Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tonight is Lloyd's wake.

The wake for Lloyd Wimp will be held tonight in Prost (at the Public House) from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. There will be Guinness, photos and tall tales, and of course you're welcome to dine and drink as usual. Lloyd wanted a room filled with people having a good time. Thanks to everyone who has helped put together this celebration of our friend's life.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Dandy Xmas at NABC's Pizzeria & Public House on Saturday, December 11.

Saturday, December 11 ... 6:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m., at the NABC Pizzeria & Public House (in the Prost Room). It's a night of music, art, charity, giveaways, and NABC beer. Go to the Dandy Xmas event page at Facebook for all the details.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Just a weekend calendar before I drink/to whom it may concern.

Here's the post-Thanksgiving schedule at the New Albanian Brewing Company, and a few other notices for the coming weekend.

NABC Bank Street Brewhouse will be closed today on Black Friday (Nov. 26), reopening Saturday the 27th (11:00 a.m.) and Sunday the 28th (Noon) for normal business days.

The Pizzeria & Public House will observe customary Friday and Saturday hours this weekend, with an 11:00 a.m. start both days. It is closed on Sunday. There's a new Black Friday starting time for Saturnalia MMX, our annual draft celebration of ancient pagan wintertime rituals. The overview is at my other blog, and this year's program is download only.

Downtown New Albany's Holiday Fest and Jingle Walk both take place on Saturday (Nov. 27), which also is Small Business Saturday in America -- a marvelous local counterpoint to the consumerist idiocy of Black Friday's wasteful chainthink.

Yes, it is sponsored by American Express.

Yes, there is a measure of irony in this fact.

Still, like the old Johnny Cash song, every now and then you build a revolution one piece at a time. You are encouraged to shop local, or, if not, perhaps it would be more efficient to just start allowing China Inc. to debit your plastic and cut out the big box middle men.

Meanwhile, NABC will be selling Plastic-Clad Progressive Pints in the foyer of the White House Center on Saturday afternoon. Local businesses throughout downtown will be offering specials and festivity. As an example, read this blog posting from our friends at the Dandy Lion detailing what they'll be up to.

If there is anything you'd like to tout, please append a comment. As for me, surely the drinking lamp is about to be lit?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

New Black Friday starting time for Saturnalia MMX at the Pizzeria & Public House.

This year, for Saturnalia MMX, we're trying something new at the NABC Pizzeria & Public House (3312 Plaza Drive on New Albany's scenic North Side).

Beers listed for Saturnalia will begin pouring on Black Friday, November 26. The exact starting lineup will be posted on Friday morning. There'll be fewer total pouring at any given time than in the past, because we have fewer taps to play with now that 12-15 NABC house beers are on tap all the time. But there are plenty of goodies to last through December.

Both the Pizzeria and the Public House open at 11:00 a.m. on the 26th. Note also that Bank Street Brewhouse is CLOSED on Friday, to reopen Saturday at 11 a.m.

Also, in the interest of saving a few bucks, I'll not be printing the programs as in the past. However, I wrote it just like before, and you can download the .pdf and print it at home or work here: http://www.newalbanian.com/download-file-25.html

For those just tuning in, we've been doing this for a while. Here's the idea:

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

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

NABC pays tribute to these ancient pagan origins with Saturnalia, our holiday draft celebration. Dozens of special kegs from the USA and around the world – some rare, some seasonal and others just plain festive – will be pouring at our Pizzeria & Public House at 3312 Plaza Drive.

When the doors open at 11:00 a.m. on our new Saturnalia kick-off day, Black Friday (November 26), the first wave of sacrificial MMX Saturnalia selections will be tapped in the traditional, ritualistic manner, and the hedonistic pleasures will begin. The remaining kegs will be deployed as the days pass, and the revelry is expected to continue throughout the month of December.

Pricing and portion sizes vary according to alcohol content and style. During the festival’s run, information and updates will appear on our web site:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Weekly: Once upon a time, Pilsner Urquell as the "best beer" in Prague.

Today's writing constitutes a rerun of sorts, because this week's tragic wholesaler error also, sadly, is a repeat. To paraphrase a favorite line of mine: You can depend on Monarch Beverage -- it'll ALWAYS let you down.

Pilsner Urquell has been pouring at the Public House since about 1993 or 1994. Continuously. Never stopping. All the time. Always. Get the picture? Those interested in knowing why will continue reading the essay reprinted below.

Now, these many years later, it is revealed that Monarch, the whoa-stud examplar of beer sales in the Midwest, has become unable to sell 24 quarter-barrel kegs of Urquell in the entire state of Indiana before the sell-by date expires.

That's right: The entire state.

Sales sloth and corporate indifference aside, you'd think that after all this time, someone in a position of authority would take it upon themselves to personally explain to the Publican (that's me) why his or her company is dropping the draft version of a staple product that has been on tap at my place for more than 15 years.

But that would require something approximating a commitment to customer service, wouldn't it?

These guys are worse than Big Red Liquors. While I contemplate ways to make them pay, consider the following.


Many times I’ve been asked to name my favorite beer, or to identify the best beer in the world. Just as many times, I’ve responded that these are questions beyond my pay grade, and simply cannot be answered.

To take it a step further, such questions make me wary in a philosophical sense. To find the “best” or the “favorite” implies conclusiveness, but certainty in this fashion neither suits the pursuit of the perfect pint nor lends itself to a world in constant flux. The definitions change, and the criteria are altered. It’s why the search continues, and won’t ever yield finality.

However, on scattered occasions, I’ve taken a stab responding to, “What’s the best beer you ever tasted?” Usually a disclaimer is merited: “At the time.” The essay that follows was written in the early 1990’s. I wouldn’t offer the same answer today. But the story recounts one of my fondest travel memories.


The times of one’s life, the places, and the people ...

To be as precise as possible, the best beer I’d ever tasted (at the time) was consumed at two o’clock in the afternoon on Monday, July 13, 1987. The beer was draft Pilsner Urquell, known in its native Czech as Plzensky Prazdroj, and the setting was an old tavern in that great brewing nation’s lovely capital, Prague.

In June, 1987, I joined my good friend and longtime drinking companion Barrie Ottersbach for a group tour of the Soviet Union that began in Moscow, passed through Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Latvia and Lithuania, and ended in Warsaw, Poland. As evening approached on July 12, Barrie and I stood alone in the shadow of the monstrous Stalinist Gothic Palace of Culture in downtown Warsaw, having concluded the tour in appropriate fashion with a session at the hard currency bar of a nearby hotel. We bowed to the edifice, and set off by foot for the central train station to hop the sole overnight non-express to Czechoslovakia.

We’d been dazed by an afternoon of inexpensive Bulgarian cabernet, amazed at having uncovered a few bottles of Austrian-brewed Kaiser Bier at the Hotel Forum’s foreign currency bar, and largely felt unfazed at the prospect of the trip ahead.

Of course, these being the days of waning Communism, our jovial mood couldn’t have lasted very long. Although our essential documents – passports, train tickets and couchette reservations – were in order, we had neglected to pack food and drink for the journey. It was Sunday. All stores were closed, and mini-marts were in short supply in Communist Poland in 1987; in fact, so short that they had yet to be written into the five-year plan.

Our backpacks bulged with Soviet black market booty, and we strained to lug them along while desperately foraging for victuals in the vicinity of the rail station’s platforms. Even with handfuls of colorful Zloty, there was nothing to purchase except grainy licensed Swiss chocolate and returnable bottles of imitation cola. The final whistle blew. We boarded hungry, and did the best we could to sleep in the stifling summer heat.

Twelve hours later the marathon rail crawl finally ground to a halt, and we stumbled into Prague’s Hlavni nadrazi station looking like bedraggled refugees from a war zone. Stomachs audibly growling, poorly rested, filthy and quite thirsty, the sodas having long since been drained, we dragged our belongings to the baggage storage check and lightened the load.

Departing the station, we were treated to our first glimpses of Prague’s timeless majesty and the city’s then-current reality: Standing in front of the museum at the top of the long, gentle rise of Wenceslas Square, against a backdrop of the old city sparkling in a bright morning sun, a taxi driver sidled over and asked us if we’d like to change money.

Several minutes later, one of the three official room finding agencies placed us for three nights in an athletic club dormitory on the outskirts of the city. It would be several hours before we could check into the room. Starving and parched, we were cast into the mysterious, gorgeous, crumbling city to fend for ourselves.

Exhilaration temporarily overcame fatigue as we ventured into the winding streets, over cobbled roadways and through strange arches. Soon, to our growing excitement, we found that the city boasted more than spires, spies, stucco and scaffolding – beer was all around us, and pubs were in abundance!

After two weeks in the Polish and Soviet lands, where vodka reigned supreme, we were at long last in Bohemia, the Euphrates of European lager brewing tradition, and the home of the original Pilsner beer. We resolved to walk a bit more before finding a good place to enjoy a draft beer – preferably Pilsner Urquell or Staropramen, or another Prague brand if necessary.

Armed only with an inadequate tourist map, Barrie and I crossed the Vltava River on the famed Charles Bridge, ascended Castle Hill, wandered down the other side, crossed the river again at a second bridge, and finally were devoured by the twisting alleyways that we knew eventually led back to Wenceslas Square. At length, having paused briefly two hours before for a sausage dispensed from a tiny streetside window, we glimpsed the familiar green script of Pilsner Urquell adorning the façade of a faded, orange-painted building.

The final steps were the hardest. We passed through the stout wooden doors of U Dvou Kocek, where Pilsner Urquell indeed was the house beer, the daily beer, and in fact the only beer available.

Blissfully unaware of protocol, we slumped heavily into wooden benches in an interior hallway. Unconsciously drooling, our beleaguered senses slowly were revived by the cozy, smoky, conspiratorial warmth of the main room, where clusters of Czech workers, students, soldiers and officials sat conversing.

Huge platters of pork and dumplings sat before many of the customers, but to man, each and every patron cradled an indescribably lovely mug of beer – and make no mistake: They were glass mugs, not the more stylish half-liter glasses that supplanted them not long afterward. It seemed too good to be true … and almost was.

Alarmingly, the waiters completely ignored us.

We opted for direct action. I limped to the long, imposing counter where a brawny, mustachioed man stood next to a pair of matching taps, both pouring the exact same nectar, and with a wheeled cart filled with clean mugs. Mustering my courage, I flashed four fingers and muttered, “Pivo, prosim,” having miraculously recalled the proper words without stealing a glance at the guidebook buried somewhere in my day pack.

He looked at me quite seriously, then smiled and complied, relieving me of roughly $2.00 while pushing four half-liter drafts across the slick countertop.

The brilliant golden liquid was cool, not ice-cold; frozen beer only numbs the palate, and though appropriate for Pabst, it certainly isn’t necessary for anything as grand as Urquell. The noble hop aroma was evident and enticing, fighting through the billowing white head to reach my nose even at arm’s length. Everything about the beer itself and the venue in which it was about to be consumed spoke of quality, respect, tradition, and the sheer, unbridled joy that one feels to be an adult and to think, feel and understand what is good about life.

When Barrie saw me approach, he bolted from the wooden bench and fell to his knees in a spontaneous demonstration of faith and appreciation that I’ve seldom witnessed in any church – such was the genuine, heartfelt intensity prefacing his gesture of supplication. Seconds later I spotted his eyes, wet with unrestrained tears, his cheeks flecked with beer foam, all visible through the thick base of an empty upturned mug.

Needless to say, my reaction was comparable. I’ll never forget this moment of triumph and revelation, of this sense of beer ecstasy that will never be understood or truly appreciated by anyone who defines beer by the number of calories it contains or the volume of advertising revenue it commands.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stouts top the bill at Office Hours, tonight.

Tonight we enter Stout territory. As always, sampling and commentary costs $5 and runs from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Public House.

***Category 13 — Stout

13A. Dry Stout
13B. Sweet Stout
13C. Oatmeal Stout
13D. Foreign Extra Stout
13E. American Stout
As Ben and Eric forage for examples, permit me to note that "13F. Imperial Stout" will occupy one entire evening during the next scheduled Office Hours on Monday, December 6 -- allowing for next week's night off (Nov. 29th) so the Prost room can be used for Lloyd's wake.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Late birthday wishes to Broad Ripple Brewpub.

The first time I went to Broad Ripple Brewing Company was in the mid-1990’s, and it reminded me so much of an authentic English pub that I had to pause and remind myself that I had no way of knowing this to be the case, having not yet visited England during the course of my European travels.

Ireland, yes ... not England.

My first visit beer hunting expedition to England soon followed, and at some point afterward, I finally had the pleasure of meeting BRBC’s founder, John Hill.

Ever since then, each time I have the pleasure of conversing with John, I’m reminded of the fellow standing next to me in the pissoir of the pub somewhere in rural Yorkshire, with whom I subsequently conversed for multiple pints without ever really understanding what he was saying to me in our purportedly common language.

Broad Ripple Brewing Company celebrated its 20th birthday last week. Please permit me to offer a belated “Happy Birthday,” or as they say it in Yorkshire, “Happy Birthday.”

Sorry, I just can’t do that accent.

Broad Ripple Brewpub's 20th Anniversary

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday Weekly: Fishing for positives from the morass.

Days of cold and rain, business property taxes due, a petty act of vandalism, the death of a close friend – okay, so this hasn’t been the best of weeks, but I suppose you play the hand you’re dealt.

In fairness, there were good moments, too, like Monday’s record turnout for Office Hours with the Publican.

Keep showing up, and I’ll have to start doing a better job of preparing. We sampled a number of Robust Porters and Baltic Porters during this, the latest installment of our methodical journey through the BJCP style definitions. At some point, I might actually learn (and retain) something useful.

On Tuesday, I ventured into the soaked gloaming with NABC’s Louisville sales rep, Josh Hill. Director of Brewing Operations David Pierce had set up a meeting with the folks about to open Coal’s Artisan Pizza in the Vogue Center (just off Frankfort Avenue), and we had a nice chat about beer in general, and the ones they plan to pour.

Owners Mark and Madeline Peters spent time in Seattle, know their pizza, and have an excellent conceptual grounding in craft beer as well. Their centerpiece will be an anthracite-fired pizza oven capable of cooking a pie in three minutes at 1,000 degrees; the menu concept is locally-influenced all-world pizza themes; and there’ll be 12 taps. This one’s going to be wonderful.

Afterward, ducking into Cooking at the Cottage, we almost literally ran into Will Eaves of Lotsa Pasta, reigning local cheese expert and my previous co-conspirator in cheese and beer pairings. Know that another is being schemed as I write.

Josh and I then visited with the inimitable Michael Reidy at the Irish Rover over pints, ran into my old pal Ed at the Corner Door (over another pint), and after Josh finally deposited me at BoomBozz Taphouse (Eastern Parkway), there were pizza, salad and yet another pint for consumption with the missus.

Another high point, although only tangentially related to beer, came on Wednesday night when approximately 40 New Albany merchants gathered downtown at Wick’s for an organizational meeting designed to establish an independent, locally-owned business alliance in New Albany.

Bank Street Brewhouse’s GM, Joe Phillips, will be pursuing a food ‘n’ drink side project related to my wider community advocacy with the merchants group. He’ll be contacting downtown New Albany restaurants and pubs, so hopefully we can get a cooperative plan of action there, too.

Speaking of activism, and in closing, take note that the late Lloyd Wimp’s wake will be held in Prost on Monday, November 29, and if you knew him, please come and have a beer with his family and us.

As always, thoughts of one who has passed are bittersweet, in the sense that while he no longer must suffer, there’s a gaping chasm in the lives of the living.

I strongly believe that Lloyd found his truest calling relatively late in life, when like so many others, he became a self-appointed community activist in New Albany. Lloyd was a bulldog when it came to cornering bureaucrats and getting answers to previously unanswerable questions.

Surely he’d agree with me that perhaps the highest, most gratifying reward for indiscriminately launching uncomfortable truths from one’s handiest bully pulpit is watching the flight that inevitably results, as respectability openly cringes and scurries to take refuge behind the nearest available cliché.

It is reminiscent of a plot device used in countless detective novels, as prominently featured in an ancient M*A*S*H rerun I viewed recently.

A bout of petty thievery at the 4077th compels Hawkeye to convene the camp inside the mess tent, and explain that the most recent object stolen had been surreptitiously booby-trapped with invisible dye that would turn the perpetrator’s hands blue. All those in attendance sit passively, except for one – the guilty Korean houseboy – who can’t avoid staring at his hands, terrified, waiting for them to change color.

Hawkeye’s disappointed response (paraphrased): There was no dye … so, umm, why have you been stealing, anyway?

Lloyd was the guy with the dye, exposing the lie.

Rest in peace, brother.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tonight at Office Hours: Robust & Baltic Porter.

Tonight at Office Hours with the Publican (that's me), we resume our BJCP-oriented discussion of Porter.

Last Monday, there was time for English Brown Ale and Brown/English Porter, as well as our first ever session recording, which as I write is being rendered into a podcast.

As Eric and Ben search the Public House's bottled stocks for appropriate provisions, here are the BJCP descriptions for tonight's menu:

12B. Robust Porter
12C. Baltic Porter

Robust Porter samples will/should include Sierra Nevada, BBC Dark Star, Stone Smoked Porter and (perhaps) some Alaskan from the stash.

We used to have more examples of bottled Baltic Porter than we do now, but there should be enough for rock and roll tonight: Flying Dog Gonzo, Zwiec, Baltika, Sinebrychoff, and draft NABC Ancient Rage that I'll pack from the garage keg box at home.

I wrote the following passage in high summer, 2006. It summarizes my feelings about Baltic Porter, which is one of my personal faves.


Some will suggest that Baltic Porter isn’t appropriate for the hot and sticky Ohio Valley summer, but my view is that any time of the year, different styles of beer work in different contexts.

While mowing the lawn? Well, I’ve never consumed beer while cutting grass, so I wouldn’t know. Perhaps Samichlaus isn’t the best choice for such an occasion.

Afterwards, following a spell of rest and regeneration in the air conditioning? It seems to me that once the heat and humidity have been removed from the equation, almost any beer has a chance of tasting good.

It’s all in the mind, anyway. To hell with tiki bars and palm fronds; think pebbly beaches with cool summer breezes, brick-laden seaports and trays of smoked eel and pickled herring.

At any rate, I’m a longtime of Baltic Porter precisely because the style is nebulous and all over the stylistic map. As the BJCP description indicates, English-style Porter and strong Stout may well have been the original impetus for dark beers brewed in these countries, but German lager brewing techniques have long since modified the plan, with results that vary from place to place an provide much tasting adventure.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lloyd's wake will be held on Monday, November 29 in Prost at the Public House.

Since my "beer blog" readership differs slightly from that of NA Confidential, there are times when important events bear repeating, as in the case of the sad news that NABC's longtime friend and frequent co-conspirator, Lloyd Wimp, died this past Friday.

NAC has the story and two photographs

Here's the lowdown on the plans for Lloyd's wake, Version 1.0, but first, a bit of background.

“The Irish Wake (in Gaelic: Faire) is a traditional mourning custom practiced in Ireland. An integral part of the grieving process for family, friends, and neighbors of the deceased, Irish wakes are occasions that mix gaiety and sadness. The custom is a celebration of the life that had passed … " -- Wikipedia
Lloyd’s wake will be on Monday, November 29 from 5 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., at the NABC Public House (Rich O's), in the Prost special events wing.

The evening is intended for all ages. There'll be draft Guinness (per Lloyd's request), soft drinks and light snacks provided. For these and minimal other fixed expenses, there’ll be a donation jar. Of course, attendees can order food and drink, "Dutch Treat."

Leftover monies from the donation jar will be given to Lloyd’s family.

There’ll be music, too. I suppose what we need most at present is for all of you to gather photos for display. Please send digital photo files to me at roger@newalbanian.com. These will be displayed as a slide show. We also can put traditional photographic prints on boards atop easels. All this can be worked out in the coming weeks, so for now, assemble your memorabilia and let me know what you have.

We appreciate suggestions. Lloyd provided clear instructions about the parameters of his wake, and we’ll try as best we can to stage it the way he wanted, and the way we would want is to be: As a celebration of his life.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

NABC schedule for Thanksgiving, and a glimpse of the Saturnalia draft list.

As an advance note, both NABC locations will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 25). Both will re-open the following day ("Black Friday") and observe customary hours.

This year, the first wave of Saturnalia beers will be tapped at the Pizzeria & Public House on Black Friday, November 26. Following is a list of in-stock and pre-ordered kegs. The list, admittedly incomplete, is the same as Ben, Eric and I are working from as we prepare the usual fest regalia.

Birrificio Del Ducato Verdi Imperial Stout 8.2%
Clipper City Siren Noire 8%
De Glazen Toren Canaster 8.7%
De Ranke Pere Noel 2009 7%
Dogfish Head Midas Touch 9%
Founders Curmudgeon 9.8%
Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout 7.5%
Stone Vertical Epic 09.09.09 8.7%

To be added to the Saturnalia in-stock list since the last update:

Boulder Never Summer
Brooklyn Black Chocolate
Great Divide Hibernation
Great Divide Smoked Baltic Porter
Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary - Charlie, Fred And Ken's Bock
Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary - Fritz And Ken's Ale
Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary - Jack And Ken's Ale
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

*Have we heard back from Melissa about the Shmaltz/Jewbelation promotion?

*Do we have pre-orders from World Class, i.e., Anchor Christmas, etc?

Cavalier pre-order sheet, intended for Saturnalia 2010:
Affligem Noel
Clipper City Winter Storm
Haandbryggeriet Nissefar Christmas Ale
Kulmbacher Monchshof Schwarzbier
Left Hand Fade to Black
Mahrs Christmas Bock
Mikkeller Red/White Christmas Ale
Mikkeller Ris a la Male
Nogne O Winter Ale
Schlenkerla Eiche (Oak Smoked)
Struise Tsjeeses
Thornbridge Jaipur IPA

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday Weekly: Someone get the muzzle, because Roger's spreading myths about bridge tolls again.

(At times, it isn't entirely about beer, but it's enough about beer to reprint here as Wednesday Weekly. I write today as a private citizen, blogger and business owner, perhaps not in that order, but decidedly not as a community organizer or a member of the Brewers of Indiana Guild. I wouldn’t want to get in trouble or anything, like back in elementary school when you just knew one of them was going to snitch on you, but you didn’t know which one would do it. Note that a version of this essay likely will be submitted as next week’s Tribune column, although I can’t decide whether to edit the facts or the vitriol for readers who won’t be able to tell the difference between them.)

I’ll begin with an earnest confession.

In all seriousness, I’m neither the best nor the worst small business owner on the planet.

I have my moments, but overall, my ranking probably falls somewhere in the middle, and justifiably so. Teaching, selling and living good beer are the aspects of my work that I love the most, and other “minor” details sometimes elude me. So be it. The NABC ownership troika tends to work because in most cases, each of us has a particular strength that balances weaknesses in the others.

After just shy of two decades spent in my current line of work, it is my observation that few matters are black and white. However, one periodically experiences pristine clarity, and I can state with certainty that the following propositions surely are applicable.

1. While never foregoing an opportunity to market and to educate consumers in our own Southern Indiana backyards, NABC’s intended mandate as a small, niche-oriented destination business always has implied a sharp focus on marketing to the huge numbers of potential customers living in Kentucky.

2. Basic demographics justify this approach. For reasons that extend beyond price, better beer is a “higher end” product. Based on population alone, more members of the target demographic – higher income, better education, more extensive travel and life experience – live in Kentucky than Indiana. These people live in Indiana, too. It’s just that greater numbers of them live in Kentucky. In larger or smaller measure, it is reasonable to posit that the same is true for other small businesses in Southern Indiana.

3. Marketing to the Kentucky demographic has never been very easy, not because these nearby consumers misunderstand the message, but primarily owing to ancestral assumptions and clannish prejudices of the sort that people who don’t live along liquid borders cannot ever truly understand. Those who are not engaged on a daily basis in bricks and mortar retailing might dismiss these intangibles as merely apocryphal, but they’re far from imaginary to those who actually occupy the retailing trenches on a day to day basis.

4. Consequently, and precisely because I’ve been doing my job for as long as I have, I believe I’ve compiled sufficient accumulated knowledge about NABC’s consumer base to know that much of it comes from Kentucky. I am vindicated by this knowledge. It is gratifying to know that a plan of action patiently pursued over a long period of years has been proven worthy, and has come to fruition in such a fashion.

5. Whether proposed tolls on existing Ohio River bridges amount to a quarter or $3 each way, the amount absolutely will constitute an increase in the price of Hoosier goods and services for Kentuckians who must drive across toll bridges to the Indiana side. Unlike Hoosiers crossing the river to Kentucky to work, who’ll have no choice except to pay, this increase on the price of goods and services will be entirely discretionary, in the sense that Kentuckians can choose to forego the trip, refrain from crossing the bridge, stay at home, and spend their discretionary income in Kentucky.

6. Because of my experience as a small business owner and operator, as carefully explained in the preceding, I can see quite clearly that tolling existing bridges is going hurt my business, and dearly. Furthermore, it is reasonable to posit that the mere mention of tolling as an option will have a measurable influence on consumer behavior, one also detrimental to my business. Moreover, it is reasonable to posit that if it hurts my business, it will hurt others in my approximate market position just as badly.

7. If all this weren’t serious, it would be hilarious.

I’ve done exactly what the experts at organizations like 1Si demand a businessman do, gathering information, planning strategies, and over time, seeing these strategies succeed.

Now, with a stock of relevant information, knowledge and experience that is pertinent to an important matter in the public interest, there has arisen a segment of the community intent either to ignore me outright, or to insist loud and long that what I’ve learned isn’t true – that the public always should trust business persons to know what’s good for them, but only until Roger opens his big mouth, at which point we can scoff at him for hidden agendas and Communist leanings, and delete him if necessary.

To put it mildly, it strikes me as ironic that ever since I began raising these objections about how tolls will impact small retail businesses in Southern Indiana, people who are not in bricks and mortar retail sales … people who have not spent two decades marketing their businesses as destinations for a customer base living in Kentucky … people who are not in small retail business at all, and never have been … roll their eyes and look at the clouds whenever I suggest that maybe, just maybe, small business owners in Southern Indiana might actually know what’s good and bad for them in terms of bridge tolls, and because these owners and operators know the score, they can see that there can be no good for small businesses to come from tolling existing bridges.

People just like Jerry Finn, Horseshoe Foundation head and Bridges Authority member, an otherwise nice and jovial fellow, who two days ago implied that my viewpoint about tolling is a myth and needs to be debunked.

That brand of Bridges Authority Kool-Aid is powerful stuff, indeed.

In other words, a man who has no idea what it’s like to run my business, and who is in no way responsible for attracting a pre-chosen demographic to come and spend money at his retail establishment, since he does not have one, is bizarrely compelled to shrug, to posture, and to dismiss my concerns about the impact of tolling on the discretionary spending habits of Kentuckians, observations gathered over a period of twenty years, these twenty years spent accumulating evidence of consumer behavior gleaned every single day when the “open” sign went on.

That’s doubly laughable because in 2009, when NABC became the first local company to avail itself of the $50,000 Horseshoe Foundation revolving loan, we were approved by the Foundation’s dubious partner in outsourcing applications, no doubt in part because of our inspiring history as a company, this successful application seeming to indicate approval and tacit endorsement of our business savvy. But nowadays, Roger suddenly has no idea what he’s saying, and worse, he’s spreading incantations and myth throughout the community.

Woe is us. Best muzzle the dude, and fast.

And yet: Throughout Finn’s theatrics, and amid the ham-fisted diversionary tactics of his colleagues, has the Bridges Authority or anyone else connected with them (hint: One Southern Indiana) even once produced an economic impact statement purporting to study in detail an unsavory phenomenon that my small business and others might well be forced to endure sooner rather than later, namely, the imposition by an unelected governmental appendage of a toll which indisputably acts in pure daily reality as a tax, one that absolutely and undeniably will have the practical effect of raising the cost of goods and services to my clientele across the river?

Surely this well-dressed, well-financed, well-bred committee, a veritable cross-section of purely unelected community respectability (does it contain a single small business owner?), has commissioned such a study.

Surely this study proves me wrong, because why else would the Authority be so quick and smug in brushing aside concerns of those like me who actually are working, running a business, right here on the ground and in the trenches?

Because, gee whiz, there’s just no way the Authority would proceed with its blithe, facile reassurances that a post-tolling metro area will be peaches and cream for me and mine without some sort of hard evidence to fall back on, right?

That’s crazily unimaginable, isn’t it?

Unless, of course, the Bridges Authority, 1Si and all the various ambitious politicians hitching their Conestogas to St. Daniels’ future electoral champagne supernova have known from the start that tolls actually are going to hurt their fellow Hoosiers, both working commuters and small business owners.

Unless they’ve always known and don’t care, having convinced themselves that the evangelical zeal of the bridges project trumps every other human concern, and expect that Hoosiers will be good little pliable creatures to be patted on the head, happily willing to appease their betters, and taking the economic hit for the greater good of Kerry Stemler’s financial empire.

If so, and if Southern Indiana small businesses will be asked to serve as sacrificial pawns in what amounts to a form of eminent domain removal, that’s just fine with me as long as St. Daniels buys me the (expletive deleted) out.

Isn’t that what government does during eminent domain proceedings?

They buy you the (expletive deleted) out, and get you out of the way, right?

Cool beans. I am soooooo there.

Once I’ve been bought out, I finally will have ample free time to advise Jerry Finn on how to run his foundation – not that I’ve ever done it, or know anything about it, but hey, it’s a free country, right? I can know just by looking … after a healthy draught of Kool-Aid.

(It’s a free country, except when you’re crossing a bridge that was paid off thirty years ago.)

Me? I’m more than eager to play my role, and I know when to fold up and cash out. I’m willing to shut the (expletive deleted) up, and to gratefully attend the show trial press conference, admitting tearfully that I know nothing at all about my business, never did, not once cared about the greater good, and in my stubborn refusal to release my soul from its shackles, was unwilling to accept Rep. Clere’s kind, selfless offer of conversion to the gospel of St. Daniels, thus assisting in his angling for a better job further up the ladder once a Hoosier is installed in the White House.

What was I thinking? The shame! Yes, I deserve the public humiliation. Twenty years of work, and I learned nothing about business, nothing at all, not even whose butt to kiss and when to kiss it.

Just add a couple million to the bridges price tag, guys, and I’m the (expletive deleted) outta here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

New Albanian Night at Sam's Food & Spirits: Thursday, Nov. 11, starting at six.

It will be New Albanian Night at Sam's Food & Spirits (3800 Payne Koehler Road, New Albany) on Thursday, Nov. 11.

New Albanian Night
In keeping with our new Thursday Night tradition, Sam's New Albany welcomes the New Albanian Brewing Company Thursday, Nov. 11. Stop by from 6 to 9 p.m. and learn more about New Albanian. Sample products or purchase Abzug on tap and receive a chance for prizes.
But there's more:

Veterans Day at Sam's
Free dessert of choice with your meal for Veterans or active military service personnel. Present proof of military service on Veterans Day, Thursday, Nov. 11. Sam's thanks you for serving your country.
NABC's Southern Indiana Sales Department, otherwise known as the inimitable Richard Atnip, will be on hand, and I'll make an appearance of undetermined length as I fight through the ghosts of drinking evening past at Sam's. There was a time ... and might well be again.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Office Hours preview for November 8: English Brown Ale and Porter.

Office Hours with the Publican take place tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Prost at the Public House.

We continue our autumn/winter tasting mandate of surveying Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) style definitions, applying them to beers on the Public House's guest bottle list, comparing and contrasting, and trying to decide which ones, in the current time, need to be carried on a regular basis and which of them do not.

In essence, it is our aim:

(1) To acknowledge the greater availability of beginning-level craft beers and imports on metro area beer lists.

(2) To reduce our stock accordingly, allowing our constantly popular and rotating drafts to showcase styles, freeing resources and space to recast the bottle selection.

(3) To tilt the list more toward the newer generation of seasonally changing styles and labels. In short, more Mikkellers, fewer Sam Smiths.

We do all these things already, but haven't done the necessary culling over the years. Consequently, we're out of balance. Tonight, we'll start with Category 11 — English Brown Ale.

11A. Mild
11B. Southern English Brown
11C. Northern English Brown

Category 12 is Porter, and we'll delve into it, too, probably with Brown Porter, leaving Robust Porter and Baltic Porter for next week.

Here are the links to the BJCP's descriptions.



Friday, November 05, 2010

Twitter switch, and travel photos.

I've shifted my personal @newalbanian Twitter feed from Potable Curmudgeon to NA Confidential, and replaced it here at the beer blog with @nabcnews. This makes more sense, because I'm tending to tweet about local affairs and politics. Beer will continue to be in the mix, but now that I'm once again a member of the principled opposition to Hoosier fascism ... well, let's keep matters separate.

I wouldn't want the unprinncipled among us to confuse matters. Some already have.

Also, I've also posted a ton of past beer trip photos at Potable Curmudgeon Inc., my travel/consultancy Facebook page. Check them out at your leisure. Verily, there have been many good times.

My proposed 2011 European trips: In late June or early July, Bamberg Beercycling (Northern Bavaria), and then in September, Belgian Beer Hunting via motorcoach, including the hop fest in Poperinge. Each will be 7-8 day durations, minimum, and details are forthcoming as I get to them. Let em know if you're interested, and please pass along.

Loiusville Beer Store's new venture on Bardstown to have frites feel.

Important news at the Consuming Louisville blog. Go there for the whole story.

Louisville Beer Store Folks Making Bardstown Road Even Better

You know I don’t drink beer but you know what I do like a lot? Gastropubs that serve great pomme frites and interesting pub food. The great minds behind the Louisville Beer Store are bringing great pomme frites (and an amazing beer list and special food and beer pairings and just awesomeness in general) to Bardstown Road.

All the details aren’t set in stone yet but I asked Lori from LBS to give me just a little hint about what to expect from this new venture ...

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wednesday Weekly: Especially now, "These Machines Kill Fascists."

“‘God Bless America’ rings a false note now, as it did when the song was first written (by Irving Berlin, 1939). Woody Guthrie, wrote the song ‘This Land is Your Land’ in 1940 after hearing Kate Smith sing ‘God Bless America’ one too many times. A man of the people, who spoke directly to them, Guthrie acknowledged the reality of their lives, and offered them hope by reminding them of their strength together. This sounds a lot better – and more American in spirit.” --Democratic Wings web site


I’m often asked to explain the meaning of NABC’s t-shirts, which for several years have borne the slogan, “These Machines Kill Fascists,” alongside a graphic of brewing vessels.

The simplest answer is that the phrase, and our t-shirts, pay tribute to Woody Guthrie. The deeper meaning provides an excellent excuse for me to write about it.

The iconic American folksinger Woody Guthrie (1912-1967), was born in Oklahoma and came of age during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, economic and environmental catastrophes that preceded the destruction of the Second World War.

Musically inclined from childhood, Guthrie drifted westward, eventually landing in California along with numerous other Okies. By doing so, Guthrie played a living, breathing bit part in real life, one that paralleled Steinbeck’s fictional “Grapes of Wrath.” As a direct result of what the singer saw and experienced during these troubled times in America, his political views evolved in progressive, leftist directions.

Many of Guthrie’s songs – he wrote more than 3,000 in all – chronicled the hardships of ordinary people, expressing empathy for their hardships, and support for liberal causes that he viewed as correctives. Among these were worker rights, unionization, and racial and gender equality.

Guthrie’s music spoke to the experience of actually living day to day in this country, with words chosen from a grassroots, realistic perspective. He eschewed the feel-good, flag-waving propaganda that so often is deployed by the powers that be to mask injustice. His annoyance with “God Bless America” was one manifestation of this feeling.

Importantly, for all his leftist tendencies, and contrasting with the way that right-wingers typically malign them, Guthrie remained a patriot and a firm believer in the potential of America, albeit a more idealistic and hopeful vision of the American experiment, one not defined entirely by wealth and privilege.

Consider, then, that during World War II, the United States (a democracy -- of sorts), aligned with the British hereditary monarchy and the USSR’s Communist dictatorship against the military aggression of Germany, Italy and Japan. Such was the threat posed by fascism. Guthrie viewed his music as an integral part of the war effort against fascism, and wrote, “This Machine Kills Fascists” on his acoustic guitar.

He meant that anti-fascist songs and ideas are as much a weapon against fascism as guns and bullets. Guthrie eventually joined the Merchant Marine, but whenever he sang, in or out of the service, he believed that he was using a machine that helped kill fascists.

The same phrase was written on machinery in factories throughout the United States, as those millions of people not in active military service, but comprising our industrial workforce, made a similar point: The person operating the machine that makes the supplies used to defeat fascism are helping to kill fascists, too.

NABC’s slogan reiterates this point.

“These Machines Kill Fascists” honors Guthrie. Also, brew kettles, mash tuns, fermenters and the equipment associated with them being the “machines” that we use to make craft beer, they’re our weapon against fascism in the beer world. We are making our own firm, principled statement about the beer market, within which there are quasi-political and social groupings, primarily the aggressive multi-national industrial players like Anheuser-Busch, and smaller entities like us.

In essence, we see NABC is part of the solution to the aggression posed by multi-national, corporate brewing fascism.

Thus, the NABC t-shirt, the slogan and the illustration.

If you wish for it to mean even more than that, interpretation is your privilege, just as it is when listening to song lyrics. Speaking personally, my leftist proclivities are fairly well documented. At the same time, while historical accuracy in the context of Guthrie’s legacy demands that we use the phrase as originally proposed, I’d prefer killing “fascism” rather than “fascists.”

Other than that, I believe that daily craft beer production kills fascists. Drinking some of it doesn’t hurt, either.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Both NABC locations open and serving beer today!

Don't forget that both NABC locations are open and serving beer today. The state law changed earlier this year, and the prohibition on election day imbibing was removed.

The Pizzeria & Public House opens at 11:00 a.m., and Bank Street Brewhouse opens at 2:00 p.m.

Yep ... it's Elector Day in Indiana, and NABC is Elector HQ. I'll be at Bank Street for a while tonight, so I may see some of you there.