Friday, August 29, 2008

SHINE on at Mellwood Arts, tonight.

My friend and business consultant Gregg and his wife Maria are opening a new business in the Mellwood Arts Center. It's called Shine, and it's all about yoga, movement, massage and family music.

Tonight was supposed to have been the grand opening of Shine, but there have been delays (aren't there always?), and yet in spite of the "unexpected obstacles," Gregg and Maria are persisting with the planned preview this evening.

Best of all, there'll be beer! Here's the scoop:

Dear Friends,

As is usual in any construction, we have encountered some unexpected... obstacles... that have delayed the opening of Shine. We are almost there!

We will not have a Grand Opening Celebration this weekend as planned, BUT we will be at Shine during the Frankfort Avenue Trolley Hop!

We will be offering free chair massage, tours of the space, special discounts on our offerings, and beer provided by the New Albanian Brewing Company!

So come by, visit us and get a sneak preview of Shine!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

That’s as Belgian as it gets.

In preparation for Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, I assembled an impromptu snack plate: A wedge of Capriole herbed goat cheese, a fresh garden tomato, a cold hardboiled egg with a pinch of salt and paprika, and some of my friend John Click’s famous venison salami.

The evening’s ale of choice: Ommegang Biere de Mars, as transported to New Albany by the New Albanian Brewing Company’s Jared Williamson, who bought it while on holiday in upstate New York.

Actually, I’ve never had Ommegang Biere de Mars until tonight, and right now, I wish I had a case, maybe two. It makes me think: Which examples of Biere de Mars have I had in the past? Maybe a French example or three, one of which I dimly recall deploying with pate and cheese atop the hill in Cassell, near Poperinge, and the excellent Chouffe version that is no longer distributed.

The BJCP includes Biere de Mars as a sub-style of Biere de Garde, and that seems sensible: Amber, malty and deriving from Northern French ales, but brewed in March and perhaps not intended for cellaring. Fair enough, but what makes Ommegang’s amber ale so special is two not-so-small tweakings: Dry hopping for a wee hoppy bite, and a touch of Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, and the two taken together – drily hoppy and tart at the same time – is something so pleasing and natural that I’m ready for another.

I don’t have one. Damned fine with the snack plate, especially the spicy salami. Jared, shall we plan another New York road trip?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A tiring but spectacular weekend for beer in Louisville.

On Saturday, NABC took beer to the annual Brew at the Zoo bash just within the Watterson beltway, and while I don’t have firm information at my disposal, all appearances are that the event sold out. The field was jammed. Whether or not I’m personally enamored of the atmosphere there is largely irrelevant. We commit annually to help the zoo, and numerous people enjoy the experience. That’s good enough.

NABC also helped sponsor the first (hopefully annual) Volksfest on Clay Street by the BBC tap room downtown, and in spite of a handful of minor glitches, public reaction was massively favorable. Not counting the beer dispensed through the tap room itself, we sold somewhere around 25 kegs through the outdoor trailers, with proceeds going to a handful of local charities.

Just up the street from Clay, several thousand people watched the Triple-A Bats play baseball, and a bit further away, there was a jug band festival. Back across the river in New Albany, the pub had a financial day above normal summertime standards.

Of course, there’s little in the way of good beer at a Bats game because the team’s management put the “P” in Philistine a long time ago (something about that football field-sized Budweiser billboard in right field is a dead giveaway), and I’m clueless about the jug band event, but it bears noting that the Saturday prior to all these happenings, My Morning Jacket played the waterfront, and the River City wholesalers sold more than 30 kegs of locally-brewed craft beer (BBC, Cumberland and Browning’s), apparently at the band’s behest.

Good for them.

What all of this means to me is that Louisville has grown up. A metropolitan market with more than a million people is capable of supporting quite a few events simultaneously, and whereas we used to concentrate our collective attention on the big impact soirees so as to concentrate scarce good beer resources and the seemingly few consumers favoring them, now there’s enough acceptance to merit contemplating a changed dynamic.

Saturday was vindication for many of us, and in a number of ways. Now more than ever, a local brewery grouping (call it a guild if you will) can be particularly useful in pre-planning marketing endeavors for the benefit of all. As BBC St. Matthews’s Jerry Gnagy commented to me, unity should enable local brewers to cover more ground. Instead of all of us attending a limited number of festivals for logistical reasons, we might take turns attending some of the smaller ones, showcasing a keg each of Louisville brewed beer instead of selections from each brewery. If it means advancing the cause, it would be well worth doing, and the effort would be shared across the board.

My Morning Jacket, Will Oldham and others have put Louisville on the musical map for residents and outlanders alike. Louisville’s five breweries have done the same for craft beer. Now, we need only make sure that beer aficionados here and elsewhere be mindful of the reality. I have some ideas …

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Albany’s smoking ban might yet be vetoed. If not ...

At last Thursday’s New Albany city council meeting, 2nd and 3rd readings of the smoking ordinance were passed by identical 5-4 votes. Mayor Doug England has until the end of the month to decide whether he will veto the ordinance. To overturn the veto, there would have to be a sixth vote in favor. In a city long noted for chicanery and cowardice, anything is possible, and predictions are futile. The mayor is being properly circumspect as these various background wheels turn.

From the outset of the smoking ban issue’s introduction, my opinion has remained consistent. If the discussion is kept to the science of second hand smoke and what this means in the context of workplace safety, there can at least be a discussion. But this typically isn’t enough for smoking ban proponents, who generally use their platform not to defend workers, but to attack smokers. As one supportive of fair play, I find this intolerable.

Furthermore, those politicians introducing the topic into our already fractured civic discourse know full well that second only to abortion, smoking is a topic guaranteed to devolve into civil war. They make it political, and I respond in kind, which is why the current council president ejected me from last week’s meeting. Apparently he didn’t enjoy my pointing out the transparency of his political clothing to a waiting world.

All that aside, if the ordinance is signed into law, Rich O’s and Sportstime will have to be smoke-free by March 9, 2009. The ordinance specifies a distance of ten feet from entry doors to where outdoor smoking can be permitted. Given the configuration of our building, there is good news and bad news therein. By spending a few thousand bucks and honoring existing codes, we can finish the outdoor seating area in the back of the building and even weatherize a section of it to make matters comfortable. This outdoor area would be accessible to Sportstime customers from the rear exit door in that section of the building.

Unfortunately, the state of Indiana’s never helpful alcohol laws forbid pub customers from exiting through the door behind the bar (except, of course, in an emergency). Rich O’s patrons will have to go through the entry door in front to a smaller smoking area outside. My consultant Lloyd and I are working on plans for all this. I’m thanking the city council for mandating further expenditures during lean times.

And being fairly sarcastic about the whole thing.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sandkerwa NA 2 draft lineup for Friday, August 29.

Sandkerwa NA 2, liquid ode to the beers of Bamberg and Franconia, returns on Friday, August 29.

During last year's first-ever Sandkerwa NA, I vowed to provide an even better selection of Franconian draft beers in 2008.

Well, things happen. In 2008, I believe we're lucky just to renew the concept. All year long I've been struggling to coordinate my needs with wholesaler timetables, and coordinate these tinetables with importer availability. It's been difficult to achieve results while juggling our new brewery project with the other hand and honoring various community commitments with leftover digits.

We'll still have a good core selection of Franconian beers from Bamberg and Kulmbach on hand this Friday, August 29.

Aecht Schlenkerla Helles
Aecht Schlenkerla Marzen
Aecht Schlenkerla Weizen

Kulmbacher Eisbock
Kulmbacher EKU Pils
Kulmbacher Kapuziner Weisse
Kulmbacher Monchshof Kellerbier

Elsewhere in Bavaria:
Aventinus Weizen Doppelbock (Kelheim)
Schneider Weisse (Kelheim)
Spaten Oktoberfest (Munich)
Spaten Premium Lager (Munich)

And, of course, Pilsner Urquell (Plzen, Czech Republic)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The simple elegance of reality in food and drink.

The Curmudgeon household has been preoccupied with a number of professional and leisure time pursuits during recent months, and as a direct result of these diversions, the estate had become overgrown with noxious weeds. Diana needed help today, so I grabbed the machete and began hacking through the underbrush.

As one congenitally opposed to yard work, especially on a steamy Mekong-meets-Spring Street day like today, I was surprised to thoroughly enjoy the sweaty task of killing as many plant life intruders as possible. My analyst will help me decide the degree of transference in all this. Suffice to say that enemies and obstructionists were falling like … um, weeds.

Quite naturally, the wholesale slaughter of vegetation sans power tools left me somewhat hungry, but I was prepared. A Saturday morning visit to the Farmers Market in downtown New Albany had yielded ripe tomatoes, Capriole goat cheese with herbs, and about a pound and a half of locally processed beef ribeye. Diana had prepared deviled Farmers Market eggs. I melted the Capriole with a few splashes of white wine from French Lick and topped the medium rare meat with the cheesy goat sauce. The plate was adorned with naked fresh tomatoes and deviled eggs.

The local theme could not be extended to Kentuckiana beers, as I’d none of them at home, but there was an even better choice in the fridge: New Holland Blue Sunday, the brewery’s sour Flemish red ale, bequeathed to me by Fred Bueltmann during our recent visit to Michigan. Understand that sour cherry notes and oak with beefsteak is as fine a belly mortar as porter.

I’m no professional gourmand, but the simple reality of locally flavorful food and drink is what it’s all about.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Heads up: Changes to the Volksfest draft beer lineup.

When it comes to festivals, beer lineup changes are inevitable.

For Volksfest on Saturday, Great Lakes Oktoberfest is a scratch. It turned out that the local supply had been allocated, and we couldn't tap into it (and rightfully so).

The best substitute we could find on short notice is Samuel Adams Oktoberfest, from Boston Beer ... now, after Anheuser-Busch's merger, the largest American brewer. Wow.

On the micro side, Barley Island begged off owing to boiler problems that have left the Noblesville IN brewer pretty short on stock. NABC will be throwing substitutes into the fray and taking three taps instead of two.

NABC Elector all day
NABC Croupier all day
NABC 1/4 bbl. of Elsa (Imperial Pils) from 2-7 (or blown) followed by NABC Hoptimus (one 1/2 bbl)

For the complete current scoop on Volksfest, go here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Volksfest 2008 final (almost) beer list.

Inaugural Volksfest coming to Clay Street in Louisville this Saturday, August 23.

At Volksfest this Saturday, there will be three places to purchase beer. Insofar as possible, there will be a standardized price for the cups poured, with beer tickets sold on site being used as the unit of currency (not cash).

Note that the intent of this gathering is one of good times but also unity between local craft breweries. Several members of Louisville’s brewing community have been working diligently to prepare the ground for a guild or trade group comprised of local craft brewers, and if possible, leaflets explaining this will be available at the fest site on Saturday.

Add it to the list of things for me to do! Meanwhile, here’s the beer lineup.

All current BBC draft selections will be available, including favorites like APA, Amber (Alt), Dark Star Porter, Nut Brown, Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout and others. Check the selections at BBC’s web site for further details.

BBC Main & Clay Oktoberfest
Hofbrauhaus (Newport) Oktoberfest
Schlafly Oktoberfest
Great Lakes Oktoberfest
Brooklyn Brewery Oktoberfest

BBC-St. Matthews Heine Brothers’ Coffee Stout
Browning’s St. Hildegard Helles
Cumberland Cream Ale
NABC Elector
NABC Hoptimus
Upland Dragonfly IPA
Barley Island TBA

Inaugural Volksfest coming to Clay Street in Louisville this Saturday, August 23.

From the press release:

VOLKSFEST 2008: Presented by BBC and The Taprooom, New Albanian Brewing and O'Shea's

Saturday, August 23, 2008 ... 2:00 p.m. - Midnight.

On Saturday, August 23, 2008 two great breweries of Kentuckiana come together to present a fest of the people -“VOLKSFEST” 2008! Festivities are from 2:00 p.m. -midnight and will include German food, a German theme movie plus live local rock n roll!

BBC & New Albanian Brewing will be blocking off Clay Street between East Market & Main and will be spicing up a usual sleepy Saturday downtown scene. This event is open to the public and is FREE, with proceeds from food and beer to benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, St. Vincent DePaul Society and Louisville Film Society Educational Arm.

Drink, Drink Bier—beers to be served will include a strong line-up of five micro Oktoberfest brews, and other special craft beers hand-selected by Louisville's “godfather of beer” Roger Baylor himself. Food will be prepared and served by local favorites O'Shea's, Monkey Wrench and CafĂ© Lou Lou, featuring: Dogs, Brats, Kraut, German Potato Salad and Big Soft Pretzels.

The “VOLKSFEST” will also feature a movie awards ceremony hosted by 48 Hours Film Project, which, will take place at dusk and will be followed by a dual screen showing of the German classic “Das Boot” presented by Louisville Film Society. German entertainment will be from
2 pm to 4 pm, and then local bands will take the stage to keep the evening rocking.

All ages are welcomed so everyone will want to be downtown for a fest of the people … VOLKSFEST 2008!

For further info on the VOLKSFEST call BBC at 502-419-2412 or 502-584-2739

Contact NABC's councilman and weigh in on the smoking ban.

As reported previously, on Thursday, August 21, the Common Council of the City of New Albany will consider 2nd and 3rd readings of an ordinance to prohibit indoor smoking in all workplaces in New Albany.

The proposed ban is comprehensive and would include Sportstime, Rich O's and, in fact, the entire building. As in Louisville, all smoking would have to take place outdoors. As with other such bans, the ordinance is predicated on workplace safety for employees with reference to second hand smoke.

The vote on the first reading two weeks ago was 5-4 in favor. If passed and not vetoed by the mayor, the smoking ordinance would become law in 60 days (circa October 22).

Our business is located in the 6th council district. Our councilman is Jeff Gahan, who is also council president. Mr. Gahan is a ban proponent, has voted in favor of the ordinance, and presumably will do so again.

I am not telling you what to think, only asking that whether you are in favor or opposed, please take the time to convey your thoughts to our councilman:

Jeff Gahan
1122 Eastridge Drive
(812) 949-9314

For further reading, go to It might take a while to read what I've written to date, so light a nice cigar first.

"Murketing" makes the Pabst seem fonder.

After making various gibes in the general direction of a weirdly rejuvenated Pabst Blue Ribbon, generally along the lines of my finding it constantly amazing that a beer so unspeakably bland and formless could inspire an inexplicable cult following among young people who should know better, I’m feeling highly vindicated by the information provided in a recent book review.

The article is entitled “Branded” and was written by Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times Book Review (July 27, 2008). The book being reviewed is Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, by Rob Walker. You can bet that I'll be reading it.

According to the reviewer Manjoo, the author’s objective is to “lift the cloud of self-delusion that obscures our buying habits” and to “argue that our susceptibility to marketing arises from our ignorance of its pervasiveness.” In this extended excerpt, how these aims apply to bad beer is clearly detailed:

Consider Pabst Blue Ribbon. Beginning in the 1970s, the cheap beer that had long been synonymous with the blue-collar heartland began a steep decline, with sales by 2001 dipping to fewer than a million barrels a year, 90 percent below the beer’s peak. But in 2002, Pabst noticed a sudden sales spike, driven by an unlikely demographic: countercultural types — bike messengers, skaters and their tattooed kin — in hipster redoubts like Portland, Ore., had taken to swilling the stuff. When asked why, they would praise Pabst for its non-image, for the fact that it seemed to care little about selling.

Traditionally, a company that spots a sudden market opportunity responds by gearing ads toward the new customers. But Neal Stewart, Pabst’s marketing whiz, had studied “No Logo,” Naomi Klein’s anti-corporate manifesto, and he understood that overt commercial messages would turn off an audience suspicious of capitalism. Thus the company shunned celebrity endorsements — Kid Rock had been interested — and devoted its budget instead to marketing, sponsoring a series of unlikely gatherings across the country. Like “some kind of small-scale National Endowment for the Arts for young American outsider culture,” Pabst paid the bills at bike messenger contests, skateboarder movie screenings, and art and indie publishing get-togethers. At each of these events, it kept its logo obscure, its corporate goal to “always look and act the underdog,” to be seen as a beer of “social protest,” a “fellow dissenter” against mainstream mores.

Pabst’s campaign was designed to push beer without appearing to push it. To the extent that it conveyed any branding message at all, it was, Hey, we don’t care if you drink the stuff. To people sick of beer companies that did look as if they cared — don’t Super Bowl ads smack of desperation? — Pabst’s attitude seemed refreshing and inspired deep passion in its fans. Many customers did more than just buy the beer. Walker speaks to one who tattooed a foot-square Pabst logo on his back. Pabst’s low-fi marketing is “not insulting you,” the fellow tells Walker.

Note that Walker has coined the word “murketing” to describe the deceptive corporate stealth that is deployed in these situations. In the absence of hard knowledge, murketing muddies the consumer’s conceptual waters and causes folks otherwise feigning marketing-weary savvy to embrace brands that play hard to get and seem somehow hip. The result is predictable.

In reality, Pabst Blue Ribbon’s anti-capitalist ethos is, as Walker puts it, “a sham.” The company long ago closed its Milwaukee brewery and now outsources its operations to Miller. Its entire corporate staff is devoted to marketing and sales, not brewing. “You really couldn’t do much worse in picking a symbol of resistance to phony branding,” Walker writes. But P.B.R.’s fans don’t care. In the new era of murketing, image is everything.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sandkerwa NA 2, liquid ode to the beers of Bamberg and Franconia, returns on Friday, August 29.

Bamberg, a beautiful city of 70,000 people located in the countryside of the northern German region known as Franconia, has long been recognized as the epicenter of traditional German brewing and beer culture. Ten breweries operate within the city limits, and as many as 150 others are to be found within the outward radius of a good day’s bicycle ride on immaculately marked and maintained bike routes. The majority of Franconia’s 300 breweries are family owned and operated.

For a half-century, SANDKERWA (SAND-kehr-wa) has been Bamberg’s end-of-summer street festival, one that originated as a church-related commemoration in the historic city’s oldest central district. For six days each year in late August, the Altstadt’s narrow lanes are filled with food, beer and people in a hearty celebration that brings Munich’s better known Oktoberfest to mind, but exists on a less crowded, decentralized and more enjoyable human scale.

Sandkerwa is an idea worth emulating, and Bamberg a state of mind worth honoring, so in 2007 we offered the inaugural edition of Sandkerwa NA. This year’s second edition kicks off at Rich O’s and Sportstime on Friday, August 29.

There’ll be as many draft beers from Bamberg and environs on tap at the same time as we’re able to acquire, combining to represent as many traditional Franconian styles of beer as possible (with a few Greater Bavarian and non-regional ringers perhaps tapped to provide representative examples of unobtainable styles).

Kindly note that contrary to what you may have heard, not all of these delectable beers are smoked!

In Bamberg itself, only the renowned Schlenkerla and the tiny Spezial include Rauchbier in their daily range, as do a few breweries outside Bamberg, but by no means are smoked beers the norm in Franconia at large.

Because of distribution uncertainties, beer acquisition is going to be last-minute. A supplementary posting will list the beers to be poured. Numerous imported and microbrewed Oktoberfest beers will be coming on tap in September, as well.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

2008 draft beer fests at the Public House: Status update.

Before turning tomorrow to the topic of our forthcoming 2008 renewal of the “Sandkerwa in New Albany” ideal, permit me a brief digression.

It has been a very difficult year in terms of purchasing guest beers, whether draft or bottled. I’m not pointing fingers, only saying that I’ve not always been able to get on the same (shall we say) chronological page with wholesalers, especially when it comes to imported beers. Rising fuel prices have wreaked havoc with economies of scale in shipping, and in the beer biz, “just when you need it” has always been a nebulous and largely unobtainable ideal.

In terms of draft fests at the Public House, the good news is that Sandkerwa NA 2, while probably curtailed in numbers of kegs owing to the quirks of availability, will proceed as scheduled on Friday, August 29. Come back Monday for details.

Also, our Lupulin Land Harvest Hop celebration is unaffected and will begin on Friday, October 17.

The annual Saturnalia Winter Solstice kicks off on Friday, December 12 – nine valuable preparatory drinking days in advance of the actual solstice on the 21st. I believe that we’ll have full rosters of goodies for these two celebrations.

And, here’s the starting date for Gravity Head 2009’s Liver Olympics: Friday, February 27.

There’ll be a new twist to Gravity Head next year if all goes as planned, because we’re hoping to stage a pre-Gravity Head outdoor preview party at the soon-to-come Bank Street Brewhouse’s parking lot in mid-January. There’ll be more on that later, once we’ve actually opened the establishment.

The bad news, straight up: I’ve decided to abolish, at least for now, the YourNameHere draft fest (DaveFest in 2006, and SteveFest in 2007). The primary reason for this has less to do with purchasing issues than my steadily worsening lack of time as we plan the new brewing venture. A personalized draft fest is something that utterly depends on my direct participation, and I’m currently learning to set a few boundaries. In the future, if personnel can be assembled and time found, we may revive the idea.

Also, on the bottled front, I’ve had little choice except to postpone Lambic By the Glass until later in the year (that is, if I can obtain what I want) or next year (if I cannot). Purchasing issues are directly related to this postponement. Take heart: I’m still trying to whip something up, perhaps in November.

Tomorrow, there’ll be the scoop on Sandkerwa NA 2.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Louisville Vanguard Cinema event & NABC beer TONIGHT!

The backers of Louisville Vanguard Cinema are holding a fundraiser tonight, and NABC beer will be available.

It's the first event for the embryonic "local dine-in, drink-in, dual-screen independent cinema," which at the moment is a concept waiting for backing. It's also NABC's first official Kentucky appearance since being approved for distribution in the Commonwealth through the River City wholesaling house.

I wrote about the cinema project a couple months back: Coming soon: Louisville Vanguard Cinema ... and good beer there, too.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Abolish buzz kills. Drink Heine Brothers' Coffee Stout at BBC's "Up All Night" bash tomorrow.

The Curmudgeon has been down this path before, but this year's rollout of Heine Brothers' Coffee Stout is being accompanied by a great afternoon party idea tomorrow at BBC on Shelbyville Road.

As one who is growing ever fonder of the mixture of coffee and stout, I'll try to make this one. If so, I hope to see some of you there. Here's the press release from Mike Mays.


BBC and Heine Brothers’ Coffee tap coffee stout at
Up All Night party August 15

Louisville, Kentucky: Local brewpub Bluegrass Brewing Company and coffee shop Heine Brothers’ Coffee have collaborated on a product blending the best of both worlds: an oatmeal stout brewed with a touch of fair-trade, organic coffee.

Their worlds collide in an Up All Night celebration August 15 at BBC’s St. Matthews store, 3929 Shelbyville Road, beginning at 3 p.m. Employees dressed in their pajamas will serve breakfast for dinner, including fried eggs; country ham and biscuits with red-eye gravy, and coffee stout cheesecake.

Carnival games like corn hole, ring toss, and a Wheel of Fortune knock-off will allow partiers to compete for t-shirts, coffee, gift cards, and more. One lucky person will win a growler of beer each month for a year.

Acoustic musician Tamara Dearing will perform beginning at 7 p.m.

BBC has twice before experimented with brewing stout flavored with Heine Brothers’ Coffee. The result: a full-flavored but light-bodied, lightly carbonated brew that sold quickly.

For the Up All Night celebration, Heine Brothers’ Coffee Stout will be poured through a special tap – often called a “Guinness” tap – so that it foams, forms cascading bubbles, and produces a creamy head.

“It seems natural to start a series of monthly celebrations with Heine Brothers’ Coffee Stout,” says BBC owner Pat Hagan. “It’s the fastest-selling seasonal brew we’ve ever made.”

Heine Brothers’ Coffee opened in 1994 and is the oldest locally-owned coffee shop in Louisville. Seven stores and a roastery employ more than 100 people. BBC opened in 1993. It has two restaurants employing about 80 people.

For more information go to or

On the status of the proposed New Albany workplace smoking ban.

On August 4, New Albany’s city council passed the first reading of an indoor smoking ordinance.

The vote was 5-4, and two more readings are required, with the tally on the third being the final determinant. If vetoed, an overturn would require six votes. The council intends to vote for both second and third readings on August 21.

Those are the bare facts, and in terms of legislative politics, this is a topic better considered in depth at my other blog. Accordingly, here are a few links to it (two written by me and one by my blogging partner Jeff) and another piece I wrote at the request of the New Albany Tribune.

Council smoking farce: I'm taking it personally, too.

If you've been a slumlord for more than 100 years, are you exempt? (by Jeff Gillenwater)

Doesn’t New Albany have more important issues?

Hypocrisy meter nudges "tilt” as council’s smoking ordinance is revealed.

As we await the shoddy melodramatics to come, end games must be considered. What do we do at the pizzeria and pub if the ban comes to pass?

At work yesterday, we took a few minutes to pace 20 feet from the public entry doors. On the pizza side, smoking patrons can exit the rear door into the back yard, which we’ve intended for some time to convert into permanent outdoor seating. Short-term, we’d have to put down a hard surface and build a roof. Longer-term, we could dust off the old conversion plan and extend both along the length of the building, but equipment, and be in the business of outdoor seating.

On the pub side, it’s more complicated. The rear fire exit is behind the bar, and Indiana state alcohol law forbids customers from using it except in emergency situations. Cigarette breaks for pub denizens will have to be accessed from the front door, within an area to be constructed in front of the Prost windows. It's imperfect.

Currently, we have smoking and non-smoking areas at the pub. Because of customer demand, the non-smoking area has gotten larger over the years, and in general terms, most customers have at least seemed satisfied by the arrangement. We’ve yet to have an employee complain about being forced to work in smoke, but if so, we'd certainly try to accommodate the request.

The preceding is intended as raw information. My public stance on the matter may seem unusual to some, although to me, it reflects the best possible resolution of a deep personal division, and I’m content with that because life is rarely black and white.

We’ll see what happens next.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

River City Winery coming to downtown New Albany.

Regular readers know that we're in the process of building a new production brewery and taproom in downtown New Albany. There'll be more on that project later in the week, primarily because much has been accomplished during the past two days to facilitate our goals, but until I have the time to write about NABC Bank Street Brewhouse, your attention is directed to Pearl Street.

Roughly one hundred yards away from the future brewery lies the forthcoming River City Winery. Gary's task has been larger than NABC's, because in addition to the winemaking and food service start-up costs, he and his wife have taken on the responsibility of restoring an historic building for the winery's use in addition to accommodating tenants upstairs.

Lately I've been drinking more wine. Not less beer, mind you, but opting for glasses of wine here and there rather than a brew. As an illustration of how depth of knowledge in one area does not necessarily imply a corresponding understanding in another, the local/regional winery bug hadn't bitten me until the past year following visits to Huber (Starlight IN) and Thomas Family Winery (Madison IN), the former being a place I'd dismissed years ago after drinking a sweet wine, and the latter known to me primarily for Steve's brilliant hard cider.

I've been mistaken, and I'm looking forward to River City Winery in helping me to learn more about local winemaking. Proximity should benefit us both ... and help improve the prospects for downtown revitalization.

Monday, August 11, 2008

All right ... we're back in business.

The keg box had a bad thermostat, so there's nothing major wrong. The usual Belgians and Germans are chilling, with the latter including the return of Schlenkerla Marzen.

I'll have reports from Bell's, New Holland and the Great Taste as there is time to prepare them. As you might imagine, the calendar is full and catch-up underway.

Curmudgeon returns, keg box goes down.

I'm not sure if it is a coincidence, but as we frolicked in northerly climes and scientifically sampled numerous fine American craft beers in Holland, Kalamazoo (both in Michigan) and Madison, Wisconsin, the Rich O's keg box dedicated to Belgian and German classics flamed out.

In short, no Delirium Tremens for the moment.

Our longtime heating and air tech is working on it, but at this moment, I'm not sure how long it will take to recify the issue.

Friday, August 01, 2008

NABC beer week at NABC ... begins August 4.

The Curmudgeons are out of town effective August 2, but beginning on Monday, August 4, NABC will be celebrating our annual journey to the Great Taste of the Midwest (Madison, Wisconsin) with an all-time record number of house brewed beers on tap.

The magic number is 16, and they'll be pouring Monday. Limited quantities of ones marked with an *, and note the return of Beak's in modified form. Let us know what you think of it.

Postings will resume on August 11. Ciao!

Saison I

Saison II

Beak's Best

Bob's Old 15-B

Community Dark



Flat Tyre



Kaiser 2nd Reising

Mt. Lee

*Old Lightning Rod (Poor Richard’s Ale)

Phoenix Kentucky Komon

*Elsa Von Horizon Imperial Pilsner

*Jasmine the Mastiff