doors of U Dvou Kocek, where Pilsner Urquell indeed was the house beer, the daily beer, and in fact the sole beer available. Blissfully unaware of protocol, we slumped heavily into wooden benches in an interior hallway. Unconsciously drooling, our beleaguered sense slowly were revived by the cozy, smoky, conspiratorial warmth of the main room, where clusters of Czech workers, students, soldiers and officials sat conversing.
Huge platters of pork and dumplings sat before many of the customers, but to man, each and every patron cradled an indescribably lovely mug of beer – and make no mistake, they were glass mugs, not the more stylish half-liter glasses that supplanted them not long afterward. It seemed too good to be true … and almost was. Alarmingly, the waiters completely ignored us.
We opted for direct action. I limped to the long, imposing counter where a brawny, mustachioed man stood next to a pair of matching taps, both pouring the exact same nectar, and with a wheeled cart filled with clean mugs. Mustering my courage, I flashed four fingers and muttered, “Pivo, prosim,” having miraculously recalled the proper words without stealing a glance at the guidebook buried somewhere in my day pack.
He looked at me quite seriously, then smiled and complied, relieving me of roughly $2.00 while pushing four half-liter drafts across the slick countertop.
The brilliant golden liquid was cool, not ice-cold; frozen beer only numbs the palate, and though appropriate for Falls City, it certainly isn’t necessary for something as grand as Urquell. The hop aroma was evident and enticing, fighting through the billowing white head to reach my nose even at arm’s length. Everything about the beer itself and the venue in which it was about to be consumed spoke of quality, respect, tradition, and the sheer, unbridled joy that one feels to be an adult and to think, feel and understand what is good about life.
When Barrie saw me approach, he bolted from the wooden bench and fell to his knees in a spontaneous demonstration of faith and appreciation that I’ve seldom witnessed in any church – such was the genuine, heartfelt intensity prefacing his gesture of supplication. Seconds later I spotted his eyes, wet with unrestrained tears, his cheeks flecked with beer foam, all visible through the thick base of an empty upturned mug.
Needless to say, my reaction was comparable. I’ll never forget this moment of triumph and revelation, of this sense of beer ecstasy that will never be understood or truly appreciated by anyone who defines beer by the number of calories it contains or the volume of advertising revenue it commands.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Many times I’ve been asked to name my favorite beer, or to identify the best beer in the world. Just as many times, I’ve responded that these are questions beyond my reach, and are queries that simply cannot be answered.
To take it a step further, such questions make me wary in a philosophical sense. To find the “best” or the “favorite” implies conclusiveness, but certainty in this fashion neither suits the pursuit of the perfect pint nor lends itself to a world in constant flux. The definitions change, and the criteria are altered. It’s why the search continues, and won’t ever yield finality.
Recently, while sorting through file boxes of archives dating back a quarter-century, I’ve had occasion to locate numerous scribblings on beer, travel and other topics. One item unearthed is the essay that follows, with the first part appearing today and the conclusion tomorrow. It was written in the early 1990’s, and in response to the question, “What’s the best beer you ever tasted?”
As the preceding should make clear, I wouldn’t offer the same answer today. At the same time, the story recounts one of my fondest of all travel memories. Next time you’re at the Public House, go to the stand-up bar. On the wall, to the left of the blue toilet seat, there’s a picture showing two very young hooligans in front of a bus. It was snapped just days before the story told below.
With the minimum of editing, here is part one.
Best beer? Favorite beer? It’s impossible to choose. The answers hinge not only on the quality of the beer itself, but on other factors: The time of one’s life, the place, and the people.
But … having noted that, I’ll give it a shot.
To be as precise as possible, the best beer I’ve ever tasted was consumed at two o’clock in the afternoon on Monday, July 13, 1987. The beer was draft Pilsner Urquell, known in its native Czech as Plzensky Prazdroj, and the setting was an old tavern in that great brewing nation’s lovely capital, Prague.
In June, 1987, I joined my good friend and longtime drinking companion Barrie Ottersbach for a group tour of the Soviet Union that began in Moscow, passed through Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Latvia and Lithuania, and ended in Warsaw, Poland. As evening approached on July 12, Barrie and I stood alone in the shadow of the monstrous Stalinist Gothic Palace of Culture in downtown Warsaw, having concluded the tour in appropriate fashion with a session at the hard currency bar of a nearby hotel, and set off by foot for the central train station to hop the overnight non-express to Czechoslovakia.
We were dazed by an afternoon of inexpensive Bulgarian cabernet, amazed at having uncovered a few bottles of Austrian-brewed Kaiser Bier at the Hotel Forum’s foreign currency bar, and largely unfazed at the prospect of the trip ahead.
Our jovial mood didn’t last long. Although our essential documents – passports, train tickets and couchette reservations – were in order, we had neglected to pack food and drink for the journey. It was Sunday. All stores were closed, and mini-marts were in short supply in Communist Poland in 1987; in fact, so short that they had yet to be written into the five-year plan.
Our backpacks bulged with Soviet black market booty, and we strained to lug them along while desperately foraging for victuals in the vicinity of the rail station’s platforms. Even with handfuls of colorful Zloty, there was nothing to purchase except grainy licensed Swiss chocolate and returnable bottles of imitation cola. The final whistle blew. We boarded hungry, and did the best we could to sleep in the stifling summer heat.
Twelve hours later the marathon rail crawl ground to a halt and we stumbled into Prague’s Hlavni nadrazi looking like bedraggled refugees from a war zone. Stomachs audibly growling, poorly rested, filthy and quite thirsty, the sodas having long since been drained, we dragged our belongings to the baggage check and lightened the load.
Departing the station, we were treated to our first glimpses of Prague’s timeless majesty and the city’s then-current reality: Standing in front of the museum at the top of the long, gentle rise of Wenceslas Square, against a backdrop of the old city sparkling in a bright morning sun, a taxi driver sidled over and asked us if we’d like to change money.
Several minutes later, one of the three official room finding agencies placed us for three nights in an athletic club dormitory on the outskirts of the city. It would be several hours before we could check into the room. Starving and parched, we were cast into the mysterious, gorgeous, crumbling city to fend for ourselves.
Exhilaration temporarily overcame fatigue as we ventured into the winding streets, over cobbled roadways and through strange arches. Soon, to our growing excitement, we found that the city boasted more than spires, spies, stucco and scaffolding – beer was all around us, and pubs were in abundance!
After two weeks in the Polish and Soviet lands, where vodka reigned supreme, we finally had landed in Bohemia, the Euphrates of European lager brewing tradition, and the home of the original Pilsner beer. We resolved to walk a bit more before finding a good place to enjoy a draft beer – preferably Pilsner Urquell or Staropramen, or another Prague brand if necessary.
(Part two tomorrow)
Friday, January 05, 2007
Saturnalia MMVI started three weeks ago, and the end is coming into in sight, although many gallons of goodies remain to be sampled.
Here is a snapshot of the remaining selections. This will be the final update here at the PC blog.
Note that the keg of Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout is slated for delivery on Tuesday, January 9, that a keg of Three Floyds Alpha Klaus Xmas Porter awaits the depletion of Stone Double Bastard, and that second kegs of the following will be delivered on January 10th:
Anchor Christmas Ale (“Merry Christmas & Happy New Year”), Ridgeway Lump of Coal, Ridgeway Santa’s Butt, Ridgeway Seriously Bad Elf, St. Feuillien Cuvee de Noel and Shmaltz Monumental Jewbelation 5766 (3rd keg).
**ON TAP NOW: SATURNALIA MMVI**
St. Druon de Sebourg (pinch-hitting for the scratched Jenlain)
Rogue Chocolate Stout (third keg)
Rogue HazelNut Brown Nectar (second keg)
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (fourth keg)
Kiuchi Hitachino Nest Red Rice (will return)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
*Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout (arrives Tuesday, January 9)
Oaken Barrel Epiphany (in transit)
**PROBABLE SCRATCHES, I.E., “NO SHOW”**
*Petrus Winter Ale
*Jenlain Biere de Noel
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser
**SACRIFICED TO THE SOLSTICE**
Anchor Christmas Ale (“Merry Christmas & Happy New Year”) (another keg later)
BBC Hell for Certain
Ridgeway Lump of Coal (another keg later)
Ridgeway Seriously Bad Elf (another keg later)
*Shmaltz Monumental Jewbelation 5766 (one more 1/6 keg in January)
Three Floyds Alpha Klaus Xmas Porter (another keg later)
Thursday, January 04, 2007
This was received via e-mail. I've omitted the detailed equipment log; it's a 15-barrel system. Anyone want to join with me in buying this brewery, moving it to New Albany, and enabling NABC to take over the whole world?
NINE G Brewing Company in South Bend, Indiana is available for immediate sale.
Almost $600,000 has been invested in NINE G Brewing Company. This investment does not include brand development, customer base value or sweat equity. The owners currently owe approximately $345,000.
No reasonable offer will be refused.
Offers will be accepted through the 19th of January, 2007. This does not preclude a contract prior to the 19th.
The purchase of NINE G Brewing Company will include all equipment and leasehold improvements. All 4 brands of NINE G beer, all logos and branding, all sales and promotional materials and all text and graphics will also be included in the sale.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
When last we peeked into the world of Velocity, the Courier-Journal’s weekly ad-driven alternative wannabe corporate paean to cluelessness as a demographic preference – a place where relevance crawls off to die – it really wasn’t pretty.
Dec. 21, 2006: Velocity on beer: It's like Jerry Falwell on morality.
(Wait … “wasn’t pretty,” mumbled the Curmudgeon. Didn’t I just see that phrase somewhere earlier today … it’s Wednesday … ohmigod … )
January 3, 2007: Lighten Up: We went into the light beer fray to bring home the scoop on the best low-calorie options, by Danielle Bermingham.
In the interest of keeping you January resolutionaries on point and in pints, I've adjusted my taste buds to hunt for a light beer with taste. I won't lie to you; it wasn't easy, and it wasn't pretty. It was, however, quite filling, despite claims to the contrary.
Although it’s hard to say it while keeping some semblance of a straight face, the article isn’t as bad as it might lead one to believe given the mixed metaphor of a banner.
Scoop? That’s for ice cream writing, but at least the staffer approaches her chosen task, an utterly thankless one, with requisite disclaimers, and concludes with this:
It's important to remember that light beers are generally only saving you 30-60 calories per beer. Unless you plan to get blotto, maybe a couple of good beers are worth the extra 60 calories. Live a little.
I could have told her, and saved the 1,000-word slog: Lite never makes right.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
When I first saw them through the front window, clambering from an oversized SUV, a red flag was not only raised, it was shaken with the vigor of a high school pompom.
A group composed of two men and a woman, all appearing to be about sixty, looked at the building in puzzlement and began moving slowly toward the unmarked former door that lies between the two that actually are meant to be opened.
I’ll not bore you with an inferior version of Waiter Rant, but to observe body language while watching these three enter the pub was to acknowledge that a challenge was coming, and as opposed to times in the past, I’ve become philosophical when it comes to the tough cases. The dictates of karmic redistribution demand that in such circumstances, one must be even nicer and more helpful even if all the signs are pointing to potential failure, and so in deference to their age and obvious confusion, I smiled as widely as possible.
It didn’t help that before the newcomers took their seats in the Red Room, the taller of the two men was heard to whisper, “they do have Miller Lite, right?” The other man chortled. As I finished pouring Terry’s beer and prepared to come from behind the bar and greet them, I heard this: “That’s Ho Chi Minh up there.”
Fine, except there is no picture of the Vietnamese leader on the Red Room Wall.
The woman mercifully did most of the talking at first, expressing interest in the beers brewed on site, but the men quickly chimed in with their personal concerns.
“You do have Miller Lite, don’t you?”
"The beer’s good and cold, isn’t it?”
“No,” I answered, “we don’t carry that particular brand, and the beer is served at pub temperature, just the way it should be.”
One of them shrugged. "You're the expert," he said -- unconvincingly.
After so many years, questions like these usually have me scanning the room for a hidden camera and imagining that the ghost of Allen Funt is ready to expose my subsequent temper tantrum on the Internet, and so I continued smiling and explaining the available choices, and eventually the woman asked for three half-pints of Community Dark – in keeping with the ironclad requirement voiced by the men that they be given the lightest beer possible, even if it turned out to be dark in color.
Even though I strongly suspected that the effort would be wasted, I brought the round of beers and remarked to them that I’d be back with several 4-oz samples of the other beers they were missing. In the five minutes it took to grab a tray and create an impromptu NABC sampler, the men both drank half their beers and the woman most of hers, and the three were wandering around the room. I overheard someone at the bar say to one of them, “well … okay, but if you don’t like the beer, the food’s good.”
The trio reconvened at the table to greet the sampler, and the woman was nice enough to compliment my scrawled Sharpie descriptions. Back behind the bar, I could hear just about every word as the men laughed, and one said to the other, “that’s those microbrewed beers for you.” It emerged that the whole reason for coming was for one to illustrate to the other -- perhaps in the form of a bet -- just how objectionable microbrews can be.
As the louder of the two shuffled to the bar to pay, still giggling at his cleverness, he remarked that it’s quite hard learning to like new things when you get to be older and set in one's ways. He didn’t reckon on the presence of George, one of our regular afternoon customers (he’s almost 80), who snorted back: “That isn’t true. I’ve been coming here since 1990, and I don’t drink any Budweiser or Miller any more – just good beer.”
The people returned to their SUV.
Did I mention that there was no tip?
And that the lady drank her beer and seemed to like it, even as her two male friends made fun of what they couldn’t understand?
Turning the other cheek? Easier, but still no picnic.
Monday, January 01, 2007
The winning number is 4,390.
Now, this might be the number of kilometers I spent in the bicycle saddle in 2006, or the total beers consumed during the year.
Or, could be both.
Of course, it also could be my caloric intake during that one lengthy session in September in the Czech Republic, as recounted here: She may have forgotten to charge us for one or two. Any time Kevin Richards is part of the beer drinking equation, there's a chance of a quick one mutating into a long, relaxed evening.
Actually, 4,390 is the kilometers, which translates into 2,726 miles, an all-time cycling yearly record tally for me. Obviously, had I not been carrying the 30 pounds lost since the now famous mid-October visit to the general practitioner, those miles would have been easier both on my body and the components that failed owing to the bulk placed atop them.
As it stands, on thing is beyond dispute: I’ve no regrets whatsoever when it comes to the many fine beers enjoyed during 2006. It may have been a record year for beer, too.
An April visit to the home of Rogue, itself the culmination of an epic road trip engineered by the great Graham Phillips (A Passage to Rogue (Part 5): A Visit to the Grail, with Refreshments);
Numerous winning formulas emanating from the labors of Jesse and Jared deep within the NABC garage brewhouse, including Old Lightning Rod (Poor Richard’s Ale), Thunderfoot, Bonfire of the Valkyries , Naughty Claus and Strathpeffer.
Another amazing European journey for our beercycling group, beginning in Bamberg for multiple doses of Schlenkerla Marzen (think: a certain desert island beer), continuing in Prague with a stop in Zatec for a small town hop fest, then biking through the superlative Czech countryside, and finally ending in Vienna with one of the classic pub crawls in recent memory: "Mr. Phillips, I presume?" (Part 2 of 2) and "Mr. Phillips, I presume?" (Part 1 of 2).
The Bastille Day Bieres de Garde Dinner at Bistro New Albany, but much more so than that on event, the Bistro New Albany, period, and the hope that it has engendered for the revival of downtown New Albany.
The local developments are the most gratifying. The Louisville metropolitan area continues to support five breweries, and given the wide beer choices available at these and numerous other establishments, we remain under-rated as a beer destination. Contrast this with the situation a decade ago, and revel in the change.
I’ve said many times in the past that it’s hard to imagine a better business to be in than the craft beer business. In 2006, it got even better for me.