Monday, May 31, 2010

Reminder: The remarkably local Fest of Ale is this Saturday, June 5.

It's a truly local beer festival, conceived and staged right here, growing slowly and steadily over the years, and with no apparent need for outside intervention. For the whole story, hit the Fest of Ale page at Facebook.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Celts on the River concert in New Albany is Saturday, June 12.

NABC is the official beer sponsor, and will be on hand for all the music in addition to hosting the after-party at Bank Street Brewhouse. Look for the second annual release of Haggis Laddie Celtic Red, timed to coincide with the golf scramble at Covered Bridge on Friday, June 11th, and on tap for the weekend at both NABC locations as well as the Riverfront Amphitheater.

My LEO column on June 2, as well as my Tribune column on June 10, will be devoted to the Celtic celebration. Until then, there are further details at the Kentuckiana Celtic Fest's web site.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A few articles and links of possible interest.

Partying at home? My fellow Food & Dining columnist Tim Laird has the complete plan, illustrated with photos by the inimitable Dan Dry, in this book: That's Entertainment!

But perhaps you're craving a change of scenery? The Curmudgeon always does, but isn't sure that an establishment accessible only by boat is the answer: Britain's most remote pub.

Also in the UK, mid-sized brewer Adnams seeks an end to small brewery tax break even though the company itself ranks the importance of its beer making operation behind both wine and kitchenware (?) in importance. Wankers.

For those planning to attend the Brewers of Indiana Guild's Indiana Microbrewers Festival in Broad Ripple on July 17, here is the story behind the next Indiana ReplicAle. Note that there will be no Friday evening brewers dinner function this year, but that the festival will expand in territorial terms on Saturday; more space, more beer.

Pizzaria owners are advised to short the public when it comes to draft beer pours, and I don't doubt the chicanery. At the same time, anyone taking advice about beer from Pizza Marketing Quarterly isn't the sharpest knife in the kitchen. Ask the Curmudgeon, people.

In Kentucky, a bourbon tasting bill is caught in a legislative fight, and the part that catches my attention is Rep. Clark noting that he doesn't want to see bourbon tastings in "every corner liquor store," although making exceptions for the Equestrian Games makes sense. Isn't the principle the same, either way?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

NABC's World Cup Series: Three new beers for the global game.

Bank Street Brewhouse will be open and serving for USA's opening matches, as detailed in Tony Beard's artwork (above). Of course, numerous establishments in metro Louisville will be airing the matches, but how many of them created and brewed three new beers as specific accompaniment?

Never seen Budweiser do that for NASCAR, have you?


Ordinary Bitter, Keller Pils and Biere de Garde are the result of NABC's World Cup-status brew team's artistic collaboration, as brewed by Jared Williamson at the original garage brewhouse at the Public House & Pizzeria.

Stay tuned for the Publican's 50th Anniversary beer, to be called Ancient Rage, and coming to NABC's two locations in early August.

NABC at Southern Indiana Uncorked in Corydon, Saturday, May 29.

It's a bit of a last minute thing, seeing as we were overwhelmed for the past couple of weeks, but we're returning for Southern Indiana Uncorked. The fest takes place at the Harrison County Fairgrounds this coming Saturday, from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Finale of Office Hours before summer break: Abbey/Trappist Overview.

Tonight's "Office Hours with the Publican" will be the final installment for the spring term. I'll pick it up after summer break, perhaps early September. I appreciate the participation, and it has been quite enjoyable to assemble a group of "regulars" from week to week.

On the agenda for this evening is a quick overview of Abbey and Trappist ales from (and perhap inspired by) Belgium. Recall that certified Trappists must adhere to a three step program: Brewed in the monastery (although fermentation can occur elsewhere); monks actively involved at some stage of the process; and a percentage of the proceeds going toward charity.

Abbey ales rather generically describe all those styles similar to Trappist, but not officially certified. There may be a real abbey licensing its name to a brewer, or a contract brewer making beer for a real abbey, or a brewer in Guam making ale to style definition, or the ruins of an abbey down the road somewhere. Some are as good (sometimes even better) than registered Trappists. Others, not.

Price is the same: $5, and the tasting starts at 6:30 p.m., perhaps in Prost this week, or if not, just outside.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

True Brew, Rita Kohn's book about craft beer in Indiana, is coming very soon.

The proud author poses with an advance copy of her book, "True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana," as photographed by me a couple weeks back during a meeting at the Broad Ripple Brewing Company.

Rita's book inspires me to try my hand at an extended volume, perhaps collected essays. How's this for a title: "Everything You Know About Beer Is Wrong." Or, "Lite Never makes Right."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Your question about Top of the Hops.

I've received a question, and will answer it.

Beer festival slated for Kentucky International Convention Center - Business First of Louisville

Top of the Hops is a for-profit fest being staged by an out-of-state entity. I've no reason to believe that it will not be a first-rate show. But no, I'm not personally involved with any of it, although I steered the organizers to local contacts in the beer business. I hope that helps. Thanks for your concern.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Mug Shots" today in LEO: "Beer fests abound."

I can't recall a weekend with so much going on, all at the same time.

Mug Shots: Beer fests abound

It reminds me of my infuriated basketball coach from yesteryear who said, “No pain, no gain,” even as I plotted an escape from practice to sacred refuge with friends and a cooler of long, cool ones.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Time again for Madison's Ohio River Valley Folk Festival, with beer from NABC and Upland.

The fifth annual Ohio River Valley Folk Festival returns to the riverfront in historic Madison, Indiana, on Friday, May 21. The fest runs through Saturday, concluding on Sunday afternoon, the 23rd.

This year's musical lineup includes the Asylum Street Spankers on Friday night, and both Loudon Wainwright III and the Subdudes on Saturday.

The festival's elastic concept of qualifying "folk" music makes for diversity in performance, and the truly unique aspect has been a commitment to avoid "corporatizing" the event in favor of slower, more organic growth. There were a few rough spots last year, when mass-market swill joined the beer mix, previously craft only, but overall the beer, wine and food remains linked to local and artisanal musical concepts.

Accordingly, and as each year before this one, it'll be NABC and our friends from Upland Brewing Company selling beer all three days. For the complete story, visit the ORVFF web site.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's American Craft Beer Week. Need an excuse to have a beer?

The Brewers Association is our official trade group, and its nationwide American Craft Beer Week promotion starts tomorrow and runs during the coming week (May 17-23).

In addition, Indiana Beer Week runs the week preceding the annual guild festival in Broad Ripple on July 17, and there'll be a Louisville Craft Beer Week from September 24 through October 2. That's three craft beer weeks. Why not make every week a craft beer week, and name each one after yourself, your home, house pets, children ... whatever?

But seriously: There can't be too many. Breweries across the country have scheduled tastings, fests, dinners, brew-ins and numerous other individualistic local happenings to recognize American Craft Beer Week. To see what's up, check individual local brewery websites and go here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Office Hours for Monday, May 17: Craft Cans.

My friend Todd just returned from California with a major haul of canned craft beer. Some of them are being reserved for use as photo material to accompany my column for the next issue of Food & Dining.

I'll have the remainder on hand this Monday in Prost for tasting during Office Hours.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ogle Center Bier Prost 2010 at Horseshoe on Friday, May 21.

NABC and World Class Beverages donates microbrews, handcrafted and imported beers, and they're paired with international foods prepared by Horseshoe's caterers. More info here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Louisville Loves Mountains Festival 2010 is Friday, May 21. NABC and BBC will be there.

May 21 is shaping up to be a very busy day in the region. NABC's event list includes the IUS Ogle Center's Bier Prost at Horseshoe Casino, day one of the Ohio River Valley Folk Festival in Madison, Indiana, the Bicentennial Art Project kickoff walk in downtown New Albany, and Louisville Loves Mountains Festival 2010.

Louisville Loves Mountains is a street party with a message: "Celebrate the unique natural beauty and ecological importance of Kentucky’s Appalachian mountains.” The event's sponsor and beneficiary is Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, "a community of people taking action for justice." Mountaintop removal is only one of many important issues brought to the light of day by KFTC, although it's the theme of Louisville Loves Mountains. Visit the web site and learn more about KFTC.

Louisville Loves Mountains takes place on Longest Avenue, which joins Bardstown Road where Heine Brothers, Carmichael’s Bookstore and Ramsi's Cafe on the World do business. There’ll be art, music and poetry; children-friendly games and food from Ramsi’s and BoomBozz; and craft beer from BBC and NABC.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bank Street Brewhouse in today's LEO: "'Cuisine a la bière' defines Chef Josh Lehman’s bill of fare."

I'm pleased and humbled. I appreciate Robin's review, but even more so, I thank him for consistently giving New Albany's emerging downtown restaurant scene a fair shake in his writings. We must not forget that before us came the Bistro New Albany, when Louisvillians first began taking note of what we're capable of achieving here.

Most important are big kudos to the entire BSB staff: You guys indeed rock.
Lots to like about Bank Street Brewhouse, by Robin Garr.

I’ve held off reviewing since Kevin Gibson’s first-rate preview (LEO Weekly, March 25, 2009). Now that brewing is in full operation and Lehman’s evening menu is well established, it’s time to turn my own two thumbs up and say, “Kevin was right.” Bank Street Brewery hits a culinary home run for food and beer and other good things.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Beer event update, May 1 through May 16.

Consider this a liver warning: The NABC calendar is advancing toward full immersion in summertime beer fests. Two already have taken place, and more are coming.

On May 1, NABC sent a delegation to the 15th Annual St. Louis Microfest. Jared Williamson points the way to this favorable review.

Saturday, May 8, was the second annual Lexington Craft Beer Festival, held at the Red Mile harness racetrack. Josh Hill, NABC's new sales rep, attended the fest. We await a report.

The calendar doesn't show anything on May 15, so NABC's next road date is Sunday, May 16, for the second installment of the Great Flanagan's Beer Festival in Louisville. While the crew works at Flanagan's, the Curmudgeons will be toting NABC beer to Spring Open House 2010 at the Capriole goat cheese farm, including growlers of Hoptimus for washing their Mount St. Francis cheese. Yummers.

The following weekend, May 21 - 23, is packed with events. I'll save these for another post.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blue River Cafe in Milltown destroyed by fire.

It was a bastion of good beer in a part of the state not noted for choices, a wonderful place to eat, and a cool old building, too. When there's more to report, I will. Beware the WHAS-11 website's proclivity for annoying pop-up ads.

Blue River Cafe in Milltown destroyed by fire

There were no reports of any injuries to firefighters and no one was believed to be inside the business when the fire started.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

May 10 Office Hours: "Wheat Ale Cross Section."

You are invited to attend Office Hours with the Publican, a weekly Monday evening beer sampling at the Public House. There are only three sessions remaining until the Publican’s summer break – May 10, 17 & 24. We've been averaging ten attendees per meeting, and the "regulars" have evolved into a fine tasting panel.

The regulars know that I never think very far ahead, but here’s what I can tell you about tomorrow night’s agenda (May 10).

It will be a Wheat Ale Cross Section, nothing off the wall, just meat and potatoes wheat ale. The time is 6:30 p.m., and this week we’ll meet just outside the Prost room at reserved tables in the regular seating area. Monday also is graduation night for Indiana University Southeast, and customarily a very busy shift at the Public House. I’ll start promptly at 6:30 and stop after one hour, so be there on time, please.

Following are sampling possibilities, as currently represented on the beer list. The new format below is one I'm using to help organize a future list, and the numerical categories are from the Beer Judge Certification Program. Note that I may stop by Keg Liquors to buy a few bottles of different types and fill a slot or two; even so, the focus will remain on the three primary wheat styles: American, Belgian and German.

6D. American Wheat or Rye Beer
Three Floyds Gumball Head (coming soon)

15A. Weizen/Weissbier
Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier 16.9 oz 5.50
Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier 16.9 oz 5.75

15B. Dunkelweizen
Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel 16.9 oz 5.50
Schneider Weisse 16.9 oz 6.25

15C. Weizenbock
Aventinus Eisbock 7.25
Aventinus Wheat Doppelbock 16.9 oz 7.75

15D. Roggenbier (German Rye Beer)
None available

16A. Witbier
Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca 25.4 oz 16.00
Upland Wheat Ale 3.50
Wittekerke Wit 4.50

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Historic evening: Thursday the 6th of May.

Photo credit: Richard Rush.
Posted by Picasa

Louisville Slugger Field craft beer update: So far, so good (we think).

Here is what I know (so far) about the great crusade to have locally brewed craft beer in the ballpark.

I'm trying to be honest about this: So far, so good, but we're in the beginning stages of a business relationship with multiple entities, and I'm not going to mislead you into thinking that it always will be smooth. With a bit more time, I believe season-long craft availability can be assured. Right now, choices are expanded. Kepp your fingers crossed.

By game time on Thursday, although not without a misadventure or two, Beak's Best was pouring at the portable "hot roasted peanut" concession stand at Section 115, on the main concourse behind home plate. I wasn't able to make it over last night to check on matters, and tonight is off, too. Sunday night's a maybe for me. I mention this only because as this local craft experiment continues, it will be important to have our people on the ground at each game to help sell the product. In turn, that's because we must never ignore our mandate to educate beer drinkers.

We already know that craft beer is all about the beer in your glass. But it's also all about reliable information and teaching. With reliable information, we teach. It requires no information whatsoever to sell dollar Budweisers, as was being done at "happy hour" before Thursday's game. Unsurprisingly, a gigantic crowd of youthful humanity was standing in the sun, waiting in line, and waiting to two tiny plastic cups of liquid nastiness, for no other reason than Anheuser-Busch's relentless expenditures on advertising. Dollar beer time is a no brainer, in more ways than one.

For craft brewers, information disseminated one drinker at a time takes the place of megabuck saturation advertising, which few of us can afford. Obviously, a ballpark concessionaire is not going to be the agent for this sort of information, and we mustn't expect them to be. It's something that we'll want to do ourselves, and to effectively do it, we need to have a presence. If the beer can stay predictably on tap, we can organize to support it. We can educate the consumer as well as the concessionaire. We all can win.

A final thought about dollar Budweisers: Why the degradation, when Browning’s Brewery right outside the gates matches the cup size and price, pre-game, during such "happy hour" events? I did not know that. Now, I do.

So, according to the information I've received to date, which may vary from homestand to homestand and even from game to game, Centerplate's plan is to have NABC Beak's Best and Kentucky Ale on tap by means of a cold plate/jockey box, alongside Browning's Guillotine ESB and A-B's Shock Top, the latter two served via a two-faucet draft tower. The keg box is big enough for four kegs, and as I've been told by a Centerplate employee, it soon will be adapted to pour four by adding a second tower.

Pour size is 14-oz as announced by the concessionaire, but in reality, 12-oz as measured by me and other in our kitchens, and the price is $5.50. This is higher than last season, and so permit me to be blunt.

For craft beer to be sold in the ballpark under the beer distribution system as currently constituted, with a brewer, wholesaler and concessionaire involved, the only way that the dictates of sustainability can be met is for the price point to be slightly higher. I don't make those rules, but I must play by them. As a brewery, we cannot give the beer away and survive. We cannot operate according to Anheuser-Busch's marketplace expectations. A wholesaler must make money, and so must the ballpark concessionaire. Perhaps eventually we can have a craft beer happy hour to compensate.

Speaking personally, it would be easy for me to pick nits with various aspects of this embryonic experience, but I shan't. This is unexplored territory for all of us. Centerplate has been receptive to the idea of an expanded selection of craft beer in the ballpark, and River City Distributing has done a fine job of negotiating the terms of engagement. As the season progresses, I hope there is the opportunity for NABC (and the other brewers) to help sell the product through signage, our social medias and the all-important physical presence at game time.

If you're there tonight, please provide a report. More later.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Is tonight the night for NABC at Louisville Slugger Field?

We think so ...

... and to make sure, I'll be attending this evening's opening game of an 8-day, 8-game homestand.

Portable section 115 concessions placement information comes to me from Centerplate itself, via River City Distributing, which puts the location in the same spot as the Browning's tap this year and last. See the Centerplate pricing .pdf for further details.

I don't know what this implies for Browning's. I do know that Centerplate ordered four kegs of Beak's Best, and also expressed interest in purchasing, or already has, kegs from Kentucky Ale. Speaking for myself alone, it still strikes me as best to have more than one craft brew in a stand. In any event, I'm happy not to travel all the way to the berm for a craft draft, as we used to do for Redhook whilst grimacing all the way and back ... and not at the price.

Honestly, I don't know what to expect in all this. The struggle for better beer in the ballpark has lasted for 15 years or longer -- long before NABC had beer of its own to vend -- with periodic (usually short-lived) victories, and plenty of disappointments along the way. Make that: A whole slew of disappointments, and a host of very lean years. Getting better beer into the ballpark has been a professional crusade for so long, I'm not sure what winning the fight would feel like. Is this truly a new era?

I'll abandon my customary jaudiced expression and be there tonight. I might be first in line.

Concert poster: Black Keys at Iroquois ... and amazingly cool NABC logo!

One thing's for sure: Before this is over, I'll learn how to spell Iroquois without a crib sheet.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

NABC at the Black Keys concert, Iroquois Amphitheater, on Wednesday, August 11.

More good beer (and music) news arrived yesterday afternoon, courtesy of River City Distributing, NABC's Louisville wholesaler.

The Black Keys will be playing Iroquois Amphitheater on Wednesday, August 11, and NABC draft will be available for the show. In fact (again, thanking River City), we'll be the "official" local craft beer sponsor for the event.

This is exciting.

The Black Keys, a duo comprising guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, have a new album, Brothers (released May 18). They'll be gigging throughout the summer, including shows with Kings of Leon in the fall. Their music is heavily influenced by the blues, but it's still rock 'n' roll to me, and displays numerous influences ... much like NABC beer.

It's too early to say what will be on tap for the Black Keys. I'm just happy we'll be there, and the show will be the perfect send-off for NABC's annual journey to Madison, Wisconsin, for the Great Taste of the Midwest (August 14). Details to come ...

"Mug Shots" today in LEO: "The beer bucket list."

I'll credit GQ with providing the impetus for a discussion, which began at the Louisville Restaurants Forum, and I carried forward into my column for LEO today.

Mug Shots: The beer bucket list

To be worth its hops, this list must address wishes that extend somewhat beyond the mundane and everyday: not just great beers purchased at a package store, but ways and places to drink them — settings, countries, meals, breweries, festivals and modes of thinking outside the Bud.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Louisville Slugger Field update: Does the Nose know?

The Louisville Bats begin an eight-game homestand on Thursday, May 6. There'll be baseball at Louisville Slugger Field every night (or day) until the 13th.

I'm a lifelong baseball fan, and try to attend Triple-A games as often as possible, but the reason why these dates rank higher in my consciousness than under normal circumstances is that earlier today it was revealed that Centerplate, the ballpark concessionaire, has ordered kegs of NABC Beak's Best -- presumably, for tapping during this homestand.

Experience hath shown that anything can happen, and usually does. Details are non-existent at this writing. I'll tell you more when the information comes in. Until then, I'm just a bit stunned.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Office Hours tonight: Impromptu beer and cheese pairing.

Last week, those in attendance decided to stage a potluck cheese and beer tasting for tonight's Office Hours with the Publican.

The price of admission this evening is cheese. Bring enough so that a dozen persons can sample at least a sliver. If you bring cheese, then beers to match are on the Publican and there'll be no charge for participation. We'll select the beers on the spot and look for the best pairings.

Sounds fair to me. See you there, 6:30 p.m., Prost room at the NABC Pizzeria & Public House.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Let the hangovers begin, and the folk remedies, too.

Note that it's the Post-Derby Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar experience at Bank Street Brewhouse, beginning at 12 Noon today (until 3:00 p.m.)

Just because I'm not a Derby fan doesn't mean I'm unwilling to profit from the hoopla. Gotta turn a buck somehow, you know.

There may also be remnants of the Thunderfoot keg that went on tap Friday, as well as Chef Josh's stellar Sunday menu renderings. I might be down a bit later in the afternoon, but first, there's a bit of preventive dentistry to achieve, followed (I hope) by a stopover at AJ's Gyros in Georgetown.