Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Derby City Espresso adds good beer to the caffeinated mix.

Derby City Espresso is burrowed squarely within ground zero of downtown Louisville’s burgeoning Market Street corridor, where the pace of redevelopment has been such that there can’t possibly be a backyard shed or doghouse still standing that hasn’t been converted into one or more condominiums.

By contrast, Matthew’s copper-clad coffee bar is set in the rear of his narrow storefront, opening onto a small and placid outdoor seating area, and reached by traversing two colorful front rooms filled with art. DCE is as much of a coffee aficionado’s hangout as Rich O’s is for beer lovers, but now, as the owner informs us, there’ll be excellent beer to go along with the multitude of coffees and teas. I look forward to it, although there'll have to be a slight change of schedule, given that my previous visits to DCE have come early in the morning

Here’s his report, as copied from the Louisville Restaurants Forum:

Now for the first time you'll be able to have a double shot with a glass of your favorite malted beverage!

We're getting the party started right on Friday night (November 2) for the First Friday Trolley Hop with “Decked Out: The Exhibition,” featuring the art of skateboard decks with 86 artists participating and more than 100 skateboard decks on display. It begins at 6:00 p.m.

The band and former dictator PRESIDENTE will take the stage at 10 p.m.!

We'll have the following beers on hand:

Old Style (cans) $1.5
Pabst Blue Ribbon $2
BBC APA $3
BBC Dark Star Porter $3
Sierra Nevada Pale $3.25
Newcastle Brown $3.25
Guinness Stout $3.25
Franziskaner Hefeweizen $3.5
Rogue Dead Guy $3.5
Stone IPA $3.5
Bell's Two Hearted Ale $3.5
Bell's Oberon $3.5
Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale $4.5
Samuel Smith Winter Welcome $4.5
Unibroue La Fin Du Monde $4.5
BBC Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout $6
Delirium Tremens $6
Delirium Nocturnum $6

Join us for some great coffee and beer and art and music. In the future our beer list will grow and evolve; look for upcoming special events in partnership with the
BBC taproom.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Creative Costume" beer dinner review: Multiple thumbs up.

On Monday night, NABC hosted the Creative Costume of American Artisan Ales, a beer and food pairing conjured by chefs Josh Lehman and Andrew McCabe. It was the first time that a beer dinner of such complexity has been attempted in Prost, our banquet room, and you had to see it to believe it.

A mobile kitchen was parked outside the rear door, and an improvised prepping and serving area appeared between it and the dining room. From the prep area, you could hear the humming of a portable generator, and with uniformed personnel dashing in and out, the scene was somewhat reminiscent of the mess tent on television’s M*A*S*H.

Rest assured that chipped beef and shingles were nowhere in sight.

Both Josh and Andy (Sous Chef and Pastry Chef, respectively) work at Louisville’s Le Relais Restaurant, a bastion of French cuisine that has long been one of the city’s finer tables. I consider Josh and Andy to be among the city’s Young Turks in the culinary sense. They’re trained, ambitious and talented, and not long from now, they’ll no longer be working for others, but rather looking for their own opportunities to shine.

When their solo flights finally come, I hope their kitchens are near my place of residence.

One might be tempted to characterize Monday evening’s smashingly successful meal as akin to the first wobbly steps of a newborn, yet nothing could be further from the truth, because the dinner was exhaustively planned and professionally staged in every sense. Having observed their idea from conception through maturation, I never really doubted that the food, drink and service would be worthy. At the same time, I was interested in seeing how the duo would respond to the logistics of mounting a fine dining experience at a place that isn’t generally confused with those local eateries that boast white table cloths.

Which is to say that Andy and Josh were forced to improvise every step of the way, and with the assistance of NABC’s special event coordinator Reva Hagedorn and a hand-picked team of helpers, not a step was missed. On the night of the dinner, several technical glitches occurred, and these were handily sidestepped. The chefs kept their cool, and it was impressive.

Just as impressive to me were the spot-on beer and food pairings, and I can say without a trace of exaggeration that I’ve seldom, if ever, tasted better. Like I said, they did their homework. Here, again, is Monday’s menu, with a few comments:

Seared Diver Scallops
Orange Ginger Broth
*Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca*

JP's Belgian Wit variation is restrained by the brewery's funky standards. It isn't bad to go easy on the coriander. Only lightly acidic, quenching, and appropriate with the mellow spicing of the broth. Scallops? I can eat them all day long.

Heirloom Pumpkin Soup
Applewood Smoked Bacon & Granny Smith Apple
*Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale*

The key element here is the carmelized essence of brown sugar in DH's ale, and the way is perfectly complements the autumnal combination of pumpkin, bacon and apple.

Muscovy Duck Breast
Carrot Mousse, Caramelized Onion Duck Confit Bread Pudding, Duck Stock Reduction
*NABC Thunderfoot*

With more than six months of cellaring, Thunderfoot's cherry is coming back out. There's a hint of vanilla from the oak chips. This pairing was tenuous, but successful. The beer threatened to overwhelm the tasty duck, falling just shy of that, while still leaving the impression that it was a glass of Port and not beer. I liked it. Some taste buds may have been stunned.

Intermezzo
*New Glarus Unplugged Enigma*

Thanks to Brandon, we had a true rarity a as a mid-meal palate cleanser. To the customary glory of New Glarus's cherry beer can be added a hint of Brett and oak. Wonderful.

Local Artisan Cheese
-Capriole Juliana
Porcini Mushroom Honey
*Ommegang Ommegeddon*

-Capriole Mont St. Francis
Rosted Yellow Beet, Red Beet Compote
*NABC Hoptimus*

Have you noticed a propensity for funky yeasts and barrels? Ommegeddon's dry and peppery Saison character was enhanced by a touch of the funk, and the result was a flavorful modification of a nutty and herbal cheese, with the added sweet nip of honey. Delicious. However, the true contest was yet to come: Mighty Hoptimus versus an equally monolithic Mont St. Francis cheese, the former young, assertive and laden with hops, the latter aged, rich, textured and wonderfully stinky. I was reminded of a sumo match fought to a sweaty draw. I can still taste it.

Pear Streusel Cake
Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramel
*Allagash Curieux*

Yet another barrel modified beer, this time a Tripel, not the more often seen stout, and thankfully so; it isn't hard to imagine the fruitiness of the beer with a subtle layer of bourbon smoothness pairing with pear ... and caramel. I had the advantage of tasting it, though.

Parting Glass
Cask conditioned *NABC Malcolm's Old Setters Ale*

Not yet officially released, a hugely malty closer with nary a hop in sight.

Congratulations to Josh and Andy for a job well done. We hope to have them back soon. Verily, it was the finest meal ever served between NABC's walls ... now, what does one do for an encore?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Complete (well, sort of) Saturnalia MMXII draft pre-orders.

No promises ... no guarantees ... but here's the pre-order list for Saturnalia MMXII, which kicks off on Friday, December 7, and will proceed throughout December into January of 2008.

Recall that Saturnalia isn't just about seasonal and themed Christmas beers, but also a chance to indulge in festive concepts ranging from the WinterCoat Vildmose through Clipper City “Heavy Seas” Hang Ten Weizen Doppelbock.

Note also that NABC's own Naughty Claus is scheduled for a return date this year, and since ConeSmoker's currently in the fermenter, either that or a new batch of Bonfire of the Valkyries should be on tap during Saturnalia, too.

Next on the to-do list: Gravity Head 2008, a leap year tenth anniversary event that blasts off on February 29.

BELGIUM
Biere de Miel (Dupont)
De Dolle Stille Nacht
De Glazen Toren Canaster Winter Scotch
De Glazen Toren Cuvee Angelique
De Ranke Pere Noel
Delirium Noel
Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux
Gouden Carolus Noel
Kasteel Rouge
La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux
N’Ice Chouffe
Scaldis Noel
St. Feuillien Cuvee de Noel
Urthel Bock

DENMARK
WinterCoat Yule Ale
WinterCoat Vildmose

ENGLAND
Young's Winter Warmer

GERMANY
Aventinus Weizen Doppelbock
Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen
Uerige Sticke (gravity keg)

JAPAN
Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout
Hitachino Nest XH (aged in Shochu distilled sake casks)

UNITED STATES
Anchor Christmas Ale (“Merry Christmas & Happy New Year”)
Barley Island Bourbon Barrel-Aged Oatmeal Stout
BBC Hell for Certain
Bell’s Java Stout
Bell’s Winter White
Boulder Never Summer Ale
Breckenridge Christmas Ale
Brooklyn Brewery Winter Ale
Clipper City “Heavy Seas” Hang Ten Weizen Doppelbock
Clipper City “Heavy Seas” Winter Storm
Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout
Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser
Great Divide Hibernation Ale
Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout
Harpoon Winter Warmer
NABC Bonfire of the Valkyries
NABC Naughty Claus
New Holland Dragon’s Milk
North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout
Oaken Barrel Epiphany
Pyramid Snow Cap
Rogue Chocolate Stout
Rogue HazelNut Brown Nectar
Rogue JLS Santa’s Private Reserve
Schlafly Christmas Ale
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Three Floyds Alpha Klaus Xmas Porter
Upland Winter Warmer

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Elsa meets Randall for a quickie.

They came together just after lunch on Friday, and by 7:00 p.m., it was over.


Brimming over with Hersbrucker hops, Randall guided Elsa through the labyrinth of the cold plate ... and she was a brand new beer.


There simply wasn't enough of her, but it was beautiful while it lasted.

Note to G: I see what you mean. It really is on the phallic side, isn't it?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A hat trick of Halloween events in and near New Albany.

Am I going to have to leave the country to catch a break in the schedule? Here are three more worthwhile beer events to begin the coming week. What you choose to do for the weekend's up to you.

Monday, October 29
Culinary Costume of American Artisan Ales: A Beer & Food Pairing

Young Turks Joshua Lehman and Andrew McCabe (respectively, Sous Chef and Pastry Chef Louisville's Le Relais Restaurant) will be catering an innovative dinner paired with artisanal microbrews from NABC and around the country. NABC's Prost is the place, and as of today, tickets are still available (all-includive; $70 per person). Follow the link above for details.

Tuesday, October 30
Halloween Beer Tasting at Keg Liquors in Clarksville

From 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. It's the Keg’s second annual Halloween themed tasting, offering a list of beers with either spooky names, or scary labels, but all remain great beers. Here is the lineup assembled by owner Todd Antz:

Belhaven Wee Heavy
Wychwood Hobgoblin
Hobgoblin
North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
Young's Old Nick English Barleywine
New Holland Dragon's Milk
Avery Samaels
BBC Hell for Certain (if available)

All beers in the tasting will be $1 off the day of the tasting, and the event is open to the public provided the public is 21 years of age.

Wednesday, October 31
Halloween bash at Connor’s Place

NABC beers are on tap, bar owner Dave Himmel is encouraging costumes, and NABC's own Jared Williamson and his longtime collaborator Tommy Potts will be performing. It's all taking place downtown at 207 East Main. Wear a Groucho mask and a Hawaiian shirt, and come as "Dave Himmel."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Don't forget the Culinary Costume beer dinner this Monday.

FINAL NOTICE ... the show is coming this Monday, October 29.

As a precursor to what follows, make no mistake that Andy and Josh have done virtually all the heavy lifting for this first-ever beer dinner in Prost. This is their baby, and I'm just pleased to be a part of it. Thanks also to Reva and her helpers.

---

Culinary Costume of American Artisan Ales: A Beer & Food Pairing

Rich O’s Public House (New Albany, Indiana) ... to be held in Prost, the banquet and special events area at Rich O’s, with beer commentary by Roger A. Baylor.

Monday, October 29th ~ 6:45 p.m.

$70 per person ~ all service and taxes inclusive

Tickets are being sold in advance at Rich O’s Public House; call (812) 949-2804 and ask for Reva Hagedorn, NABC’s special event coordinator

Chef: Joshua Lehman ... Sous Chef at Le Relais Restaurant

Chef: Andrew McCabe ... Pastry Chef at Le Relais Restaurant

MENU

Seared Diver Scallops
Orange Ginger Broth
*Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca*

Heirloom Pumpkin Soup
Applewood Smoked Bacon & Granny Smith Apple
*Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale*

Muscovy Duck Breast
Carrot Mousse, Caramelized Onion Duck Confit Bread Pudding, Duck Stock Reduction
*NABC Thunderfoot*

Intermezzo
*New Glarus Unplugged Enigma*

Local Artisan Cheese
-Capriole Juliana
Porcini Mushroom Honey
*Ommegang Ommegeddon*

-Capriole Mont St. Francis
Rosted Yellow Beet, Red Beet Compote
*NABC Hoptimus*

Pear Streusel Cake
Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramel
*Allagash Curieux*

Parting Glass
Cask conditioned *NABC Malcolm's Old Setters Ale*

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Schlafly's APA on the hand pump tonight at the Public House.

Tonight at the Public House, the Lupulin Land 2007 Harvest Hopcoming spotlight falls on a firkin of Schlafly American Pale Ale as we man the hand pump in the presence of Scott Shreffler, the brewery’s area representative. Scott has hinted that he’ll be bringing some bottled Schlafly beers for sampling, so if you’re coming over tonight, step rearward to the bar area for a look at what sort of tasting we’ve concocted.

Here are the specs for the firkin of APA:

American barley … 5.9% abv

Bittering hops: Marynka
Flavor hops: Centennial
Aroma hops: Cascade

Dry-hopped it with Centennial … 50 IBUs

See you tonight.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

One afternoon with the Wort Hogs.

There was a Wort Hog Club tasting at BBC (Shelbyville Road) on Sunday afternoon, and for the first time in years, I was able to attend. It was a gorgeous autumn afternoon, and I perched on a stool at my old favorite corner by the door to the patio and felt the fresh breeze.

Professor Gesser suggested brewmaster Jerry Gnagy's Anvil Steam for my first beer of the session, and it remains perhaps my favorite rotating selection of Jerry's. A plate of chicken wings soon arrived, and devoured them while chatting with Sam, who recently began a part-time tour in the brewhouse assisting Jerry and Cameron, and who hopes someday to brew commercially on his own.

Soon it was time for samples of four bottled Weyerbacher beers and four Victory Brewing Company beers, both brewed in Pennsylvania and brought to the tasting by a diligent Wort Hog.

Victory's Prima Pils whetted my appetite for Jerry's house Pilsner, and it was marvelous. Note that his blog is immensely entertaining: (Never Trust) The Sober Brewer.

All in all, it was a beautiful afternoon in St. Matthews, and one that reminded me of old times.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Saturnalia MMVII pre-orders: Belgians.

NABC's annual Saturnalia draft festival, which kicks off this year on Friday, December 7, is a winter solstice celebration designed to run most of December and into February. In the fashion of our other draft fests, I seek to acquire numerous kegs which are tapped, drained and replaced roughly 15 at a time until all are depleted.

For me, Saturnalia is the most fun of all, and not just because I get to publicly espouse paganism during Christmas.

During Saturnalia, I look for as many holiday-themed and winter seasonal beers as possible, but there's also room for fun things that don't always fit at other times. Spiced and fruit-flavored beers are not resisted as they would be at other times of the year. Hoppy beers are recognized in October (Lupulin Land; ongoing), and big beers in late winter/early spring (Gravity Head; February 29), but at Saturnalia, "festive" beers of all stripes have a place.

I'm particularly fond of Belgian holiday ales, and so far, shopping for these has gone exceedingly well. A record list is shaping up, and here are the pre-orders; no guarantees of success in procurement, but fingers crossed. In the coming days, I'll publish the pre-orders for other imports and American microbrews, the latter just now falling into place.

Biere de Miel (Dupont)
De Dolle Stille Nacht
De Glazen Toren Canaster Winter Scotch
De Glazen Toren Cuvee Angelique
De Ranke Pere Noel
Delirium Noel
Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux
Gouden Carolus Noel
Kasteel Rouge
La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux
N’Ice Chouffe
Scaldis Noel
St. Feuillien Cuvee de Noel
Urthel Bock

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New Albanian Art Show: "The Coolest Event in all of Louisville is in New Albany."

I hope that Kat doesn't mind my borrowing her words as an enticement for readers to come out and experience the New Albanian Art Show currently under way in Prost. Tonight's the final night, people.

The Coolest Event in all of Louisville is in New Albany

I am IMPRESSED. Opening night of the art show, being a Thursday, was not something I expected much of. Honestly, I enjoy the Thursdays a lot, though, because it seems to be mostly the artists there. The viewers/buyers will likely turn out more on Friday and Saturday

As for the art... so eclectic. So many styles, so much variety... so much talent. Joshua Gilley always does stuff that makes me want to be a buyer, not a seller (but I'm too broke for all that). Tony just f'n ROCKS (and I LOVE the beer labels he does for the NABC). Misty only put two pieces in, and you have to look for them because they are small and in black and white, but if you find them and absorb the energy of the strokes and the purity of what she does, you'll love her instantly. Then talk to her, and you'll see why everything she does just naturally comes out art, because she is a true work of art herself.

What really astounded me, this time around, however was the live shows. I expect some talented local songwriters and stuff, singing and strumming in the background. But I was blown away by the two who did yoga to music... right there amongst the art, these two people making a dozen works of art per minute with their bodies... it was beautiful.

And, the NABC being the accidental melting pot of talent and creativity, I come to find out one of those two performers had been a diswasher there. No surprise. That place just attracts, exhales, and breeds mental magic. From the professors that chat there, to the musicians and artists... the kitchen of that place holds more talent that all of my favorite Louisville art galleries put together.

Then Peter performed.... I will lay awake stumped over that for days. The intensity of his performance, the power, genius, and abrupt elloquence of his words, and the fun of the music just came together into something so enjoyable I had to walk away every now and then to let my brain settle down because I was too overjoyed with the experience of it to process it all. And, of course, Stephen Powell played. (see powellproject.com). I would be a HUGE fan of his remarkable talent even if I didn't adore him as a friend. His music is unforgettable

If you want some free wine and some ok art just to say you buy local art, go on a gallery hop. If you want an unparalleled experience in the real thing, you should have been at NABC tonight. I mean no disrespect towards the local Louisville artists. I love the galleries downtown and revel in every opportunity to experience the work down there. I've seen some WONDERFUL work down there. But to see what talent was hidden in New Albany really moved me, tonight. I was proud to be a part of it

Kudos to Kevin for the organizing. I hope he didn't use up all the best performances tonight, because I don't see how the next two nights could follow it, but I have faith in New Albanian Art. It will be great, I'm sure.


----

Photo credit: The Curmudgeon. NABC's Tony Beard is shown next to the label art for our forthcoming V (5th Anniversary ale).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

R.I.P.: Bistro New Albany.

The following is a composite of postings at NA Confidential and a bit of new material. I’ve had merrier times at funerals than Wednesday morning, when I dropped in on Dave Clancy at the now defunct Bistro New Albany for a chat about his life and times. Here's the story.

---

Dave Clancy posted the news himself on the Louisville Hot Bytes restaurant forum:

It is with a heavy heart that I have chosen to shut the doors of my labor of love. Due to circumstances beyond my control (mostly financial), my restaurant is closed as of 10/16/07. This was not an easy choice for me as I was so close to success that it is going to break my heart to see it end like this. I have run this place alone for well over a year and it has truly ruined me in every sense and, given the choice, I would do it all over again (only next time, I'll have a little more cash!). Thank you all for your support over the course of the last few years and wish me luck as I try to sort out a dead business and find some new direction to travel. If anyone is looking for an old washed up Chef, let me know!

It's remarkably difficult for a genuine paradigm shift to occur. All of downtown New Albany currently is engaged in just such an effort, and it's a work in progress that unfortunately will have its ups and downs. Bistro New Albany's demise is a downer, but within it are seeds of positive developments.

What I know is this: Dave Clancy chose to stick it out as a pioneer in a place where the naysayers said it couldn't be done; what's more, he chose to stick it out when he wasn't ever supposed to be the sole owner of the business (recall that the original investor dropped out, and that former partner Dave Himmel moved on to his own business), and not once did he curse his bad fortune. Rather, he saw the potential and put his scant resources on the table.

He lost the bet. Dave might not be the best poker player, but he has considerable balls, and he'll always be a hero to me.

Meanwhile, don't expect the BNA space to be empty for long. Building owner John Dowell's name is on the three-way permit, and most of the physical assets of the restaurant remain untouched even though some are in need of modification; think "new carpet." Sources indicate that wheels are spinning as we mourn, one locally based, and another from Louisville. While a replacement for the undercapitalized Bistro New Albany probably won't be of exactly the same genre, ground indeed was broken, and there are too many good things about the BNA experience for savvy operators to ignore. Here's Dave again, from a later forum posting:

Rest assured that this space will not remain vacant and it is a golden opportunity for any saavy restaurateur. I STRONGLY suggest that anyone interested in this property contact Mike Kopp at Lopp real estate, and anyone who is interested is welcome to see my P/L for the last year and a half. The difference between making this place succeed or fail was the lack of a FOH manager or partner combined with my own lack of capital. New Albany is a great city with so much potential and I know that it will continue to grow and prosper in spite of my loss.

Perhaps another downtown eatery in need of a boost might be in need of a chef, and in today's Tribune article, Speakeasy owner Brad Tharp openly discusses the possibility of welcoming Dave into the fold. Let's hope Brad includes Dave's staff as part of the deal.

They both very much need it -- as does downtown.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lupulin Land Harvest Hopcoming begins Friday, October 19.


I can tell you this: Finally, it's done. Now I'm working on the starting lineup.

Here's the final list for Lupulin Land Harvest Hopcoming, which begins this Friday (October 19) at Rich O's and Sportstime.

It's also the weekend for the latest incarnation of the New Albanian Art Show, which will be held in the Prost special events wing.

I'm already working on Saturnalia Winter Solstice (December 7), which leaves November as a somewhat calm month between storms. Maybe.

Those marked * are first-time drafts.

Louisville area cask-conditioned ales:
Bluegrass Brewing Company (Main & Clay) IPA
*Bluegrass Brewing Company (St. Matthews) Daisycutter Organic IPA
Browning's Brewery She-Devil India Pale Ale
Cumberland Brews Matt’s Red (opener on Oct. 19)

Imports:
*Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse
Coniston Bluebird Bitter
*Gaspar
*Geants Saison Voisin
Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted
Houblon Chouffe
Poperings Hommel
Urthel Hop-It
*Wintercoat Double Hop

Microbrews
*Boulder Cold Hop
Clipper City Loose Cannon Hop 3
Founders Reds Rye
Founders Centennial IPA
Great Divide Fresh Hop
Great Divide Hercules Double IPA
*Mad Anthony IPA
NABC Elsa von Horizon Imperial Pilsner (poured on Randall)
NABC Oaktimus
Rogue JLS Glen 2007
*Schlafly Dry-Hopped APA (firkin; Oct. 24: Schlafly reps in attendance)
*Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale
Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale (wet hop)
Stone 10th Anniversary Ale
Stone Ruination IPA
Two Brothers Cane & Ebel
Two Brothers Heavy Handed India Pale Ale (wet hop)
Two Brothers Hop Juice (two different batches)
Upland Dragonfly IPA (special dry-hopped version)

Everyday Hop Accents

Alpha King
Arrogant Bastard
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
NABC Hoptimus
Pilsner Urquell
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Previously released text:

For the sixth time, we’ll be exceeding OSHA’s legal mandated limits on permissible IBU’s per square foot of floor space when Lupulin Land Harvest Hopcoming 2007 begins on Friday, October 19.

As during previous celebrations of the “magic cone,” Lupulin Land 2007 will offer a fine opportunity for Kentuckiana’s hopheads to unite over a pint or two of America’s hoppiest beer.

As an added attraction, this year the latest incarnation of the New Albanian Art Show will be taking place in Prost at the same time as Lupulin Land (Oct. 18, 19 & 20). Pop Art, anyone?

By popular demand, Randall the Enamel Animal, the continuous dry-hopping machine invented by those twisted people at Dogfish Head, will be brought back for a third appearance at Lupulin Land.

Roughly 14-16 of the preceding following will be on tap when the fest opens, in addition to the everyday beers. Louisville area breweries will be represented by cask-conditioned ales on our hand pump, which will run continuously until depleted. Look for more information on these firkins as we get closer to the starting date.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Maybe Miller could post yellow stars on the door so that they could tell the difference.

I’m so old that I can remember a time when Pabst Blue Ribbon genuinely was a workingman’s beer, while at the same time, Miller “Champagne of Beer” High Life sought to convey a more upscale image, albeit at a price point only pennies higher than PBR.

Having long ago cannibalized High Life in order to seize the MGD demographic, the spin doctors tending to the shareholders atop the SABMiller multi-national penthouse have since busied themselves repositioning Miller High Life as an icon of numbed-down populism, and that’s ironic, since Pabst has become the hands-down favorite beer of people with money who should know better but choose today’s emasculated PBR for the very same reason that Che Guevara’s bearded visage stares out from their wristwatches.

If Miller’s latest television protagonist weren’t African-American, he might serve as body double for Ed Anger of the late and lamented Weekly World News, one eyebrow jauntily cocked as he rages at the villainy of snooty bistros and the corporate poseurs at Whole Foods, both of which are guilty of daring to vend the common man’s High Life alongside overpriced burgers, watermelon martinis and imitation tofu milkshakes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s heartening in a way vaguely reminiscent of Erin Brockovich that humble beer truck drivers are trained by SABMiller to enforce an ideological purge of uppity establishments, but what baffles me is how the captive bottles of Miller High Life ever came to be languishing in such trendy, upscale wastelands in the first place.

Isn’t it true that the very same wholesalers now dispatching these blue-collar superheroes to rectify crucial stocking issues previously sent salespersons to the very same establishments to collect orders for the very same cases of beer?

If not, then how did these places procure their stocks? The black market?

When the truck driver reclaims the wayward cases of High Life, are refunds being issued? Isn’t he actually undoing the handiwork of a yet another poor schmuck who accepted the initial order? What of the commission, or in this case, the ransom? Couldn't the salesperson be issued with a list of characteristics to help judge the customer so as to ensure that Miller High Life reaches the proper segment of the marketplace?

Oops, ‘scuse me. I forgot that drinking, not thinking, is the final goal here.

Today’s discussion questions:

Why do mass-market breweries express open contempt for their target constituencies?

Worse yet, why do the target constituencies forever acquiesce in being insulted?

Monday, October 15, 2007

FOSSILS club update: The "Femur of Power" has been passed.

From Beth Howard, proud owner of the "Past President" pin.

Congratulations to winners of the 2007 FOSSILS officer elections, held by ballot on Saturday, October 13. Each race was very tight and required the expertise of the accounting firm of Frazier & Frazier to verify tabulations. No hanging chads reported.

President - Bob Capshew
Vice-President - Caleb Sunderman
Secretary - Ed Needham
Treasurer - Denny Stapp

Details regarding date and time of President Capshew's first Executive/Planning Meeting forthcoming.

Thanks to all candidates for your willingness to assume a leadership role --- I'm sure Bob and his team will be calling upon your energy and ideas.

Also --- a personal note of thanks to everyone contributing to the success and growth of FOSSILS this past year during my presidency. I especially appreciate your support as we navigated stormy waters and your patience as we adopted a new meeting schedule in 2007. A specific thanks to Tom, Melissa and Denny as my team of officers.

I also raise a pint to FOSSILS members for our club's commitment to sustaining and enhancing the homebrewing and beer appreciation culture in our community. That momentum is apparent through relationships being nurtured with our homebrewing comrades in clubs from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee and beyond; through robust participation in more homebrew competitions than ever before; and the outstanding number of awards club members are receiving in brewing competitions.

Not to mention our bar tab after club meetings!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Harvest Homecoming's "swill walk" an emblem of clashing demographics.

I'll be cross-posting this essay later in the week at NA Confidential.

New Albany’s annual Harvest Homecoming festival started life quite small and inconspicuously four decades ago, and it has since grown into what its organizers claim is the second largest gathering of its type in the state of Indiana, trailing only the Indianapolis 500 celebration.

There are numerous themed events for two weeks preceding the yearly parade, then four “booth days” during which streets in the heart of New Albany’s historic business district are closed, yielding to want amounts to an enormous food court with games, information and music thrown in for good measure. At its best, the ideal of Harvest Homecoming is civic-minded and predominantly local in nature, with generations frequenting the same rolled oyster booth or chicken dinner emporium run by the same church or charity.

When Harvest Homecoming took its embryonic shape in the late 1960’s, and unbeknownst to most people living at the time, New Albany’s downtown was about to commence a long, painful and degrading descent into dormancy. As my ruminations today are not intended to constitute an essay about the familiar phenomenon of inner-city urban decay, I’ll leave it at that, and observe that Harvest Homecoming’s governing committee might plausibly say that for a long period of time, certainly by the 1990’s, the festival’s four-day, early October run was about the only game going downtown.

Consequently, Harvest Homecoming has been planned accordingly. Now, with stirrings of downtown revitalization far too strong to be ignored, the plan likely will have to be modified in coming years. Unfortunately, a case can be made that Harvest Homecoming’s demographic and the demographic spearheading downtown revitalization are heading in opposite directions, with potential difficulties that might as well be addressed now rather than later.

For those who have glimpsed a bit of the planet outside New Albany, and who have had the good fortune to be exposed to post-secondary education and its expansion of consciousness, there almost inevitably exists a measure of ambivalence about Harvest Homecoming as the institution has evolved – some would say “devolved – over the years. This ambivalence does not imply rejection of it, but simply a recognition that sometimes the closer one is to something, the harder it is to see how it really looks.

The festival’s stewards are “lifer” volunteers who work hard year-round, and while any fair critique of their performance might point to a deeply ingrained conservatism and a general reluctance to think outside the Bud, their fundamental aim of maintaining a family-oriented annual celebration is admirable.

Admirable, yes, but certainly not easy to ensure, and no single Harvest Homecoming “event” grandly compromises the committee’s goal of a family friendly festival like the Friday afternoon “beer walk,” which might be termed the “swill walk,” and so I think I will.

From the outset, make no mistake: The official Harvest Homecoming committee is no friend of the swill walk, and bristles when people contact the organizers for information about it. Although in the past, I merely shrugged and considered the committee’s attitude toward the swill walk to be an extension of its customary stodginess on other matters, this year I made it a point to observe the swill walk in progress.

The committee is right on target. It isn’t a pretty picture. In fact, the swill walk is a civic embarrassment, and as part and parcel of a litigious society, it’s probably only a matter of time before something ugly occurs and the torts begin flying. Speaking personally, at a time when many in my sector of the beer business are trying to raise the bar when it comes to responsible beer consumption, the swill walk sadly reminds us that neo-Prohibitionists occasionally have something approximating a valid point, and that the activities of the nation’s mass-market swill merchants are as much of a daily threat to our ability to offer the populace a changed paradigm as those who would eliminate alcohol entirely on grounds of its intrinsic “evil.”

Like many other aspects of life, there surely are evils intrinsic to the consumption of beer. Most of us are devoted to the ideal of lessening these, so why encourage their exaltation?

The way it works is this. Every year on the Friday afternoon of Harvest Homecoming, a style show is held at the riverfront “beer tent” (“swill tent” is more like it) during lunchtime, and the show’s conclusion is the unofficial signal for hundreds of people to begin, or in many cases to continue, drinking while traversing a jagged route through the blocked-off and humanity-packed downtown streets where food and activity booths hold sway.

The ubiquity of gratis Anheuser-Busch advertising paraphernalia, which is generated in-house at the local wholesaler at a scale that would humble the propagandistic Communist and Fascist regimes of old, provides ample evidence as to the underlying grease that lubricates the phenomenon of the swill walk, namely, that the local A-B wholesaler has agreed not to cash the checks written to pay for two-story stacks of Bud Light until the week following the festival’s conclusion, something that is of borderline legality in the state of Indiana.

Meanwhile, duly oiled, the denizens of the swill walk surge through the most congested harvest Homecoming area, participants stumbling from one bar to the next, slamming liquor shots and chugging beer from cans that are seldom recycled while screaming obscenities in proximity to children, then urinating in places that even someone like me – a veteran of Oktoberfest in Munich and Pamplona’s festival of San Fermin – is hard pressed to imagine.

Once I saw a port-a-can being nearly toppled by drunks. Around the corner, bikers clad in ominous black costumes queued a short block away from where this year’s “teen scene” stage was erected. How Pamplona manages to achieve a balance between its children and an invading wave of Euro trash is beyond me; perhaps we might ask, because the New Albany way doesn’t seem to be working.

The family-unfriendly effect of all this is hard to exaggerate in print, and when taken in the context of an overall festival that sadly has devolved over the decades into low, lower and lowest common denominators – a metaphor applicable to the city as a whole – it’s frustrating, indeed, to witness the chaos and know that I’m in the same business.

I’m neither na├»ve, nor out to bring the furies crashing down on the urine-stained drunks gracefully bellowing at each other during the swill walk. It is not my intention to frown on the profit motives of downtown bar owners, who probably reap several weeks of revenue in three days during Harvest Homecoming, and who are happy to accept largesse as offered by wholesalers eager to see the cash registers hum.

Of course, I well understand that my “good beer” segment of the marketplace is small, but I also maintain that this niche is upwardly mobile and in keeping with humanity’s constructive (as opposed to anarchic) instincts, and furthermore, that it is capable of sense and sensibility in addition to windfall weekend profits.

If NABC’s projected downtown brewing project comes to fruition, I hope to be able to illustrate that beer quality can be good, not bland, and that better beer can be consumed responsibly in a wholesome, entertaining and better atmosphere – which, after all, is the lesson any thinking human being takes away after sitting for a couple of hours drinking beer in a Bavarian beer garden, with playground equipment and young children generally in close proximity. Our future beer sales during Harvest Homecoming will be contained and controlled as far as humanly possible, and we’ll try to offer a higher common denominator. We may fail, but we’ll try.

Disclaimers aside, and in spite of my reluctance to tempt unfavorable karma by saying it aloud, the swill walk that takes place during Harvest Homecoming is aided and abetted by a blind eye to illegality, and while I can understand this coming from the local gendarmes, I find it curious that the state tolerates it.

You’re free to disagree.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Random beer-related Harvest Homecoming views.

The first three photos were taken at Connor's Place.





Congressman Baron Hill visited the Bistro New Albany patio Friday and was greeted by his fan club.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Charlestown Pizza Company in LEO.

There's good press for the Charlestown Pizza Company in this week's Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO). The last third of Robin Garr's piece pertains to CPC.

Eat 'n' Blog: Launch your gondola in a river of red

Indeed, these folks are very serious about their beer, and the selection is exceptional, featuring about 18 bottled beers, all extremely interesting artisan brews with a strong focus on Southern Indiana and the Louisville area.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where to find good beer during Harvest Homecoming.

Speaking personally, it has been a cherished goal to live long enough that I might be able to enjoy a craft beer downtown during New Albany’s annual Harvest Homecoming celebration, and by doing so, to strike a small blow against the hegemony of the swill merchants.


In 2005, the old House of Bread put two kegs of NABC beer on tap during Harvest Homecoming, and last year, its successor, Bistro New Albany expanded the NABC selection while adding craft beers from Upland (a Bloomington, Indiana microbrewery) and others from America and around the world.


BNA will do it again this year, and there’ll be NABC and Upland beers on tap once again. Unlike last year, BNA will conduct food and drink business during booth days both outside on the patio and inside in the dining room, which means that one need not be restricted to elephant ears and rolled oysters (the latter remaining a favorite of mine) from the street side vendors.


Another marvelous option is added for 2007: Connor’s Place, run by former BNA partner Dave Himmel, and located on Main Street adjacent to the Parthenon. CP will feature NABC drafts during Harvest Homecoming: Community Dark, Elector, Flat Tyre, Hoptimus (limited quantities) and Mt. Lee (also limited quantities).

Flat Tyre will be available in cask-conditioned form from the hand pump, which has been borrowed from NABC for the occasion, giving Connor’s the distinction of being the first New Albany establishment during the modern era to offer hand-pumped “real” ale. When the cask version is depleted, there’ll be a regular keg as back-up. Connor’s Place will also have Oktoberfest beers from Upland, Browning’s (Louisville micro) and Spaten (Germany).


I believe that Elector will be on tap at Speakeasy Jazz, NABC’s remaining downtown account.


Yes, swill reigns supreme at Harvest Homecoming, and it probably always will. However, all we ever wanted was a choice. Now more than ever, we have it. If you like good beer and you’re downtown the next three days, visit one of these fine establishments and buy one. In NABC isn’t your taste, my feelings aren’t hurt; have another microbrew or an import instead, and let them know that you appreciate having options. Rest assured that if it were up to Anheuser-Busch, you wouldn’t have any.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Culinary Costume of American Artisan Ales: A Beer & Food Pairing.

As a precursor to what follows, make no mistake that Andy and Josh have done virtually all the heavy lifting for this first-ever beer dinner in Prost. This is their baby, and I'm just pleased to be a part of it. Thanks also to Reva and her helpers.

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Culinary Costume of American Artisan Ales: A Beer & Food Pairing

Rich O’s Public House (New Albany, Indiana) ... to be held in Prost, the banquet and special events area at Rich O’s, with beer commentary by Roger A. Baylor.

Monday, October 29th ~ 6:45 p.m.

$70 per person ~ all service and taxes inclusive

Tickets are being sold in advance at Rich O’s Public House; call (812) 949-2804 and ask for Reva Hagedorn, NABC’s special event coordinator

Chef: Joshua Lehman ... Sous Chef at Le Relais Restaurant

Chef: Andrew McCabe ... Pastry Chef at Le Relais Restaurant

MENU

Seared Diver Scallops
Orange Ginger Broth
*Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca*

Heirloom Pumpkin Soup
Applewood Smoked Bacon & Granny Smith Apple
*Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale*

Muscovy Duck Breast
Carrot Mousse, Caramelized Onion Duck Confit Bread Pudding, Duck Stock Reduction
*NABC Thunderfoot*

Intermezzo
*New Glarus Unplugged Enigma*

Local Artisan Cheese
-Capriole Juliana
Porcini Mushroom Honey
*Ommegang Ommegeddon*

-Capriole Mont St. Francis
Rosted Yellow Beet, Red Beet Compote
*NABC Hoptimus*

Pear Streusel Cake
Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramel
*Allagash Curieux*

Parting Glass
Cask conditioned *NABC Malcolm's Old Setters Ale*

There's an explanation for that ...

A reader asks:

"What happened to your NABC beers on tap at the Speakeasy in New Albany?"

It would appear that the Speakeasy's front keg box, in which they'd placed three NABC 1/6 (5-gallon) kegs, died roughly six weeks ago and has yet to be repaired or replaced. In the interest of patience and diplomacy, neither of which have been personal hallmarks previously, I'll say only that you're free to draw your own conclusions from the long absence of keg dispensing space at the establishment.

On the other hand, I've not been by to check since last week, and I'll try to do so today. With Harvest Homecoming prime time coming, it is reported that Speakeasy is stockpiling huge quantities of Anheuser-Busch products, and the less I say about that, the better. Let's merely suggest that not all wholesalers in the state of Indiana observe the rules with respect to extending credit to accounts.

I really enjoy helping people, but as you grow older, sometimes it occurs to you that people must want to be helped.

Does that answer your question?

Can you hear the grinding of my teeth?

Monday, October 08, 2007

"If Your Mother Says She Loves You, Check It Out."

Last Friday afternoon, as I labored outside in the infuriating, unseasonable heat and humidity (90+ degrees F. in October) to prepare our house for the annual harvest Homecoming parade party on Saturday, my cell phone rang.

It was the friendly newspaper reporter for the New Albany Tribune, and seeing as he was providing the opportunity to take a break … could I tell him a bit about NABC’s proposed brewery expansion?

Well, honestly, the idea was just coming to the stage of transferring thoughts from pencil and scraps of paper to word processor, but if he wouldn’t mind it being exceedingly vague, I’d be happy to oblige.

Fine, he said; after all, it’s just for the paper’s “business wrap,” which usually takes up two paragraphs at the most, and on page three by the lingerie ads.

I told him what could be revealed at this very early stage of the game, cautioning that the whole thing was as prematurely nebulous as could be imagined, and then I went off to scrub toilets and forgot all about it.

That is, until Saturday morning, when the following appeared on page one:

Baylor planning brewery for downtown New Albany

New Albanian Brewing Co. proprietor Roger Baylor confirmed Friday he intends to renovate a downtown building with room to triple the brewing capacity of his uptown headquarters.

Geez.

It’s all good, and any publicity is good publicity – heaven knows I milk the system as often as possible – but I really must object to the headline. It’s the New Albanian Brewing Company that (I hope) will be coming to downtown, not just me. For the record, my partners are named Amy Baylor and Kate Lewison; either I give their names to people who don't repeat them, or I'm not asked at all, and it isn't fair.

At any rate, the basic information is there, and if it makes very little sense, that’s because (a) it’s hard to reduce 15 minutes of conversation into a few hundred words, and (b) I we’re at a very early and prematurely nebulous stage of the game.

First, we need to get through the remainder of the year, but yes, an expansion plan is on the drawing board. If you are a banker, please let me know. Otherwise, stay tuned.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A phone call from Biscuit.

I failed to mention that we received a call recently from Phil "Biscuit" Timperman, who has been in Oregon longer than many of us care to remember. I wasn't on duty at the bar when he rang, so here are the basics for those who know him.

The Horse Brass gig ended last December prior to a journey to Europe, and Biscotti's alive, well, and employed now by Rogue Ales in Portland.

I won't make it to Portland this year, but May 2008 draws ever closer. Something tells me we'll see him then.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Jared Williamson to perform Saturday evening, October 6 at Connor's Place.

NABC's hard working associate brewer, Jared Williamson, will be doing a solo gig at Connor's Place tomorrow night (Saturday, October 6; 8:00 p.m.)

His day job is brewing, but he's been playing music for longer than he's been making beer.

Jared's performance will take place in the lovely confines of the pub's outdoor patio. There usually are two NABC beers on tap at Connor's Place, as well as another three import or craft beers.

I'll be at the homestead all day for our annual NA Confidential Harvest Homecoming Parade party, to which readers are invited, stop by for a beer before heading down to Connor's Place to catch Jared's music.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Irish music at the Public House, first Thursday of each month.

The first "Irish jam" was held earlier this evening in the front romm at Rich O's.


These are planned for the first Thursday of each month. The one tonight went quite well, and the acoustic sounds were loud enough to hear and enjoy, but not too loud to make conversation difficult.




Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New Tacos La Rosita open on Grant Line Road near NABC.

I apologize for the scattershot postings and brevity. There has simply been no time this week to write, and I remain unable to re-establish a "compositional" routine in the ongoing absence of my office computer, which is being repaired following a mother board flame-out.

Permit me to pass these good tidings to readers: The much anticipated rebirth of Tacos La Rosita, the taqueria arm of Israel Landin's sit-down Mexican eatery on Market Street in New Albany, has been launched in the new location across Grant Line Road from the New Albanian Brewing Company. It's now adjacent to the liquor store in what we've always called Grant Line Center -- across from the school, and on the same side of the street as K-Mart. We can see the banner from NABC's parking lot.

I haven't been over to check it out, but I'm told that Israel has a beer permit. Hell, we could take a keg over there on a two-wheeler, so it might yet be possible to have Israel's delicious authentic Mexican food with a Progressive Pint of Mt. Lee or Elector.

Cilantro and hops? Who needs Miller Chill?