Saturday, May 31, 2008

Progress for "Operation Progressive Pint."

On Tuesday night (June 3), New Albany's Board of Zoning Appeals will consider NABC's request for a variance at the site of the Bank Street Brewhouse.

On the rear of the building, to the right of the garage door, there's a concrete slab where we hope to build a cinder block grain storage room. Because this will abut the alley, we must be granted a variance. City planners have indicated that this shouldn't be an insurmountable problem.

Inside, the floor drains have been installed, and the plumbing for the restrooms and kitchen is in place.

Indeed, there's only one way to rock.

The timetable remains elusive. The tap room may or may not be open by Harvest Homecoming (second week of October), although we intend to have a beer tent in the parking lot for the festival, come what may. Either way, the brewery probably won't be operational until winter or early spring.

See also: Facade transformation at the future NABC Bank Street Brewhouse.

Friday, May 30, 2008

"The 10 Days of Upland" are going on now.

Our friends at Upland Brewing Company in Bloomington are celebrating their tenth anniversary with special events each day through June 7th.

Go here for a complete list of activities.

To join in the fun, NABC/Rich O's currently has four Upland brews on tap: Maibock, Oktoberfest, Preservation Pilsner and Wheat. The latter is on tap year-round. When one of the first three listed blows, there'll be a keg of Upland's Tenth Anniversary Ale, which is a golden ale ideal for warmer weather.

NABC pours alongside Upland annually at the folk fest in Madison, Indiana, and last week the two breweries dispensed beer at the inaugural Uncorked event in Corydon. Louisville's own Eileen Martin has a found a brewing home in Bloomington, and our ties with the brewery go all the way back to Russ Levitt and Charles Porter. Birthday congratulations to Upland!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hops for Pops fundraiser is June 28 at Hot Shotz in Indy.

Hops for Pops, an Indianapolis charity beer tasting to benefit Dads Inc., has been moved to Saturday, June 28. It will be held at Hot Shotz, which describes itself as a "gastropub" and has a pretty good beer list to boot.

Information can be found at the Hot Shotz website and the Hops for Pops page.

Wondering about the players? Here are a couple of definitions.

Dads Inc.
The mission of Dads Inc. is to provide support and education for fathers in order to develop healthy relationships and involvement in their children's lives.

"British term for a public house ('pub') which specializes in high-quality food a step above the more basic 'pub grub.'

Regrettably, there's no way for NABC to physically attend this event, but we'll be sending a couple of 1/6 barrels and be there in spirit.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Victory six-pack is rendered deeply symbolic.

I emerged from the house this morning to find a six-pack of Victory Hop Devil in a paper sack on the porch. Seeing as the beer is an enduring favorite of mine, the ensuing elation is perfectly understandable. When I opened e-mail moments ago, there was a note from Ted, who lives around the block; seems a friend brought him a case straight from Pennsylvania, and Ted decided I should have a six-pack.

Forgive me for not yet noting that Ted's a wonderful man.

Reading between the lines, you'd be correct in inferring that a sixer of Hop Devil is a big deal because Victory beers are not distributed in the state of Indiana, but this will be changing soon. At the brewery's website, the availability map hasn't yet been altered, but below it the text reads:

World Class Beverages
3737 Waldemere Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46241
(317) 612-3105
Jim Schembre- General Manager

Indeed, my WCB rep recently told me that Victory was on the way to Indiana, and Ted's gift truly is a harbinger of good things to come.


See also: "Mr. Phillips, I presume?" (Part 2 of 2), the story of drinking Hop Devil in Vienna, Austria, in 2006. Yes, really ... sort of.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Phoenix Theatre’s Brew-Ha-Ha coming again on June 21.

Phoenix Theatre’s annual Brew-Ha-Ha festival is fast approaching. This year’s edition will be held in Indianapolis on Saturday, June 21.

I think NABC will be bringing more beer than in 2007, when we ran out in about an hour. Last year’s unexpectedly short event is described in this previous posting: Brew Ha Ha 2007 was unexpectedly short for NABC.

More links:
Brew-Ha-Ha page at My Space
Phoenix Theatre homepage

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Southern Indiana Uncorked was good for NABC, but the C-J sees only wine.

Don’t forget: All of NABC will be closed on Monday, May 26 for Memorial Day.

John Campbell and Tony Beard worked the NABC table at yesterday’s Southern Indiana Uncorked festival in Corydon. The preview appeared here last Friday:

Southern Indiana Uncorked: Beer and wine in Corydon, coming on Saturday, May 24.

John reports much success and a great turn-out. Meanwhile, the Courier-Journal managed to send reporter Harold Adams to Corydon, with his story appearing in today’s Sunday edition:

S. Indiana wine, beer showcased at tasting event.

The Harrison County Fairgrounds flowed with wine and beer and filled with hundreds of beverage enthusiasts yesterday for the inaugural Southern Indiana Uncorked tasting event in Corydon.

The story is accompanied by three photos showing wine being decanted and tasted, and none depicting the local brewery presence. There are one or two scant references to beer, but a broad discussion of local wine and wineries.

Now, perhaps Adams didn’t arrive until the final hour, when (according to John) the breweries had either depleted or chosen to depart. If this is not the case, his article is a disservice to the local breweries, and I’ll be forwarding this posting to him with a request for clarification.

Thanks to John and Tony for holding down the fort.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

St. Bernardus ABT 12 now on tap full-time at the Public House.

Don’t forget: All of NABC will be closed on Monday, May 26 for Memorial Day.

Here’s another update to the ongoing story of our draft upgrade at the Public House. As you may recall, the “everyday” guest imported draft selection is being overhauled by adding a few spouts to the front keg box behind the bar. The changes are being made possible by the recent and welcome trend that has space-saving cylindrical 1/6 barrel kegs with American Sankey fittings coming straight to us from Belgium, enabling more kegs to be stored within the parameters of our keg box.

The much anticipated special Delirium Tremens draft tower is stateside and should reach us in early June. Meanwhile, we’re keeping DT on tap full-time. Last week we added Chimay Tripel and St. Bernardus ABT 12, the latter on draft for the very first time at the Public House. ABT 12 is the secular equivalent of the unobtainable Westvleteren 12 Trappist-brewed ale; for a half-century after World War II, ABT 12 was licensed by the St. Sixtus monastery itself, and is close as you’ll find to the genuine article. It is delicious.

The fourth piece in the puzzle also is flowing: Rotating Monk’s Café Flemish Sour, Rodenbach Classic, and Rodenbach Grand Cru. Because Rodenbach is out of circulation awaiting a projected changeover to new American distribution, the Classic and Grand Cru will only appear once (and only one keg) per month, as close to the beginning of the month as possible. I’ll announce these appearances here so you know.

That’s four out of seven. The other additions will be personal favorites from Belgium and Germany. All are on order, and will be added to the mix whenever they arrive.

Saison Dupont (family; rotation among sister Dupont brands)
Schlenkerla Marzen
Aventinus Weizen Doppelbock

As a reminder: The impetus in all this is two-fold. Our major priority for the foreseeable future is implementing Operation Progressive Pint and creating another (production) brewery and taproom in downtown New Albany. Nothing will change at the current location, but I’d like to see the pub and pizzeria operating at peak efficiency, which to me means further enhancing the guest draft selection, both imported and craft-brewed, and positioning our house-brewed beers to contrast and complement these.

See also: Update: Upgrading the “everyday” guest imported draft selection at the Public House.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Southern Indiana Uncorked: Beer and wine in Corydon, coming on Saturday, May 24.

There's a new local festival debuting on Saturday, May 24: Southern Indiana Uncorked, which will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Harrison County Fairgrounds, located on Old Indiana 135 S. in Corydon.

The festival's participating breweries and wineries are listed below, and the organizers are promising live demonstrations and entertainment. Admission is $10 a person, with proceeds going to the Old Capitol Business Association. Admission includes a souvenir tasting glass and 25 beverage sample tickets, and we're told that you can buy full pours form the vendors (presumably) at market prices. The web site has more:

NABC's John Campbell and Tony Beard will be manning our booth.

Best Vineyards Winery
Bluegrass Brewing Company
Buck Creek Winery
Cumberland Brews
Grape Inspirations
Indian Creek Winery
Indiana Uplands Wine Trail
New Albanian Brewing Company
Turtle Run Winery
Upland Brewing Company
Vinetree Farm Winery
Windy Knoll Winery
Winzerwald Winery

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Recap: NABC & Upland at the Ohio River Valley Folk Festival, 2008.

"I used to think I was an artist. Come to find out I'm a beer salesman."
James McMurtry (shown below with John Campbell)

McMurtry’s inspired set closed the 3rd annual Ohio River Valley Folk Festival on Saturday, May 17, and NABC’s contingent was once again delighted, intoxicated and utterly exhausted to have been a part of the scene. For three years running, we’ve shared the beer concession with Upland Brewing, our friends from Bloomington. In 2006, we sold four kegs on Friday night and most of the day Saturday; in 2008, we fell just shy of eight kegs dispensed, and like the festival itself, such steady growth is reckoned by us to be a very good thing.

To date, what has made the ORVFF so special is the commitment of the organizers to the principle that the conceptual basis of “folk” music – admittedly, an elastic definition encompassing Ireland, Texas and Vevay – is very much localized, and as such, should extend to the whole range of the experience for those in attendance.

In practical terms, this means local vendors and reasonable terms of participatory engagement for them. While there is little doubt that big brewery sponsorship money would grow the folk festival more quickly, and moreover, that there are some in Madison who’d be in favor of this, it’s also a foregone conclusion that the fest’s considerable charms would surely be compromised with too rapid growth and commercialization.

Speaking for all of us, we hope the concept stays consistent with the gist of the music. For NABC at the ORVFF in 2008, Flat Tyre Amber was the biggest seller, followed by 15-B Porter, and with Kaiser 2nd Reising Pilsner in third place. We sold a full keg of our new Saison, and roughly 2/3 of a keg of St. Radegund ESB. Response was overwhelmingly favorable, and it wasn’t until McMurtry’s appearance neared that we began hearing a smattering of requests for mass-market swill. The fact that both NABC and Upland brought pilsners surely helped forestall complaints from the unadventurous, and there were far fewer expressions of disappointment than in 2007.

My knees disagree, but I’m still looking forward to 2009.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The joy of venting, or why civilization is at a standstill.

Perhaps the classic Coors Light television ad of recent years depicts a mumbling husband transfixed by the shiny blue mountains on his revolutionary cold-activated bottle of beer. His wife tries in vain to share the results of her similarly color-coded pregnancy test, no doubt gleaning a fresh perspective on the veracity of her chosen sperm donor. We can only hope that she does the right thing before it’s too late.

In keeping with this winning theme, which epitomizes the strange and ultimately self-defeating megabrewing marketing strategy of making its target audience look as much like blithering idiots as possible (come to think of it, such honesty may actually be commendable given the excesses of advertising … and the reality of the audience) the Silver Bullet now boasts a new twist.

It’s venting.

This time, the attractive female with Bride magazine in hand looks on sympathetically as her personally selected Ken doll concocts a flimsy excuse about a close friend in need of “venting,” which she encourages in the assumption that men actually do share hankies and their innermost secrets. In fact, the “vent” in question actually is another revolutionary development, this one a newly configured can top that “lets air in” and permits the beer to be poured far more quickly while the men watch football.

Poured into what? Here’s where this exercise in forgettable marketing become interesting. The ad shows the beer cascading from the can into the air, presumably to make the point that the carbonated urine is falling into a glass, pitcher, bucket or leftover Rally’s sack. However, our closing glimpse of the "venting" party shows four men dumping the insipid liquid directly into their mouths, as is the custom in America, the land that manners forgot.

C’mon, why even pretend?

Coors suggests that you can drink its Rockies Perrier faster if you vent. As I’ve noted many times before, lowest common denominator advertising like this one is what makes like harder for all of us, because it amounts to an open invitation to prohibitionists and health fascists to attack swill purveyor and craft brewer alike.

Even as we cringe, a new generation of Coors Light ads is hitting the airwaves: Code Blue. As the mountains turn blue, men from all walks of life answer their cell phones, drop what they’re doing, and race to become mass-market beer lemmings.

That’s just embarrassing. Is this why the world is racing ahead of us?

Monday, May 19, 2008

New hours at Maido Essential Japanese ... and why you should care.

As is often noted in this space, Maido Essential Japanese is one of my favorite Louisville eateries, both in terms of food and beverage. It is one of the few Asian places you'll ever see that has a beer list that evinces design, and one that generally features both hop-laden American craft beers alongside expressive Belgians.

Following is a communique from owner Jim Huie. Read all the way to the end to see what Jim's hoarding.


Due to the recent huge increase in the price of rice and some other goods, we will no longer be open for lunch (not worth it to do the buffet).

We will, however start opening at 4:00 p.m. today (Monday, May 19th). We will have happy hour from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Closing times will not change and we will still be open at 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays.

Also, we will be coming out with a new menu today, and there will be some new items available. For all you Hopheads, we still have plenty of Bell's HopSlam available in bottle form, and will be tapping a keg sometime later this year.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rick & Jeff tours schedule: Reds - Red Sox and Indiana Microbrewers Festival.

Jeff Gesser has informed the Curmudgeon of the following upcoming charters. Note that local craft beer is included for the ride, along with lunch.

What more can I say? Jeff and Rick have been doing these excursions for years, I've gone on several, and they're always great fun.

Cincinnati Reds vs. Boston Red Sox at Great Western Ball Park in Cincinnati

Two chances: Saturday, June 14 or Sunday, June 15

Saturday June 14th (1:00 p.m.)
Includes chartered bus transportation, tickets to game, craft beer and refreshments for the ride up, pre-game tailgate party with food and drink and a great time. Cost is $95 per person.

Sunday June 15th (3:55 p.m.)
Includes chartered bus transportation, tickets to game, craft beer and refreshments for the ride up, pre-game tailgate party with food and drink, and a great time. Cost $100 per person.

Indiana Microbrewers Festival
Saturday, July 19
Chartered bus, tickets to fest, program, sample glass, and hand-crafted beers available on bus both up and back. We will also provide lunch. Cost $85 per person.

For reservations and complete information contact Rick and Jeff Tours by calling 502-807-7531 or e-mail

Thursday, May 15, 2008

SAVOR in DC this weekend, and NABC will be there.

Brewers Jesse Williams and Jared Williamson of the New Albanian Brewing Company will be traveling to Washington, D.C., this weekend to man the NABC booth at SAVOR (see details below), which is a big-ticket effort on the part of the craft brewing industry to lay claim to turf previously thought to be the exclusive domain of wine – namely, pairing good food with good beer, and not pretending that America’s biggest-selling megabrews even matter at all when it comes to such considerations.

And hoppy ale’s still better with hot wings than mass-market beer.

But I digress.

Given the prestigious nature of this inaugural event (we’re one of only 48 breweries participating), it’s quite exciting to have another local craft producer, Capriole Farms, included under the auspices of SAVOR. We were asked to make pairing recommendations, and suggested Capriole’s heavenly Mont St. Francis goat cheese to accompany our Hoptimus double IPA. Our wish was SAVOR's command.

I would have like to attend SAVOR, not so much to schmooze, but to tickle the taste buds, but we’d already committed to the annual Ohio River Valley Folk Festival in Madison (IN) this weekend. Rest assured that Jesse and Jared will do just fine without me along for the ride. Meanwhile, John Campbell and I are free to beervangelize in Madison on Friday and Saturday, then motor to Greenville on Sunday for Capriole’s annual Spring Farm Day. DC or no DC, it isn’t looking like a weight-loss weekend for the Publican.

Here’s the full press release from the organizers of SAVOR.


SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience Comes to Nation's Capital in May

Independent Craft Brewers Harmonize Beer and Food Showcasing Why Craft Beer is So Sought After

Boulder, CO – March 7, 2008 - Four dozen independent craft brewers have been selected to showcase the pleasures of fine food enjoyed with world-class beer in Washington, D.C., May 16-17. SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience will highlight the culinary delights of beer as part of the Brewers Association's annual American Craft Beer Week

“SAVOR offers a truly unique opportunity to be personally served by many of America’s most innovative and famous brewery owners and brewers," said Julia Herz, a spokesperson for the association. "Meeting the makers, access to the educational salons, and the pairing menu are why SAVOR is a must attend event.

Today, American beers are judged to be among the world’s best and have earned a respected place at the table alongside wine. In fact, two-thirds of today’s wine drinkers also consume beer. In the summer of 2007, National Public Radio observed, "Beer has gone from the House of Commons to the House of the Lords.” Additionally, in July 2007, Gallup Poll confirmed beer is still the most popular adult beverage in the U.S. ¹

SAVOR tickets are available to the public for three different tasting sessions scheduled May 16th and 17th at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington D.C. Tickets are $85 each and will include a wide variety of sweet and savory appetizers crafted to match the taste profiles of craft beers. Federal City Caterers, who have catered many State Department functions and Congressional receptions, will orchestrate the food menu.

In addition to the main attraction of sampling in the great hall, SAVOR will also feature educational salons, which will offer live presentations by brewers, journalists and chefs who have helped advance the American craft beer revolution.

Scheduled speakers include: Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Jim Koch of Boston Beer; Dave Lieberman of Here’s To Beer; Randy Mosher author of “Radical Brewing”; Marnie Old, Assistant Dean of Wine Studies at the French Culinary Institute; Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery; Hugh Sisson of Clipper City; and several savvy cross drinkers including Lauren Buzzeo of Wine Enthusiast magazine; Ray Isle of Food & Wine magazine; and Ken Wells of Conde’ Nast Portfolio.

Jimmy Reyes of Reyes Beverage Group, Supporting Partner of the event, said, "This is going to be a tremendous celebration. Everyone from true beer aficionados to those who simply enjoy flavorful food and drink will take pleasure in a day of rubbing shoulders and sharing craft beer with acclaimed American brewers in Washington D.C., a beer-loving city since its inception."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wanted: New Albanian art show, May 15, 16 & 17.

Kevin and the gang have another art show for the coming weekend. Check out the art in Prost, NABC's special events wing.

No f-ing (A-B) lines.

Television advertising induced jaundice during the NBA playoffs.

A-B says: “The superior drinkability if Bud Light.”
Curmudgeon says: Lime or no lime, it’s the “beer” that never tastes like beer.

A-B says: “With a splash of 100% natural lime flavor.”
Curmudgeon says: A genuine Jolly Rancher dissolved in every six-pack.

What is it again that Budweiser has to do with beer?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ohio River Valley Folk Festival in Madison this weekend, May 16 & 17, and NABC will be there.

The coming weekend (Friday & Saturday, May 16 & 17) is the 3rd Annual Ohio River Valley Folk Festival, held along the Ohio River in Madison, Indiana. NABC poured beer in 2006 and 2007, and will be doing so again along with friends from Upland Brewing Company (Bloomington).

This year, with Jesse and Jared off in Washington D.C. to represent NABC at the prestigious SAVOR beer and food pairing, it looks like John Campbell and the Publican doing the pouring both days. If readers are interested in helping and have a valid Indiana server permit, let me know, ASAP.

Last year I wrote about the folk festival’s conceptual basis in my Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO) column, Mug Shots - Folk Fest celebrates handcrafted brews, and included within my account was this explanation from the festival’s organizers:

In keeping with the Ohio River Valley’s artisan tradition, we proudly offer handcrafted beer and wine from the people who make it. Like the folks who select their wood for a fine musical instrument, these small-production, high-quality vintners and brewers are engaged in the entire process, from the selection of the grain and fruit, to pouring your glass!

Recaps from previous years can be found here at the PC blog:

2006: Another good reason to run upriver.

2007: Ohio River Valley Folk Festival recap: Great weather, and beer and music to match.

As of Monday morning, weekend temperatures are expected to be in the 60s, with clouds but no rain. I’m hoping to see many readers at the festival, so stop by the beer tent and say hello.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Publican's rant: Restaurant operators, know thy market!

My wife is a vegetarian by philosophical principle, and she cannot consume dairy products owing to lactose intolerance. Consequently, she reckons herself a vegan, but one who’ll still eat eggs and the occasional fish.

Meanwhile, I’m an omnivore, and a meat and cheese lover of long standing who has learned that it is both easy and tasty to prepare suitable meals at home that satisfy both of us. It’s simply amazing how little effort it takes to adapt recipes and menus so as to accommodate vegetarians and vegans.

We live in New Albany, a city that is placing a great deal of revitalization hope in its steadily expanding downtown dining and entertainment zone. At the same time, ours is a city apparently inhabited by a gene pool that by all rights should be the topic of a major university’s study into the thinking habits of natives never exposed to thinking. The absence of empathy here is a startling and disturbing feature of daily life.

Not that we aren't used to it by now. When the time comes to eat out at restaurants, it takes little in the way of forethought for us to conclude that places like steakhouses might not be the best bet for vegetarian fare. Accordingly, we seldom dine together at such places. I simply eat my meat at other times.

Apart from the sort of traditional places that we know to avoid, it remains that in today’s diverse and multicultural world, it’s hard to imagine any eatery seeking status as “up-market” or “upscale” or just plain “in tune with society” not having a slight notion of purpose-made vegetarian/vegan options, ones that exceed the incredibly tired cop-out of “just put a few of our vegetable side dishes together and make a meal.” That’s the sort of thing you’d expect from the VFW or Elks lodge kitchen some time during the Ford administration.

In fairness, I’m aware that the friendlier (and more professional) of chefs will often prepare something to suit upon request – where have you gone, Dave Clancy? – but why place this onus on the customer at a time when all aspects of the dining scene point to greater choice?

Granted, a typical restaurant can’t be all things to all people, and yet if you’re already doing pasta and have olive oil close by, a good veggie stir fry is only moments away. Why not keep the comparatively few ingredients required to make such a stir-fry from scratch, prep the presentation, and list it as an everyday option right there on the menu? Why discomfit an increasingly growing segment of the population by constructing bills of fare still built almost exclusively around meat?

Haven’t we gotten past chicken fried steak as the star menu dish? For heavens sake, even today’s truck stops do better than that – and they don’t pretend to be anything other than what they are.

The reason why this is starting to annoy me so greatly is because it reminds me far too much of what I’ve gone through for so long in my life as a beer lover, and particularly, of the typical tavern owner’s clueless, and perhaps even gutless, refusal to cater even slightly to that segment of the population wishing to drink something other than a mass-market swill.

Because: Not only is ignorance of a constantly changing marketplace an insult to customers who’ve already done their homework and know what they want, it’s also damaging to the bottom line. Vegetarians and vegans want to spend their money just like anyone else, and they are sadly accustomed to accepting less than their due – eating wretched iceberg lettuce salads stripped of all things “chef” and making do with French fries (and not thinking about how the fries were prepared).

Why not accommodate these potentially loyal customers up front, rather than force them to ask for something special … especially when the scant knowledge required to pro-actively anticipate such conditions is something we have a right to expect from operators who’ve been around long enough to know better, and who remind us of their vast experience at every turn?

The preceding rant stems directly from an experience with a recently minted restaurant located in New Albany, as well as with the situation at another local establishment, where a special musical event included a meal, and the options for the meal were two choices of meat, but nothing vegetarian or vegan – and, where apparently no one present ever considered that such a question might arise. I simply find it inexcusable that the former restaurant bills itself as “upscale,” but doesn’t have a single vegetarian/vegan menu item on the menu except hummus – which wasn’t in stock when I visited.

In the latter case, it required a great deal of effort on my part, as well as the welcomed assistance of a veteran waiter (you know who you are, and thanks) who went well beyond the norm, both in advance and on the day of the show, to ensure that Diana would be able to dine at what, in the end, was a rather expensive event.

Why is enlightenment so elusive in this benighted locale?

Here's a promise. We don't plan on having an extensive menu at the NABC Bank Street Brewhouse, but there'll be more than one thing there on a daily basis for vegetarians and vegans. These will be there, on the menu card, available for ordering without feeling self-conscious asking for them. I predict that whatever these items turn out to be, there'll be a demand, because I already know the demand is there.

So there.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Kottbusser ale at BBC (Shelbyville Road), but no blood sausage?

Whenever I have the time to visit the recently remodeled, original location of Bluegrass Brewing Company on Shelbyville Road in St. Matthews, I look to the board for the current roster of seasonal and one-off beers conjured by brewer Jerry Gnagy.

To my way of thinking, Jerry’s rotating beers continue the eclectic and tasty tradition practiced by original BBC brewmaster David Pierce, who continues to craft seasonals and specialties downtown at BBC Main & Clay, albeit as a production breweries outside the smaller-batch brewpub setting. I prefer the classic BBC styles as brewed by Dave, and always enjoy the sometimes demented twists offered by Jerry.

Last Wednesday I stopped at BBC Shelbyville Road for a growler, and saw that something called Köttbusser had just come on tap. The fact sheet at the bar refers to it as a non-Reinheitsgebot ale recipe that includes barley, wheat, oats and molasses, with German noble hops. The body is medium, approaching pale bock mouth feel, and overall, I find it delicious.

Upon reflection, and after a couple of pints of Jerry’s beer, it occurred to me that I’ve been to Cottbus, which is near Berlin, and actually serves as the cultural center of a non-German ethnic minority called the Sorbs. It’s a swampy, bayou-like area specializing in runny blood sausage (look, I tried it, okay?), pickles, ornamental snakes on rooftops, and canoe trips.

Material in German that I’ve found on-line refer to an old tradition of wheat ales in Cottbus, and the non-Reinheitsgebot aspect makes perfect sense considering that the “beer purity law” is Bavarian, and would not have been enforced in a place like Cottbus until well after unification in the 1870’s, if at all -- at least until more recent times. After all, there was still Gose in Leipzig for a while after World War II, even in Communist times.

Beers like Jerry’s new Köttbusser are the perfect ones for me. Not only are they tasty, but they make me think, and while doing so I remembered a wonderful time back in 1991.

Then again, perhaps the Sober Brewer’s making it all up.

Either way, I approve.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Facade transformation at the future NABC Bank Street Brewhouse.

Work was done this week to clear away the disgusting vinyl siding on the building at 415 Bank Street and see what's underneath. As we expected, brick and the old industrial front was exposed. As the drawing shows, the plan remains to install garage doors that can be opened in good weather, with a small canpoied garden by the side entrance.

These improvements pertain to the pub, with the back 3/4 of the building reserved for the brewing operation. More on that soon. Of course, the first photo was taken earlier in the year, but notice how the house in the rear has been painted in the interim. Nice.

The last picture is of the preliminary work being done inside.

Friday, May 09, 2008

RockWall/NABC beer dinner coming in June.

Mr. and Mrs. Curmudgeon visited the RockWall for dinner on Thursday night, and as usual, the meal was first-rate.

It was a night that seemed appropriate for wine, so I didn’t have a beer, although lately the RockWall has been carrying an NABC draft (currently Mt. Lee, our California Common offering).

Just after the shrimp cocktail (and before the rack of lamb), two delicious sea scallops appeared on the table courtesy of the executive chef, Alex Bomba. He appeared later to chat, and we’re going to try and arrange a RockWall kitchen and NABC brewhouse beer dinner for a Wednesday or Thursday night in the latter half of June.

I haven’t checked the calendar yet, so stay tuned for further details, and don’t forget the RockWall. I’m straining to think of another bistro on the Indiana side of the river that offers what it does.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sports concessionaires, blatant extortion, non-competition … but a good beer, anyway.

Yesterday I accompanied good friends to Cincinnati to occupy seats in the lower left field stands at Great Western Ball Park and watch the Reds pelt the Cubs with seven homers, three by Joey Votto, who toiled last year for the Bats in the Louisville Slugger good beer ghetto.

Near our seats was a concession stand vending Bell’s Oberon Ale at a price of $7.75 for what I judged to be a 14-ounce pour. Without giving too much away, I’ll say only that it figures out to a bit more than $900 profit (before expenses) on a regular 15.5 gallon keg of beer.

No, wait: Let’s give it away. At that price and that pour, it’s more than $1,050 coming in for something that costs me about $120.

‘Nuff said on that topic. There’ll be more in next week’s LEO, assuming my Mug Shots piece isn’t too hyperbolic.

Anyway, after one Oberon, the concession stand either ran out or could no longer work the tap, so I was spent scurrying past the usual endless queues at Great Western, around the outfield, and to the place where I remembered good beer being sold last August. The beer there yesterday was called Southern Tier IPA, and after being assured by another customer that it’s a craft brewer and not the latest Anheuser-Busch mockrobrew, I bought one.

Good stuff. Not the best American-style IPA I’ve had, but just fine, with plenty of body and hops, and fully worthy of my coney cheese dogs beneath a rainy sky filled with crushed baseballs.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Another NA (non-alcoholic) election day tomorrow.

Longtime readers have seen this one before, but it's appropriate to repeat these sentiments before each election. The text below is my latest reworking as published last week as a "Mug Shot" article for LEO (it appeared on Wednesday, April 30).

Needless to say: The Public House will not be open until 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 6. Sportstime Pizza will observe regular hours beginning at 11:00 a.m., for what is destined to be an excruciatingly dry lunch. There'll be open seating at Prost from 6:00 p.m. to watch election returns on the big screen.


In 2008, Indiana's primary election takes place on May 6, and Kentucky's follows two Tuesdays later on May 20.

In both states, Election Day brings with it roughly eleven hours of state-mandated prohibition against the sale of demon rum, and consequently the bars can't open until the polls close. Of course, one might drink continuously until 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. election morning, and then nurse a carry-out six-pack or a bottle of single malt Scotch during the comparatively brief time it takes to watch an Adam Sandler DVD before crawling off in a stupor to vote when the polls open at six.

Presumably, this unwelcome vestige of an otherwise discredited social policy serves as a bulwark against the horrific possibility that unscrupulous politicos or their conniving agents might swap half-pints of Kessler (or a similarly valued slopping spree at the community's on-premise watering holes) in exchange for a poor wretch's vote.

As there exists no commensurate prohibition against the sale of strong black coffee, chocolate-covered Krispy Kremes and hickory-smoked bacon, apparently the veiled but very real threat of breakfast-induced bribery is not worthy of the same scrutiny as that posed by the insidious grape and the grain.

If you're hopelessly intoxicated after ingesting that half-pint of Kessler, are you really any more destructive to democracy than the perfectly sober voter who is following instructions provided by a fundamentalist preacher, who in turn has promised not temporal inebriation, but a favorable reference when the time comes to take up residence in heaven?

I think not, and hope you had the foresight to visit your favorite package store on Monday night. Otherwise, remember that the taps open at 6:00 p.m., and to quote Groucho Marx, then there'll be "dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor."

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Homebrewing: 4th Annual BBC Brew Day recap.

Courtesy of Ed Needham, here's a report on the recent homebrew/brew-in event at BBC (Main and Clay).


Pictures of the 4th Annual BBC Brew Day, on April 26th, 2008 are up! Thanks to Kevin Spaulding, Louisville Ale Club president, and his photographic talents, there are photos posted at:

You can save any one of these to your computer by selecting the size you want and clicking save. By choosing 'original' size, you get all the detail and resolution of the original picture.

According to (BBC brewmaster) Dave Pierce, "The homebrewers made 190 gallons, which is a new record." The food was fabulous, the beer, wonderful, and friends ... incredible.

FOSSILS secretary of beer, Ed Needham

Saturday, May 03, 2008

UPDATE - "Mug Shots": A compendium of my essays in LEO.

It's time for another "Mug Shots" update.

For those just tuning in, every two weeks the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO) publishes a 300-word essay about beer written by the Curmudgeon.

Although I had my doubts at first (my topic sentences tend to run 300 words), it has proven to be great fun and good practice in self-discipline, something for which I'm not universally noted.

Here are the links to recent articles:

Mug Shots: The hypocrisies of drinking and voting
(April 30, 2008)

Mug Shots: Expand your horizons
(April 16, 2008)

Mug Shots: Pabst tense (ask for the original)
(April 2, 2008)

Mug Shots: Craft brews are up!
March 19, 2008)

Mug Shots: Meg Ryan would approve
(March 5, 2008)

Mug Shots: Gravityheads, unite
(February 20, 2008)

Mug Shots: Oysters and stout go hand-in-hand
(February 6, 2008)

Mug Shots: Ben Franklin was a beer man
(January 23, 2008)

Mug Shots: A manifesto for 2008
(January 9, 2008)


Mug Shots: The Year in Beer
(December 26, 2007)

Mug Shots: Swap Santa for Saturnalia
(December 12, 2007)

Mug Shots: Behold beer sommeliers
(November 28, 2007)

Mug Shots: Sacrilege and mass merger
(November 14, 2007)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Expand your horizons and ditch the cookie-cutter.

As a prelude to the Kentucky Derby, I wrote the following as my "Mug Shot" entry in the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO):


Mug Shots: Expand your horizons (April 16, 2008)

According to one of our regular bar customers, he was chatting with a fellow who’d just returned from vacation in Key West, and asked the returnee what he thought of the cuisine in southernmost Florida.

“You mean the food? Look, you don’t have to give up anything down there. They have McDonald’s and Taco Bell just like here in Louisville – probably KFC, too.”

Presumably, you don’t have to “give up” Bud, Miller or Coors, either – neither in Key West, nor in Nome, Alaska – although the anecdote prompts a doleful reflection on the state of cultural appreciation in the world, to wit: Has there ever been a country where so many people proclaim their unique individuality by means of a slavish and overt devotion to numbing conformity in the form of the mass market?

I fully understand that an appreciation for irony has never been an indigenous skill for most Americans, but isn’t it just plainly sad at a very basic human level that people blessed with the means to travel arrive at their ultimate destination and ignore the local flavor in favor of the safety of the cookie-cutter?

Anywhere I go, here or abroad, I look first for the local beer and the local brewpubs, because more often than not, the people at the local brewpubs who drink local beer can make the best suggestions as to what else in their locality differs from the Louisville norm. That’s precisely what travel should do. Travel should open eyes to other ways, cultures and flavors. Food and drink should be different in Mexico and Maine. The joy lies in the differences.

People come to Louisville each year for the Derby and the festivities that precede it. I hope that while here, visitors check out our brewpubs, bourbons and culinary offerings. There’s great stuff waiting to be discovered, and remembered.