Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday Weekly: The Jackson I miss the most.

The idea is to stay disciplined by continuing to write Wednesday columns here at the blog, but to try posting one each week instead of every other week (as was the case for the late Mug Shots in LEO).


Last week (June 25) marked the passage of a year since the American entertainer Michael Jackson died.

In two months, it will have been three years since the death of Michael Jackson, the British beer writer.

Although ever willing to concede that it’s a chronologically relative kind of thing, I never once bought into the “King of Pop” tag for Jackson the singer. Maybe Hoboken’s Frank Sinatra, or Hound Dog Elvis Presley fits the bill, but not the Moonwalker.

Conversely, a highly convincing case can be made that Michael Jackson the Yorkshireman fully deserves the title “King of Beer,” and in a far more plausible way than A-B InBev’s classically insipid American Lager ever will be able to claim.

From their respective vantage points in music and writing, both Jacksons brilliantly synthesized artistic and stylistic themes that preceded them, but of the two, only the beer writer can be said to have annotated, denoted and connoted his source material into what amounts to a living language of beer, one that aficionados speak every single day of their beer drinking lives.

Pop music certainly is enriched by the canon handed down by Michael Jackson, and yet its everyday vocabulary is not referential to his body of work. The language of beer surely does pass directly through Michael Jackson. Even the swill merchants speak in his voice with their “triple hopped” this and “bock” that.

Yes, it is true that Jackson the beer writer did not create this vocational tongue from the ether, in the sense that a musician like the other Michael conjured melodies and choreographed dance steps, and yet our beer man clearly was the first to systematically consider beer styles, to explain them, and to show how aspects of the brewing process, historical practice, geography, chemistry and myriad other human experiences pertained to them, demonstrating in the process that our enjoyment of the genre is enhanced immeasurably by greater knowledge and linguistic “beer speak” aptitude.

What’s more, our Jackson performed this feat in an entertainingly and enduringly readable way, neither dumbing down nor assuming the role of lofty pedant. He far exceeded the journalist’s basic mandate to clarify and explain, because he was an erudite prose stylist in addition to his skills as reporter. He told wonderful stories while never forgetting the newspaperman’s facts-first orientation. I persist in believing that Jackson is best compared to figures like Samuel Johnson and other great essayists in the English past.

Some beer writers working today have equaled Jackson. None have surpassed him. Meanwhile, time marches forward, and matters like these fill my mind during those times when I toy with melancholia. I’d caution you that a changing of the guard is under way, except that it is likely to have already occurred.

I note merely that many of the same socio-economic, technological and cultural reasons why there’ll never again be recorded music “album” sales in the multi-million range of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” also preclude the emergence of another beer writer of Michael Jackson’s caliber and far-reaching influence.

There remains much wonderful music to enjoy, and there exists prolific writing about beer, with reams of both available on-line. Just as musical choice has proliferated far beyond what a relative handful of corporations formerly permitted us to hear, so has beer writing expanded in all directions, documenting the expanding choices, and encapsulating the Internet-driven democratic ethos that we’re all experts, even if some (most?) are slightly less expert than others.

My personal annoyance is that so very little of what is written nowadays about beer so much as touches the writer Michael Jackson’s elegant classicism. What annoys me even further is that this absence seems not to bother others in quite the same way that it disturbs me. Changing times, indeed.

Plainly, beer appreciation in its modern interpretation has been with us for long enough to pass across one and maybe two generational lines, and differing ways of conceptualizing and processing information on the part of succeeding generations are not confined to popular tastes in art or music. Shift happens in beer, too.

It already has, and even as we celebrate the growth of beer consciousness, there is acute awareness that the social shifts prefacing the decline of the compact disc and the newspaper inevitably must have an impact on what we do, too.

In short, with all the facts at our fingertips, are missing the crucial back story, essential history? More folks than ever know their beer styles – do they grasp the intrinsic stylishness of those styles? Had Jackson himself come to maturity during our present age, would there would be a medium to serve his talents?

I have no answers, no solutions, and I cannot rule out that I’m completely wrong in all of this. The simple fact is that I miss Michael “Beer Hunter” Jackson -- alive, working and drinking in our world. As should be obvious, he was an enormous formative influence on my career in beer, which always was as much about storytelling and writing as understanding enzymes and identifying precise hop types.

But that’s for another day. Get a good beer, and one of Jackson’s books, and see what I mean.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Bell’s ON! = 13 Bell’s Brews on Tap at Louisville Beer Store to kick off Forecastle."

(Submitted ... for inquiries, please contact Lori Beck at the Louisville Beer Store)


Bell’s ON! = 13 Bell’s Brews on Tap at Louisville Beer Store to kick off Forecastle

Louisville Beer Store will feature thirteen Bell's Brewery brews on draft at this "unofficial Forecastle kick-off party” on Thursday, July 8th from 12pm to 2am.
Forecastle Festival is a 3-day music festival on the Louisville Waterfront (July 9th-11th) featuring bands like Devo, Flaming Lips, Smashing Pumpkins, and more.

The Forecastle closing party, Bell’s on the Belle, will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Bell’s Brewery with music by Ana Sia & Big Gigantic atop the historic Steamboat, the Belle of Louisville.

About the Event BELL’S ON!

Date/Time: Thursday, July 8th (noon – 2am)

Location/Address: Louisville Beer Store (746 East Market Street, Louisville, KY 40202)

More info about LBS

Laura Bell (Bell’s Marketing Director) & Veronica Sanders (Bell’s representative) will be at the store to celebrate this special showcase of Bell's most tasty collection of ales & lagers. Also, DJ Chef Jeff will be spinning records and cooking food on the grill for your pleasure! The beer menu includes:

· Hopslam
· Batch 9000 (Imperial Stout)
· Bourbon Barrel Hell Hath No Fury
· Rye Stout
· Expedition Stout (firkin)
· Oberon
· Two Hearted Ale
· Oarsman Ale (Berliner Weisse)
· Sparkling Ale (Belgian Strong)
· Poolside Cherry Wheat
· Lager of the Lakes
· Amber Ale
· Consecrator Doppelbock

*2 oz samples, beer flights, and full size pours (10oz, 12oz, 16oz.) will be available. Select beers will be available for growler fills

About Louisville Beer Store:

Kentucky’s first beer store & tasting room dedicated solely to craft beer, featuring eight rotating taps and over 400 select bottled beers from all over the world. Located in the heart of the East Market District, NULU, Louisville Beer Store offers a collection of rare import brews, rotating seasonals, vintage ales, and specialty limited releases. Opened in November 2009, owners Tyler Trotter & Lori Beck gave up their day-jobs to open Louisville Beer Store, once a dream that was inspired by the couple's travels hunting for the best beers all over the world…. now, they don’t have to go too far!

About Bells:

Bell's Brewery, Inc. formerly Kalamazoo Brewing Company, founded by Larry Bell as a home-brewing supply shop in 1983, sold its first beer in 1985. Originally brewing in a 15-gallon soup kettle, the company has grown remarkably from its production of 135 barrels (1 bbl = 31 gal.) in 1986 to over 90,000 barrels in 2007. Bell's Brewery has grown from a tiny operation renting part of a former plumbing supply warehouse to a bustling, regional craft brewery. Over twenty years of brewing, Bell's Brewery has built a nationwide reputation as a creative and talented brewery, playing a significant role in changing the beerscape of the nation.

“Our ongoing goal is to brew thoughtfully, creatively and artistically. We strive to bring an authentic and pleasant experience to all of our customers through our unique ales and beers. We look forward to sharing our beers with you.”

Indiana politicking: Cold beer and Sunday sales for your neighborhood hypermarket?

Everyone knew that a big legislative push was coming this year in Indiana from retail entities not permitted to sell alcohol for carry-out on Sunday, or to sell cold beer anytime.

The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, which represents package stores, remains opposed, and the reason why I chose this article over an Indy Star boilerplate reprint in today's Courier-Journal is this reference to a liquor store owner in Leo-Cedarville:

"Kohrman said he stocks microbrews and imports that cannot be found at other retail locations."

Think about the products you typically see at corporate supermarkets and drug emporiums. If you've ever been involved with the booze business, you already know how and why those (mostly) mass-produced alcoholic products make it onto the shelf in such venues for razor-thin margins. It's food and drink for thought.
Repeal of alcohol blue laws sought; Group revives legislative push for Sunday carryout sales, by Jeff Wiehe and Niki Kelly (Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette).

FORT WAYNE – With more time to convince legislators during a budget year, a statewide coalition of drug, grocery and convenience stores is confident in repealing a law that bans the sale of alcohol at those businesses on Sundays.

Monday, June 28, 2010

HBG gives you the skinny on Sunday carry-out sales from Indiana micros.

Carry-out beer sales from participating (and eligible) microbreweries and brewpubs begins this Sunday, July 4. Here's a handy compendium, which omits only one fact: Beginning July 1, we must see your identification to sell you a growler -- ANYTIME. That's the necessary legislative payback to the killjoy health fascist lobby, and really, a small price to pay for Sunday growler freedom in Indiana.

What Sunday Beer Sales Mean for Sunday Beer Drinking In Indiana (Hoosier Beer Geek blog)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Just a wee bit more about the Curmudgeon's lamentable Artestian Complex.

Briefly, permit me to convey heartfelt thanks to all who've relayed support in the aftermath of my departure from LEO. I deeply appreciate your comments.

It's ironic that during the weeks just prior to the weirdness, I seemed to be getting more reader compliments about the "Mug Shots" column than ever before. Life's funny that way. The important part to me is that so many of you have confessed to not agreeing with me all the time, but continued reading, anyway. That's a truly free market in ideas, whether or not one becomes too alternative for the acceptably alternative, as apparently I have.

And no, I've no idea whether my absence will be noted. Will A-B InBev take out a full-page, congratulatory ad? Only the bean counters know.

Meanwhile, I've had two conversations with other Internet portals about for-pay beer writing, and while I contemplate these and other post-column-divorce matters, it is my aim to stick to writing right here, at this blog.

There was a good conversation at the Louisville Restaurants Forum last week, and if you go straight to page two, you can find a few of my expanded thoughts on the matter.

Thanks again -- and let's all have a beer together very soon, because in the end, that's what it's really all about.

A belated Saturday report.

Apart from three bicycle rides back and forth to the Riverfront Amphitheater, I spent the afternoon yesterday at Bank Street Brewhouse watching the World Cup match. Naturally, it was a disappointing outcome for fans of the USA, but at the same time an "elite eight" pairing of Uruguay and Ghana surely is a good thing for the sport in a global context.

Meanwhile, the Booty Shakin' Blues Festival was unfolding down by the river, with Studio's Grill and Pub handling master supplementary catering duties and NABC selling kegs to Studio's in our wholesale capacity in a collaborative venture described earlier in the week. Both 1/6 barrels, one of Beak's and one Tafelbier, floated around 9:15 p.m., and while there might have been enough time to tap a third, it was close enough to the end of the show to call it a day.

The way it should work is this: We profit a bit, Studio's (or any other master caterer) profits a bit more, and event attendees have a genuine, locally brewed craft beer option. In fact, this is precisely the way it did work, and I feel good about the results. The Studio's crew was great, and I'm looking forward to next weekend, hopefully to expand the perimeter.

Honestly, I had no time yesterday to become involved with the NA 1 Night Stand Triple Up Beer Walk, although I saw a scattering of yellow tees. The walk appeared to gain steam at a point later in the day, which was another scorcher during one of the most intemperate Junes that I can recall in these parts.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Beer and exhaustion: Another Saturday in the life of NABC.

We have a crew heading to Indianapolis today for the annual Brew-Ha-Ha, perhaps the hippest "small" festival that NABC attends on a yearly basis. Speaking personally, I hate to miss it, but my shift comes elsewhere today.

Roughly at the same time this afternoon in downtown New Albany, USA kicks off against Ghana in the World Cup (coverage and firkin at Bank Street Brewhouse), the Booty Shakin' Blues Festival at the Riverfront Amphitheater begins, and the first of three summertime NA 1 Night Stand Triple Up Beer Walks gets underway. What a fine day and place to be on a bicycle, at least until it comes to delivering back-up kegs to the blues festival. I need one of those cute little bicycle gear wagons.

So ... I'll be back and forth, and all around. If there's a chance to post a few choice photos here later, I will.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Blues, brews, soccer, beer walks, Farmers Market ... and more brews ... this weekend.

I can remember a time not so long ago when Harvest Homecoming was the only period of the year during which anything at all might (or might not) be happening in New Albany. This is no longer the case, as the coming weekend attests.

Tonight (Friday), the Dennis Ervin Band plays at the Riverfront Amphitheater, and craft beer drinkers will note that NABC and Studio's are collaborating ("what a concept", noted frequent reader Mike) to bring Progressive Pints to the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater for this performance, the blues festival, and next weekend's Independence Weekend activities. After that, we reassess and plan for events to follow.

Tomorrow is packed with possibilities. The Farmers Market is in full session (Josh and I had a great time there last week), and only one firkin of "USA vs Ghana – Former Colonies Bitter" will be tapped for the World Cup match at Bank Street Brewhouse.

On Saturday from 3:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m., the Booty Shakin' Blues Festival is happening at the Riverfront Amphitheater, again with NABC beer as vended by Studio's.

On top of it all, Saturday is the first of three summertime beer walks in New Albany, kicking off a bit after the soccer match: NA 1 Night Stand Triple Up Beer Walk.

You can rest on Sunday, okay?

Booty Shakin' Blues Festival at the Riverfront Amphitheater on Saturday, June 26, with NABC beer vended by Studio's.

Musical lineup and other details are at the fest's Facebook page. There'll be food and drink, with NABC and Studio's collaborating to bring Progressive Pints to the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater for Friday and Saturday shows this weekend and next.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Only one firkin of "USA vs Ghana – Former Colonies Bitter" for the match on Saturday at Bank Street Brewhouse.

In preparation for USA vs. Ghana on Saturday afternoon, I’ve done long minutes of diligent research, and found these five fascinating coincidences.

1. The United States and Ghana both are former English colonies.

2. In both the USA and Ghana, Dutchmen were there before the English – and Netherlands also has advanced to the elimination round in the World Cup.

3. Heineken, a brewer from the Netherlands, stole its red star from the Bolsheviks, whose superstar striker, Karl Marx, wrote his best material while living in England. NABC stole back the red star from Heineken, and in Ghana, there is a Star Beer. But the stars don’t stop there …

4. Prior to independence, Ghana was called the Gold Coast, and both then and now, the national football club has been the Black Stars. America has never been called Ghana, but its Gulf Coast is no longer Gold. It is Black, and the official team colors of the New Orleans Saints, its football team, are ... that's right, black and gold.

5. Ghana has Jerry Rawlings, a former flight lieutenant and longtime dictator. The USA has Jerry Lewis, formerly relevant, who is loved by the French and is the one-time performance partner of Dean Martin, who sang Italian songs. Neither France nor Italy remains alive in the World Cup, but the USA, Ghana and NABC still are.

Here’s the scoop for Saturday.

Obviously, three days isn’t enough time for a special beer to be brewed, but there remains one last cask-conditioned firkin of USA vs England – Ordinary Bitter. It will be tapped Saturday afternoon around 2:00 p.m. at Bank Street Brewhouse, and for the occasion, redubbed: USA vs Ghana – Former Colonies Bitter.

It won’t last long. Saturday also is the first of three summertime beer walks in New Albany: NA 1 Night Stand Triple Up Beer Walk.

July 4 is just around the bend.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday Weekly: To the “craft” of the matter.

The idea is to stay disciplined by continuing to write Wednesday columns here, but to try posting one each week instead of every other week (as was the case for Mug Shots in LEO). The following had been submitted as the next LEO column. So much for that! I'll come up with something better for a column name as we go along. Thanks for your support during the past few days, and the many notes and kind thoughts.


To the “craft” of the matter.

It was in a moment of sodden, resigned and benumbed weakness, to be repeated only once in all the manic, hazy years since, that I agreed to attend either the second or third Thunder Over Louisville.

Don’t ask me to specify the date. In those heady, early 1990’s days of blessed, expanded, real beer choice, I was pioneering a veritable self-Stakhanovite movement dedicated to exceeding quotas of alcoholic consumption wherever and whenever possible. As a result, the rear view mirror now is blurred on occasion. So be it.

Otherwise embarrassed, I mention this “thunderous” error in event attendance judgment for one reason alone: We’d booked rooms at the Seelbach, and when the fireworks ended and our flasks were damnably emptied of spirits, it was decided to close the evening at the hotel bar. There, amid the classicist’s interior opulence, we were surprised and delighted to find Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

It was in a bottle. Or: On tap. I don’t remember which.


The Sam Adams flagship was, and remains, dependable default lager beer, and the line has expanded to include numerous other styles. It’s impossible to criticize these many well-made products, and it’s just as unlikely to find well-versed beer enthusiasts who’ll express undying love for them.

From well-documented, humble origins, and with zeal, diligence and a considerable measure of sheer blarney, Boston Beer Company has consolidated strengths with few missteps. It has registered steady growth, while at the same time striving to maintain its small-scale renegade micro sheen, except that nowadays, Boston Beer is equipped with a productive capacity to play the game at a near-macro level.

Sam Adams can be enjoyed in stadiums, airports and country clubs, those “special” places where the notion of free markets capitalism is less popular than in Pyongyang, and where genuinely local “craft” breweries struggle to penetrate the archaic vestiges of monopolist distribution ... and usually fail, such that we sigh, shrug, and mutter to ourselves: Well, at least Sam Adams is better than Heineken, right?

Wait. What was that? That’s right. 200 words into this essay, and I could no longer avoid the use of the “C” word. Perhaps now, you’ll see where I’m headed.


As any parent can attest, growing pains can be awkward, and semantic dominoes began falling earlier this month when it was reported that the Boston Beer Company could lose its status as a “craft” brewer by climbing past the two million barrel yearly production limit.

In this instance, “craft” is more than shorthand for marketing purposes. In part, it’s about prestige. Without Boston Beer’s oversized two million barrel output, craft/micro/artisanal brewing’s overall beer market share would decrease overnight, even if all the other 1,500+ smaller breweries reported gains of their own.

And yet, the “craft” segment sales leader is undersized compared with the heaviest hitters – with implications in the realm of taxation, where the real story lies. Sammy’s 2,000,001st barrel will place Boston Beer in the same excise taxation class as Anheuser-Busch, even though A-B annually brews at least 50 times more beer than Jim Koch’s famous car trunk start-up gone big time.

The immediate and prosaic solution touted by Boston Beer and the Brewers Association is a piece of national legislation that would increase the yearly production limit on "craft" breweries from two million to six million barrels, and then cut the excise tax on the first 60,000 barrels brewed by half, with a more modest discount up to the limit.

On a more philosophical plane, a freshly minted discussion of the word “craft” is underway. I tend to use it freely, almost as slang: We’re experiencing a “craft” beer revolution, our peers comprise “Craft” Beer Nation, and it’s all about fresh, local “craft” alternatives. It’s hard to define, but we persist in thinking that we know it when we taste it.

At the same time, there can be no doubt that the word “craft” was co-opted long ago by those larger and less scrupulous brewing industry denizens like the AB InBev monolith, which always have depended on subterfuge and deceptive advertising to take the place of artistic creativity.

Fact is, they’ve already soiled the “craft” nest, even though bloated multinational megabreweries can no more produce a “craft” beer than an elephant can sire a butterfly, although they employ squadrons of soulless PR flaks to fashion micro-exterior Potemkin packaging to willfully blind the drinker to the insipid reality of robotic mockro-liquid in the glass.

Repeat after me: Michelob Brewing Company is marketing-speak. It is not a “craft” brewery. Wishing and advertising dollars will not make it so.

Those of us who are willing to search for the genuine article might as well accept the loss of “craft” and move on to a different way of describing what we drink, think and do. I favor simplicity: “Good beer,” as opposed to bad beer, works just fine on my word processor.

Meanwhile, as you follow this saga, pay attention to the path of the legislation, and adjustments in the excise tax. Smoke and mirrors might produce the appearance of a craft purse from sow’s swill, but 100 pennies still add up to a dollar … each and every time.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

NABC World Cup Series continues on Wednesday morning with "USA vs Algeria -- Maghreb Biere de Garde."

NABC’s World Cup trilogy of specially brewed and football-themed beers concludes on Wednesday with the morning release (and match) of USA vs. Algeria -- Maghreb Biere de Garde. Bank Street Brewhouse will be open at 10:00 a.m., four hours early for a Wednesday (don’t get used to it), and the Pizzeria & Public House will follow suit at its usual 11:00 a.m. time.

As the notes below indicate, this one is Jesse Williams’ baby, drawing on his culinary education as well as brewing experience. Jared Williamson co-captained and brewed the small batch at the original NABC brewery on the north side, proving that collaboration beers come from within as well as without.

Previous World Cup Series releases were USA vs England – Ordinary Bitter, and USA vs Slovenia – Keller Pils. As of yesterday, the Keller Pils was still flowing, and if you enjoyed the Ordinary Bitter, know this: Jared will be tapping another firkin of cask-conditioned USA vs England for his Gumbo Family Quartet performance at Bank Street Brewhouse, also on Wednesday, June 23, but in the evening (7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.)

USA vs Algeria – Maghreb Biere de Garde

Malts: Castle Pale, Castle Biscuit, Castle Special B

Malts note by Jesse: Franco-Belgian malts are traditional to Biere de Garde style. Castle malts produce a less sweet wort than English or American malts, allowing the yeast to really shine in the final product. Biscuit dries it out a little, and Special B is not just for color, but to impart its own cooked fruit/raisin quality to the bill.

Hops: USA Goldings

Hops notes by Jesse: It’s hopped to style, and not too much to hide the stars of the show, the malts and spices.

Fruit and Spices: Apricot, Cinnamon, Ginger

Fruit and Spice notes by Jesse: USA vs Algeria takes inspiration from the Maghreb region’s cuisine, specifically tajine spices. Tajine varies across North Africa, but is known to us as the long-simmered meat stews, fragrantly spiced and often incorporating dried fruit. These specific spices come from my
favorite tajine: Rabbit with ginger, cinnamon, and apricot. We've left out the rabbit … and kept the awesome.

Yeast: Belgian Chouffe

Yeast notes by Jesse: Our house Belgian strain works well for the style and adds a bit of fruity ester, as well.

O.G.: 1044

ABV: 3.9%

IBU: 15

Color: 11.7 degree Lovibond SRM

Style notes by Jesse: Biere de Garde was chosen as the style owing to the strong French tradition in Algeria, and while Algeria does produce some fine wines, the country’s beer culture is lacking. Pale lagers are dominant, and that’s a little boring: Freaking world domination of German brewing. Being session strength, this beer -- while complex -- is easily quaffable, and not overly spiced.

Style notes by Roger: Jesse now is obliged to prepare his Rabbit Tajine at a future brewery function. Both style and spicing couldn’t be more appropriate, given that Biere de Garde remains quite possibly the single most underrated of “food beer” styles hailing from Europe. As such, note that we’ll save some of USA vs Algeria (NABC’s first ever Biere de Garde, and the first Maghreb Biere de Garde, perhaps anywhere), for the special Bastille Day dinner on July 14.

Monday, June 21, 2010

This round goes to the Liteweights, as Mr. Mug Shot is no more.

This just in: LEO's editor, Sarah Kelley, has fired intrepid "Mug Shot" columnist Roger A. Baylor for myriad offenses against taste and decency.

Which is why I thought the "independent" "alt"-weekly hired me in the first place, but verily, times and people change. There'll be time later to discuss. Until then:

Under-employed former LEO beer columnist with pompous proclivities and a large, loyal fan base desires biweekly forum for fermentable truth-telling. Pay is negotiable. Note that the columnist is allergic to censorship and poor taste. You know where I am. Have beer -- will write/right.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Josh & the Publican at the Farmers Market.

Chef Josh and the Publican were at the Farmers Market (corner of Market and Bank) in downtown New Albany on Saturday morning.

Josh was cooking his popular chorizo hash, and it was fun and instructive to watch him incoroprate ingredients from the market, and improvise as the morning went on. I was distributing samples of NABC seasonals, mostly to wide-eyed stares that seemed to say, "It's too early for that, isn't it?"

Not at all. You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning.

Photo credit: Author (top), AW (bottom)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A tale of two columns.

21 June update: This round goes to the Liteweights, as Mr. Mug Shot is no more.


“You do not change what I write!"
-- John Reed, played by Warren Beatty, in the 1981 movie "Reds"

I write a weekly general interest column for the New Albany Tribune, a fortnightly beer column for Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO), and a quarterly beer column for Food & Dining magazine.

To greater or lesser extent, I maintain two blogs: NA Confidential (life in New Albany) and Potable Curmudgeon (life in the beer business).

Generally speaking, I’ll provide a link to the Tribune column each week on Thursday at NA Confidential, and a link to the LEO column every other week on Wednesday at Potable Curmudgeon. Since Food & Dining does not maintain an active web archive, those articles are published in their entirety at Potable Curmudgeon on a delayed basis.

This week, the LEO and Tribune links are running together, following this explanation. If you follow my periodic ranting on Facebook, you already know the reason, and therein lies a story.

Basically, the top brass at LEO proposed to censor the column I wrote for publication this week, citing my reference to my own business (necessary to tell the story, and also offered to readers sans the establishment’s actual name) and my mention of Miller Lite (even when humorously altered, and even when it was the specific product mentioned by my on-line critic).

This presumably happened because roughly two years ago, the Louisville branch of Anheuser-Busch Thin-Skinned 800-lb Multinational complained about something I wrote; former LEO editor Cary Stemle thought so little of it that he didn’t even tell me until much later, but those who've subsequently occupying his chair evidently have established a new policy, paraphrased:

One mustn’t tout feel-good real beer and craft beer culture by harmful and factual comparison to bad beer and the excesses of macro beer culture, and one mustn’t offend any potential advertisers, because even though we at LEO egregiously attack errant nitwit politicians, mountaintop removal companies and wretched taste in popular culture, those entities probably weren’t planning on advertising with us, anyway, and after all, beer’s amusing, but not really important enough to waste anyone’s personal integrity defending.

I’m exaggerating just a bit -- a wee bit -- although that’s the gist of it.

I spent about five minutes pondering the blatant hypocrisy, shrugged, withdrew the column, added a few words to bring it to 900, and resubmitted it as the weekly Tribune column, where it appears today, entirely uncensored, courtesy of a local newspaper that in this case possesses far bigger balls than LEO’s, which will continue to term Jim Bunning a son-of-a-bitch while prohibiting (for example) earnest and revealing commentary on a nefarious corporation (A-B InBev) that currently seeks legal changes to deny craft brewers self-distribution in Illinois.

But what the hey: You want someone to take down Justin Bieber or Rand Paul, you know exactly where to look.

Meanwhile, I wrote a completely different LEO column, and within it cleverly insulted a LEO advertiser (the carpetbagging Top of the Hops beer festival) without anyone at the office catching it. As Steely Dan once noted, "Throw out the little ones/And pan fry the big ones/Use tact, poise and reason/And gently squeeze them."

Because so many people have told me that they read and enjoy the LEO column, I’ll continue to submit whatever emasculated Pablum the staff desires, make it as relevant as I can to a real world denied my scrutiny by the Man/Woman, and go on cashing my checks -- even if I have to take a shower after each cha-ching.

As for the Tribune: Thanks, guys. In the year and a half I’ve been submitting columns, only once in my memory has Steve "Coach K" Kozarovich overruled me, and that was in May of 2009 when I proposed to run four consecutive East German travel epics. He was right that time, and the Tribune is far better than it used to be.

In the Tribune, June 17: BAYLOR: Still killing: The scourge of L.I.D.S.

In LEO, June 16: Mug Shots: It’s Christmas in July

Photo credit

NABC World Cup Series resumes Friday morning with the debut of "USA vs Slovenia – Keller Pils."

In the aftermath of USA's draw against England, American opening round football action in the World Cup resumes on Friday morning (June 18) at 10:00 a.m. local time. NABC's Bank Street Brewhouse again will be the scene of a special tapping to commemorate the occasion, as the second of three small batches, designed to debut on the same day as USA's first three World Cup matches, makes appearances in multiple formats.

Friday's "USA vs Slovenia – Keller Pils," with a gravity-poured countertop pin (Anstich, anyone?) broached at the special opening hour of 10:00 a.m. at Bank Street Brewhouse, and a firkin on the hand pull at the NABC Pizzeria & Public House (Sportstime and Rich O's). Standard CO2 pours will immediately follow depletion of the pin and firkin at the respective locations.

Got it? Here's the report, with beer facts supplied by Jared Williamson, who conceived the World Cup Series, and historical meanderings by the Publican (me).

USA vs Slovenia – Keller Pils

Malts: Weyermann Bohemian Pils, Weyermann Vienna, Briess Cara-Pils, Rahr White Wheat

Malts note by Jared: Comprised of both European and North American malts, this Pils aims to be a hybrid of sorts. While Euro malts dominate the grist, the Cara-Pils and Wheat supply a subtle depth to the body.

Hops: 100% Slovenian-grown Styrian Goldings

Hops notes by Jared: Providing the true Slovenian aspect, Styrian Golding hops are a hybrid in themselves. Long ago, transplanted Fuggles hops from the UK were established in the suitable microclimate of modern day Slovenia, and became what we now know as Styrian Goldings.

Styrian Goldings are not quite as spicy and earthy as Fuggles, but they’re not completely Noble hops, either. They have a unique quality in European continental hops, and I approached their use much as the American-bred brewer I am, hopping the Keller Pils seven (7) different times, including first wort hops, and dry-hopping in both the cask and draft versions. The results are a comprehensive study of Styrian Goldings’ across-the-board capabilities.

Yeast: San Francisco Common Lager

Yeast notes by Jared: Bringing an American aspect is our beloved house lager strain. Versatile and trusted to handle whatever style and gravity we throw at it, the Common Lager again echos the hybrid aspect of this Pils. I fermented somewhere in between the usual German lager temps and that of our Common styles.

O.G.: 1044

ABV: 3.9%

IBU: 36

Color: 3.4 degree Lovibond SRM

Style notes by Roger: Less about style, more about history this time. From the Middle Ages, the Duchy of Styria was a possession of the House of Habsburg, ethnic German rulers of the Austrian Empire. Multi-ethnic Styria was a part of the Holy Roman Empire until its formal dissolution during Napoleonic times, then was administered by Austria-Hungary until the end of World War I.

Historic Styria now is divided between Austria and Slovenia, the latter holding the distinction of being the first Yugoslav state to break away (largely non-violently) prior to the civil war during the 1990’s. Slovenia is the first former Yugoslav entity to join the European Union, and has emerged from regional turmoil as perhaps the most stable and progressive Balkan country.

Jared’s Keller Pils for the USA vs Slovenia opening round match in the World Cup stirs overlapping personal and olfactory memories.

In 1987, Slovenia was my very first point of entry into the Communist zone, even if Yugoslavia itself was considered to be non-aligned. Furthermore, the notion of Keller Pils, while differing in precise formulation from the well-made golden lagers I drank while touring Slovenia, remains evocative of many wonderful beers enjoyed since then: Styles like Kellerbier and Ungespundetes in Franconia, and Zwicklbier in Austria, stand out as enduring exemplars of classic lager brewing technique, with clean but firm malt profiles, inimitably Noble hop burnish, and an innate ability to make pork dishes sing light opera. A sprinkling of Jared’s New World brewing touches merely adds to the tasty intrigue.

For those interested in my travels, circa 1987, here are links to the as-yet uncompleted "Red Stars, Black Mountains" series. Parts 2 and 3 are the most relevant today.

Red Stars, Black Mountains: Roger in Yugoslavia ’87 (Introduction)

Red Stars, Black Mountains: Roger in Yugoslavia ’87 (Part 1)

Red Stars, Black Mountains: Welcome to Slovenia (Part 2)

Red Stars, Black Mountains: Mellow Ljubljana (Part 3)

Red Stars, Black Mountains: Raddy and what came after (Part 4)

Red Stars, Black Mountains: What’s Habsburg got to do with it? (Part 5)

Red Stars, Black Mountains: Sarajevo on $10 A Day (Part 6).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Coming July 10: Bob's and Roger's Excellent "Nursery Beer" Adventure.

Last year, Mr. and Mrs. Curmudgeon made the short drive to Utica, Indiana (that's a bit past Jeffersonville, for the uninitiated) for our first experience at Hidden Hill Nursery, Bob and Janet Hill's labor of love, situated on the grounds of the farm they've inhabited for the past 30-plus years. The photos here should give you an idea of the creativity and serendipity on display.

Many readers will remember Bob from his years as columnist for the Courier-Journal, and his decade-long gig on HomeGrown on 89.3 WFPL. They may not know that he got his start at university on a basketball scholarship -- he's taller than the Curmudgeon himself.

During that first visit, Bob and I began conspiring to stage a low-key "gardens + beer, food and music" outing at Hidden Hill. A rough outline has emerged:

Nature & Craft Beer with NABC at Hidden Hill in Utica

Saturday, July 10
3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Free admission

The nursery already contains themed areas of landscaping, plants and sculpture. There will be five or six NABC sample (2-oz) stations around the nursery grounds. Visitors can roam among them using a map, which will include written nursery/beer “pairings” written by Bob and Roger.

There's a ready-made central seating area between the house and nursery center, which we'll transform into a "beer garden," with a cash NABC beer bar and Chef Josh Lehman's special Hidden Hill picnic menu. There'll be music with a bluegrass or roots tinge, and people can wander around the nursery, enjoy the free samples and pairings, and then sit for a bit under the trees and listen, eat and drink.

Mark your calendars for Juy 10, and stay tuned for further information.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Here goes.

If you don't know it by now ...

We're only a few hours away from an exciting day, with the NABC World Cup Series of small batch/USA match beers kicking off at 2:00 p.m. and the debut of "USA vs England – Ordinary Bitter" at Bank Street Brewhouse.

Concurrently, NABC's Haggis Laddie Celtic Red goes on tap for the "Celts on the River" concert at the Riverfront Amphitheater.

As far as I'm concerned today, downtown New Albany is the center of the universe. Maybe just my universe, but the analogy holds. I'll be at the Brewhouse for an Ordinary at 2, then near Rosa L. Stumblebus on the waterfront. Come on down, pull up a pew, and have a few.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Two announcements: Bastille day at BSB is on, Lambic by the Glass is postponed.

I've had my usual special-order problems getting enough lambic stocks to properly do Lambic by the Glass, and so will wait until later in the summer. When I'm able to get Lambic by the Glass on the calendar, it will include a Pizzeria & Pub tasting on a Saturday night, and a Bank Street Brewhouse combo lambic/food event on Sunday, utilizing Chef Josh Lehman's fully appropriate cuisine.

Also, the annual French-inspired meal from Chef Lehman is "on" for Bank Street Brewhouse on Wednesday, July 14. Mark your calendars now for this 5-course meal paired with Bieres de Garde from France and America. This year, there'll be one seating only. Complete course and pairing details will be announced quite soon. Reserve your place now by e-mailing Steve.

Busy weekend in downtown New Albany? That's an understatement.

Tonight is the rain date for the New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project kick-off walk, and the Glass Art Society Annual Conference in Louisville (June 10-12) will have portions spilling across the Ohio River into New Albany. Karen Gillenwater has compiled culture, music, shopping, food and drink updates at this "big damn guide" to downtown New Albany this weekend.

The NABC World Cup Series of small batch/USA match ales commences Saturday, June 12, with the debut of "USA vs England – Ordinary Bitter" at Bank Street Brewhouse, and our Haggis Laddie Celtic Red will be tapped for the "Celts on the River" concert on the same day. For a few more Celts on the River factoids, read these highlights from the organizers. There's also my Tribune column, called "Celts on the Ohio River, too," which surveys a long-ago pub session in Ireland.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


July 4 is GROWLER INDEPENDENCE DAY in Indiana. We urge you to come and celebrate at NABC’s Bank Street Brewhouse.

Americans know that July 4 is Independence Day, a day to recognize and celebrate the founding principles of democracy with picnics, beer, music, beer, fireworks, beer … well, we all know the drill, and look forward to a day of summertime outdoor fun.

This year, July 4 is an even better day in Indiana. It will be the first Sunday ever for legal carry-out growler sales, i.e., 64-oz glass draft beer containers. We’re calling it Growler Independence Day, and NABC’s Bank Street Brewhouse (415 Bank Street in downtown New Albany) is celebrating Growler Independence Day with a special Sunday plan of operations.

***We’ll be open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 4, with Bank Street GM Stephen Powell and Roger “Potable Curmudgeon” Baylor manning the NABC taps. Come bring your empty growlers to be refilled, or buy the new growlers you need: For most of our beers, two growlers for $17.76, plus tax, either new or refilled. Be fully beer-ready for your July 4 afternoon and evening festivities. Normal Sunday hours (Noon – 8:00 p.m.) will resume on July 11.

***Bank Street’s renowned Bloody Mary Bar will run for the duration of these special Growler Independence Day hours on Sunday, July 4.

***There’ll be hourly giveaways of $17.76 Bank Street gift certificates. You must be present at some point during the day to register.

***Although Chef Josh’s kitchen will be closed, we’ll be grilling exciting new contemporary versions of NABC’s famous burnt weenie sandwiches. Just don’t ask us what this means, at least quite yet.

Have a snack, drink a beer or a designer Bloody Mary, fill your growlers, and enjoy Growler Independence Day on Sunday, July 4.


Remember: Regular Sunday hours at Bank Street will resume on July 11, and Sunday NABC growler sales are a permanent feature of the downtown operation from that point on.

Note also that on the Indiana side of the Ohio, Bank Street Brewhouse will be the only establishment permitted to sell carry-out beer on Sunday, with the closest Indiana breweries being in Aurora (east), Columbus (north) and Evansville (west).

For future Sunday reference, also note that NABC’s friends at the River City Winery (321 Pearl Street) are legally allowed to sell carry-out bottles of their wine on Sunday, too. That’s a win-win for Sundays in downtown New Albany.

Finally: Beginning on July 1, and constituting the small price we've had to pay for independence, carry-out sales of alcoholic beverages in Indiana, including growlers at a brewery, must be accompanied by an driver's license showing proof of age. Whether you're 21 or 81, you must show ID to buy a growlers, or we cannot serve you. This isn't our rule. It's Indiana's. Your cooperation and understanding are appreciated.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

NABC World Cup Series starts Saturday with the debut of "USA vs England – Ordinary Bitter."

A little history is in order. In Brazil in 1950, USA played football (soccer) powerhouse England in the World Cup, and the result was the Miracle on Grass, a 1-0 USA victory. Reading the score in the newspapers next day, many Englishmen assumed it was a misprint and that England had won 10-1. The victory remains a benchmark in US football history.

Sixty years later, South Africa is the scene, and kickoff for the renewal of the rivalry is at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 12, New Albany time. NABC's Bank Street Brewhouse will be the scene of a special tapping to commemorate the occasion, as the first of three small batches, designed to debut on the same day as USA's first three World Cup matches, goes on tap.

First up is "USA vs England – Ordinary Bitter," with a firkin tapped at 2:00 p.m. at Bank Street Brewhouse, and a keg of the CO2 version on at the Pizzeria & Public House at the same time.

NABC's Jared Williamson conceived the project, Jesse Williams collaborated on the recipes, and I've added style notes to the report below.


USA vs England – Ordinary Bitter

Malts: Simpsons Golden Promise, Simpsons Medium Crystal

Malts note by Jesse: "Simpsons Golden Promise is early maturing barley primarily grown in Scotland. It produces sweet, clean wort that I have always preferred to the more famous Maris Otter, which can be a bit nuttier. Golden Promise in fermentation and beyond has a depth of flavor that is perfect for balancing any hop, be it our mostly fruity/citrusy US varieties or the traditional herbal/grassy English varieties. A small Crystal malt addition only adds to the depth of flavor and allows a little color into the malt palette."

Kettle hops: Columbus, Chinook, Simcoe, Amarillo
Dry hops: Columbus, Amarillo

Hops notes by Jared: "To bring out the American aspect of this ale, I used pungent and aromatic Pacific Northwest hops, but in keeping with the style, kept the IBUs low. I dry hopped both the cask and draft versions, resulting in a wonderful floral and citrus nose."

Yeast: House London Ale

ABV: 3.9%

IBU: 26

Color: 5.4 degree Lovibond SRM

Style notes by Roger:
"Historically, the emergence of efficient kilning techniques during the malting process roughly 200 years ago led to paler malts and new types of well-hopped ale. Since then, 'Bitter' has been understood as a low-gravity, English pale ale (as opposed to 'brown' and 'black' ales), seen most often in cask-conditioned form in the UK. Ordinary generally describes the lowest strength of the Bitter range (including Best, Extra Special and Premium), at less than 4.1% abv."

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The art of NABC's Haggis Laddie Celtic Red.

The name is a pun based on our friend Roz Tate's alter ego, Haggis Daddy, and the Dry Stout we used to brew by that name. Tony Beard did the art, and it is Jared Williamson's recipe, a spot-on nailing of the classic Irish Red, center of the target, and it's going to move quickly on Saturday if the temps reach the mid-90's as predicted.

NABC Haggis Laddie Celtic Red for the "Celts on the River" concert this Saturday (June 12).

Battle of the Schlafly IPAs begins this Thursday.

At the Public House, 3312 Plaza Drive in New Albany. There'll be 20-oz pints of each, or you can get a half-pint of each for the 20-oz price -- while it lasts.

Monday, June 07, 2010

As expected, a Louisville Slugger Field craft draft swap.

As reported previously, the stadium concessionaire Centerplate has removed Beak's Best and Kentucky Ale from the portable draft station on the main concourse at Louisville Slugger Field and replaced them with Cumberland Red and BBC Nut Brown. Browning's Helles and Shock Top remained on the other two taps as of Sunday night's game (thanks, Matt).

Tonight's game is the finale of an abbreviated homestand. The Bats return to Louisville on June 17. It's anyone's guess what will happen after these four-keg each shipments are exhausted. Centerplate representatives have not responded to my recent questions.

I persist in believing that (a) they're pursuing a rotating strategy, albeit without a clear plan; (b) it's great to have craft beer on tap at the park even if it is not NABC's; and (c) Centerplate and the management of the Louisville Bats both need to hear from consumers. Thank them, make comments and suggestions, and let them know that your spending reflects the availabilty of expanded choice.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

NABC Haggis Laddie Celtic Red for the "Celts on the River" concert this Saturday (June 12).

Last year's inaugural "Celts on the River" concert was held at New Albany's riverfront amphitheater in mid-August. We'd just started brewing at Bank Street Brewhouse, and Jared Williamson somehow managed to squeeze a brand new formulation into the brewing schedule at NABC's original garage brewery at the Pizzeria & Public House.

It was called Haggis Laddie Celtic Red, and intended as our annual seasonal in honor of the Celtic festival and concert, for which NABC is the exclusive beer vendor. The show was moved to June 12 for this (and I believe) successive years, as previewed in my LEO column last week: "Mug Shots" today in LEO: "Celts invade New Albany."

Haggis Laddie Celtic Red has been brewed a second time, this year under slightly less stressful conditions. Here's the recipe:

Haggis Laddie Celtic Red
Malts: Two row, 80L Crystal, Cara-Pils, Wheat Malt, Black Patent
Hops: Northern Brewer
Yeast: House London Ale
ABV: 5%
IBU: 17

The first keg of this year's Haggis Laddie Celtic Red will be tapped Friday, June 11, at Covered Bridge golf course's bar for the Charity Golf Scramble, a prelude to the concert on Saturday. NABC also is sponsoring a hole, and will have samples available there during the scramble itself.

Haggis Laddie then will go on tap at both NABC locations on Saturday, June 12, and of course will be featured at the amphitheater for the show from 2:00 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Check back for updates throughout the coming days as we prepare for a big weekend in New Albany.

Friday, June 04, 2010

NABC and Schlafly take over Louisville Beer Store for First Friday Trolley Hop.

Tonight is the First Friday Trolley Hop in Louisville:

It's an art show. It's a tourist attraction. It's a street party. It's a celebration of downtown Louisville that is bringing new visitors and new life to the Main and Market corridor.

Frequent co-conspirators NABC and Schlafly are joining forces at the Louisville Beer Store for tonight's June 4 edition of the First Friday Trolley Hop. Each brewery will have four beers on tap, and there'll be two cask-conditioned firkins: Tasty American IPA from Schlafly, and a special Belgian-style IPA from NABC.

Approximate hours for LBS's NABC/Schlafly showcase are 4:00 p.m. to close. NABC's Jared Williamson and Brennan Greene from Schlafly will be on hand to answer questions and join in the merriment. Stay tuned for more information about next week's special Battle of the Schlafly IPAs draft promotion at NABC's original Pizzeria & Public House in New Albany.

As soon as I'm sure that the AIPA has arrived, we're a go ...

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Hoosier Beer Geek on NABC Beak's Best: "Tastes like a good brewery smells."

From the Hoosier Beer Geek blog comes praise, both for the evolving Fountain Square craft beer habitat in Indianapolis, and for NABC Beak's Best. I may be biased, but I strongly believe that Beak's has itself evolved into a wonderful conceptual hybrid of an ale, a bit beyond session alcoholic strength, and yet not so strong at 5.3% abv that it precludes a jar or three.

Thanks to Cavalier Distributing for sliding Beak's Best into the Indy tap mix, and to HBG for the kind words.

KOTBR #105 - The Zoo That Is Fountain Square

The White Rabbit has four taps pouring three craft beers and PBR (at damn fine prices, I might add; the bottle list is great too). Sticking with Indiana beers (and continuing the zoo theme), we opted for a New Albanian Beak's Best (you know, beak... bird... bird's have beaks...okay, I'm reaching. So what?). This American take of the English Bitter beer has become one of my favorite go-to beers. It has a clean nose, a sweet first taste, and a hop punch that follows. Much like Sun King's Wee Mac, it is a highly sessionable beer. Especially if you drink like an elephant.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

"Mug Shots" today in LEO: "Celts invade New Albany."

It's only a week and a half away.

Mug Shots: Celts invade New Albany

I’m here to tout a festive forthcoming weekend in my own town, New Albany. Before doing so, there is a wee bit of back story to cover, so find a chair, pour a jar and smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em.

St. Paul's Art on the Parish Green (with NABC beer), this weekend, June 5 & 6.

Did you know that St. Paul's Episcopal Church, located just around the corner from the Publican's household, is the oldest Episcopalian congregation in Indiana? It dates back 175 years.

The coming weekend will be St. Paul's 4th annual Art on the Parish Green. The church's historic grounds are given over to a multitude of arts and crafts, with live music, food and beer from the New Albanian Brewing Company (tentative choices: Abzug, Community Dark and Elector). Don't forget the Sunday hours, enabling you to make Fest of Ale and Art on the Parish Green in one entertaining weekend. For complete information, hit the Internet:

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Here's the report on the latest craft beer news at Louisville Slugger Field.

Beak's Best (and Alltech's Kentucky Ale) remained on tap at Louisville Slugger Field on Sunday evening, but a source indicates that Centerplate, the stadium concessionaire, has ordered Cumberland Red and BBC Nut Brown Ale for the next homestand local craft beer go-around. I'm told that Browning's will remain, along with Shock Top, which is not a craft beer no matter how many times Anheuser-Busch repeats the blatant lie aloud.

Although I can't predict whether NABC will continue as a progressive beer option as the baseball season proceeds at Louisville Slugger Field, it is somewhat heartening that there appears to be a commitment to local choice at the portable concession stand behind Section 115. That's a start, even if the price for purely euphemistic 14-oz pours (a 12-oz actual measure) increased from $5 to $5.50 at some point when we weren't looking. I try to see it this way: Craft always is better than Bud, even at twice the price.

My only regret (and no small measure of frustration) in this experience is that there seems to be so little communication between concessionaire and wholesaler/brewer.

The reality is that Centerplate and Craft Beer Nation operate on business models so profoundly different that they might as well be on separate planets, and I'm not sure if this implies that we should learn to speak their language, or they learn ours. The truth would lie somewhere in between if the playing field were level, and it is not. The prevailing system of ballpark vending discourages most of the marketing techniques that Craft Beer Nation successfully deploys -- primarily, education.

Consumer education is job one in our craft beer world. Consequently, if NABC is on tap at the ballpark on a dependable basis, and we know that we're not to be treated as Charlie Brown, with the ball yanked away at the last moment, then we can aggressively help sell the product, educate the consumers, and create a vibe. We make the same wholesale money in such a situation. Centerplate makes an increased amount of money from its higher craft beer retail sales. It should be a no-brainer, yet it is not. Maybe some day, it will become axiomatic.

Imagine the excitement that might be generated from making the concession stand at 115 into a genuine locally-themed craft beer destination, with signage and artwork to match. Unfortunately, when I asked about hanging banners, I was told that a table tent would be an acceptable idea. At best, that's 8.5 x 11. Budweiser's colossal right field billboard apparently overshadows not only a mere wee table tent, but also the very possibility that ballpark customers with no intention of drinking Budweiser might find refuge somewhere inside the belly of the corporate beast.

And that's the part that slays me.

On Sunday, the crowd in attendance at Louisville Slugger Field was reminded twice to pay homage to Memorial Day and the gallant fighting men who fought and died for freedom. I have no argument with that, although surely there were more folks in attendance than just me who grasped the damning irony of "freedom" in the context of monopolistic, non-free capitalist product placement. What does a "free market" mean in such a place? Is it really the sort of economic system that people should die to perpetuate?

Apologies, but some times serenity is elusive. As local craft brewers, we can't be satisfied with the status quo, where public tax money is used to create venues where corporate monopolies are exuberantly enforced, and free choice is exceedingly difficult, if not outright impossible. This should not be taken as criticism of Centerplate, which operates within rules of the game that were in effect when their contract was signed. I genuinely appreciate that they're doing what they're doing now.

Rather, it is to stress that there is much work to be done. The battle against the A-B's of the world cannot be abandoned.

As for the illustration above, it was with palpable optimism that NABC's artist in residence, Tony Beard, produced this baseball-themed homage to Beak's Best and its namesake, Dr. Donald Barry. We hope to be able to post it at the ballpark some sweet day in the future.

Don is returning to New Albany later this week for his annual visit prior to decamping for Europe. Back here in Louisville, there's a four-game weekend homestand coming for the Bats, beginning Friday, June 4th, and ending on Monday. The team then departs for a long road trip, returning on June 17. If you attend this weekend, let us know what's available and how it's being served, i.e., which kegs are on ice and being served via the cold plate; it's easy to glance around the back of the serving area and see what's on ice.

And: When you see Centerplate and Louisville Bats personnel, please thank them for having a true craft beer option.