Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bar Belle: "Liquor here, liquor there, liquor in New Albany."

LEO's Sara "Bar Belle" Havens caught the News and Tribune's August 31 news story about expanding New Albany's downtown riverfront development area to make possible more special three-way alcohol permits. She also took the opportunity to praise the local scene.

Liquor here, liquor there, liquor in New Albany

The New Albany mayor may help speed up the process of attaining liquor licenses for new businesses planned for the riverfront.

More bars/restaurants = good

Faster new bars/restaurants = awesome

If you haven’t been over to New Albany in a while, there are some great things happening. I went to
River City Winery a few weeks ago, and it was great. The wine was decent and the food was yummy (brick oven-style pizzas). Also on my Favs of New Albany list are NA Exchange, Rich O’s, Pizza King, Tucker’s and La Rosita (which just opened a second location in Louisville at Floyd and Market).

Habana Blues recently joined La Rosita in migrating second locations southward, and taken in concert with NABC's bomber bottle distribution in Jefferson County, this represents an unprecedented New Albanian cultural invasion across the Mason-Dixon line. The fact that we're accompanied by recruits from Mexico and Cuba gives the enterprise a pleasingly multi-national feel.

I'll know more about the status of the three-way debate on Thursday night, when the amendment is discussed at the Marx Brothers comedy revival otherwise known as our twice-monthly city council meeting. I'm for it, although the timing has me a bit confused, and as usual, the topic has revealed New Albany's dysfunctional socio-political fault lines. I've written more at NA Confidential:

Riverfront three-ways: Alcoholic beverages vs. square meals?

CeeSaw whiffs on a fat pitch as council considers expanding the booze zone.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"What's the matter, Lagerboy, afraid you might taste something?"

It's been a while since my subscription to CAMRA's newsletter expired, but I've tried to keep up with the "real ale" scene from afar. During our visit to Plymouth in 2009, I was gratified to find so many excellent Bitters from the new generation of small breweries described here, and to read that Milds and Porter may be making a comeback seals the deal.

Cheers! It's a real ale renaissance; Despite pub closures and a dwindling lager market, record number of microbreweries are opening, by Jon Henley (Guardian.CO.UK)

... Hunter's is part of a remarkable early 21st-century flowering of traditional British ale. Helped by an increasingly enthusiastic public and a handy excise duty relief that effectively halves your tax bill as long as you make no more than about 3,000 barrels a year (thank you, Gordon Brown), some 50 new small breweries are expected to open around the country this year.

There are now, in fact, more breweries in Britain than at any time since the end of the second world war: well over 800, against half that number, of all sizes, less than a decade ago, and a mere 140 in 1970. And we clearly like what they're brewing: sales of "live", cask-conditioned ales, which ferment a second time in the barrel, have surged by 25% over the past five years.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Coming on Friday, Sept. 9: "A Taste for Art & History," to benefit the Carnegie Center.

As usual, NABC will be on hand with samples, and right across the street for drinks and snacks, before and after the Carnegie Center's big annual bash. Could we possibly have any better neighbors?


Join us Friday Sept. 9 at 6:30 pm for the 15th annual "A Taste for Art & History" fundraising event to benefit the Carnegie Center, Inc!

Preparations are in full swing for the Carnegie Center’s 15th annual fundraising event “A Taste for Art & History”, to be held Friday September 9, 2011 at 6:30 pm. Traditionally held on the Friday evening following Labor Day, “A Taste for Art & History” has become a favorite social event in the community. Between 250 and 300 guests attend to support this event, which is the Carnegie Center, Inc.’s major fundraiser of the year. Held in the elegant setting of the Carnegie Center’s historic Carnegie Library building, the 2011 “A Taste for Art & History” features a wide variety of world-class beverages, award-winning cheeses, and an assortment of delectable foods. Guests enjoy a lively silent auction where they may acquire artwork, jewelry, wines and many other unique items. “A Taste for Art & History” also includes a live auction of exceptional items, including:

Churchill Downs Superfecta Package: Enjoy an afternoon at the races in a luxury Jockey Club Suite. The package includes admission for 24, race programs and a $250 voucher for food service in the suite. Some dates are excluded.

Golf at The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort: Play a round of golf at Indiana's premier golf course on the beautiful grounds of French Lick Resort. The package includes green fees for four with cart. Valid weekends. Caddy required.

An Evening with Bob Edwards: Spend a private evening with media legend, Bob Edwards, at the Carnegie Center. Package includes a catered meal for 12 in the historic Carnegie Center on September 24th.

Wine Weekend in Washington State: Jet off to a spectacular getaway near Seattle, Washington compliments of world class winery Chateau St. Michelle. Package includes 2 nights of accommodations at the luxurious Willows Lodge, VIP wine tasting and tour of Chateau St. Michelle, dinner at local restaurant and a $500 voucher for airfare.

After the festivities inside the Carnegie Center wind down, guests can continue to enjoy the evening at the “After Taste” in the tent in back of the Carnegie Center. Tickets are $65 per person ($55 for museum members); please call 812-944-7336 to make a reservation for this event. You may also click HERE to make and pay for your reservation via PayPal. Reservations should be made by September 5, 2011.

The Carnegie Center, Inc. would like to thank these generous sponsors for their support of this event: Title Sponsor T.A. Ginkins Company; Platinum Sponsor Insulated Roofing Contractors; Diamond Sponsors Bob Owings Patterns, Duke Energy, Kraft Funeral Services, Lorch & Naville, Mainsource Bank, Martin Financial, Neace Lukens – Rick Zoeller, Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, and Horseshoe Southern Indiana; and Bronze Sponsors Aebersold Florist, American Beverage Marketers, Mary Lou Hess & Joe Modica, Your Community Bank, Schad & Schad Trial Attorneys, Sunset Spirits, Terri Lynn’s Catering by Design, Taecon Construction Services, LLC, and Evelyn Farrell Ott.

To allow time for clean-up following the event, the Carnegie Center will open at 1:00 pm on Saturday September 10, 2011.

Thank you and we hope to see you September 9th for "A Taste for Art & History"!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dig-In Indiana in Indianapolis on Sunday, August 28.

Dig-IN - A Taste of Indiana was held at Indianapolis's White River State Park on a gorgeous, humidity-free Sunday afternoon. It was billed as a farm-to-fork event, and featured growers, artisans, chefs, vintners and brewers scattered across multiple tents.

I've nothing but good things to say about Dig-IN from the consumer's point of view. The event was well organized, and the crowd was mellow. From a participating brewer's point of view, not checking off beer samples in the same fashion as food (or, alternatively, awarding a set number of sample tickets to each consumer) had the effect of depressing full pour beer sales. I believe everyone knows it, and there'll be a better balance struck in 2012.

Note that Rodney gave a wonderful chat on beer and food pairings to an appreciative audience in the lecture tent. Just remember: Smoked beer with breakfast, and sours for palate renewal.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ogle Center's Bier Prost at Horseshoe Southern Indiana on Friday, August 26.

It was an experiment of sorts, shifting from a previous Bier Prost approach of beers from everywhere in the world, and narrowing it to exclusively Indiana-brewed beers (and Louisville's BBC), most of them transported to the venue in growlers poured from kegs at the Public House.

It seemed to work well. I was given a hard-working staff of four, and once they caught on to the names and placement, I was able to inform and educate the public about the beer, styles and breweries.

Thanks to the organizing committee, my servers and David Hawkins of World Class Beverage for the supplementary bottle donation. There was even a rare Josh Hill spotting!

Earlier: Ogle Center Bier Prost promo on "Fox in the Morning" on Friday, August 26.

Labor Day weekend schedule at NABC.

We're giving the crew two days off during Labor Day weekend, and the lesson here is this: Get your growlers on Saturday, at the latest.

Sunday, September 4
Monday, September 5
Both the Bank Street Brewhouse and the Pizzeria & Public House will will be closed.

Regular hours at both locations resume on Tuesday the 6th.

Reel Soundz, coming with Real Beer on Labor Day weekend.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 video footage of Great Taste of the Midwest 2011.

I shot the footage of the Great Taste of the Midwest on John Campbell's filming gizmo, and John Wurth edited. It was fun to film and drink, and in spite of my ineptitude in the medium, the video turned out nicely.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Your continuing beer education: "Here's to Beer" non-credit IUS course returns this Fall, 2011.

My "Here's to Beer" Indiana University Southeast non-credit course returns on Wednesdays this fall, with sections starting in September and November. Enrollment is underway now. Both sections are identical, designed for "beginners" just coming to the sunny side of beer enthusiasm, so don't fear the dark, and consider picking one of them and attending.

September 21, 28; October 5, 12

November 2, 9, 16 & 30

Yes, you must be 21, and classes take place at the NABC Pizzeria & Public House at 3312 Plaza Drive (just off Grant Line Road) in New Albany. For $69, you get four class sessions, generous beer samples, and a mode of presentation that hasn't yet devolved to power point. It's oral history, sometimes incisive, other times rambling.

Official Course Description: Here's to Beer! (101).

Is beer the new wine? It's definitely no longer your grandfather's fizzy lager, and you'll learn why with the help of NABC's longtime brew guru, Roger A. Baylor, who will guide you through the brewing process, discuss beer's history in society and culture, and survey beer's many styles from Dark Mild to India Pale - all with appropriate samples.

Note: After successfully completing 101, students become eligible to register for Even More to Beer (202), an advanced beer education class that will be offered in Spring, 2012.

Get on board by visiting Indiana University Southeast’s web site via the links above, and for more, read this IUS Horizon newspaper article from spring, 2010: "Non-credit course educates students on history of beer."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Alexander Keith's does not matter at all.

As if there were any doubt, the low price point should give away the game: Alexander Keith's is not a traditional, heroic, independent brewer in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, but not unlike the sadly decapitated Goose Island, is owned outright by the gargantuan multinational, AB Inbev, which explains why this cute display is in the deli section of New Albany's State Street Kroger in the first place.

It's all an exercise in flatulent marketing, and likely to disappear unless it succeeds in knocking worthier American-made ales off the shelf -- that's why it's here, folks -- but in many other respects, Keith's makes little sense. Numerous American craft beers are as good or better, and it likely cannibalizes other AB Inbev imports (can anyone think of a reason for Bass being here?), but hey, who am I to fathom the motives of the non-beer-loving dealers?

After all, I'm just a beer lover who detests the multinationals with every fiber of my being ... but luckily, that's enough.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

NABC at Rock the Rocks on Saturday, August 20.

Last night was Rock the Rocks, the annual fundraiser held at the Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville. A tourism official once told me that to a slightly lesser extent than the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, the Falls of the Ohio is quite the popular stop on the itineraries of foreign visitors. As you can see, our friendly licensed helpers Jim and Debbie were on hand (thanks, guys), alongside Richard and myself. We raced through sixth barrels of Tafel and Community Dark, and assuredly, we'll bring more beer next year.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Days of the New(s) at Gravity Head 2012.

I'm pleased to announce that NABC's special, co-billed guest at Gravity Head 2012 (tentatively tagged as "The End of the World As We Know It" in deference to the Mayan calendar) will be New Holland Brewing Company from Holland, Michigan.

The other "new" referenced in the title is us: New Albanian Brewing Company. I'd seek to add New Glarus to the list, if only I could.

Believe it or not, Gravity Head 2012 is less than six months away. In 2011, we inaugurated the practice of asking a fellow craft brewer to join us in some co-branding. Three Floyds was first, and now our friends from New Holland. Details will follow, but there'll be excellent gravity from the New Holland Brewing cellar come February, although not the pint of Kolsch pictured above.

Also, know that as of two weeks ago, the products of New Holland's soon-to-be-expanded artisanal distilling operation are available in Indiana. Look for them at Bank Street Brewhouse soon.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Great Taste Roadtrip 2011: Thursday, August 18.

The last day's stopping point was St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, two proud and quite different Michigan cities on opposite sides of the St. Joseph River. St. Joseph appears to have survived the 1900's and early Noughts with some degree of success, retaining its good Lake Michigan beaches and a semblance of a tax base, while Benton Harbor is enduring a series of disappointing reversals in terms of self-government and the economy.

Unfortunately, the potential solution to Benton Harbor's present difficulties seems centered on golf. As minted by the city fathers and corporate patron Whirlpool, the plan is bringing a championship caliber golf course and surrounding gentrified community built in part on ground confiscated (okay, "privatized") from Benton Harbor's lakefront park.

However, being from New Albany, I may be calling the kettle black.

In my view, Benton Harbor's biggest selling point is the presence of The Livery, which is the sort of place that defines the essence of the craft beer revolution. Former NABC brewmaster Jared Williamson originally made the connection with The Livery's Steve Berthel, and while Steve unfortunately couldn't be around last on the final day of the road trip, we ate, drank, and lugged growlers back to the hotel (and home).

Following is the story of NABC's connection with The Livery, as told in previous posts.

It's simple: Steve and Jared brew a collaborative batch, and then I drink beer with them.

Jared Williamson on "Michigan: Passion, Pints, and Pride."

Scenes from The Livery's 5th Anniversary Ale brew day (Part One).

Scenes from The Livery's 5th Anniversary Ale brew day (Part Two).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Great Taste Roadtrip 2011: Wednesday, August 17.

Wednesday began with espresso at Lemonjello's, and then a stroll through Holland's Farmers Market.

After absorbing the sights and smells of the Farmers Market,
we consulted a handy wayfinding map ...

... and walked all the way to another world.

Yes, it's Holland, all right, as transplanted from the Mother Country. After all, the Michigan version was founded by Dutch immigrants. Maybe that's why it seems to work so well, as opposed to a place like New Albany. The Dutch were wise to stay well north of the Mason Dixon Line.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Great Taste Roadtrip 2011: Tuesday, August 16.

On Tuesday, we took another short drive to Grand Rapids and visited Founders Brewing Company. Chief sales mastermind Michael Bell conducted a short tour and charted the company's expansion; the blank room pictured above is about to be the site of a new brewhouse, and the fermenters are spreading in all directions. Founders has a full block in which to grow, and the area around the brewery, once gone to seed, is gentrifying very quickly.

Every craft brewer has a different plan, and it's always interesting for me to compare notes. There is not a single, solitary "right" way to run your business, to grow it, and to look into the future. Little bits from all of them are useful, and you must be able to see which ones apply to what you're doing.

New Glarus sells a lot of Spotted Cow, which is easy to drink at 5% abv, while Founders counts the 8% Dirty Bastard among its flagships. New Glarus constructed a new building with the exterior aesthetic of the town in mind, and Founders continues to add contemporary industrial space to an older portal. New Holland has added distilling. Capital has an atmospheric seasonal beer garden in the German tradition. What do they all have in common? Excellent beer, and that's what matters most.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Great Taste Roadtrip 2011: Monday, August 15.

The Lake Express is the fast ferry across Lake Michigan, connecting Milwaukee to Muskegon. We were equipped with bread, olives and Fantome Farm goat cheese, the latter purchased at Madison's sprawling Saturday morning Farmers Market, but libations were variable -- until I noticed cans of Milwaukee Brewing Company's Flying Damsel and Louie's Demise on sale at the terminal in Milwaukee.

From Muskegon, we proceeded directly to Holland's uber cool City Flats Hotel, which touts itself as "the first LEED Gold Certified Hotel in the Midwest (and) the happiest hotel in the happiest city in America."

I'm not one inclined to book hotel rooms for the distinctiveness of the hotel ambience (functional and cheap work for me). However, City Flats is an exception. Apart from the green vibe, each room is designed differently and the rooftop bistro (with only Michigan-brewed beer on tap) is superb.

Another obvious advantage of City Flats is its proximity to New Holland Brewing Company, a longtime personal favorite, and Lemonjello's, a sharp coffee shop we discovered on this year's trip.

We had time before dinner to visit Oval Beach, near Saugatuck to the south of Holland. The water was a bit cold, but who cares; after all, I can't swim.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Great Taste Roadtrip 2011: Sunday, August 14.

In order to gently descend from the Olympian heights of the Great Taste, we began Sunday with a voluminous and incredibly inexpensive brunch buffet at Great Dane's Hilldale location before embarking on a counter-intuitive Sunday drive to the historic Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac.

It was a sunny, cool day in the hills, and for me, a busman's holiday tasting wine and lolling on the veranda.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Great Taste Roadtrip 2011: Friday, August 12.

On the day before the Great Taste of the Midwest, we drove to New Glarus to see both the old Swiss town and its renowned brewery. Neither of them disappointed. Along the way, we ran into Pat, Larry, Tish and Ryan.

The new New Glarus Brewing (opened circa 2007/08) is a gleaming palace of beer inside and out, and a centerpiece of the town's attractiveness to tourists. During this trip, I was struck by the pervasiveness of New Glarus's mainline beers (Spotted Cow, Two Women, Fat Squirrel, Moon Man and others) in the brewery's hometown as well as throughout Wisconsin.

All of these beers are standard strength, and all are excellent. Of course, New Glarus Brewing makes acclaimed fruit-based ales, sour beers and extreme styles, too. Once upon a time, I would have focused on the esoteric over the everyday, but with the Crown Vic's trunk available for filling, I focused on the more sessionable choices.

Our lunch was taken in the company of Tish and Ryan at the Glarner Stube restaurant in central New Glarus, and the Swiss-influenced, German-style food was simply wonderful, as accompanied by a full selection of New Glarus Brewing beers on tap.

Later on Friday night, the choice for dinner was Ha Long Bay, located on Williamson Street in Madison. There were tasty Vietnamese, Thai and Laotian treats in store, but no draft beer, although bottles from Capital and Ale Asylum provided the chance, so rare in Louisville, of drinking craft beer with Asian cuisine. I stuck with Ale Asylum's Hopalicious, bursting with Cascades.

Verily, craft beer is everywhere in Madison. Even the hotel bar at our Sheraton base camp came fully equipped with a half dozen craft taps, marred only by Bud Light. It's a scene one sees again and again.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Great Taste Roadtrip 2011: Thursday, August 11.

Beginning at 6:00 a.m. on August 11 -- with a full tank of gas and powered by Honey Cream doughnuts with espresso -- we piloted the Crown Vic all the way through farm country to Madison, Wisconsin. The first stop each year tends to be the Great Dane brewpub downtown, but this year we hit Capital Brewing's beer garden in Middleton first with pizza purchased at Roman Candle, then drove back to Great Dane to meet Pat (above) and Larry.