Wednesday, February 04, 2009

NABC Bank Street Brewhouse progress is looking good.

We have entered the frantic stages of preparation as the opening of the NABC Bank Street Brewhouse draws closer.

The financing package with Main Source might be closed today, and a downpayment wired to DME so that the brewing system can be fabricated. The build-out on the interior of the taproom has recommenced after last week's shutdown owing to ice and snow. This delay may have the effect of pushing us back a week, to the vicinity of February 26 instead of the 19th. Work is about to start on the kitchen and bar.

Yesterday the local alcoholic beverage board approved our three-way license, which now depends only on an inspection once the fixed portions of the interior are standing.

As you can imagine, there are a thousand and one details to be addressed, ranging from security system to beer coasters. We all want it to be perfect when it hits the ground ... and we know it won't be. Talk about adventures.

Thanks to the applicants who responded to my previous links with interest in employment. Kelsey and the brew crew will be getting to these as soon as they can.

Also, we decided on a tag of sorts: American brewing, European sensibility. It describes the fusion fairly well, I think, and reflects my own efforts to define beer in terms of classic vs. contemporary.

For admittedly self-aggrandizing reading, here's the introduction to the business plan, which summarizes our approach to the project in terms that the money people could grasp.

Most of it is even true.


NABC Bank Street Brewhouse: Craft beer in downtown New Albany

When brewing first began at the New Albanian Brewing Company in October, 2002, no marketing surveys had been consulted, and a business plan was prepared only because the bank insisted on it.

Instead, NABC relied on instinct, cocktail napkin scribbling, all-night skull sessions and the occasional craft beer for inspiration. While the start-up process naturally stands to be more detailed in 2008, the company’s goals remain the same as it gathers resources for a downtown New Albany brewing renaissance:

To be leaders in the craft beer segment and in the community, not followers.

To be progressive, not regressive.

To challenge and to educate, not to pander.


It truly can be said that NABC has put New Albany, Indiana on the craft brewing map.

Plaudits for its beers and brewpub have come from as far away as Madison, Wisconsin; St. Louis, Missouri; and Washington D.C., the sites of three annual microbrewing festivals. NABC annually ranks highly in “best of” lists published by web sites such as and, and furthermore, co-owner/beer writer Roger A. Baylor is regarded as one of the region’s foremost champions of the better beer movement.

Credibility like this doesn’t come from scratch. It has to be earned, and NABC has earned it.

NABC dates back to the Reagan years, and has long been known for excellence throughout metropolitan Louisville, Kentucky, since the almost forgotten time when microbrewing was still unknown in the area. Sportstime Pizza (founded 1987) and Rich O’s Public House (1992) remain NABC’s on-premise dining and drinking areas at the company’s original location at 3312 Plaza Drive off Grant Line Road.

In 2002, NABC began brewing distinctive house beers at the same site, and within a year had been declared “Best of Louisville” and “Best of Show” in the Indiana State Fair commercial brewing competition. Four years later, NABC added a popular banquet and events wing in the same building.

While the company has no intention of changing a winning formula, after two successful decades on the scene, there is no further room to grow on the North Side of New Albany, and NABC looks to expand.


First and foremost, locally brewed beer is riding an unprecedented wave of acceptance throughout America, with 12% growth rates in each of the past two years, far above that of mass market lagers, and 11% growth continuing into the first half of 2008 in spite of increases in raw materials and fuel.

As importantly, beer drinkers are taking an increasing interest in the concepts and local origins of their beverages during a time of multinational macrobrewing consolidation. With the purchase of Anheuser-Busch by the Belgo-Brazilian consortium InBev SA, Samuel Adams is now America’s largest American-owned brewery!

It’s all part of a larger picture. According to author Chris O’Brien, who notes widespread alienation with modes of industrial production, “The craft brewing movement is part of a larger social trend toward commerce that incorporates the environment as a core business concern. But environmental concerns go hand in hand with a number of other values associated with the market segment called Cultural Creatives.”

Taking these positive factors into consideration, NABC seeks to brew greater quantities of beer right here in New Albany by expanding brewing capacity at a downtown New Albany site and selling beer to a regional market that includes Louisville, Bloomington and Indianapolis (Indiana) and all points in between.


The new Bank Street Brewhouse at 415 Bank Street will function as NABC’s larger-capacity production brewery, where primary brands like Elector, Hoptimus, Beak’s Best, Kaiser and Thunderfoot will be brewed, conditioned, kegged and canned for regional distribution.

It will also be possible for consumers to buy kegs and carry-out growlers.

Meanwhile, NABC’s existing brewery on the North Side will remain in operation, with small batches, seasonals and specialties being brewed there. Limited amounts of these will be made available to discerning customers, enabling NABC to offer varied stylistic tiers at different price points.

Indiana state law permits self-distribution by microbreweries, but NABC will deliver only to licensed establishments within downtown New Albany. For Kentucky and Indiana, a wholesale distribution network is being assembled, with Louisville’s River City already inked and in place, and Indiana’s World Class Beverages soon to come. As production increases, other states will be considered for distribution.

At the Bank Street location, there will be a small taproom for enjoying NABC’s beers, as well as a limited Belgian-style cafĂ© menu of food prepared by a Josh Lehman, a professional chef. A small on-premise shop will sell t-shirts, other advertising wearables, glassware and souvenirs.

The Bank Street Brewhouse will be phased into operation, with the taproom opening first in the 1st quarter of 2009, and the brewery to be installed circa May, 2009. Beer will be ready for distribution in the 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2009, and the existing NABC brewery will supply the tap room until then.


Significantly, the NABC Bank Street Brewhouse represents an expansion of an established, existing business from a suburb back into a reviving downtown, and as such, NABC firmly believes there is a future both for the brewery’s “progressive pints” and for the cause of progressivism itself in city of New Albany… and Floyd County, the metro Louisville area and the surrounding region.

Craft beer’s target demographic continues to expand. A few key components:

· Education: Over 50% of American college graduates have tried craft beer
· Income: Over 50% of Americans with incomes over $75,000 have tried craft beer
· Age: The largest percentage of craft beer drinkers are aged 24 – 34, and the second largest percentage are aged 35 – 44

The “Cultural Creatives” mentioned by O’Brien share these and other demographic characteristics of the “Creative Class” (Richard Florida) and those standard bearers of New Urbanism who are returning to live and work in downtown urban areas.

Unsurprisingly, the craft brewing revolution has prospered by emphasizing beer’s artisanal, localized roots, and in like fashion New Urbanism urges the progressive reuse of cities. For NABC to grow by returning brewing to a downtown, urban setting is to complete the circle initiated by New Albany’s beer-loving founders almost two centuries ago.

Good karma itself can’t win the battle, but it never hurts to have some.

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