Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Mug Shots" today in LEO.

My column today in LEO considers a craft newcomer and our existing local breweries. The version below is the unedited one.

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In 1991, Coors belatedly added Indiana to the list of states where the Colorado brewer legally distributed, paving the way for Hoosiers to be just as insulted by Coors “Silver Bullet” Light advertising as the rest of the nation had long been accustomed.

Almost two decades later, the fermented wares of another Rocky Mountain brewing company have arrived in the Hoosier state, and the hysteria is tangible, if misplaced. New Belgium Brewing Company, a widely admired exemplar of the green ethos, is rolling out selected beers in 22-ounce “bomber” bottles, with cans and draft soon to follow.

Am I sensing quizzical looks? Permit me to add that New Belgium’s flagship ale is the humble, yet thoroughly cultish Amber ale known as Fat Tire.

Nothing goes quite as far to promote niche products as simple word of mouth, especially when availability is restricted. Before Coors rolled out its barrels nationwide, conniving vacationers returned home from Colorado with forbidden cases of elicit beer stashed under sleeping bags, camp stoves and life-sized souvenir jackalopes.

The bland essence of the beer itself mattered far less than the sheer excitement of its procurement, with the added bonus of lifting a can to lips parched by fetid Ohio Valley humidity and being reminded of pleasant, crisp, mountain holiday memories. While Fat Tire can’t be compared to Coors in terms of style – it is different, and better in all my own ideological respects – certain aspects of consumer behavior never, ever change.

Do you know what makes Fat Tire an Amber ale? Here is an excerpt from the Beer Judge Certification Program’s judging description:

(Amber) can overlap in color with American pale ales. However, American amber ales differ from American pale ales not only by being usually darker in color, but also by having more caramel flavor, more body, and usually being balanced more evenly between malt and bitterness. Should not have a strong chocolate or roast character that might suggest an American brown ale (although small amounts are OK).
Now for the truth: Ambers seldom excite me, and Fat Tire is no exception. Amber has always struck me as an indistinct, catch-all category, lazily infringing on Pale and Brown ale territory, and all too often without a hopping rate sufficient to suit a “hophead” like me, yet also lacking the overall complexity of richer, maltier ales. Perhaps it’s a good choice for introducing drinkers to new taste sensations, and if so, I suppose that’s acceptable.

Of the three New Belgium ales currently available north of the river, the pick of the litter is 1554, a black beer that probably is best described as a Belgian-style Porter even if the brewery uses lager yeast to ferment it.

Verily, New Belgium is universally respected for brewing a full roster of interesting beers. It’s just that none of them are called Fat Tire.

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Visiting Louisville for Derby? Looking for locally brewed beer? Louisville’s five top-quality brewing companies are described below, in alphabetical order.

Bluegrass Brewing Company (BBC) is Louisville’s longest-tenured brewpub (founded in 1993), and remains a neighborhood institution at 3929 Shelbyville Road (502-899-7070). A second, non-brewing BBC pub and eatery is located at 4th Street downtown (660 S. 4th; 502-568-2224)

At the BBC Taproom (636 E. Main St.; 502-584-2739), there is a full-scale production brewery with draft BBC beer that’s as fresh as it gets, but no kitchen, so bring your own food or have it delivered.

Even hardcore temperance fanatics are impressed by the grandeur of the three-story brewhouse at Browning’s Brewery, situated inside Louisville Slugger Field at 401 E. Main Street. Brewing has continued through an ongoing ownership change, and reports suggest the brewpub will reopen just after Derby.

Intimate and eclectic, Cumberland Brews anchors one of Louisville prime restaurant and entertainment corridors at 1576 Bardstown Road (502-458-8728). The tiny brewing kit has been augmented by a larger production facility nearby, with no loss of funky charm.

The New Albanian Brewing Company has two locations in New Albany: The original Pub & Pizzeria at 3312 Plaza Drive (812-949-2804) and the brand new, completely different Bank Street Brewhouse at 415 Bank Street (812-725-9585).

Taken together, they’re components of a truly outstanding craft brewing scene in the Louisville Metro area. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NABC Abzug now on tap.


Jared Williamson's recipe for our new Abzug is derived from his research into archaic German beer styles in the run-up to the Happy Helmut (Fraconian) lager we did a couple of years back. To this very day, Germans and some other Central Europeans brew to fit into tax classifications based on alcohol content or starting gravity. In olden times, Abzug would have fallen into the lower end of Vollbier, and perhaps the higher end of Schankbier. Heater-Allen Brewing in Oregon brews an Abzug based on an Austrian interpretation:

Abzug - In the mid to late 1800s, Viennese brewers produced a series of amber lager beers. The strongest was what we now call Marzen or Oktoberfest and the middle beer was just called Vienna. The weakest of the three was called Abzug, which means reduction in German. With less lagering time and a much lower original gravity, Abzug lacks some of the smoothness of Bobtoberfest, but it make a very nice session beer. (1.013 BG, 3.80%, 28 IBU, 8 SRM)

In similar fashion, our Abzug is a conscious effort on the brew team's part to develop a golden-colored beer that NABC can keep on tap all the time at Bank Street and the Pub & Pizzeria. We didn't want to brew something called Kolsch that really wasn't Kolsch. Abzug uses the hybrid California Common yeast, fermented cool, and without the lagering time required by Kaiser, NABC's pre-Prohibition Pilsner, meaning it can be turned over faster, not unlike the common beers of Americana.

Stats: 6-row malt, Vienna and a dab of rye; German select hops, California Common yeast fermented cool, 3.8% abv, 26 IBUs, and lagered in the keg for a week. Note that German Select hops are bred to resemble the characteristics of the Spalt/Tettnang/Saaz grouping.

Give Abzug a spin and let me know what you think.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Here is this week's short Bank Street Brewhouse update.

Steve Coomes gave some love to NABC's latest hire in Saturday's C-J dining news and notes: BBC brewer moves to New Albanian Brewing Co.

The concrete pads on the north side of the building are for the brewery walk-in cooler and the outdoor seating area. Both should materialize very soon.

The wood frame construction by the alley is the grain storage room. DME tells us that the brewing equipment should arrive circa May 11, with installation to proceed immediately.

I enjoyed this anonymous comment on Mrs. Baird's blog, which discusses items of interest in New Albany:

DON'T SEEM TO BE MANY PATRONS AT YOUR NEW PLACE. I WISH YOU WELL, AND HOPE YOUR BUSINESS FAILS DOWNTOWN.

Sounds like a Rushism to me. I'm always flattered by the use of screaming caps, because I can see the veins popping out of a righteous neck. It makes me laugh, and in stressful times like these, we need more laughs. Sorry to disappoint my anonymous friend, but business has been good so far, although it will remain hard to relax until the brewing system is up and running.

A reminder: Reservations for Oaks and Derby evenings at the Bank Street Brewhouse.

And, at the original NABC Pub & Pizzeria, on Thursday, April 30: Guided Sierra Nevada sampling in Prost. Note that on Derby Day, only the pizzeria side will be open for business. We just don't draw enough to have both the pub and pizzeria operating.

We appreciate your support.

Friday, April 24, 2009

NABC & Derby 2009.

Know this: You needn't have dinner reservations to visit Bank Street on Derby Day, May 2. The bar will be available, and also the tables not reserved.

Also, only the pizzeria at the original Grant Line location will be open on Derby Day, May 2. There just isn't enough business to staff both areas.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Guided Sierra Nevada sampling in Prost on Thursday, April 30.

Mike Bauman has arranged a unique Sierra Nevada promotion, coming to the Prost room (NABC Pub & Pizzeria) on Thursday, April 30th.

Steve Thiel, Indiana’s hard working Sierra Nevada rep, will be bringing five kegs for a guided tasting: Chico IPA, Pale Ale, Summerfest, and two new ones, Brown Saison and Kellerweiss. The tasting starts at 6:00 p.m. in Prost and costs $7.50, for which you receive a signature Sierra Nevada sample glass, samples of each Sierra Nevada brew, Steve’s commentary, and exclusive access to these brews for the remainder of the evening.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reservations for Oaks and Derby evenings at the Bank Street Brewhouse.

The New Albanian Bank Street Brewhouse is now accepting dinner reservations for parties of four or more for the evenings of Oaks and Derby (Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2). Serving hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. both nights.

The bar and non-reserved tables will also be available for seating.

The normal evening menu will be served, with Chef Joshua Lehman promising a special dish or two for the occasion.

The Bank Street phone is: 812-725-9585. If we don't answer, please leave a message and number, and we'll get back with you to confirm.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pasty and a pint for St. George's Day, April 23, at the Bank Street Brewhouse.

Miss England, Miss Laura Coleman, will join MPs, Peers and representatives of stgeorgesday.com at the annual St. George’s Day celebration at the Houses of Parliament this year. St. George is the Patron Saint of England, and St. George’s Day, on Thursday, April 23, is England’s national day.*

There’s a first time for everything, and so we’ll offer a modest celebration of St. George’s Day at the Bank Street Brewhouse on Thursday, April 23.

My wife, whose late mother was English born and bred, informs me that nothing should go into a genuine pasty (PAH-stee; specialties of Cornwall and Devon) save beef, potato and onion, with requisite seasoning deriving from the use of ketchup.

Accordingly, Chef Lehman and sous chef Andrew Gunn plan to ignore tradition, opting instead for a lamb pasty with broccoli puree as the Thursday evening St. George’s Day food special, which will be available from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

For representative ale, there’ll be cask-conditioned Beak’s Best on the hand pull, and also our Community Dark (English Mild Ale) on standard tap.

I wonder if there’ll be a soccer game on cable?

*St. George’s Day Dot Com

British Life and Culture

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The money's apparently good, but the beer ...

Note: NABC's two locations both will observe regular business hours today (Saturday, April 18).

One of our pub regulars, Scott Morrow, won't be around for a while. As a route toward restoring his 401K, he accepted a posting at a hospital in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) and will be there for at least two years.

I mention this because if you know Scott, you can follow his progress abroad via his blog: Scott Living in the UAE.

Think about him when you're drinking a member of the Porter and Stout families, which I imagine he's having difficulty obtaining "over there."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Preparing for outdoor use at Bank Street.

The concrete footers for the Bank Street Brewhouse's walk-in cooler (rear of building) and outdoor patio (future service door visible at left) are being poured today.



Note the shadow of photographer David Pierce, who transmitted these photos before I'd moved off the coffee-IV couch.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Musings on the hiring.

Okay, so we’ve hired David Pierce to join the NABC team.

You have questions. Why? Now what?

It’s important to understand that Dave brings a perfectly complementary set of professional skills to an existing brew team that includes our longtime brewers of record, Jesse Williams and Jared Williamson.

From the start, we’ve been a brewpub brewery, and as such, we’ve had the luxury of indulging a full range of creative artistry on the part of the current brewers (and Michael Borchers before them). The fact that we’ve always aimed for flexible stylistic interpretations as a means of weaving our house beers into the broader palette of the many beers on tap at the Public House means that we now have distinctive brands to deliver to a wider world. Without that, there’d be no brewing expansion plan.

Accordingly, our brewing expansion plan alters the old dynamic, but not in terms of fundamental creativity. Now, there are added challenges posed by consistency and production on a larger scale, and the efficient distribution of the finished product to our wholesalers, first in kegs, and then later, in cans.

That’s why Dave is on board. Remember that it’s a challenge for him, too, because it will be the first time he has undertaken to brew and ship someone else’s formulas. He's a pro's pro. 'Nuff said.

I’m sure that at some point in the future, Dave will be able to brew his own creative ideas, probably at the smaller Grant Line brewery, along with Jesse and Jared, as part of a brewmaster’s signature series. I can’t wait, although for now, the plan is to receive the brewery, build the brewery, and then brew our existing beers for distribution to metro Louisville and the state of Indiana.

The sooner this gets underway, the better, and the closer we’ll get to the next stages.

Does this help explain matters more clearly?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

David Pierce joins NABC as Director of Brewing Operations.

I’m pleased to announce that the New Albanian Brewing Company has hired David R. Pierce to fill the newly created position of Director of Brewing Operations.

David, who will begin work immediately, joins NABC’s two veteran brewers, Jesse Williams and Jared Williamson. Their popular beers like Elector, Hoptimus, Beak’s Best, Community Dark, Mt. Lee, Kaiser and Thunderfoot will remain the foundation of NABC’s game plan, both on-premise at our two locations and as part of the evolving off-premise distribution.

David will begin work immediately, familiarizing himself with NABC’s portfolio of beers, and serving as de facto project manager overseeing the installation of our new 15-barrel (30-bbl fermenter) DME brewing system, which is slated for shipping in late April or early May to our new downtown New Albany production brewing facility, the Bank Street Brewhouse.

He’s not coming aboard to formulate his own beers. He’s coming to help us make full use of the new system and to achieve the full potential of our existing brands.

You should know that during his 17 years in commercial brewing, David has done it all. He opened Louisville’s first two brewpubs in the modern era, the Silo (now defunct) and Bluegrass Brewing Company, and formulated their rosters of on-premise beers. He sold and installed DME brewing systems, and served as a widely sought consultant to brewers nationwide. More recently, he has specialized in all aspects of BBC's production brewing, quality control and coordination for off-premise distribution.

He’s just the man we need to take it to the next level, and beyond. I’ll happily answer any questions you might have – after I get some sleep.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Guest taps with a local flavor at Bank Street.

As might have become apparent, we've elected to pour guest drafts to keep a full draft lineup at the Bank Street Brewhouse until the original brewery catches up (it's happening, one step at a time) and the new brewery comes on line.

It's like business as usual for me in the sense of falling back on all these years of programming draft selections at the Public House. Generally, the object has been to source local micros when possible. Here's a random overview.

NABC's Community Dark is back, and Beak's Best is next, followed by Mt. Lee. We've been weaving kegs of Croupier, Elsa and Solidarity into the mix as high gravity house enticements.

Browning's ESB and BBC Dark Star Porter (the latter from Main & Clay) have subbed for Beak's and 15-B, respectively. Victory's Prima Pils in holding the line until our Kaiser returns. Because we all adore Alpha King, it has been saving a place for Elector. A nice springtime surprise is Cumberland Goat Boy Bock, which I believe is a fine American-style bock that takes me back to days of addled youth.

BBC St. Matthews has supplied us with a full keg of its stellar Heine Brothers Coffee Stout, which will be tapped soon, and a firkin of dry-hopped APA. Speaking of firkins, we have one of Beak's and a Three Floyds Robert the Bruce available for venting and spiling soon.

The object is to have our own beer, but I'm having fun with the guests.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Bank Street Brewhouse will observe tomorrow's holiday with beer and chocolate.

NABC Grant Line (pub and pizzeria) will be closed on Easter Sunday. Then again, we're always closed on Sunday, aren't we?

However, the irreligious among us (we rather enjoy each other's company) will be opening the Bank Street Brewhouse from Noon to 8:00 p.m. for frivolity, beer and chocolate. The latter will be the only food available, because the kitchen will be closed, unless Chef Josh permits us to grill the Easter Bunny outside.

If you're in the market for adult refreshment between religious observances, family visits and meals, drop by and say hello.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sorry I haven't been around as much. Here's why.

(Stream of consciousness, unedited)

I understand your concerns. Let me tell you the story as I see it, and know that to the best of my ability, I’ve endeavored to keep you informed. But life has been craaazy lately.

Begin by accepting that it was time for NABC to expand. The trick has been to do so in a way that maximizes our strengths, minimizes our weaknesses, and offers something different in a crowded marketplace. Merely duplicating the original location would be inadequate, and probably disappointing, because it is unique. The decision was to take the most comparatively undervalued section of the portfolio, NABC’s own beers, and provide it the room to grow, while at the same time rebranding it with an entirely different on-premise atmosphere that would contribute to the regeneration of downtown New Albany.

We knew from the beginning that once the Bank Street Brewhouse opened, supplying both retail locations with NABC’s own house-brewed beer as brewed within the confines of the existing garage brewery would be a profound challenge, at least until the new brewery downtown went on line. Everything had to be perfect for the game plan to work.

Unfortunately, everything wasn’t perfect. Because the aim all along was to sell NABC beer and NABC beer alone downtown, without any guest taps, I decided that the taps downtown would be kept filled with NABC beer to the exclusion of the selection at Rich O’s and Sportstime. The reasoning remains simple. At the pub and pizzeria, there are 30 other taps and a few hundred different bottled brands to provide temporary cover for the absence of house brands.

Of course, this assumed that production would be consistent in the existing brewery. We’d run low, but not run out. However, yeast issues in the existing brewery were not supposed to be part of the equation, but as living creatures, yeast sometimes have minds of their own. Replacing yeast and growing it to strength takes time, and so does a normal brewing schedule, and that’s why our core brands have been absent, and it’s also why I’ve already been compelled to swallow hard, reverse course and happily welcome guest beers to the new location. They’ll remain on tap as we slowly catch up, because there’s only one way to catch up: One brew day at a time, until serving tanks and kegs are filled … and then immediately repeat the process.

Meanwhile, rumor has it that the “regulars” at the Public House miss me. I’m flattered, but would ask that you not draw faulty conclusions from my absence.

I spent quite a lot of time in January and February working concurrently with the Bank Street run-up and Gravity Head 2009. Veterans of the pub scene understand how much work Gravity Head entails, much less actively opening an entirely new business. My strategic plan? With Gravity Head off and running for all of March and usually into April, time would be provided for me to concentrate on Bank Street’s opening before returning to the original location to begin envisioning the remainder of the year in beer and facilitating the long overdue beer list update.

All this became possible because of Mike Bauman, the beer manager at Grant Line, who has done marvelous work running the day to day while assimilating a staggering amount of information about the tricks of the trade. Trust me when I say that the many recent shifts in wholesale availability, from regularly stocked items to a large preponderance of special order beers, would have baffled even me, and without the Bank Street demands. Mike’s been slogging through this, and the hard work should soon visibly bear fruit.

Other than getting into the habit of referring to the original site as Grant Line and the new location as Bank Street, which should help newcomers distinguish between the two, little will be changing on the north side. At some point in the near future, we hope to implement a few long-delayed and sorely needed changes: Kitchen expansion, the incorporation of much of Prost as a full-time Public House seating and service area, improvements to the existing brewery as it assumes the role of seasonal/specialty/experimental work area, and whatever outdoor seating can be carved out of the remaining scant real estate. I hope these things can begin happening later this year, and during 2010.

For them to happen, we must continue making our friends and customers happy by serving them food and drink. With respect to me, personally, it should be obvious that doing all these things at the same time makes it difficult for me to predict when I’ll be at which location. I hope you understand that. Like so many other considerations, my absence from the pub isn’t at all personal. It’s business. We’ve been at this a long time, and the business is at the point where it must grow. I’m working as hard as I can to achieve this, and so is Kate, Amy and the rest of the teams in our employ.

Finally, I’ve accepted that this is what I want to do when I grow up. Now, I have to grow up. I’ll be seeing all of you somewhere, some time. You remain family, and don’t doubt it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

BS Neighborhood Derby Final: New Albany and Germantown-Schnitzelburg-Paristown.

Readers, a brief favor if you have time tonight (Wednesday) through Friday afternoon.

The Broken Sidewalks blog in Louisville has been running a "Neighborhood Derby" with March Madness-style brackets. New Albany has made the final, and is up against Germantown-Schnitzelburg-Paristown. It's going to be a tough match for us.

Vote here: BS Neighborhood Derby 2009

Granted, this has little to do with beer. Still, I'd appreciate your vote for New Albany. Not that I'm expecting NABC's many supporters in Germantown to go against their home squad ... still, it'd be a nice victory for NA. The web site is using a photo of the Bank Street Brewhouse, too.

BS Neighborhood Derby 2009

Musings on a theme of scallops.

Last evening at the Bank Street Brewhouse, we hosted the monthly First Tuesday networking mixer, an event sponsored by Develop New Albany, the city’s volunteer-staffed Main Street organization.

We set up a cold plate in the area soon to be occupied by the brewery, and served beer and wine to roughly 100 people, some of whom remained afterward to dine and drink in front. As things wound down, I paused at the bar to chat with Syd and Cory. They were eating frites and scallops, but it wasn’t just the appetizing aroma of the food on their plates that caught my attention.

In fact, the whole room smelled like scallops. It made me hungry just thinking about it … and that’s the point. If smoking were allowed, the room would not have smelled like scallops. It would have smelled like cigarettes.

I always knew it, but sometimes you need a bit of olfactory reinforcement. Food of that caliber merits a smoke-free room, not out of considerations of employment safety, not owing to our obtusely ignoring personal rights and freedoms, but from a purely aesthetic consideration.

You'll be able to taste the beer better, too.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Bell's Oberon release party at NABC Grant Line this Wednesday, April 8.

Mike Bauman, NABC’s Grant Line beer manager, is staging a Bell’s Oberon seasonal debut in the NABC pizzeria wing (3312 Plaza Drive, off Grant Line Road) from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8.

The party is in conjunction with World Class Beverages, Indiana’s wholesaler for Bell’s, and our WCB rep Tish Dean will be on hand. Mike will be pouring draft Oberon, and there’ll be glassware for keeping as well as drawings.

Meanwhile, there's a Thunder(foot) Over Bank Street firkin and dinner downtown, beginning at 6:30 pm, same day: Wednesday, April 8: Cask-Conditioned Thunderfoot Release Dinner at the Bank Street Brewhouse.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Wednesday, April 8: Cask-Conditioned Thunderfoot Release Dinner at the Bank Street Brewhouse.

Join NABC on Wednesday, April 8, for a four-course gourmet meal at the Bank Street Brewhouse. Here is Chef Josh Lehman’s menu:

First Course
Celery Root Soup
Duck Confit Salad, Roasted Baby Beets

Second Course
Seared Duck Breast
Caramelized Onions, Pomegranate, Oats, Duck Stock Reduction

Third Course
Capriole Mont St. Francis
Bing & Tart Cherries, Duck Chip

Fourth Course
Chocolate Bread Pudding
Sour Apple, MolĪ­

Each course will be paired with a 4-ounce serving of limited release, cask-conditioned NABC Thunderfoot, an Imperial Stout aged 13 months on oak chips and dried Bing cherries. This exclusive release was the only firkin produced.

The New Albanian Bank Street Brewhouse is located at 415 Bank Street in downtown New Albany. Our Thunderfoot Release Dinner takes place on Wednesday, April 8, 2009, starting at 6:30 p.m.

The price is $40 per person, and does not include tax and gratuity. Seating is by reservation only, and there are 30 seats available in all. Phone 812-725-9585 to make your reservations (voice mail available).

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Charlestown Pizza Company praised in today's C-J.

The last time we visited Charlestown Pizza Company roughly two weeks ago, I was tempted to have a season's last draft Bell's HopSlam, but refrained, leaving the liquid to be consumed by the Courier's free-lance reviewer ... who, in turn, gave Shawn and TJ great coverage.

All roads lead to Charlestown pizza; Town Square spot unpretentious, hip, by Marty Rosen (Courier-Journal).

Nah, it had nothing whatsoever to do with me. Kudos to the CPC for the missionary work in Clark County.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Poking sticks into cages here in lovely NA.

I write a weekly column for the local newspaper. This week's effort boasted a bit of free association, but since some of it has to do with beer, perhaps it's worth reprinting here.

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BAYLOR: Poking sticks into cages

By ROGER BAYLOR
Local Columnist

Once upon a time at our pub and pizzeria, two male customers came bouncing inside in an obvious state of delirious pre-intoxication — whether liquid or herbal couldn’t be determined — and ordered pizza.

Soon they were verbally harassing other patrons, and our man on the point called the police. Two officers quickly arrived, cleanly removing the offending duo from the dining area and shifting them outside.

There the tragicomic dullards put up a mild, slapstick resistance to arrest. I earnestly hoped the officers would deploy nightsticks, flashlights and perhaps even cattle prods, but they were impeccably, professionally restrained in the face of provocation.

Astutely observing the condition of the unruly future drunk-tank occupants, the policemen merely shrugged and maintained a loosely demarcated cordon, permitting the miscreants to damage each other as much as possible before being loaded into the waiting squad car.

Sure enough, the two stooges kept smashing into one another like semi-erect, soggy egg noodles before finally plummeting onto the unyielding pavement in a tangle of sodden ineptitude. One broke down and began moaning, wailing in the fashion of a starving, flea-bitten, matted-wet cur barred from the soothing warmth of house and hearth:

“We jess cayme ta eeeet peeezza! Whar’s mah peeezza?”

It was as pathetic a performance as I’ve witnessed during my 17 years in business, as well as a sad reminder, because try as you might as an owner to maintain order and an ambiance of non-threatening good times in your place, there is a certain percentage of the human race unable to follow the handy directions on the teleprompter.

While many remain perfectly capable of being functional social drinkers, others simply do not possess this gene, and what’s more, those who behave like the bedraggled pizza cravers seem ever determined to drag others down into their own morass of dysfunction.

It’s all vaguely reminiscent of the process required for dealing with our city’s no-progress-at-any-price Luddites.

•••

I’m not sure why this ancient memory passed through my mind, or any conceivable connection between it and the new series of Miller Lite TV commercials, which have proven so relentlessly insulting during recent basketball screenings.

Maybe it has something to do with target demographics, and the eternal gullibility of the public.

The ads in question trumpet the latest crucial reason for Miller Lite’s superior flavor (Really?) as the master brewer’s innovative insistence on hopping the beer a total of three (Three!) separate times during the brewing process. This tripartite hopping strategy might seem impressive to the bulk of our nation’s 5-year-olds, until one recalls two inconvenient truths about brewing:

1. Virtually every beer currently brewed in America or elsewhere is hopped three separate times. The bittering hops go into the kettle first, followed at later stages by flavor and aroma hops. This practice is default, not unique.

2. Miller Lite has no discernible flavor, anyway. How can we be sure the hops were added three times when there is no evidence of their existence?

As I ponder the significance of “high-country barley” and “drinkability” in the context of P.T. Barnum’s immortal axiom about the birth rate of suckers, it would be nice to have a real beer that actually tastes like something. Fortunately, good beer is close by because I sell it for a living.

That’s a good thing because if there weren’t good beer in New Albany, I’d have to leave town.

•••

It’s true. Anyone not “liking” or “loving” it here — in a city block, a municipality, a state or the nation — has the right to exit at any time.

Sorry, but that’s not my style.

At some point earlier in my life, I concluded that there was great personal value in certain areas that embrace knowledge and ideas, and that because my place of birth attaches a pathetically low value on its educational attainment, these areas are seriously undervalued hereabouts.

It seemed there were two choices for me. Either attempt a measure of self-growth and comprehension by playing the role of contrarian gadfly in the midst of localized incomprehension, or risk the relative happiness of placid normalcy in another locale where most other people view life the same way as me.

Door No. 1, please.

Hard-wired somewhere deep within my psyche is the conviction that it’s better to stay put and confront complacency and apathy at home — to be a royal pain in the posterior and a performance artist for my vision of truth whenever and wherever possible in an effort to illustrate that it’s OK to be different — than to cut and run ... whether to Madison, Wis., or Bamberg, Germany, or to a new life and career altogether.

My preferences may or may not be noble, although they serve nicely as self-referential beacons for various themes of my disaffection. I won’t deny my fair share of character flaws, or that my philosophical precepts are riddled with exceptions. Yes, a fair number of New Albanians would vote me off the island; then again, they’d also proffer the hemlock to Socrates if it meant not having to think.

Recently, I received this anonymous admonition:

“Congratulations Roger on your fine spelling of words that were never meant to be transliterated into English on your blog and Guest Column anyway. I canceled my newspaper subscription. I’m sick of your propaganda, and you’ve just lost all credibility.”

Thanks — that’s justification enough for me. Have a thoughtful day, folks.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Bank Street Brewhouse in Velocity.

The reviewer mentions the evening menu, pictured below (scallops and flat iron steak). The evening menu is offered Thursday - Saturday.

Review: New Albanian Bank Street Brewhouse; The atmosphere is almost as good as the beer, by Josh Thomas (Velocity).