Sunday, November 30, 2008

Keg Liquors cops excellent C-J exposure.

It’s difficult to be an objective about press coverage when (a) I get so much of it and have for years, and (b) Todd Antz is the newer kid on the block even if he’s a relentless self-promotional genius … but seriously, Todd and Keg Liquors absolutely deserve wider renown of the sort prefaced by freelancer Marty Rosen’s weekend Courier-Journal profile.

Keg Liquors is King of the Beers

I’ve said this numerous times, and will again: In spite of the complete absence of time to make the changes necessary, Todd’s mounting success at good beer in the context of the package beer game has completely altered the premises that I followed in constructing the pub’s bottled beer list all those years ago.

There remains no compelling reason to stock as many bottles of what we stock now on an everyday basis. That paradigm has irrevocably changed, and we’ve been slow to adapt for a variety of reasons, most of them owing to being crazily busy in other areas (a good thing) and struck numb and dumb by inertia (not as good a thing). Todd’s in the position now to introduce product and conduct experiments in consumer preference with bottled beer in the way that we still do with draft. He and other package store operators have the entry-level segment covered, too.

As far as on-premise bottled choices go, we need to take the game to another level. I have some ideas. What I don’t have is time … but stay tuned. An long overdue makeover definitely is in the offing. In the meantime, it's great to know that two of the Louisville metro area's prime go-to beer spots are located in Indiana. Congrats to Todd and the Keg for the good words.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Color-blind underaged drinkability?

Thanks to Eric for directing my attention to this story from earlier in the year.

Seeing red
According to the law, Dustin Zebro wasn't doing anything wrong. But so far, the 18-year-old senior's school doesn't see it that way. The Wasau, Wis., teenager staged a party on March 1 at his home that every parent dreads: hordes of teens, drinking games, and a keg. Police were called to the party and arrived to find dozens of high-schoolers drinking from red plastic cups. But a funny thing happened: Nobody scattered, and when police began administering breathalyzer tests—90 in all—every kid passed. That's when police searched the keg to discover not beer, but a quarter barrel of 1919 Classic American Draft Root Beer. Zebro said his root beer party was designed to prove kids could have fun without alcohol, but also to make fun of the school for what he assumed would happen next. As soon as pictures of the teens at the party drinking from red cups hit Facebook, school administrators handed down extracurricular suspensions to Zebro and others. "They assumed there was beer in the cups," Zebro said.

The moral of the story?

Don’t drink root beer out of plastic cups, either. Had the kids been using glasses, and the otherwise paranoid school administrators gazing at the photos on Facebook could see dark liquid, they’d have properly smelled a rat – all underaged kids drink yellow beer, right?

In turn, this would have permitted the kids to drink Porter and not get busted.

You have to think these things through. That's what education's all about, anyway.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Belgian Beer Dinner at the Come Back Inn in Jeffersonville, December 15.

The holiday season always is jammed with top-quality beer events (have I mentioned Saturnalia?), but this beer dinner at the Come Back Inn is looking especially good. Chris Smith and company are partnering with World Class Beverages, with the majority of beers coming from the Wetten Importers portfolio (the only exception is the Chimay).

The beer selection includes the relatively rare St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition, and overall, I'm more excited than usual about the choices, primarily because the September beercycling adventure took in all three of the breweries handled by Wetten (thanks again, Pete).

The Curmudgeons will be there. For beer information, visit the sites of Wetten Importers and Chimay.

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Come Back Inn—Belgian Beer Dinner
Monday—December 15, 2008
Beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Six courses and seven Belgian beers, with souvenir glass
Cost: $70
For reservations, please call 812-285-1777


Aperitif Beer
Delirium Noel

Beef Tenderloin Tip Skewer with Gouden Carolus Ambrio

Served over Arugula with a white wine vinaigrette

Langostino Bisque with Gouden Carolus Grand Cru
Creamy tomato base with baby lobster tail with homemade crotons made from garlic flat bread

Fried Goat Cheese Salad with St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition
Served on a bed of baby greens tossed with a lemon honey thyme vinaigrette, garnished with Julienne roasted red peppers

Duck Breast Cacciatore with Kasteel Donker
Chris’ own version of “Hunters Stew” served over rigatoni

Cheese Plate with Chimay Triple
Selection of 3 cheeses: ,Bleu, Aged Cheddar and Chimay cheese

Chocolate Cheese Cake with Kasteel Rouge
Served over Chambord garnished with raspberries and mint

A credit card is required for guaranteed reservations. Gratuity is not included in the dinner price.


Belgian Beer Dinner is presented by the Come Back Inn and World Class Beverages.

Come Back Inn
415 Spring Street
Jeffersonville, IN 47130
(812) 285-1777

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hallelujah! FOSSILS annual holiday bash scheduled for Saturday, December 13.

Wanna join me in feeling old?

This year's FOSSILS holiday party on December 13 will be the homebrewing and beer appreciation club's 19th such celebration. The first was in 1990, just months after the club was founded. Scant memories of it include the Hallelujah Chorus and a bottle of Armenian brandy that somehow made it loose from the cabinet.

Here's the lowdown on the 2008 edition. Obviously, the party's intended for members, but I hope I'm not speaking out of place in suggesting that the gathering is the natural opportunity to gift you and yours with a membership that qualifies the good times to start rolling. Note also that with Saturnalia beginning the day before, there'll be plenty of festive holiday beers on tap at the Publc House.


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FOSSILS Holiday Party

Date: Saturday, December 13
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Location: Prost! Room, Rich O's Public House

Again this year, the Christmas party will be catered by Rich O's. Everything is covered, including appetizers, dinner and dessert!

Festivities:

*Bring items for the raffle - gift wrapped if you wish - this is one of the best raffles of the year!
*Dress festively if you are in the mood to do so!

Event cost:

$15 per person, payable by check or cash at the door, includes appetizers, dinner, homebrew and dessert. Please bring your homebrew! If there is anything you wish to bring (desserts, raffle items, reindeer, homebrew), please do so and share the holiday spirit!

RSVP:

We need to deliver a headcount for catering, so please try to RSVP me with the number attending in your party by Friday, December 8. Guests (21 and over) are welcome to attend - please remember to include them in your RSVP.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A bit about Trappist ale before tonight's Chimay 25th anniversary party.

As a prelude to tonight’s observance of the 25th anniversary of Chimay Trappist ales being imported to the United States (at the Public House, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.), here’s an important consideration.

Abbey ales are one thing, and Trappist ales something else. This isn’t to say that all Trappist ales are superior to similar Abbey styles. The overlap is considerable, and the only way to be able to chart the similarities and differences is to drink as many different varieties of both as possible.

That’s why it’s fun being a professional.

“Trappist” does not denote precise characteristics. Some are dark, some pale. A few are hoppy, and others sweet. "Trappist" is an accredited appellation of origin, nothing more, nothing less. The rest is up to the individual monastery brewing team, and results vary.

For certification as a Trappist brewery, the brewing operation must be located on the grounds of the monastery; monks must retain overall control of the brewing operation (secular brewers are permitted); and a portion of the profits accrued from the brewing must go to charitable purposes.

The six Belgian Trappist breweries that wear the badge of officialdom are Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westvleteren, and Achel. Koningshoeven, located in the Netherlands, is the seventh, and the only one I haven’t visited.

Interestingly, Wikipedia notes that there is an eighth member of the International Trappist Association (founded 1997): Mariawald, in Germany, which to my knowledge is not a beer producer. Since the Trappist appellation extends to all products emanating from member monasteries, perhaps Mariawald does cheese or wine.

At the tasting in Prost tonight, we have one case each of 11.2 oz Chimay Red, White and Blue. Tisha Dean from World Class Beverages will be pouring wee samples, and if you elect to buy a bottle, you may keep the special 25th anniversary glass (roughly 50 glasses on hand). Tisha is bringing cheese and chocolates, too.

No discounts for dressing like a monk.

Monday, November 24, 2008

NABC Winter Release Party at Flanagan's, December 13.

I've often written in this space that I have great personal admiration for what the O'Sheas have done with their family of pubs in Louisville, including O'Shea's, Flanagan's and Brendan's, and soon to include a fourth ooutpost downtown on Market Street. As such, I'm delighted that we'll be staging a special event with them.

Stay tuned for details, but for now, know that the New Albanian Brewing Company will be on hand at Flanagan's Ale House (934 Baxter Avenue in the Highlands ) for a Winter Release Party on Saturday, December 13, from 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

The party will take place in the Red Room (nice touch, guys) at Flanagan's. The main attraction will be the tapping of the only kegs of Naughty Claus and Bonfire of the Valkyries that will appear in Louisville in 2008, but there'll also be other NABC beers on tap as well as live music.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beer at the YMCA.

There are times when it amazes even me that we’ve been able to accomplish what we have in a community that places a shockingly low value on the notion of education, achievement and personal growth. In these parts, conservatism is not a doctrine founded on ideas and principles. Rather, it is an anguished primal scream in the general direction of anyone and anything that the adherent can’t or won’t comprehend.

Yes, New Albany has civic issues just like any other municipality, and yet a crazily disproportionate amount of the problems here stem from self-inflicted wounds. It took at least three years longer than it should have to accept a $20 million grant from the neighboring Horseshoe (formerly Caesar’s) casino foundation, match it with less than $150,000 a year from economic development funds, build a gleaming new YMCA facility atop a cleansed downtown brown field, and watch it attract precisely the sort of demographic that will help revitalize the historic core of the city.

Over the entrenched opposition of a minority of self-immolating dunderheads, we somehow pulled it off, albeit belatedly, and the Y opened two weeks ago to universal acclaim and packed crowds. As part of a reception for donors, movers and shakers, including the blatantly hypocritical appearance of two ex-councilmen who were prominent leaders of the campaign against it, the organizing committee asked me to bring NABC beers and pour them. I was happy to oblige.

Predictably, this innocuous scenario prompted a local pseudonymous blogger of decidedly troglodyte disposition to question the scandalous activity of drinking a beer within the building she venomously opposed: YMCA.

I answered them ay my other Internet portal: Freedom to Screech's attack on the YMCA: A sewer runs through her.

What’s sad about all this is the persistent implication that beer isn’t compatible with health, well-being and/or Christianity.

As for the former, numerous studies attest to the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.

As for the latter, the institution of the YMCA seems to have soft-pedaled the traditional religious connotations in favor of making its tent bigger, and that’s something the acrimonious American body politic could learn from. As an example, Trappist ales are as Christian as it gets, but it still seems to baffle some of my neighbors that there could be a connection between a monk and a brew kettle.

Presumably they’re the same ones who maintain a insupportable belief in the supposedly non-alcoholic wine of the Bible. Then again, the interpretation of nature (grapes) and natural processes (fermentation) can be selective on the part of the true believer.

In my world, it’s elegantly simple. You exercise, cleanse the body and mind, and then the beer and food tastes far better. That’s religion enough for me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Special pin of cask-conditioned Community Dark to accompany night two of the Purple People Party.

Tonight for the Purple People Party art show, Jared will be tapping a pin (five gallons) of cask-conditioned Community Dark, and with a delightful difference: It's a wooden pin that formerly housed Calvados-aged JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale. The ale should be flowing by late afternoon.

Whe emptied, the pin will be refilled with bouncing baby Solidarity and hidden away to alchemize. You'll forget all about it, and then, when you least expect it ... Jared will break the seal and you'll read another e-mail.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meet Mike, our new beer manager.

From the inception of NABC/Rich O's/Sportstime, and apart from our own brewing operation, which is the semi-autonomous domain of the brewers, I've been the sole beer guy, and the one responsible for the overall composition and conceptualization of our guest beer program, guest beer being anything we don't brew ourselves.

Come to think of it, I suppose we didn't need a term for "guest" beer until we began brewing our own beer.

In recent years the day to day management of the guest beer – bottles, kegs, buying, stocking, menus, chalk boards – has slowly evolved to the point that I couldn't begin to handle all of it, and numerous people have gotten involved at various times in the effort to pick up the slack. What we've needed is a single employee responsible for the day to day management of guest beer … a Beer Manager.

As many of you already know, Mike Bauman is now the official Beer Manager of NABC/Rich O's/Sportstime. He's been working for NABC for a long time in numerous jobs, and has shown the initiative necessary to be entrusted with the keys to the beer wagon, as it were.

I will be retaining overall control of the strategic planning, but Mike's doing the daily grind. He's the one to ask about special orders, outages, special requests, and anything pertaining to what we're doing with beer. He's taken over Tony Beard's part-time brewery gig, too, and can also help with matters pertaining to NABC-brewed beers.

Having introduced Mike, he wants you to know that Rich O's will open at five p.m. on Thanksgiving, with he and Steve manning the trenches. Mike says, "We'll be serving beer and chili, but bring that extra piece of pie or turkey leg you couldn't quite get down for the free pot luck buffet (the kitchen and all of Sportstime Pizza will be closed).

There you have it. The choice already is paying dividends. Once he learns the rules, he can progress to the fun part: Breaking them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's time for another NABC art show: Purple People Party, this weekend.


The basics from organizer Kevin Dennis. There'll be a special NABC beer on tap then ... more about that later in the week.

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ART SHOW = Purple People Party!

Some confusion is amidst us during these dreary times ... The ART SHOW is the PURPLE PEOPLE PARTY!!!

SO if you are interested in being apart of the Purple People Party now is the
time to get involved. There will be much fun had by all and better yet good times
for some.

SO if you were confused by the dates they are as follows ...

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The 20th , 21st and 22nd......

Monday, November 17, 2008

NABC brewery news and notes: Solidarity, Naughty Claus and cask-conditioned Phoenix Komon.

Before reviewing last week's brew schedule, let's take a look at the hand pull, where a firkin of cask-conditioned NABC Phoenix Komon just went on tap. Phoenix is our dark, sour throwback recipe from olden Louisville times, and normally it is intended as a brew-quick, drink-quick quencher, but this firkin is special because Jared experimented.

The ale inside has spent a year on oak chips. The characteristic tartness remains intact, albeit balanced by oakiness. The cask breather component that cracked has been replaced, so we can taking our time drinking this one.

Last week, the brew crew revived one historic NABC formulation and recast a second.

Solidarity, a Baltic Porter originally brewed by founding NABC brewmeister Michael Borchers, will return for the February 27 opening of Gravity Head 2009. Here's the recipe:

2-row, aromatic, crystal, chocolate and black malts
Saaz and Spalt hops (50 IBUs)
California Common yeast
Circa 10% abv

The 2008 version of NABC Naughty Claus was put to bed last week, and it's different from last year in more than one respect. The contents:

2-row, chocolate, aromatic malts
No hops used.
Dutch dark cocoa and fresh mint
House London yeast
Circa 7% abv

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How soon is now?

(I needed a break, so I've been listening to the Smiths)

For the first time in ages, money has been a daily concern in my professional career, which is supposed to be about beer to the exclusion of most everything else. At least that's the way I've always approached it.

So far, NABC as currently constituted is holding up well amid the familiar economic problems in the nation at large. We’re holding our ground.

The money concerns I mention are about the beer, in the sense that my company needs money to finish the new brewery in downtown New Albany, which has been partially built but not finished. Until we get a financing package in place, we’re stymied. It has been a frustrating few months, to say the least.

Had we been ready to borrow in 2007, it is likely that one or the other bank would have handed us a pile of greenbacks sans much at all in the way of collateral. The fact that banks did this far too often is the precise reason why we now have a world financial crisis, and in some ways, it would be nice to have a finished project even if we now might be part of the overall problem rather than still standing outside on the doorstep, waiting to be processed.

Banks now insist that they’re practicing “old-fashioned” banking, and this means that they’re holding tightly to their reserves and insisting on conservative lending principles that a younger generation of bankers never even knew existed. Trust me – I’ve listened as they’ve confessed to their ignorance, and how much they’ve had to learn since matters began heading south.

I’ve also heard them cast doubt on the suitability of NABC’s brewery project by noting that they’re not funding start-ups (er, we’ve been in business for 21 years, altogether, and are expanding a brand, not creating an entirely new one), and also they they’re avoiding restaurants.

To the latter, I’ve responded: “Makes sense, but if you’d just take a look at this helpful business plan we spent six months writing and see that the taproom’s a small part of the beer production operation … wouldn’t want to trouble you, of course … we’re here to answer your questions, after all.”

There are times when it makes me want to scream. To all those borrowing idiotic amounts of money at unreal interest rates to fund houses you couldn’t afford in an exurb that I detest, hey … thanks for all that. And thanks to the people who indulged/conned you into thinking you could afford things you can’t. Thanks for voting Republican and acquiescing in the pell-mell shedding of regulation, which might have restrained you from your intrinsic greed.

However, in this situation, the truth of the matter is that the glass of beer is half-full, not half-empty. We took a long time to work through the details of the plan for the new operation, and that’s been good. It's better that way, and I feel even more confident about it now. The fact that we’ve had to go back and look for creative ways around the lending impasse has also been beneficial. I know more about SBA programs and leasing arrangements than ever before. When things break, we're going to be lean and efficient ... at least, more so than before.

Yes, I’d rather be focusing on the beer itself. At the same time, concentrating on all the rest of the financial minutia is an education I’ve sorely needed to further. Eventually it will enable me to return to the beer itself, because we’ll find the financing partner and finish the project, even if it takes longer than we’ve planned.

The beer’s going to taste even better then. Trust me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dogfish Head Hootenanny recap, and a few reflections.

My friend John Freyer, the Chicagoland-based regional representative of the innovative Dogfish Head craft brewery, was in town last night for a hootenanny, which is a fun way of describing a vertical Dogfish Head ale tasting jazzed up with a chilled buffet of Thanksgiving-style “leftovers” and accompanied by a bit of education and an evening’s conviviality.

Not only is John a craft beer business veteran and someone who’s been through all the madness that we’ll be experiencing when NABC’s downtown production brewery opens (bankers, if you’re reading and have cash to lend, call me immediately), but he’s also a diehard baseball fan who has co-authored books on our favorite game. After the hootenanny, we chewed the fat at the bar and vowed to collaborate someday on a baseball & beer companion. It was a blast, and it reminded me of how very much I love what I do. I'm the carnival barker, and I get to drink beer while I work.

I’m fortunate to make a living from my lifelong hobby of drinking beer, preferably in my natural habitat, the pub. Yes, it’s a business, and we need to make a profit to survive. But, at the end of the day, intangibles matter more to me. Being in a position to bring people like John to New Albany, and to have people come from miles around to sample beers and share knowledge, is what keeps me coming back for more, and helps me to tolerate the throbbing in my knees this a.m.

Of course, there’s a valid point to be made with respect to my attention to detail when it comes to money, in the sense that if I ran a tighter ship both personally and professionally, there’d be more lucre left over for the Curmudgeons. But my wife gets it, and truthfully, it simply doesn’t bother me, because I’d rather be good at what I do, and what I do is teaching and memory creation. Legacies don’t have to be built on wealth, even when they’re accruing from a for-profit business.

None of us will be taking any of it with us. C'est la vie.

Meaningful legacies in my line of work are about doing what you can, while you can, as best you can, and creating memories that are impervious to calculations of interest and percentages. If twenty years from now, someone smiles because they recall good times at the pub, then that’s the best return of all on our investment. In all honesty, I can’t say that I give a damn about the money beyond what it takes to survive. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes … well, you know the rest of the Jagger/Richards axiom, don’t you?

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NABC’s annual celebration of winter seasonal and holiday draft from America and the world begins on December 12. It’s my favorite festival of all the ones we stage and attend every year, primarily because so many people I haven’t seen in a while come back for the holidays, and these beers provide the festive accompaniment to the joys of reconnecting with old pals, sharing the war stories, and remembering the ones who no longer are with us. It was a bad year in the sense of losses, and I’m carrying a grudge against the Grim Reaper, but tomorrow’s another day, and the forthcoming year another year. You do your best, and keep fighting.

Here are the links to Saturnalia information posted here previously. Note that since the descriptions were written, I've updated the one for NABC Naughty Claus to reflect Jesse's submission of this year's formulation.

American micro draft lineup, descriptions, links for Saturnalia Winter Solstice MMVIII (begins December 12).

Imported draft lineup, descriptions, links for Saturnalia Winter Solstice MMVIII (begins December 12).

Saturnalia explained: Festive draft beers for the winter solstice, coming December 12.

Roger's believe-it-or-not: Saturnalia's planned and ready, a full month ahead of opening night.

Friday, November 14, 2008

New NABC web site to debut before Thanksgiving.

I’m relieved to announce that the preliminaries are underway, and fairly soon we’ll have a new NABC web site up and working.

The site is being designed by Michael, an old friend of NABC, and regular customer for many, many years.

The previous website served the purpose of bringing much of the archival information in one place, but with no time to update, it grew stale. So it goes. The new site should be easier for us to maintain, and easier for you to navigate. The first task upon completion is to restore the mailing list and improve communications.

Stay tuned. I believe we’ll have it off the ground well before Thanksgiving. As before, the address is www.newalbanian.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Windsor opens its bar and lounge tonight, and there'll be a party.


Tonight marks the debut of the Windsor Restaurant and Garden's new bar and lounge, the result of an interior retrofitting of the space known locally as "where the music shop used to be."

A bar has been installed, and with a full 3-way liquor license, the full gamut of beer, wine and cocktails will be available. Draft beer highlights are to include two NABC beers, rotating taps for Samuel Adams seasonals and Indiana microbrews, Bell’s, Goose Island, Newcastle, Dogfish Head 90 Minute, and a couple of others that have slipped my mind. The bottle list will begin short and grow.

The Windsor Restaurant and Garden shares ownership with the Grand Convention Center, and the two establishments are located adjacent to each other on Market Street in downtown New Albany. Dave Himmel's reconstituted Connor's Place pub is across the alley from the Grand, and Dave's Market Street Fish House lies across Market to the north.

The Windsor's chef, Justin McMillen, came out to chat a couple of Fridays ago when Mrs. Curmudgeon and I dropped in for dinner, and he said business has been steady. That's good news in a choppy economy. Our meal that night was very good, with grilled scallops to match the great seafood served by the defunct Bistro New Albany when it occupied the space. Isaac Fox, server and bar manager extraordinaire, who did time with the Bistro and later gravitated down the street to Speakeasy before alighting at the Windsor, is the bar manager.

I'll be there at 5:30 today when the celebration begins.

Original Goose Island brewpub spared after last minute lease deal.

Thanks to juligian, who left this comment on my post Goose Island's original Clybourn brewpub to close ...

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Goose Island toasts 11th-hour deal to keep brew pub open, by Michael Lev, Chicago Tribune reporter (November 12, 2008)

They raised a glass in celebration at Goose Island Beer Co.'s pioneering North Side brew pub Tuesday night: The well-known spot isn't going to close at year's end.

John Hall, Goose Island's founder and chief executive, said he reached a last-minute deal with the pub's landlord to stay at 1800 N. Clybourn Ave. for three to five years, averting the closing of the home for Honker's Ale and other brews. "I'm thrilled," said Hall, who bought everyone in the place a beer. "They called me last week and said we want to try to do a deal. We compromised in a week on something we couldn't do for a long time."

Hall said he couldn't talk for the other side, but he indicated the weak real estate market may have helped get the agreement done. In April, Hall had said that the landlord, CRM Properties Group, had asked for a significant rent increase, reflecting the popularity of the trendy neighborhood. Goose Island was part of a pioneering redevelopment in the North and Clybourn Avenues area. Today, Clybourn Square is surrounded by one of Chicago's hottest retail regions, but the entire economy is now in duress.

Chris Siavelis, an executive at Deerfield-based CRM, couldn't be reached Tuesday night.

Goose Island, which also makes 312 and other brews, was founded as a brew pub in 1988 at the site. The venture was a success, and Goose Island built a stand-alone brewery at 1800 W. Fulton St. in 1995. Since then, the company has focused on retail beer sales, though it has continued to operate two brew pubs.

"We've been in the business for 20 years, and a lot of things have changed," Hall said. "We couldn't be more pleased about reaching an agreement."

American micro draft lineup, descriptions, links for Saturnalia Winter Solstice MMVIII (begins December 12).

Here are the American microbrewed selections that have been listed for the fifth edition of Saturnalia, which kicks off at the Public House on December 12.

Pricing and portion sizes vary according to alcohol content and style. Selections marked with an asterisk * are appearing on draft for the first time at Rich O’s Public House and Sportstime Pizza.

The three previous table setters for today's concluding half of the Saturnalia listings are these:

Imported draft lineup, descriptions, links for Saturnalia Winter Solstice MMVIII (begins December 12).

Saturnalia explained: Festive draft beers for the winter solstice, coming December 12.

Roger's believe-it-or-not: Saturnalia's planned and ready, a full month ahead of opening night.

John Campbell is working on the official poster, and when it's ready, it will be previewed here.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Anchor Christmas Ale (“Merry Christmas & Happy New Year”)
The holiday ale’s recipe has differed each year since its inception in 1975, but the conceptual links with trees (on the bottle label) and the winter solstice have endured. 5.5% abv.

*Atwater Vanilla Java Porter
Starbucks need not apply to serve this dessert drink, chilled, with chocolate malt, vanilla flavoring, coffee beans, and even American-grown Golding hops just for the fun of it 6% abv.

Avery Old Jubilation
Mahogany-colored, nutty and toffeeish English-style strong ale, brewed from five malts (two-row, special roast, black, chocolate and victory) and Bullion hops. 8% abv.

*Barley Island Beastie Bourbon Barrel-Aged Oatmeal Stout
The Noblesville brewery’s Brass Knuckles Oatmeal Stout (5% abv in customary form) is aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon whiskey barrels, bolstering strength. Barley Island’s owners and brew crew will be on site at Rich O’s on Saturday, December 13, to help us drink some Beastie.

*Bell’s Christmas Ale
And now something completely different, as Bell’s delves into holiday ales with is being described as a Scots 80 Shilling (Wee Heavy) formulation brewed with Michigan barley and a blend of Pacific Northwest hops and a few cones of Michigan-grown hops. Guesstimating 7%+ abv.

Bell’s Hell Hath No Fury
This Belgian Strong Ale first appeared in 2004. According to the brewery, it’s “A brew that gives you either sympathy for the devil or the courage to face him … Goes especially well with your favorite lost my girl/truck/dog/trailer song.” Of course. 7.7% abv.

Bluegrass Brewing Company Hell for Certain
Original BBC brewmaster David Pierce’s classic seasonal Belgian style, taking at least some measure of inspiration from Wallonian gnomes, and the remainder from a strange Kentucky hamlet that may not have voted to re-elect Mitch McConnell. Circa 7.5% abv.

Boulder Never Summer Ale
American seasonal ale brewed with 2-row barley and British dark caramel malt; Nugget, Willamette and Cascade hops; and a “top secret brewmaster’s spice,” all on behalf of “the drinking town with a skiing problem.” 5.94% abv.

Breckenridge Christmas Ale
Dark mahogany in color (two row, caramel, chocolate, black malts) with Chinook and Mt. Hood for balance. Very Colorado. 7.4% abv.

Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout
Chocolate’s the selling point, but there is none; rather, intensely roasted malts and brewing skullduggery are the culprits. Should be saved for Gravity Head, but the Publican loves his Imperials. 10.1% abv.

*Brooklyn Brewery Brewmasters Reserve Grand Cru
As befitting the man who wrote the book on food and beer pairings, Garrett Oliver offers this special Belgian ale, brewed with Canadian barley and winter wheat, two different types of orange peel, lemon peel, chamomile, coriander and wildflower honey. 8.4% abv.

Clipper City “Heavy Seas” Peg Leg Imperial Stout (firkin)
Cross your fingers, cask-conditioned ale lovers. We’ve been sitting on this firkin for about five months, letting a bit of age reshape the thick, evolving black loveliness within. 8% abv.

Clipper City “Heavy Seas” Winter Storm
There is a presumption of “Imperial ESB” in this ale, with four malts and five hops (Magnum, Fuggles, Cascade, Centennial and Chinook). Dry hopped. 7.5% abv.

*Dark Horse Perkulator Coffee Doppelbock
Does anyone ever brew a coffee beer that isn’t a porter or a stout? Affirmative. Dark Horse’s –ator tag is priceless. Guesstimating 7.5% abv.

Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout
This fruit-laced Stout comes from one of many innovative Michigan breweries and has arrived late every time we’ve ordered it, but is much loved when finally here. Keep watching the blackboards. 4.5% abv.

Great Divide Hibernation Ale
It’s a winter ale, but one that is lagered for three months prior to release. Perhaps overshadowed by some of today’s extreme microbrews, but enduring, unique and worthy in its own right - deep, nutty and smooth. 8.1% abv.

Left Hand Snowbound Winter Ale
Presented as an “antidote to cabin fever,” and brewed with two-row, Munich, crystal and chocolate malts, Magnum and Saaz hops, and a spice array of crushed cinnamon, cloves, orange zest, honey, chopped ginger and cardamom. The website lists it as 7.6% abv.

NABC Bonfire of the Valkyries
An unprecedented Schwarzbier/Rauchbier hybrid (smoked black lager), back for its third seasonal batch. Not excessively smoky; just right. All in all, magic fire mood music for Saturnalia. Circa 6.5% abv.

NABC Naughty Claus
Jesse’s and Jared’s holiday spiced winter warmer undergoes yearly modification. For 2008, the recipe calls for 2-row, chocolate, and aromatic malts, Dutch dark cocoa and fresh mint. That’s right: No hops at all. Circa 7% abv.

Oaken Barrel Epiphany
Westmalle Trappist yeast is used to fashion this tasty Tripel, which nudges toward the sweet side of the range without sacrificing a velvety sipability. Take that, Bud Light. Circa 9% abv.

Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence Stout
Last year’s portion went quickly as the sweet tooth brigade gathered for the kill. It’s stout infused with Belgian dark chocolate, and clocks in at circa 7% abv.

*Redstone Black Raspberry Nectar Mead
It’s another first for us, although mead arguably is the oldest fermented beverage known to man. Redstone’s nectar is classified as Melomel. Five parts Clover honey and one part Wildflower honey yield mead of medium sweetness, with black raspberries added. 8% abv.

Rogue Chocolate Stout
Brewed with a staggering 10 ingredients, including chocolate malt, chocolate flavoring and rolled oats. It is rich in every conceivable respect. Circa 6% abv.

Rogue HazelNut Brown Nectar
First concocted in honor of a creative, homebrewing friend of Rogue’s head brewer, HazelNut Brown Nectar is brewed with hazelnut extract, at least a half-dozen malts, Perle and Saaz hops, and Rogue’s trademark yeast strain. 6.2% abv.

Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve
Santa’s Private Reserve is back on draft as part of Rogue’s “John’s Locker Stock” series. Imagine a slightly bigger St. Rogue Red with double the hops. Circa 6.5% abv.

Samuel Adams Winter Lager
Bottom fermented wheat bock with Goldings and German Noble hops and a “touch” of spice (cinnamon, ginger and orange peel). 5.8% abv

Schlafly Christmas Ale
Schlafly is the “new religion in Mecca,” and its St. Louis megabrewing neighbor brews nothing as big as this big amber ale flavored with orange peel and cloves. 10% abv.

*Shmaltz He’Brew Jewbelation Twelve
Shmaltz’s 12th anniversary ale uses 12 different malts and 12 distinct hop varieties in 12 separate additions. At 12% abv, the motto undoubtedly rings true through the shtick: “This anniversary, candles won’t be the only thing getting lit.”

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
It is indeed difficult to imagine another seasonal ale that symbolizes the holidays better than Celebration Ale. Desert island beer for many, recurring seasonal favorite, with generous doses of Chinook (for bittering), Cascades and Centennial hops, dry-hopped with all three, but not neglecting a delicious malt underpinning. 6.8% abv.

Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard
The process is simple. Arrogant Bastard is aged on oak chips, with lend toasty vanilla flavors that are the perfect complement to the ale’s big background malt wallop. We appreciate aggressive hopping, too. Circa 6.8% abv.

*Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale
Straight outta Akron, dog. Spiced with honey, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and “Santa's secret recipe.” 7.8% abv.

Three Floyds Alpha Klaus Xmas Porter
Who else but Three Floyds Brewing Company would devise a robust porter with English chocolate and Mexican sugar (or vice versa, depending on the source) that reeks of piney hop essence and is built on a malty foundation? No one, that’s who. 7.5% abv.

*Two Brothers Oh Brother Tripel
An unpreviewed seasonal release from Chicagoland’s Two Brothers, made from pilsner malt, candi sugar, and “non-traditional” hops. 8.5% abv.

Upland Winter Warmer
Upland’s annual winter specialty warmer is perhaps best described as a cross between an Old Ale and an English-style Barley Wine, falling a tad shy of the strong American microbrewed interpretations of both styles. 9% abv.

*Victory Baltic Thunder
Probably should have held onto this one for Gravity Head. Let’s just say that the Publican is eager to sample this variation on the Baltic Porter theme, courtesy for one of the most proficient breweries going. 8.5% abv.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Imported draft lineup, descriptions, links for Saturnalia Winter Solstice MMVIII (begins December 12).

Here are the imported selections that have been listed for the fifth edition of Saturnalia, which kicks off at the Public House on December 12.

Pricing and portion sizes vary according to alcohol content and style. Selections marked with an asterisk * are appearing on draft for the first time at Rich O’s Public House and Sportstime Pizza.

The two previous table setters for today's half of the Saturnalia listings are these:

Saturnalia explained: Festive draft beers for the winter solstice, coming December 12.

Roger's believe-it-or-not: Saturnalia's planned and ready, a full month ahead of opening night.

The American micro contingent will be previewed on Wednesday.

BELGIUM

De Dolle Stille Nacht
“Silent Night’s” ingredients include pale malt, white candi sugar and Nugget hops, but these don’t suffice to explain the seductive attraction of this Belgian classic. 27% degrees Plato, and 12% abv.

Delirium Noël
Noël, from the venerable, family-run Huyghe brewery near Ghent, blends the cleanness of Delirium Tremens (golden) and Delirium Nocturnum (dark) into a unique third way, albeit a shade stronger, prompting the brewery to remind us that it “requires a responsible consumption.” 10% abv.

Dupont Les Bons Voeux
Tawny blond, dry-hopped Saison for the holiday; brewed every year since 1970. The name means, “With the best wishes of the brewery” – Dupont, that is. 9.5% abv.

*Duvel Green
You read it right. Duvel, the Belgian ale that’s never, ever been on draft. Actually, the bottled Duvel formula we know best still isn’t. At 6.8% abv, export-only Duvel Green is entirely different animal from the famous non-draft version. ETA not known - keep your eyes open.

Gouden Carolus Noël
A secret recipe of six herbs and spices, along with Belgian hops, in an old house recipe that hadn’t been brewed for almost four decades until revived in 2002. 10.5% abv.

Kasteel Rouge
The Van Honsebrouck brewery uses the same cherry alcohol from Mon Cheri designer chocolates, dilutes it, then blends with the brewery’s Kasteel Bruin, yielding flavors of cherry, chocolate and toffee. 8% abv.

La Rulles Cuvée Meilleurs Voeux
Eclectic Wallonian holiday brew with pilsner, pale, Munich, caramel and roasted malts; dark candi sugar; American hops (Warrior, Amarillo and Cascade); and fermented using Orval’s distinctive Trappist yeast. 7.3% abv.

N’Ice Chouffe
Thyme, vanilla, orange peel and candi sugar are among the spices used to accent a dark and brawny winter seasonal, brewed in the hills of the Ardennes. 10% abv.

Scaldis Noël
When your flagship ale is the 12% abv blockbuster Scaldis (known as Bush in Belgium), what do you do for an encore come Christmas? Somehow Dubuisson’s holiday ale dials up the seductive elegance. It’s been a decade since we had Scaldis Noël on draft. 12% abv.

GERMANY

Mahr’s Der Weisse Bock
From the Publican’s favorite Bamberg family brewery that doesn’t produce smoked lager comes this compatriot of the better known Aventinus. If we could only reproduce the ambience of the venerable Mahr’s brewery taproom. 7.2% abv

Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock
One of the Publican’s all-time Desert Island beers is Schlenkerla Marzen, now on tap all year round, except when Urbock, Marzen’s bigger brother, breezes into town for the holidaze. Taste what happens when beechwood is used in the correct way (as flavor, not bedding in the Clydesdale’s stalls). 6.6% abv.

Weihenstephaner Korbinian
Before there were wheat (Mahr’s) and coffee (Dark Horse) Doppelbocks, there was Doppelbock straight up - malty, dark, strong and always German. 7.4% abv.

ITALY

*Birra di Natale (Birrificio BEBA)
The next frontier for creative craft brewing is in Italy, so you’d best get used to the idea. We begin with BEBA’s winter lager, which should serve as a tasty calibration beer. Natale is brewed with pilsner, munich and caramel malts, and hopped with Hallertauer Magnum. 8.5% abv.

*Chiostro (Piccolo Birrificio)
The malt bill includes pilsner, wheat and rye malts, and Hallertauer is a familiar German hop variety, but then things get interesting. The yeast is Trappist, and the spice of choice is leaves of Wormwood/Absinthe (Arthemisia absinthium), which go straight into the kettle. Paging Mr. Van Gogh? 5% abv.

*Krampus (Birrificio del Ducato)
The beer itself (8% abv) is spiced with star anise, and the origin of the name is well worth noting (as related on importer B. United’s web site):

The word Krampus originates from the Old High German word for claw (Krampen). In the Alpine region the Krampus is represented by an incubus in company of St Nicholas. Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December and particularly in the evening of December 5 and roam the streets frightening children (and adults) with rusty chains and bells. In some rural areas also slight birching especially of young females by the Krampus is part of tradition.

*Malthus Birolla (Birrificio di Como)
Brewed somewhat near George Clooney’s estate in Northern Italy, Malthus Birolla’s twist is the addition of roasted chestnuts and local honey to the wort. Later, the more of same honey goes into the maturation tanks. 6.5% abv.

*Nora (Birreria Baladin)
Throwback Egyptian recipes always are an excellent change of pace. Unmalted kamut (an ancient form of wheat) is used, and only the bare minimum of hops, which were not used in beer until later, are added solely for their preservative qualities. Ginger and orange peel are employed for balance, and myrrh for bittering. 6.8% abv.

*Shangrila (Birrificio Troll)
Shangrila is the Publican’s most anticipated Saturnalia MMVIII ale. To a standard recipe of malt and English hops, a tandori blend of Himalayan spices ups the ante: Coriander, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, ginger, cardamom, saffron, curry, pepper, and anise. 8.5% abv.

*Verdi Imperial Stout (Birrificio del Ducato)
Discerning readers may be aware that one current trend in fine chocolate making is the use of hot chili peppers, which add spice and dryness to rich, dark creations. Will the same philosophy hold with Imperial Stout? 7.5% abv.

UNITED KINGDOM

*Harvey’s Christmas Ale (firkin)No gimmicks here. Maris Otter and crystal malts, pinhead oats, Fuggle and Golding hops from within cycling distance of the brewery, traditional open primary fermentation and house yeast. 8.1% abv.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Saturnalia explained: Festive draft beers for the winter solstice, coming December 12.

Yesterday I set the table.

Roger's believe-it-or-not: Saturnalia's planned and ready, a full month ahead of opening night.

Today, the conceptual basis for our Saturnalia Winter Solstice draft celebration, as copied from the printed souvenir program that will be ready for perusal on December 12 when the taps open.

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Festive draft beers for the winter solstice.

In pre-Christian Rome, Saturnalia was the annual winter solstice celebration that originally coincided with the feast days for Saturn (god of sowing and the harvest), Consus (god of the storage bin) and Opa (goddess of plenty).

Many of our contemporary winter holiday traditions derive from Saturnalia’s pagan roots, including the hanging of wreaths and garlands, donations to the needy, prayers for peace, time off work to be enjoyed with family, and of course eating, drinking and merriment.

Beginning Dec. 12 & lasting all month.

The New Albanian Brewing Company pays tribute to these ancient pagan origins with Saturnalia, an annual holiday draft celebration. We’ve gathered dozens of special kegs of beer – some rare, some seasonal and others just festive – from America and around the world. Some of these hard-to-find beers will be appearing in draft form at Rich O’s and Sportstime Pizza for the first time ever in metropolitan Louisville.

When the doors open at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12, the first wave of sacrificial MMVIII Saturnalia selections will be revealed, tapped in the traditional, ritualistic manner … and the hedonistic pleasures will begin. The remaining kegs will be tapped as the days pass and the first wave depletes.

UNLEASHING YOUR INNER PAGAN, ONE SEASONAL POUR AT A TIME.

Pricing and portion sizes vary according to alcohol content and style. Selections marked with an asterisk * are appearing on draft for the first time at Rich O’s Public House and Sportstime Pizza. During the festival’s run, information and updates will appear on these web sites:

New Albanian Brewing Company
Potable Curmudgeon's blog

Always look on the blackboards to see what is on tap, and remember: Adults drink responsibly!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Roger's believe-it-or-not: Saturnalia's planned and ready, a full month ahead of opening night.

Just the facts, reader: In professional terms, the effort required to breathe life into a business expansion and new brewery in downtown New Albany has deprived me of a substantial portion of the time I used to invest in beer-related matters at our original Grant Line Road location.

In 2008, I was forced by necessity to put the “Your Name Here” fest into what I hope is temporary cold storage, and owing to issues pertaining to timing (wholesaler timidity?) and availability in distribution, there was little choice in electing to take a year off from Lambic by the Glass. The Sandkerwa homage to Franconia wasn’t what I wanted it to be, either, but it went on as scheduled.

In my estimation, Lupulin Harvest Hopcoming went pretty well on the hop-infused American end (a half-dozen or so beers are still pouring as I write), but I could have done a better job with the foreign contingent.

Mind you, not that we haven’t given good event during a year that’s almost concluded. The tenth anniversary edition of Gravity Head rocked. We’ve had more one-off, in-house promos than ever before, involving two or three Schlafly visits, exciting new Italian drafts, one Dogfish draft extravaganza already passed and another Dogfish celebration coming with the Hootenanny this Friday night, November 14.

And, in anticipation of the forthcoming Bank Street Brewhouse and our Louisville metro rollout for NABC brands, we’ve done a few great local gigs with our own house beer in addition to the usual summertime festival road show, including showcases at Nachbar and Monkey Wrench, the Volksfest with BBC and other area micros, and our own Fringe Fest during Harvest Homecoming in New Albany.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that although numerous things have gone right this year, others haven’t been as smooth, and as a result, I’ve taken extra time to ensure that Saturnalia Winter Solstice will kick major butt this year in its fifth incarnation.

In fact, I’ve finished the prep work, and the program could actually be printed today if I had the additional time to bother. Saturnalia begins on December 12, meaning that while I’m forever notorious for waiting until the very last minute to concentrate and finish any project, this time I’m a month ahead of schedule.

I’m going to be publishing the contents of the Saturnalia program here on the blog, beginning tomorrow with the conceptual overview, and then followed by the individual beer listings with links to further information. Of the big three draft overkills we do on an annual basis, Saturnalia remains my personal favorite. Gravity Head choices must be big, and ones for Lupulin Land hoppy, but during the holidaze, anything goes. “Festive” is my watchword when foraging for the fifty-plus beers that will pour a baker’s dozen at a time from December 12 into January, 2009.

Hold on. They’re coming.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

This year's gathering of the Pants Down Potluck Port Drinkers Circle will be Monday, December 29.

Monday, December 29 is the tentative date for the annual gathering of the Pants Down Potluck Port Drinkers Circle of New Albany, Southern Indiana, Oz and points afar.

As before, we'll be imbibing in the Prost banquet and special events wing of Rich O's Public House/NABC. Coverage from stellar events the last three years can be viewed here:

2007: This year's gathering of the Pants Down Potluck Port Drinkers Circle will be Thursday, December 27.

2006: Pants Down Port Drinkers on December 28: A recap.

2005: Port wine is a holiday tradition.

Last year's gathering was especially memorable ... wasn't it? Come to think of it, I can't remember. I feel cheated somehow.

Anyway, as always, this year's tasting is open to all comers, with no cover or minimum, with the only firm requirement being that participants bring a bottle of Port and a snack (cheese, salami, olives or other munchables) to the gathering.

Of course, in lieu of a contribution, it remains conceivable that a fine cigar for the hosting Publican might buy your way inside.

Traditional co-conspirator Tim Eads and I would like an informal and non-binding RSVP by December 20, including a description of the Port you'll be bringing, if in fact you know and aren't a last-minute shopper like me. I'll post a list of the Ports on or around the 20th.

Briefly googling in preparation, we find:

Into Wine: Enjoying Port

The Vintage Port Site (operated by the Symington Family Port Companies)

Prior to my only visit to Portugal in 2000, the Danish gonzo journalist Kim Wiesener, a longtime friend, recommended Richard Mayson's "Port and the Douro" as the finest overview of all things Port. Indeed, it is excellent, and if you're interested in Port, it's a must-have.

There's a newer edition available, and I'm sure that Randy Smith at Destinations Booksellers would be able to track it down for those interested.

Here's a capsule description:

Mayson recounts the history of this great fortified wine up to the present day, including an assessment of major vintages back to 1896. He examines the physical condition of the region, grape varieties and vineyards with an appraisal of each of the main quintas, providing a directory of individual producers and shippers.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Press release: NABC seasonals queuing for December and January.

Two cherished New Albanian Brewing Company seasonal brews make their appearance each year in December, and a third is released in January. All three are ideal for chilly winter weather.

Timed to help kick off NABC’s month-long, annual Saturnalia Winter Solstice draft extravaganza, Bonfire of the Valkyries and Naughty Claus both will hit the brewpub’s taps on December 12.

Bonfire of the Valkyries (circa 6.5% abv) is a hybrid Schwarzbier (black lager) and Rauchbier (smoked lager). Weyermann malt from Bamberg lends a gentle, not excessive, smokiness. It’s magic fire mood music for Saturnalia.

Brewers Jesse Williams and Jared Williamson look forward to slightly tweaking each year’s Naughty Claus (7.5% abv), a holiday-spiced winter warmer featuring four malts, molasses, dark brown sugar, orange peel, cinnamon sticks and a few Saaz hops out of habit, if nothing else. Caroling is optional.

The bulk of the molasses purchased to make Naughty Claus goes into Old Lightning Rod, NABC’s Colonial-era strong ale, which is released every year on January 17 as homage to Benjamin Franklin.

It is hoped that the 2009 unveiling of Old Lightning Rod will take place at NABC’s second, expanded brew house in downtown New Albany, although it will be available at the original Grant Line Road location, too. Call 812-949-2804 for details, or visit www.newalbanian.com.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Goose Island's original Clybourn brewpub to close by year-end.

The first American brewpub I ever visited, in the spring of 1992, was Goose Island’s original location in Chicago.

Goose Island to close Clybourn spot, by DAVID ROEDER, Chicago Sun-Times staff reporter.

Goose Island Beer Co. said Monday it will close its original brewpub at 1800 N. Clybourn by year-end because it has lost its lease.

The Chicago-based company, founded at the Clybourn site in 1988, will continue to operate its Wrigleyville Brewpub at 3535 N. Clark and to brew and ship beer from 1800 W. Fulton.

There are dim memories of sitting outdoors on the patio, noting the neighborhood’s industrial surroundings, and drinking a sampler platter. I recall being impressed by all of them.

On the same trip to Chicago, we dined and drank at the Berghoff German restaurant downtown and drank dollar-and-a-quarter happy hour Porters made by the Berghoff’s affiliated microbrewery while standing at an adjoining stand-up saloon. As far as I know, all these establishments are gone.

But the losses don’t depress me, because bricks and mortar pale in significance to lessons learned, and in terms of influence, the 1992 journey to Chicago was personally vital. Goose Island’s set-up was a reviving urban area template for the pub brewing business, and the downtown, after-work ambience of the Berghoff’s tiny standup bar another model for enjoying pints on the run.

All of it was good. Thanks to Dave for clueing me in.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Porter Competition and Craft Raffle on the agenda for the Nov. 8 FOSSILS meeting.

The year 2008 marks the 18th anniversary of the Fermenters of Special Southern Indiana Libations Society (FOSSILS) homebrewing and beer appreciation club. The first meeting in September, 1990, was attended by seven beer drinkers, who've since been venerated as founders, although the heroic Mt. Rushmore-style statuary has yet to be sculpted on Floyds Knobs.

That's right ... I was one of them, and proud of it.

The next club meeting is Saturday, November 8, at 6:30 p.m. in Prost, the special events wing of the New Albanian Brewing Company. On the agenda is the annual FOSSILS Porter Competition (follow the link for details). Note that coordinator Ed Tash will be at the Public House to collect entries on Thursday, Nov. 6. If you have questions, contact Ed.

Also on tap for the evening is the 2008 FOSSILS Craft Raffle, as explained by Ed Needham, FOSSILS President of Vice:

The traditional craft raffle for the November FOSSILS meeting will have 'only' items made by members. The items can be anything, like homebrew, homemade wine, cider, (even a little shine if you got it).

The items do not have to be beer or homebrew related. Home canned jams or jellies, anything you have made yourself and want to enter will be fine. The goal is to see what kind of talent and creativity the members have, and to raise money for the FOSSILS activities the coming year. I'll be bringing a couple bags of my homeroasted coffee to raffle. Please put your names on the items you bring and add a little note if you feel a description is necessary.

Let's have some fun with this and cheer on the lucky people who walk away with the handmade items representing the talents of our club!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dogfish Head Hootenanny 2008 at the Public House, Friday, November 14.

NABC and World Class Beverages present:

Dogfish Head Hootenanny 2008

Friday, November 14th
6:30 p.m. in Prost (at Rich O’s Public House)

Special Guest & Educator: John Freyer, our regional Dogfish rep

Price is $30.
Seating limited to 25 people.

The Dogfish Head Hootenanny is a radical vertical tasting of some of the notorious craft brewer’s finest specialties, served alongside a pre-Thanksgiving chilled buffet of leftovers, including turkey sandwiches, pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole, green bean salad, corn bread, Waldorf salad and cranberries.

Here’s the Hootenanny Tasting List (2 oz samples; not in order of presentation):

Black and Blue
Chicory Stout (draft … through a tricked-out Randall the Enamel Animal filled with espresso beans)
Fort
Indian Brown Ale
Midas Touch Golden Elixir (draft)
Palo Santo Marron (draft)
Raison D'Extra (Vintage 2001)
Red & White
Theobroma (draft)

Specially priced carry-out bottles of Black and Blue, Fort, Indian Brown Ale, Red & White and Theobroma will also be available.

Designated drivers strongly recommended!

Reserve your space now by calling NABC special events coordinator Reva Hagedorn at 812-989-6178, or adding your name to the list at Rich O’s Public House.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A healthy contingent of Italian craft brews headed this way in December.

Last week I began the task of collating the many pre-orders and gearing up for December, when NABC's annual offering of Saturnalia Winter Solstice selections go on tap. A healthy number of Italian craft beers, which we've considered randomly in this space during the past year or more, have been intended for the holiday period.

Coincidentally, the Sunday edition of the New York Times offers a travel page consideration of the burgeoning Italian microbrewing scene. Thanks to Matthew and Jeff for pointing me to it.

Savoring Italy, One Beer at a Time, by Evan Rail.

“Italian brewers have done a wonderful job of making it clear that they are the same sort of artisans as chefs and others involved in food,” said Stan Hieronymus, the author of “Brew Like a Monk,” who is making his own trip to the region this fall. “That makes a trip to Italy to find more of these beers and to experience them, along with local cuisine, particularly appealing.”

Stan says it all, and if you examine the innovative ingredients being used by these Italian microbreweries, the food pairing possibilities seem limitless. In no particular order, here's the list of Italian beers ordered for Saturnalia.

1 20L Shangrila Shangrila (8.5% abv)
1 20L Birra di Natale Birra di Natale (8.5% abv)
1 20L Krampus Krampus (8% abv)
1 20L Chiostro Chiostro (5%)
1 20L Verdi Imperial Stout (7.5% abv)
1 30L Nora Nora (6.8% abv)
1 20L Malthus Birolla Malthus Birolla (6.5% abv)

And, here's the link to the Italian craft beer promotion we staged earlier in 2008:

Week of July 21, 2008: Carobs, Chestnuts, Chinotto & Chamomile: Italian Microbrewed Specialties.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Plucking a few items of beery interest from LEO's annual dining issue.

LEO Weekly’s annual dining issue appeared last Wednesday. For once, we actually ran an ad.



The ad, designed by John Campbell, is intended at least in part as an homage to Tony Beard (left, drinking, with Jared Williamson at right).

Tony has departed NABC for an extended stay in New Zealand, where he'll be traveling with his friend Kallie Crume (another valued NABC employee) and eventually setting up shop to resume his duties as in-house resident graphic artist (from afar). Truly, a world wired for Internet is a boon. Thanks again , Al Gore. The first pint's on the Publican.

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Wednesday's LEO also was the occasion for my twice-monthly Mug Shots article, which I devoted to the devastating news that one of my favorite Copenhagen pubs is gone.

RIP Mouse & Elephant

It is my sad duty to inform Kentuckiana that the Mouse & Elephant has closed. It is now a former pub, and that’s too bad.


According to my Danish friends, the local economy can’t be blamed for the M & E’s disappearance. Rather, the closing pertains to discord within the owning family, and it's a useful reminder that in bad or good times, it's the way the business is run that matters most.

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But of course money, or the absence of it, matters. Accordingly, LEO's dining issue featured an excellent article by Marsha Lynch, a fine writer and the much esteemed pastry chef at Louisville's Cafe Lou Lou, who explores the “hard times we're in” angle, Kentuckiana-style:

On the cutting board.

Chef David Clancy is unemployed again. In the fall of 2007, he was forced to give up his dream and close his beloved Bistro New Albany on East Market Street in downtown New Albany. Since then, he has taken at least three positions, the most recent at The Speakeasy on State Street a few blocks away from his old digs. On Friday, the word was out: The Speakeasy would also be closing as of this weekend.

Another old friend, Andrew Hutto of Baxter station, made good points about prices for alcoholic beverages.

A recent National Restaurant Association newsletter said that this year, more than ever, concentration on drink specials to drive traffic is garnering some success. But the prices of spirits and beers have gone up dramatically, according to Andrew Hutto of Baxter Station and co-founder of the Louisville Originals (an association of independent restaurants in the Metro area).

“I think one of the biggest mistakes we’ve all made as independents is we spend so much time trying to keep prices low — can’t raise prices, can’t raise prices — ’til your back’s to the wall and your only alternative is to raise prices,” he says. “We have not laid anyone off — mainly re-evaluated prices on spirits and beers.” Some of those prices had been static for many months or years. “Then you have the folks that come in and mention that ‘that’s quite an increase in the price of that beer,’” Hutto says. “I just want to say, ‘Hey, be happy, you have been underpaying for it these last three years.’”

Amen, Brother Hutto.