Monday, January 31, 2011

BJCP Category 17 (Sour Ale) tonight at Office Hours.

Tonight at Office Hours (in Prost, Pizzeria & Public House), you'll almost certainly sour on the experience, because it's time for a tasting of Category 17's Sour Ales, and a dip into the strange worlds of Acetobacter, Brettanomyce and Lactobacillus delbrueckii.

17A. Berliner Weisse
17B. Flanders Red Ale
17C. Flanders Brown Ale/Oud Bruin
17D. Straight (Unblended) Lambic
17E. Gueuze
17F. Fruit Lambic

As with last week's Belgians, I must again ask for a bit larger tasting fee of $10 a head tonight. The kicker is that a few of these are impossible to find at present, and it might be a while before we get them back owing to wholesale distribution problems.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

On turning pro (1979-2011).

(Originally published in LEO in March, 2009 ... I've added two years to the tally)

This year marks the 32nd year of my professional beer drinking career.

The autumn of 1979 provided a familiar impetus for renouncing amateur status and turning pro. There was a messy breakup, and one morning during the worst of it my car suddenly veered away from the university’s parking lot in the direction of an adjacent package store. I wasn’t carded, and breakfast was two quart bottles of Colt ’45.

There was no looking back – except at those embryonic years of preparation, perpetually trapped in adolescence, but looking enviously at juicy adult privileges just around the corner.

Apart from wee nips taken during childhood from bottles of my father’s Oertels 92, my first real "cold one" was consumed at a junior high school party. Actually, four of us split a single can of Budweiser while hiding in the woods, safe from the prying eyes of the hostess’s parents, ostensibly attaining instant credibility by boasting of beer on our breaths and mimicking the outward appearance of drunkenness.

Later, like so many generations of New Albanians, my gang climbed another rung around the time that our first driver’s licenses were issued. Wheels meant easy access to the bountiful paradise of Louisville’s west end liquor stores, just down Vincennes Street and across the claustrophobic steel lanes of the K & I toll bridge.

Raging acne and social ineptitude precluded my being chosen as the one to go inside Liken’s or the Corner Store. Consequently, I was at the mercy of my companions’ tastes in beer, and this was problematic, because at this early stage of my palatal development the "flavor" of a beer was the single biggest impediment to ingesting its desired alcohol. My friends liked Sterling and Pabst. I didn’t, but they were doing the heavy lifting of acquisition. Being in no position to argue, I learned to adapt by chilling. The colder the beer, the less “flavor” it had, and the more I could drink of it. Accordingly, my mission in life became Styrofoam cooler maintenance – to nurture it, to protect it from harm, and most importantly, to keep it filled with ice.

But in high summer the cans got warm very quickly. Crammed into the back seat of a late model junker, and pulling the tab on an ice-cold can straight from the ice, I managed to down the first frozen gulps before being overwhelmed with the dismaying recognition that in spite of all reasonable precautions, the can still contained rapidly warming Sterling or Pabst.

Chugging made me gag. What to do?

A sufficient interval would pass, enough to encourage a carload’s presumption that the warm and thoroughly vile can in my hand had been emptied, and then the magical time would arrive for throwing it out the window. This called for consummate skill. In the humid still of a hot summer evening, misjudging the distance from the open window of a moving car to the muffled cushion of a grassy rural roadside meant disgrace if a loud "thump" echoed through the valley as the half-full can struck unrelenting pavement.

The verbal abuse to follow was not at all good-natured. After all, hadn’t we driven all the way to Louisville to spend every last dime on beer?

And so it came to pass that in this manner, slumped shamefully in the back seat trying desperately to choke down a warm Sterling, I resolved to become a better beer drinker than all of them. Granted, the precise meaning of “better” remained unclear, but as the others began to plan their careers in physics, cosmetology, and insurance sales, I worked at developing a feel for the generic concept of beer, which I came to understand as light-bodied and usually bastardized when compared to the golden continental lager that inspired it, and a taste for its flavor, or at least those discernable qualities differentiating it from cola and orange juice.

After turning pro, these youthful stumbles were brushed aside in favor of broader experiences. It was hard work to progress from the degradation of Schaefer "Weekender" 30-packs to the sublime pinnacle of Belgian Trappists and American Barley Wines, but at least those swill-soaked years of my youth were not wasted.

Or were they?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Falls City Taproom under construction.

Here are a couple views from last week of the future Falls City Taproom at 545 Barret Avenue, just down the street from The Silo (Louisville's first brewpub of the contemporary era (1992-circa 1997).

The Consuming Louisville blog has more, and I'm preparing a piece about Falls City for the pre-Derby issue of Food & Dining magazine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday Weekly: "To Heck with Rants (Part Two)"

Continued from here: Wednesday Weekly: "To Heck with Rants (Part One)"

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NH: There’s also a nouveau riche thing going on with craft beer. It seems to be all about ostentatious display of IBU’s, ABV, etc., etc. It’s the whole Double Black Barrel-Aged IPA, beer mad lib thing that is completely boring to me. Communities like Beer Advocate advocate that phenomenon more than they advocate the full spectrum of beer appreciation. And just like the arms race brewers have to out “extreme” each other, dudes who review beers do the same thing.

RB: There is no such thing as bad publicity when it comes to turning heads. Yet again, I refer to the educational mandate that we all ignore only at our peril. You say you’re not in favor of the reviewers, or the brand of preaching practiced at Beer Advocate? Fine, then start your own damned church, but don’t withdraw into a shell and decry all comments, because turtle shell marketing can’t help craft beer at all. AT ALL. Everyone on the inside has had our issues with entities like Beer Advocate, but just look at the work these entities do to attract potential patrons to our side of the street! Besides, recently I’ve been using Beer Advocate and Rate Beer quite a lot to compare and contrast their respective takes on beer style definition, not so I can flaunt my nouveau riche attitude (i.e., I’ve been around this for more than two decades without striking the mother lode), but because is it helpful to me as I seek ways of educating prospective adherents.

Have I mentioned the importance of education?

NH: No longer is it good enough to say that a beer has a citrusy aroma or a grapefruit hop nose. Now, it’s grapefruit “pith.” Really?! Pith?! Come on….save the pretentious “notes of vine-ripened figs, off-set by a pumpernickel bread crust and grapefruit pith” for the wine world! It’s friggin’ beer, people! ”I hand wash my chalice with spring water, an Indian cotton wash cloth and handmade soap and and store it on a pillow made of the finest crushed velvet between my tasting sessions.” Beer is social and beer is fun and sometimes drinking one out of a red plastic cup is perfectly awesome!

RB: For those unfamiliar with the straw man fallacy, it’s when one places the weakest possible argument in the mouth of his or her opponent, then happily dashes the artificially weak argument to shreds. Do some beer tasters take it too far? Of course they do. Does a better understanding of how and what we taste assist our appreciation of anything we eat and drink? Of course it does. Beer’s better consumed from a glass, and yes, red plastic will do in a pinch. Know the rules first … and then break them with equanimity.

NH: I’m also cynical about the whole “celebrity brewer” thing. And I know quite a few wanna-be celebrities in this area and they make my stomach turn and my eyes roll!

RB: I hate to be a kill-joy, but something needs to be said here: If you are brewing professionally, using a brewery system that presumably cost more than a few bucks, it’s more than technical expertise. It’s show business, and we’re all performing at one level or another. You need to get used to it. There are celebrities in every field of human endeavor, for the simple reason that people demand them, period. Quit whining and pick a shtick – before someone else does it first.

NH: The whole beer-food pairing thing is pretty lame, as well. Beer isn’t wine! Don’t have a geuze with nachos. “Ah…but I find that the notes of figs and grapefruit pith are the perfect complement to a braised leg of lamb and fingerling potatoes.” Give me a break… As a pub brewer, I suppose I should be more into the pairing thing, but I think it’s pretentious, ridiculous and adds nothing to the beer culture, except for pushing it ever closer to the wine world.

RB: “As a pub brewer, I suppose I should be more into the pairing thing” – stop right there, Nate. Apologies, but while it remains that as a brewpub owner myself, I’d never seek to prevent an employee from expressing opinions, I’d have you out in the woodshed over this section of his rant.

Why talk about beer with food when you own a brewpub? BECAUSE PEOPLE LIKE THAT, and it assists in marketing, and it helps convince people to step inside the tent, and if you’re brewing for me and can’t wrap your arms around doing what comes naturally with beer and food, okay, but you had best learn to be better damned actor than that. Beside, it’s the wine world’s job to come closer to beer, not the other way around.

NH: Let’s see…what else am I cynical about? Craft fans seem to ascribe a false virtue to the small brewers and false vice to the big brewers out there. We laud some brewers’ success and vilify others for theirs. And the argument usually, and ignorantly, falls along the lines of “the big guys don’t care about beer, only profit.” And, “I know Sam Calagione and/or Greg Koch makes beer because he’s passionate about it.” Try opening a brewery in San Diego or Wilmington and see just what a couple of swell guys Sam and Greg are! Craft fans have taken up the mantel that they are fighting the big guys out there. In reality, however, Mercury Brewing is competing more fiercely with the likes of Wachusett than they are with Anheuser-Busch. But, David versus Goliath is a much easier and intriguing tale to tell if you’re a small brewer, even if it’s not entirely correct.

RB: Nate, you’re absolutely and spectacularly wrong with the gist of this assertion, which is understandable for someone who doesn’t believe in marketing or related evangelism of any sort, because if you don’t believe it’s fitting and proper to try to convince a mass-market drinker to switch his or her approach, then you’ve no choice except to believe that craft brewers are fighting one another for market share, not taking it from the big multinational boys.

That’s illogical. The big boys control 90% or more of the market, and that’s growth territory for craft beer for decades to come. How have we, as a segment, even come this far? By doing all those things Nate Heck so vehemently dislikes. How do we make further inroads? By doing all those things Nate Heck vehemently dislikes.

Is a pattern beginning to develop?

The ultimately puzzling nature of Nate Heck’s rant lies in the fact that he seems to have paid no heed to any side of the craft beer business and marketing equation that exists outside the confines of the brewhouse, and as a result, he’s missing just a few very important components. If everything he’s cynical about were to be taken away from craft brewing, both he and I would be having this dialogue while standing behind the counter of the convenience store, where we both would be working, then breaking for a few MGDs out by the dumpster, probably without red plastic cups.

That’s all I have to say about it. If you wish, you can call me a nasty beer evangelist … and I hope to meet Nate Heck some day and try his beers.

Out of a glass, please.

Wednesday Weekly: "To Heck with Rants (Part One)"

(In two parts to make up for last week's blank spot)

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It has taken me more than ten days to write this column.

Seldom do I worry very much about how my words might be taken out in the world, but this time, a disclaimer seems merited, because I don’t want anyone to think that I’m overly denigrating Nate Heck, a brewer somewhere in the Eastern United States, and a fellow I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting.

I’m not knocking Nate, just disagreeing on a few central points, and perhaps learning something about the nature of capitalist division of labor – and my part in it – in the process.

You see, I’m mentioning Heck’s name here only because a few days ago, he managed to spark one of those brief Internet furors that flare into “trending, and then disappear into the cyber ether, way faster than you can drink a pint of gently carbonated cask Bitter (an overview is here).

Evidently, the brewer Heck was asked a question, responded with a long-suppressed rant, and subsequently the beer world (more accurately, those beer enthusiasts hanging out on-line) lined up to debate his rant’s numerous bullet points, because as rants go, it was a real beauty.

It will surprise no one who knows me that I’ve had some measure of experience inciting riots, perhaps less lately than in the past, when the beer world was so much smaller and it was easier to cop a profile on the fly. Consequently, I’m the last person on the planet who’d criticize anyone for speaking his or her mind, Nate Heck included.

But after reading his thoughts, what bothered me was that they kept on bothering me, and I couldn’t put a finger on why this was so. Something he said in his rant got to festering under my skin. What was it? A few dozen beers later, it has become slightly clearer to me.

Both Nate Heck and the Publican obviously give a damn about beer. No arguments there.

However, he’s a brewer, and I’m a brewery owner.

At first glance, you’d think this wouldn’t matter very much. Most of the time, it doesn’t. Vast and pervasive tracts of daily workplace experience are shared by brew house artisans and management, and yet ultimately, there is a difference in perspective; nothing like a chasm, but a difference nonetheless, and one perhaps best illustrated by my chosen job description.

My business card says “Carnival Barker,” not owner.

Whether I’m good at it or not, and I’ll freely admit that it’s a coin flip of a call on some days, my job as brewery owner extends beyond signing the paychecks, donating my house (more than once) for use by the bank as collateral, and sometimes even deigning to provide overall direction to the daily operations.

(If not for co-owners who do much of the dirty work, it’d get ugly.)

For better or worse, I’m also NABC’s central pitchman. Not only that, I’m the chief educator as well. In my opinion, if I’m the owner, and I’m not pitching the product and educating, I’m not doing my job.

Furthermore, if there is any one thing I’ve learned after twenty years, it’s that selling better beer stands alongside love and war, in the sense that all’s fair while undertaking it. Any tools you have to market your products, don’t hesitate to use them.

From the beginning, even when my natural shyness was sometimes a crippling impediment to overt public advocacy, I’ve thrown myself out in front crowds and curves, and tried my best to talk people into taking a peek inside our tent -- and if they like what they see and taste, to spend a bit of their hard-earned money while they’re here.

Because: No money coming in, no business … and no freshly brewed craft beer, either.

And so yes, while much of what Nate Heck “cynically” ranted makes sense, it makes less sense when you consider the inconvenient truth that if craft beer does not succeed as a business enterprise, it will not continue to exist as a generous gift to us from governmental subsidies, or materializing afresh after the wave of a magic wand from the Wizard of Good Beer.

We have to sell beer and grow the segment.

That’s the way it works, folks.

Here’s what Nate Heck wrote (in italics), followed by my response (in bold). In the spirit of the dialogue, natch.

NH: I have spent most of my adult life making beer. I love what I do and of course, I love beer. However, it seems like over the past few years, something has changed and I’m still trying to wrap my head around what it is exactly. I guess I’m cynical because I see a lack of appreciation for the history of brewing. Lots of people seem to think that craft brewing started when Sam Calagione started DFH, and believe that “Beer Wars” are the gospel truth about the beer industry and that Stone Brewing doesn’t market their beer.

RB: If people have misconceptions about history, whether history is taken to refer to brewing, the American Civil War or ancient Sumerian numismatics, the only way these misconceptions can ever be addressed is through education, a pursuit that rewards patience and constant repetition, among other necessary qualities. As with any teacher who is instructing in any discipline, enthusiasm about the subject matter is vital. Take the initiative, and take information to the customer.

NH: And that is also something I’m cynical about…the evangelical aspect of craft beer. People feel they have to convert the unwashed Bud drinking masses. Beer is not some binary thing. You can enjoy an ice cold PBR AND like Russian Imperial Stouts…at the same time! *Gasp!* The blasphemy!!!

RB: Teaching is evangelistic. I appreciate where Nate is trying to go, but his mistrust of evangelism is bizarrely short-sighted. Take away the evangelistic aspect of craft beer, and watch as market penetration declines (not increases) exponentially. Take away the evangelistic aspect of craft beer, and shed numerous jobs, perhaps even the ranter Heck’s own paid brewery position. Take away the evangelistic aspect of conversion, and lose much of the entire point of brewing different (better, more diverse) beer in the first place. Craft brewing is a business, but the beauty is that it can be a lifestyle, too. Evangelism and marketing are two ways of referring to the same process, whereby we invite those outside the tent to step inside and try our wares. It sells itself, but only up to a point.

Continued here: Wednesday Weekly: ""To Heck with Rants (Part Two)"

NA Exchange in LEO.

LEO's Sara Havens has some nice things to say about our new neighbor down the street from the Pizzeria & Public House: NA Exchange.

Bar Belle: Nothing’s right, I’m torn, by Sara Havens (LEO)

I’m all out of faith, this is how I feel. I’m cold and I am shamed, lying naked on the floor. OK, just kidding. I am pretty cold, but I’ve never been ashamed of lying naked on a floor — if it’s carpet, it was a good night; if it’s linoleum, um, it was probably a good night.

Er, wait just minute, it's a bit further down the page ...

New Albany secrets: I’ve heard the whispers wafting across the Ohio … of a swanky new joint a few doors down from Rich O’s where the food is fine and the drinks rival that of Proof and Social.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

27 NABC house beers are on tap at the Pizzeria & Public House for NABCieged 3.

Edited ... on tap now:

Cask
Ackerman’s Imperial Double Stout (ReplicAle for BIG Winterfest 2011)

Regulars
Beak’s Best
Bob’s Old 15-B
Elector
Hoptimus
Tunnel Vision

Session Series
Abzug
Community Dark

Brewers' Best Friend Series
Abby’s Dubbel
Elsa von Horizon
Henna
Jasmine the Mastiff
Jaxon

Footed Stout Series
ClovenFoot
ThunderFoot 2010
WeeFoot

Specialties and Seasonals
Cascade Single Hop
C2
ConeSmoker
ELI
Imperial Bonfire of the Valkyries
Le Douche Mentale
Mt. Lee
Oaked Ancient Rage
Oaktimus
Samu-Rye!
Solidarity

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Not on tap and yet to come

Tafel Bier
Ancient Rage
Bonfire of the Valkyries
Hop-O
Le Diable Blonde
Saison de Houblon
Sour Rye Belgian Strong (pin)
Dry Hopped Abzug (firkin)
Scotch Black Grass (pin)

NABCieged opening afternoon lineup yesterday.

I counted 22 on the board. It was still early in the afternoon when I was printing the in-house guidesheets.

The Optimator looks really out of place. It may be replaced by now.

Elector should be back very soon.

Some of the selections warming up in the bullpen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tony's artwork for Jaxon, NABC's first Barleywine.


NABC Jaxon ... from the Brewers' Best Friend Series
With a bark like that, who needs Pat?
NABC’s first ever Barleywine, brewed and aged by David Pierce at Bank Street Brewhouse.
100+ IBU … 11% ABV

Expanded listings for NABCieged 3, which kicks off TODAY at the Pizzeria & Public House.



N.A.B.Cieged 3 starts this afternoon at the Pizzeria & Public House, and so I'm repeating the overview that previously appeared here, along with updated and expanded beer listings. Note that we'll be ramping up to the full number, and not all beers listed below will be pouring at the same time. Remember to check the board listings to be sure.

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The New Albanian Brewing Company has long embraced the metaphorical properties of innovation and inundation, and will continue these proud incantations on Tuesday, January 25, with the third incarnation of N.A.B.C.ieged.

This draft showcase at the Pizzeria & Public House (3312 Plaza Drive, New Albany) is all about us -- our NABC beers, as brewed at both our New Albany locations.

Our brewers and their beers are the future of our business (and aesthetic) enterprise, and in 2011, the entire beer program at our traditional Pizzeria & Public House location is set to undergo an exciting metamorphosis as we reduce our carbon footprint, transition away from reliance on imports, and embrace an even greater advocacy of stylistic education, as reflected by the continuing gains of America’s craft beer revolution.Including our own NABC revolution, hence: N.A.B.C.ieged 3: Sieged with a Vengeance.

The idea is to have as many as possible of our own NABC beers on tap at one time at the Pizzeria & Pub (pour sizes and pricing to be determined). The event will last as long as the kegs do, and then we’ll begin preparations for Gravity Head, our annual paean to craft brewing’s outer extremities.

As during the inaugural N.A.B.C.ieged one year ago (a second edition was later held at Louisville Beer Store), we're showcasing these NABC drafts at the Pizzeria & Public House rather than Bank Street Brewhouse, for the simple reason that we have more available spouts for pouring. Last year’s record is 24. In 2011, we hope to beat it.

Given the amount of work required to swap all these kegs of beer and keep them pouring, say a silent prayer for Grant Line brewer Jared Williamson, and beer managers Ben Minton and Eric Gray, who'll be doing the heavy lifting, literally.

NABC REGULARS

Beak’s Best
American Bitter & Soul Liniment
Extra Special Bitter brewed with English malts and American hops, named in honor of globetrotting historian and educator Don "Beak" Barry.
35 IBU … 5.3% ABV

Bob’s Old 15-B
Bringing home the win
An award-winning Porter formulated by our homebrewing friend Bob Capshew, and brewed by NABC since 2003.
35 IBU … 5.5% ABV

Elector
Makes democracy pointless
Excessive hopping rendered moot a modest plan for brewing a traditional winter warmer, but the resulting hybrid redefines Imperial Red.
62 IBU … 7.5% ABV

Hoptimus
Made of sterner stuff
“Vicariously” is for rank amateurs and subpar international lagers, because Hoptimus lives vivaciously through itself.
100 IBU … 10.7% ABV

Tunnel Vision
The illumination of the narrow by the terminally distended
Belgian-style ale, inspired by crazed Wallonian gnomes. Sufficiently weighty for contemplation in all seasons.
20 IBU … 9.5% ABV

NABC SESSION SERIES

Abzug
A cellar man's bier
Descended from Vienna and Marzen. Abzug’s gravity is lower, and its lagering time shorter, but in all respects it remains a tasty, quenching lager.
26 IBU … 3.8% ABV

Community Dark
Inside is what counts
Inspired by traditional English Mild, the style that fueled the Industrial Revolution, Community Dark is dark-colored, light-bodied and sessionable.
12.5 IBU … 3.7% ABV

Tafel Bier
Better dancing on the table than sleeping on the floor
Flemish for “table beer,” which filled those earthenware pitchers in the Brueghel paintings. A flavorful, session-strength accompaniment to almost any cuisine.
15 IBU … 3.9% ABV

NABC BREWERS’ BEST FRIEND SERIES

Abby’s Dubbel
She makes the schedules -- not me.
Straight-forward Belgian-style brown ale on the mild side, named in honor of NABC co-owner Kate Lewison’s canine companion.
17 IBU … 6.2% ABV

Elsa von Horizon
Bekämpfen sie und ich beiße sie
Elsa lived large, and her Pilsner on steroids does, too, brewed to the strength of Maibock and beyond, and then with even more noble hops added to the recipe for balance – and bite.
80 IBU … 8.6% ABV

Henna
Now that’s what I wanted!
Henna likes to smell stuff. We like to smell her hoppy beer: Black IPA … or was that Cascadian Dark Ale?
83 IBU … 7% ABV

Jasmine the Mastiff
As the lion is to the cat, the mastiff is to the dog
Silky, Sweet Stout with a solid roasted character. Big, bold, and ready to lean on you.
35 IBU … 7.5% ABV

Jaxon
With a bark like that, who needs Pat?
NABC’s first ever Barleywine, brewed and aged by David Pierce at Bank Street Brewhouse.
100+ IBU … 11% ABV

NABC FOOTED STOUT SERIES

ClovenFoot
Belgian sunshine for Monsieur Scratch
NABC’s strain of Belgian yeast from the Ardennes transforms strong, rich Stout into hoofed provocation.
30 IBU … 8.2% ABV

ThunderFoot 2010
Ultimate urban renewal
Dry-cherried Imperial Stout that neither tweaks nor hints; rather, it offers palate stimulation the old-fashioned way: Complete, irresistible and certain.
84 IBU … Circa 9% ABV

WeeFoot
Feed the beast
A dry and sessionable Stout. On those days when you only need a little stout, WeeFoot is there.
48 IBU … 5% ABV

NABC SEASONALS & SPECIALTIES

Ancient Rage
Because age is wasted on the young
Consider the glories of Smoked Baltic Porter, as brewed for Roger’s 50th birthday in 2010.
26 IBU … 6% ABV

Bonfire of the Valkyries
Burning away the hours 'til Ragnarok
Smoked Black Lager: We couldn’t find the rule in the German brewing playbook that prohibits crossing Black Lager with Smoked Lager.
9 IBU … 6% ABV

C2
New Albanian/O’Fallon/Schlafly collaboration
Smoked Belgian Dark Strong; Port and Cabernet barrel-aged, infused with figs. It comes once in a lifetime, folks.
30 IBU … 10.7% ABV

ConeSmoker
Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em
Once upon a time the Publican poured American Pale Ale into a glass used previously for Bavarian-style Rauchbier, and an idea was born: Smoked APA.
65 IBU … 7% ABV

ELI
Not only is ELI coming … it’s already gone
Sour Hoppy Red Ale, and the final keg of an in-house improvisational legend. We’ll see how it has aged.
65 IBU … 7.5% ABV

Hop-O
A blast from New Albany’s illicit past
Prohibition Era Cereal Beer is the most infamous New Albany beverage of all, now revived, and notorious for entirely different reasons.
? IBU … 3.5% ABV

Imperial Bonfire of the Valkyries
Ragnarok’s revenge
Schwarz Rauch Superstarkes Bier, or to put it another way, Bonfire of the Valkyries at Imperial intensity.
10 IBU … 9% ABV

Le Diable Blonde
Here comes the woman with the look in her eye
Patience is the key and the lesson from this malt bomb devil of a Belgian-style Tripel.
30 IBU … 10.7% ABV

Le Douche Mentale
The Livery/NABC collaboration
Imperial Belgian IPA: The last keg of a collaborative liquid legend.
70 IBU … 8.5% ABV

Oaked Ancient Rage
Oaky age never is wasted on the young
The only oaked keg of the birthday batch of Smoked Baltic Porter … here and now.
26 IBU … 6% ABV

Oaktimus
Aged in sterner stuff
Taste Hoptimus after 16 months of oak aging.
100 IBU … 10.7%

Saison de Houblon
Happiness is a hoppy farmhouse
Spicy hop notes abound in this, the last keg from the fall release of our Dry Hopped Belgian Saison.
35 IBU … 7% ABV

Samu-Rye!
Not at all lost in translation
Japanese-American Common: Tokyo meets San Francisco, with rye, rice and Japanese-bred Sorachi Ace Hops.
40 IBU … 5.5% ABV

Solidarity
Solidarity or Death
Baltic Porter is the best way to tip your hat to the activists in the Solidarity independent trade union, and a robust reminder of Baltic foresight in activism and strong beer.
30 IBU … 8.5% ABV

NABC CASKS

Ackerman’s Imperial Double Stout
2011 Winterfest ReplicAle
Exclusive preview of the Brewers of Indiana Guild Winterfest 2011 ReplicAle, designed for the first time by the NABC brew team, and brewed at breweries throughout Indiana.
43 IBU … 8.5% ABV

Sour Rye Belgian Strong (pin)
It will be an adventure.
25 IBU … 9% ABV

Dry Hopped Abzug (firkin)
Kellerbier: Aged well beyond its normal Kellerbier prerequisites; mellowed, lagered and burnished.
26 IBU … 3.9% ABV

Scotch Black Grass (pin)
Perhaps some sour note have developed in this naturally conditioned Saison, brewed with lemongrass and black pepper. We won’t know until it is tapped.
30 IBU … 6% ABV

Books with frites, this Saturday (29th) at Destinations Booksellers and Bank Street Brewhouse.

Randy "Destinations" Smith lays out the occasion and the deal in the following passage from his daily blog, NewAlbanyBooks. Books, frites and beer are three things that inform my life, so check it out.

Books That Changed Our Lives (plus: How Books and Pommes Frites Go Together)

Join us Saturday, Jan. 29, at 4 p.m. as we welcome Gary Yeagle and Marlene Mitchell, local authors who have collaborated on a new book series, The Smoky Mountain Murders. Their new novel, Seasons of Death, is published by our friend Dave Mattingly at Blackwyrm Publishing, and it’s already drawing great interest within our patron base. So many of us feel as if we know the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (I practically grew up there) that the idea of a murder mystery set there seems perfectly natural.

In partnership with another NewAlbanyFirst pioneer, we’ll be offering a pick-your-own discount on the day of the event. If you dine at Bank Street Brewhouse on Saturday before the author event, bring your receipt to the signing and we’ll give you $2 off the $15.95 price of the book. If you prefer, come to the event and then join the authors for libations and/or dinner at Bank Street Brewhouse, 415 Bank St., New Albany. Chef Josh has promised a discount on that establishment’s amazing pommes frites, frenched potatoes double-fried in the Flemish style, accompanied by some of the most mouth-watering dipping sauces you’ve ever imagined. BSB is a non-smoking restaurant/brasserie, and the whole gang there is looking forward to hosting the authors and their friends starting around 5:30 p.m.

Of course, the region’s finest craft beers, local wines, and independently produced spirits are available, also. If you follow the @NewAlbanyBooks Twitter feed, you can find out that day’s specials on Saturday, too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Office Hours tonight: Belgian and French Ales from Category 16 (Part Two).

Tonight's tasting of 16E. Belgian Specialty Ale has all the makings of a scrum.

This is a catch-all category for any Belgian-style beer not fitting any other Belgian style category. The category can be used for specific beers; to produce a beer fitting a broader style that doesn’t have its own category; or to create an artisanal or experimental beer of the brewer’s own choosing (e.g., strong Belgian golden ale with spices, something unique).

There is no doubt in my mind that as a catch-all category, 16E is a sprawling and imperfect mess, ranging from Trappists (we're holding these for their own night - see the comprehensive schedule for details) to Saisons (Moinette, Bon Voeux) and quasi-Lambics (Lindemans?) placed here owing to minute differences with the necessary arbitrariness of their own categories, and including products from Achouffe, De Dolle and Ellezelloise (Belgium); Unibroue (Canada) and New Belgium (USA).

In Belgium, my experience is that most cafes resort to geography: If it comes from the French-speaking region of Wallonia, it's a Wallonian ale, case closed.

Several of tonight's beers are on the expensive side, so I must ask for $10 a head this evening. In return, we will open a bottle of DeuS, which retails for over $30. Other choices will come from the discard list, i.e., excellent Belgians that we cannot purchase on a daily basis, placing them in the "rotating appearance" category henceforth.

This one's going to be a diverse tasting, with quite little rhyme or reason to it. Before I forget, if you missed them, Amy W. posted her photos from last week:

Photo essay: Office Hours with the Publican on January 17, 2011.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Holy Grale in the C-J today.

I don't always check the Courier-Journal on Saturday, which is restaurant review day. This morning over espresso, the thought occurred to me, and voila ... more wonderful press for good beer.

Congrats to Lori and Tyler.

Louisville Restaurant Review: Go medieval at Holy Grale, by Marty Rosen.

Drop in at Holy Grale, the pub/restaurant that opened late last year on Bardstown Road, and you may find yourself thinking once again in candlepower units and contemplating what it might have been like to drop in at the neighborhood pub during the heyday of Gothic architecture, when triptychs — like the one behind the bar — were in vogue, when lancet arches were all the fashion, and when chivalrous knights spent their days questing after the Holy Grail and their nights boasting over mugs of wholesome ale.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chef Josh on frites in Velocity.

Bank Street Brewhouse's Josh Lehman is featured along with other Louisville frites makers.

Fries with flair: Pommes frites are sizzling in Louisville; Pommes frites are sizzling in Louisville, by Erin Keane (Velocity; Jan. 18, 2011)

Lehman's frites ... undergo a multistage process that begins with the whole potato itself, selected, rinsed and hand-cut to a squared-off ¾-inch with the wall-mounted fry cutter in the kitchen — no bags of frozen crinkle-cuts in his kitchen. Then he rinses the raw fries to get rid of some of the starch, which results in a more even golden color. Then they're deep-fried in oil heated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, blotted with paper towels to remove excess grease, and fried again at 375 degrees to achieve the perfect crisp. The frites are then finished with fleur de sel, a French sea salt.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blue River Cafe returning soon.

I don't intend to miss the grand re-opening ... and I'll even bring (some of) the beer.


Blue River Café rebirth is under way following fire, by Grace Schneider (Courier-Journal)

The lot where the Blue River Café stood in Milltown is empty, except for a bulldozer and the piled remains of an old shed. But in the coming weeks and months, the restaurant and live music club is expected to rise from the ashes of a devastating fire last May.

The café, housed in a 19th-century building in the heart of the tiny town, burned to the ground. But because it’s always been more than an eatery, the $500,000 rebuilding set to begin this month has been a welcome development.

Previously at PC:
Blue River Cafe in Milltown destroyed by fire.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Photo essay: A visit to BBC Third Street.








I finally made it to visit the new Bluegrass Brewing Company location in downtown Louisville at Main and 3rd, right across the street from the new KFC Yum! Center.

Brewer Sam Cruz is brewing all the draft beers on site save for a couple of specialties brought in from the original St. Matthews location, and he seems quite at home in the "hallway" brewhouse behind the bar.

After a round of wings and APAs, NABC's Jared Williamson and Josh Hill joined me before hitting the streets for an afternoon of C2 pre-sales.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Office Hours tonight: Belgian and French Ales from Category 16 (Part One).

We continue to follow the BJCP's numerical pathway with tonight's opening of Category 16, with two caveats as previously reported here: By popular demand: Comprehensive schedule for Office Hours with the Publican (through February 28).

First, 16E. Belgian Specialty Ale waits for its own night, next Monday, January 24.

Second, seeing as officially certified Trappist ales are scattered throughout the BJCP's listings and do not occupy their own category, we'll save them until the end, for one night, on Monday, February 21.

BJCP Category 16 — Belgian and French Ale

16A. Witbier
16B. Belgian Pale Ale
16C. Saison
16D. Bière de Garde

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bottled beer list piece by piece: BJCP style 17.

Here is another in a series of postings revealing the sections of our new, evolving beer list at the NABC Pizzeria & Public House. Style 17 poses problems that pertain both to designations of particular beers (reds, browns) and my desire to keep the imported choices at a minimum. See if it makes sense, and let me know.

Bear in mind: What beers are available for putchase from wholesalers on a daily basis, year-round? Based on breaking information, it may not be possible for me to stock Bruocsella for precisely this reason.

17. SOUR ALE

17A. Berliner Weisse
Professor Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weisse (Weihenstephaner)
Germany; 5% … 16.9 oz … 8.75

17B. Flanders Red Ale
Jolly Pumpkin La Roja … MI; 7.2% … 25.4 oz … 18.75

*New Belgium La Folie … CO; 6% … $.$$

17C. Flanders Brown Ale/Oud Bruin
(Currently, good examples are not available)

17D. Straight (Unblended) Lambic
Cantillon Grand Cru Bruocsella … Belgium; 5% … 25.4 oz … $.$$

17E. Gueuze
Hanssens Oude Gueuze … Belgium; 6% … $.$$

17F. Fruit Lambic
Sweetened: Lindemans Cassis (Currant); Framboise (Raspberry); Kriek (Cherry); Peche (Peach); Pomme (Apple) … Belgium; 4% … 8.25

Roger maintains a small and changing reserve list of authentic Lambics from Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Girardin and others. Ask for it.

Previously:

Bottled beer list piece by piece: BJCP style 16.

Bottled beer list piece by piece: BJCP styles 14 and 15.

Bottled beer list piece by piece: BJCP styles 10 - 13.

Bottled beer list piece by piece: BJCP styles 6 - 9.

Bottled beer list piece by piece: BJCP styles 2 - 5.

No worries: Still a Lite-Free Zone, with no 1A allowed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday Weekly: "Going native at Gravity Head 2011."

A funny thing happened on the way to Gravity Head 2011, which begins at 7:00 a.m. on February 25, and which will be our 13th such celebration of creative brewing’s outermost extremities.

Appropriately, although with little conscious forethought, we’ve managed to pre-order very few imported beers for Gravity Head. Actually, so few imports have been pre-ordered that only three are in stock at present, with no plans to up the number.

Perhaps we’ll serve these three (see below) at Gravity Head, and perhaps we will not, as 50 is the overall keg limit we’ve agreed to enforce, and if procurements run past that number, there’ll be bumpings and reassignments.

In fact, there may well be an All-American Lucky 13 Gravity Head in 2011. Upon closer examination, this suits me just fine.

Lest casual readers conclude that I’ve viciously turned against those same world classic beers which first made the Public House’s fame 20 years ago, be emphatically reassured that this is not the case. It’s just that the terms of engagement are being rewritten on a daily basis.

If you are just now tuning in to my ongoing mash-up, “What I Finally Learned in 2010,” the biggest lesson is a recent convergence of numerous threads of thoughts and experiences, into an overarching epiphany, one having artistic, conceptual, educational and fiscal antecedents and consequences.

In short: NABC’s investment in its own brewing operation obviously must be seen as an investment in American-made craft beer as a whole, not further delving into world-sourced beers, even if the latter remains a personal olfactory joy, and a fetish that I’ve no intention of abandoning. A choice is being made, and I feel good about it.

In 2011, come what may, I’m putting my mouth where my money is, and we’re transitioning the beer program at the Pizzeria & Public House to reduce our carbon footprint, lessen our reliance on imported beers, upgrade style education via a pared-down bottled beer list, and increase availability of good draft beer brewed close to us, whether our own building, Louisville metro or Indiana at large. Preferably, all three -- and more.

Now back to Gravity Head 2011, and an unprecedented absence of imports.

In previous years, I always made the effort to score appropriate imported brands, a task particularly well suited to my procurement skills, and one typically not outsourced to my hardworking assistants. However, in 2010, at roughly the same time of year normally devoted to intensive foraging, I began to feel a sense of terminal disillusionment with the prospect of not being able to successfully get the imports I wanted, when I wanted them, owing to (shall we say with utmost diplomacy) a certain disconnect in the line of Indiana-centric supply between importer, wholesaler and retailer.

I’m not being catty, even as I confess to some lingering bitterness. My epiphany simply cannot be explained without referencing the annoying realization that constantly banging my head against the wall would do nothing to remedy the disconnected situation beyond inflicting a concussion on myself – and who wants that? It’s all over now, it helped me to see, and it doesn’t matter who or what is to blame.

The only important consideration to me during the last quarter of 2010 was this: My initial preference to go full-tilt for a carefully selected, just-in-time lineup of the best imports, thus retaining the traditional balance between imported and domestic beer goodness at the Public House, increasingly was proving to be impossible to achieve. I could not expect to buy what I wanted, when I wanted it.

When it belatedly occurred to me that (a) this sort of disconnect was becoming steadily less of an impediment as it pertains to American-made craft beers, and (b) American-made craft beer was the reason we spent all that money in the first place, all the other pieces of the reform package puzzle quickly dropped into place.

Hence, imports dropped off my radar screen; I eagerly turned to formulating the parameters of the new beer program, and nothing was purchased for Gravity Head except American-made craft beers, which my assistants have proven quite capable of doing without prompting fro me.

And so, here we are with the first Gravity Head lineup preview of the year. There’ll be more to come on specific happenings scheduled for the fest’s run.

IN-STOCK/COMMITTED FOR GRAVITY HEAD 2011

We are committed to beginning Gravity Head 2011 with 50 listed beers. If we acquire more than that, some of these may be held until next year.

Vintage Dates: Only if we can verify that the beer in question is older than one year on February 25, 2011.

Key:
+ Brewers of Indiana Guild members
* Brewed in Kentuckiana
√ Imported

Provisional list:
√ Alvinne Podge Imperial Stout (firkin) 10.5%
*BBC (Main & Clay) Bearded Pat’s Barley Wine 2009 11%
*BBC (Shelbyville Road) Bourbon Barrel Wee Heavy 9.8%
*BBC (Shelbyville Road) Sam’s 'n' Adam's Bustin’ Lager
Bell’s Batch 9000 12.5%

Bell’s HopSlam 10%
Boulder Killer Penguin Barleywine 10%
Brooklyn Black Chocolate 10.6%
+Brugge Brasserie Quadripple 12%
Brooklyn Cuvee Noire 8.7%

Brooklyn Monster Ale 10.8%
Clipper City Heavy Seas Prosit! (Imperial Oktoberfest) 9%
+Crown Brewing (TBD)
Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA 2010 18%
Dogfish Head Burton Baton 2010 10%

Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout 2010 18%
Founders Backwoods Bastard 10.2%
Founders Black Biscuit 2010 10.5%
Founders Breakfast Stout 2009 8.3%
Founders Double Trouble 9.4%

Founders Devil Dancer 12%
Founders Imperial Stout 2009 10%
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout 2010 11.2%
Founders Nemesis 12%
+Great Crescent Bourbon’s Barrel Stout 8%

+Great Crescent Diabolicale 8%
Great Divide Espresso Oak-Aged Yeti 9.5%
Great Divide Oak-Aged Yeti 9.5%
Great Divide Old Ruffian Barley Wine 10.2%
√ Kulmbacher Eisbock 2010 9.2%

Left Hand Imperial Stout 10.4%
Left Hand Oaked Widdershins Barley Wine 2009 8.8%
*NABC/O’Fallon/Schlafly C2 Collaboration Ale 10.5%
+*NABC Jaxon (Barleywine) Circa 10%
*NABC Le Diable Blonde 2010 10.7%

+*NABC Thunderfoot 2010 11%
Rogue XS Russian Imperial Stout
Rogue XS Old Crustacean 2009 11.3%
√ Schneider Aventinus Eisbock 2010? 12%
Shmaltz He’Brew Jewbelation 13 2010 13%

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2001 9.6%
Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary “Our Brewers Reserve” 9.2%
Stone Double Bastard 2009 10.5%
Stone Old Guardian 2010 11.3%
Stone Russian Imperial Stout 2009 10.8%

Stone Vertical Epic 10/10/10 9.5%
+Sun King Dominator Doppelbock 8.1%
+Sun King Russian Imperial Stout (oak-aged, coffee-infused)
+Three Floyds (TBA … expect more than one)
Two Brothers 2009 Bare Tree 11%

+Upland Teddy Bear Kisses Imperial Stout 10.2%
+Upland The Ard Ri 9.25%
+Wilbur Brewing Country Mellow (Scotch Ale) 8%

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An assemblage of NABCs: It’s N.A.B.C.ieged III, beginning January 25.

The New Albanian Brewing Company has long embraced the metaphorical properties of innovation and inundation, and will continue these proud incantations on Tuesday, January 25, with the third incarnation of N.A.B.C.ieged.

This draft showcase at the Pizzeria & Public House (3312 Plaza Drive, New Albany) is all about us -- our NABC beers, as brewed at both our New Albany locations by brewers Jesse Williams & Jared Williamson, and David Pierce (Director of Brewing Operations).

Our brewers and their beers are the future of our business (and aesthetic) enterprise, and in 2011, the entire beer program at our traditional Pizzeria & Public House location is set to undergo an exciting metamorphosis as we reduce our carbon footprint, transition away from reliance on imports, and embrace an even greater advocacy of stylistic education, as reflected by the continuing gains of America’s craft beer revolution.

Including our own NABC revolution, hence: N.A.B.C.ieged III: Even More Than Before.

The idea is to have as many as possible of our own NABC beers on tap at one time at the Pizzeria & Pub (pour sizes and pricing to be determined). The event will last as long as the kegs do, and then we’ll begin preparations for Gravity Head, our annual paean to craft brewing’s outer extremities.

As during the inaugural N.A.B.C.ieged one year ago (a second edition was later held at Louisville Beer Store), we're showcasing these NABC drafts at the Pizzeria & Public House rather than Bank Street Brewhouse, for the simple reason that we have more available spouts for pouring. Last year’s record is 24. In 2011, we hope to beat it.

Given the amount of work required to swap all these kegs of beer and keep them pouring, say a silent prayer for brewer Jared Williamson, and beer managers Ben Minton and Eric Gray, who'll be doing the heavy lifting, literally.

---

The final lineup won’t be known until just before the curtain rises on January 25, but the list below is reasonably accurate.

Regulars (including *Session Series)
*Abzug
Beak’s Best
Bob’s Old 15-B
*Community Dark
Elector
Hoptimus
*Tafel Bier
Tunnel Vision

Brewer’s Best Friend Series
Abby’s Dubbel
Elsa von Horizon
Henna
Jasmine
Jaxon

Footed Stout Series
Cloven Foot
ThunderFoot
WeeFoot

Seasonals
Ackerman’s Imperial Double Stout (2011 Winterfest ReplicAle)
Amarillo (Single Hop)
Ancient Rage
Bonfire of the Valkyries
C2 New Albanian/O’Fallon/Schlafly collaboration)
Cascade (Single Hop)
ConeSmoker
ELI
Hop-O
Imperial Bonfire of the Valkyries
Le Diable Blonde
Le Douche Mentale
Oaked Ancient Rage
Oaktimus (16 months old?)
Saison de Houblon
Samu-Rye!
Solidarity

Casks
Sour Rye Belgian Strong (pin)
Dry Hopped Abzug (firkin)
Scotch Black Grass (pin)

For further information, contact me:

Roger A. Baylor, Carnival Barker
New Albanian Brewing Company
Public House & Pizzeria
Bank Street Brewhouse
Cell: 502-468-9710
New Albany, Indiana
roger@newalbanian.com

Monday, January 10, 2011

Office Hours tonight: German Wheat and Rye Beer.

Yes, I know: It's a slight let-down after the grandeur of last week's Imperial IPA festival, and yes, these wheat ales might be better understood in warmer weather, but as I explained last week, we might as well follow the BJCP's numerical pathway.

By popular demand: Comprehensive schedule for Office Hours with the Publican (through February 28).

We'll break out the Franziskaners, Weihenstephan, Schneiders and Aventinus (Doppelbock and Eisbock), but there'll be no Roggenbier, as they're almost impossible to find, and it is questionable whether they even merit separate designation ... but no one asked me, right?

Category 15 — German Wheat and Rye Beer

15A. Weizen/Weissbier
15B. Dunkelweizen
15C. Weizenbock
15D. Roggenbier (German Rye Beer)

Sunday, January 09, 2011

New Albanian Brewing Company to begin bottling in 22-oz “bomber” bottles.

(The "official" press release)

For the first time since 1935, commercially brewed beer will be bottled in New Albany in February, when the New Albanian Brewing Company begins packaging selected beers in 22-oz bottles ("bombers," in the argot of the biz).

NABC soon will commence bottling operations at its Bank Street Brewhouse location at 415 Bank Street in downtown New Albany.

The last known instance of commercially-licensed beer being brewed and bottled in New Albany was immediately after the repeal of Prohibition, when the Southern Indiana Ice & Brewing Company (also known as Ackerman’s) occupied the former Paul Reising premises from 1933 through 1935. A Holiday Inn Express now stands at the site.

NABC’s decision to package beer in bombers (22 ounce – 650 ml) reflects our preference for the communal utility of the size. Bombers contain two or more servings of beer, ideal for sharing among friends.

While craft canning was the original aim, bottling at our scale and size is more economically feasible in the short term. NABC intends to re-examine canning in the future, after bottling helps us gain experience in packaging.

NABC’s mint-condition, three-head bottle filler, designed for use at a Brew-on-Premise facility, was purchased from HDP of Canada. Reflecting NABC’s longtime brewing ethos, bomber bottling will be artisanal and small scale, but sufficient to expand availability to package stores and on-premise establishments lacking draft systems.

Federal label approval has been granted for Elector (Imperial Red), Elsa von Horizon (Imperial Pilsner) and Hoptimus (Imperial India Pale Ale).

Tony Beard's bomber label design for Elector.

Tony Beard's bomber label design for Elsa Von Horizon.

Tony Beard's bomber label design for Hoptimus.

Others will follow, and broadly speaking, NABC’s higher gravity ales and lagers will be the brands bottled in bombers. Of course, draft growlers of all our currently available beers still can be purchased at NABC’s two New Albany locations (Pizzeria & Public House Monday – Saturday; Bank Street Brewhouse Tuesday -- Sunday).

Initial bottle distribution will be in Floyd and Clark Counties (NABC self-distribution) and Jefferson County, Kentucky (River City Distributing). As bottling ramps up, availability will extend to the remainder of Indiana via Cavalier Distributing in Indianapolis.

For further information, contact me:

Roger A. Baylor, Carnival Barker
New Albanian Brewing Company
Public House & Pizzeria
Bank Street Brewhouse
Cell: 502-468-9710
New Albany, Indiana
roger@newalbanian.com

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Ackerman’s lives again: The 2011 BIG Winterfest ReplicAle is Imperial Double Stout ...

... an historic New Albany beer recipe reclaimed by the NABC brew team.

When Indiana’s craft brewers convene in Indianapolis for the annual Winterfest gala on Saturday, January 29, they’ll each bring a “ReplicAle.”

It’s a special one-time beer brewed by different Indiana brewing companies from the same basic recipe of malts and hops, but with their own local water and house yeasts.

The 2011 Winterfest recipe for ReplicAle, as researched and recreated by the New Albanian Brewing Company’s Jared Williamson and Jesse Williams, is Imperial Double Stout – an iconic product once brewed by New Albany’s long defunct Ackerman’s Brewery.

It has been three-quarters of a century since Imperial Double Stout was last seen hereabouts. Just after the repeal of Prohibition, it was formulated, brewed and distributed by the Southern Indiana Ice & Brewing Company, which was known locally as Ackerman’s Brewery.

Ackerman’s operated from 1933 to 1935 at the site of the former Paul Reising Brewing Company premises on the corner of West 5th and Spring Streets in New Albany. The brewery building was demolished in 1969 to make way for what is now the Holiday Inn Express.

In its brief heyday, Ackerman’s Imperial Double Stout was brewed only once each year, at Easter, as an early springtime treat for the brewery’s loyal customers.

Imperial Double Stout was meant as a substitute for Doppelbock, a German style traditionally served during Lenten fasts. It is rich, dark, strong and ideal for contemplative, cool-weather sipping.

As is customary, Winterfest attendees get the first chance to sample, contrast and compare Imperial Double Stout’s various reincarnations as brewed by breweries all across the state of Indiana.

Afterwards, limited amounts of NABC’s version of the elixir will be poured at NABC’s two New Albany locations, providing a tasty and educational glimpse into New Albany’s brewing past.

Jared’s and Jesse’s Imperial Double Stout recipe specifications:

Original Gravity: 20 degree Plato
Alcohol By Volume: Circa 8%
International Bittering Units: 35 – 40

Grist Bill:
80% Rahr 2-row Pale Malt
5% Briess Aromatic Malt
5% Briess Dark Chocolate Malt
5% Briess Roast Barley
2.5% Briess 80-degree Caramel Malt
2.5% Briess Cherry Smoked Malt

Hops:
Single addition at boil of your choice of hop, to achieve 35 - 40 IBU

Miscellany … Did you know:

Winterfest is an annual beer festival. In 2011, it takes place on Saturday, January 29, and offers the opportunity to sample over 150 beers from 50 different breweries – two ounces at a time. Winterfest is staged by the Brewers of Indiana Guild (BIG), whose members include all of Indiana's microbrewers and brewpubs. Other sponsors include World Class Beverages, Crown Liquors, NUVO, WTTS, Brewers Supply Group, and Briess. Winterfest is held at the Ag/Hort Building of the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. Proceeds from Winterfest benefit Joy's House, a charity that provides care for adults living with physical and mental challenges. Winterfest tickets are available online …

http://www.brewersofindianaguild.com/festival.html ... (with link to Etix)

… or at Crown Liquor stores in Indianapolis and environs.

NABC’s friends at Rick & Jeff Tours are offering motorcoach transportation to Winterfest 2011. The trip includes motorcoach transportation from Louisville to Indianapolis and back; Winterfest ticket; sample glass; program; and lunch & refreshments. The cost per person is $85. To reserve your spots, contact Rick at 502-314-6056 or rsouthward@insightbb.com.

The Brewers of Indiana Guild (BIG) is a non-profit 501(c) trade organization that focuses on promoting public awareness and appreciation for the quality and variety of beer produced in Indiana. With an all volunteer board, our members are dedicated to promoting responsible consumption of craft beer, while working to benefit a community larger than just our members.

Other brands brewed by New Albany’s iconic Ackerman’s brewery (1933-1935) included Amsterdamer Bock; Great Eagle; Gold Crest; India Pale Ale; Daniel Boone; Royal Munich; Vienna Select; and Old Rip.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Good reading: Pints and pubs in the UK.

For Friday reading, here are two recent articles surveying the state of drinks and pub culture in the UK. In the first, the sanctity of the pint measure is defended.

In praise of … the pint, editorial in The Guardian

There is a glass-half-full take on the government's blurry vision of beer being served in continental measures. Brits have an unfortunate tendency to pour strong foreign lagers – Stella, even Leffe – into a pint jar for which they were not intended, and to get poisonously pie-eyed in the process. But the solution is not to change the measure, it is to change the drink. The UK has a distinctive, venerable and varied tapestry of quality session ales, which can quite reasonably be slowly supped in decent quantities.

In the second, the history and current condition of the distinctly English pub and its pub culture are considered.

Public Houses: Time, gentlemen; an elegy on the British pub, by our obituaries editor, in The Economist

... The fate of the Hand & Racquet can be multiplied across Britain. Since 2005 more than 6,000 pubs have closed. Drive through the cities, and the once-proud Victorian keystones on every corner are likely to be shuttered and dead. Roam the suburbs, and the neat brick housing estates are haunted by mock-Tudor ghosts. Search the countryside, and increasingly only the strange, too-large front windows in a cottage, or an ornate iron sign-holder projecting from a wall, will tell you that a pub once stood here. More than half the villages in Britain now have no pub at all.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

But will it be comprehensive?

Just an FYI for Indiana residents.

Statewide smoking ban gains support in Indiana, by Lesley Stedman Weidenbener (Courier-Journal)

Support is building to make Indiana the 34th state in the nation to impose some kind of state-wide smoking ban, although questions remain about whether to exempt some businesses, including casinos and bars.

Forty cities, towns and counties in Indiana have imposed bans of varying reach, and supporters say they think 2011 could be the year the General Assembly passes a statewide restriction.

Big Flats 1901 Lager, now floor-stacked at a Walgreen's near you.



My friend M warned me about the advent of Big Flats 1901 Lager, which is the new Walgreen's house beer brand. The breathtaking price point of $2.99 for six "beers" seemingly is reinforced by floor stacking next to Mountain Dew and Pepsi, both soft drinks costing consumers roughly the same as the beer.

As I suffer from flashbacks pertaining to the Kroger Cost Cutter beer of olden times, permit me to note that Big Flats is brewed in Rochester, New York, meaning it's a Genessee contract brew. Here's a random review, which will have to suffice until I muster the courage to buy a sixer and sample it.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Wednesday Weekly: "Craft Beer Near the KFC Yum! Center."

My Wednesday Weekly today takes another trip into the Food & Dining magazine archives. The following (as originally submittted) appeared in F & D's fourth quarter 2010 edition. Forgive me for the craft establishment list not being exhaustive. When I wrote this piece three months in advance of publication, it was summertime. I'll do a follow-up when there's time!

---

“We’re pleased to be by the KFC Yum! Center for several reasons, and one of the best reasons is that so far, it’s all local businesses – not corporate – starting up nearby. It’s great to have the hometown guys be able to take advantage of serving the people visiting the arena and the downtown area.”
--Pat Hagan, Bluegrass Brewing Company

Louisville lived through the debates and drawings, watched the earthmovers and cranes converge on what always seemed an impossibly small and compressed plot of ground for installing 22,000 seats, and now the city has its new downtown arena. The venue cannot lay claim to a professional basketball team as tenant, but most area residents regard the University of Louisville’s Cardinals as far outstripping the NBA in importance when it comes to the intensity of their rooting loyalties.

My game is beer, and I routinely cheer for the side that offers the best selection of American-made, craft-brewed elixirs for my drinking and contemplative pleasure. Whatever the future occasion at Louisville’s freshly minted indoor palace, from ballgames to rock concerts, and including origami conventions, Boy Scout conclaves and massed baptisms, there’ll have to be good beer somewhere close at hand, before, during or after the particular event, or else I’ll stay home.

(At this juncture, I must confess that herculean self-restraint is required to resist certain wisecracks about fried chicken that have been queuing within my fevered and skeptical cranium these past months. Perhaps they owe to previous stillborn arena plans in the late 1990’s, when the fast food corporation then known as Tri Con proposed to purchase the rights to name it the KFC Bucket. By contrast, KFC Yum! Center is vastly preferable, and very nearly tasteful.)

As might be expected, the months-long run-up to the KFC Yum! Center has impacted far more than craft beer choices. It has created opportunity in all directions, even across the Ohio River, in Jeffersonville, where city government approved a request to operate water taxi service. Two years of arena construction in the epicenter of downtown Louisville has helped buck the recession by spurring redevelopment, as with the Whiskey Loft condos a stone’s throw across Second Street, and producing an immediately noticeable ripple effect in food and dining options.

As the BBC’s Hagan notes above, virtually all of these venues, whether pre-existing refurbishments or new build-outs, are locally owned and operated. Happily, most of them reflect the steadily growing preference of consumers for choice in beer. Good beer is popping up everywhere in proximity to the Cards’ new home, and rather than attempt an exhaustive listing of nearby establishments, which can be handily viewed in the map section of this magazine, I’ve chosen to focus instead on my personal “top three new” craft beer emporiums closest to the new arena, these being major investments obviously enabled by it, and unlikely to have come to life without the arena’s impetus.

Bluegrass Brewing Company

In 1993, Bluegrass Brewing Company became the second Louisville brewpub of our contemporary era, following just a year after the now defunct Silo Brewery broke ground. Back then, the first task facing BBC’s owners, the Hagan family, was to renovate an existing restaurant building in St. Matthews to serve as BBC’s primary brewing and dining facility, which it remains today.

BBC’s second location on 4th Street at Theater Square (2006) also required some preparation work, although just as a restaurant and bar, and without a working brewery as part of the package. Neither of these buildings was more than twenty years old when BBC moved into them.

For the new Arena BBC (300 W. Main), directly south of the KFC Yum! Center, the ever industrious Hagans took on their most labor-intensive start-up project to date, and in a truly venerable structure. Dining, drinking and brewing space to the tune of $1.4 million now occupies the basement and first floor of the seven-story Louisville Orchestra Building, formerly known as the Kentucky National Bank, a splendid 120-year-old example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Longtime BBC brewer Jerry Gnagy was there in late July, on duty, shoveling spent grain from the mash tun of a newly installed 15-barrel DME system. By September, the familiar starting lineup of BBC beers was flowing: American Pale Ale, Kolsch, Alt, Nut Brown, Dark Star Porter and Mead, alongside a handful of Gnagy’s idiosyncratic specialty brews, which double as ingredients in more than a few perennial menu favorites: Brewhouse Chili, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Beer Cheese and the batter for fried fish, among others.

I asked Pat Hagan to describe BBC’s success. He replied, “We’ve won numerous awards for our beers, and always stuck to our mission statement: To create bold, unique beers, quality affordable food, and serve them in a comfortable, family friendly atmosphere.”

Hagan might have added: Now appearing across from a major downtown arena near you.

Kentucky Ale Tap Room

Adjectives come and go, and so in the interest of brevity, I’ll describe the collegiate rivalry between the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky merely as “intense,” omitting various R-rated references. The first game between the UK Wildcats and the U of L Cards on the new home court of the Cards is slated for December 31, and craft beer lovers will note the irony being served on tap at tip-off.

That’s because the Alltech corporation inked a sponsorship agreement naming the sports bar on the arena’s main concourse after its house craft beer: The Kentucky Ale Tap Room, and, Kentucky Ale is brewed by Alltech’s Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company in Lexington, Kentucky, home of the University of Kentucky. However, there is far more to the Alltech story than clean, crisp ales, seemingly created as ideal accompaniments to epochal basketball contests.

Alltech, headquartered in Nicholasville, Kentucky, is a private, family-owned company with worldwide reach, specializing in natural ingredients used in animal, alcohol and food production, many of them involving the use of yeasts in manufacturing. It is because of this direct connection with fermentation science, the animating microorganisms of the beer world, and the Irish background (brewers as well as coopers) of Alltech’s colorful founder, Dr. Pearse Lyons, that brewing and distilling joined his business’s existing portfolio.

According to Jeremy Markle, Kentucky Ale’s one-man whirlwind of a Louisville sales staff, Alltech’s community commitment extends beyond craft beer in the Yum! Center, as attested by sponsorship of the World Equestrian Games earlier in the year, and partnerships with Louisville’s Muhammad Ali Center and Kosair Children’s Hospital.

Furthermore, Markle believes the Kentucky Ale Tap Room just might be a first in the entire nation. “As far as I know,” he says, “sponsorship of a major sports and entertainment venue by a local independent brewer is unprecedented.”

Alltech’s three year-round beers are Kentucky Ale, Kentucky Light, and Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, and they’re being be sold both within and outside of the arena’s signature tap room.

“Our products will be available on draft at multiple locations throughout the arena, including general concessions and mobile kiosks,” Markle explains. “The centerpiece Kentucky Ale Tap Room will be located on the main concourse at the north side of the arena. It will be the perfect spot to watch the game or concert, enjoy the river view, and never have to step more than a few feet away from good local craft beer on tap.”

There is no food served at the Kentucky Ale Tap Room, although arena concession stands are located nearby.

Patrick O’Shea’s Public House

In terms of technology and architectural design, as well as aesthetic appeal, the KFC Yum! Center symbolizes the cutting edge, a culmination of many interwoven, longstanding ideas and themes that have predated it.

The same is true for the new generation of American craft beer: Jerry Gnagy’s recipes for BBC incorporate centuries of brewing lessons painstakingly learned, and yet they’re now brewed in a sleek, proficient modern brewery, and with today’s far-ranging consumer tastes in mind.

Patrick O’Shea’s Public House, located at 123 West Main Street (a half-block east of the Yum! Center) is another example of the past rushing headlong into the present. It is an epic, crowning achievement, and the culmination of the O’Shea family’s prolific and successful half-century of hospitality in the food and drink business.

While deriving from all that has come before it, Patrick O’Shea’s is an instant present-day downtown landmark, both for its scale in the context of local ownership, and its adaptive reuse of an imposing historic structure on Whiskey Row, where sadly, the dilapidated east side of the block is threatened with demolition. Long recognized for his pubs and their philanthropic endeavors, Tom O’Shea now has become the darling of preservationists, and it’s easy to see why.

Patrick O’Shea’s is a joyous sensory overload. There is a tea room and huge custom-built bar; tin ceilings, balustrades and skylights; sturdy exposed masonry and stolid ceiling beams; decades-old inscriptions remaining on some interior walls from the whiskey warehouse days; balconies and a rooftop deck; an eerie sub-basement used for storage and refrigeration equipment; and probably enough seating space on multiple levels to accommodate an NCAA tournament game.

Food and drink offerings incorporate and expand the tested formula at three other O’ Shea’s pubs elsewhere in Louisville (O’Shea’s, Flanagan’s and Brendan’s), with dining options aplenty, ranging from steaks and pizza, to fish ‘n’ chips and salads.

The extensive Patrick O’Shea’s beer list is the real draw for me. It offers the most diverse overall stylistic selection within crawling distance of the new arena, including imported stalwarts like Guinness and random Belgians on tap, alongside rotating American craft ales.

You’ll see Stone and Dogfish Head, Magic Hat and Schlafly, and Louisville’s local brands, too. Malty or bitter, Germany or Wisconsin or London, fruity and sweet and sour … all the flavors and textures of the world’s brewing bounty get face time at Patrick O’Shea’s, and Tom O’Shea says he is ready for the Yum! Center’s event patrons, be they from near or far.

"We hope to educate the many visitors of our fine city to the great possibilities and wonderful beer offerings from our local and regional breweries,” he told me, “as well as the many, many distinct styles of beer from around the world."

The only problem for me is this: With Arena BBC and Patrick O’Shea’s to choose from – with a dozen other establishments serving good beer within walking distance – will I ever manage to make it inside the KFC Yum! Center to enjoy a Kentucky Ale with Jeremy Markle, at his company’s Tap Room?

Has anyone seen a ticket office?

We're the Bar Belle's reason to drink today.

Thanks Sara ... the Bar Belle (LEO) offers the Pizzeria & Public House as today's Today’s Reason To Drink:

This week, Rich O’s (aka Sportstime Pizza and/or New Albanian Brewing Co.) has gone smoke-free. Rich O’s is one of my favorite places in the area (try the stuffed mushrooms!), and I’ll admit that at times, it was a bit too smokey … just because of its close quarters. New Albany does not require its bars and restaurants to be smoke-free … yet. This was the decision of owner Roger Baylor.

He says, “This is entirely ownership’s decision, based on unanimous support from our employees, and we strongly believe the change places us squarely on the right side of history.”

Good for Roger and Rich O’s!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

By popular demand: Comprehensive schedule for Office Hours with the Publican (through February 28).

Monday’s edition of Office Hours with the Publican was a hop lover’s walk in the park, complete with mighty trellises bursting with piney goodness and fresh springtime hop shoots gently cooked in real butter.

Okay, so perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit, but attendees toured the realm of Imperial India Pale Ale/Double IPA/San Diego Pale Ale and came away more than sated.

Next, having experienced the sublime, we follow the BJCP’s numerical order and alight at one of my least favorite stylistic neighborhoods, German Wheat and Rye Beer. In response to questions about the likelihood of altering the order of the journey and making a detour past these German warm-weather beers, the Poo-Bah has ruled.

No.

If we follow the pre-marked pathway, we can arrive at Barleywines during Gravity Head, also setting aside certified Trappists for a night of their own. Here’s the tentative schedule:

Monday, January 10
Category 15 — German Wheat and Rye Beer
15A. Weizen/Weissbier
15B. Dunkelweizen
15C. Weizenbock
15D. Roggenbier (German Rye Beer) (no available examples)

Monday, January 17
Category 16 — Belgian and French Ale (minus certified Trappists)
16A. Witbier
16B. Belgian Pale Ale
16C. Saison
16D. Bière de Garde

Monday, January 24
Category 16 — Belgian and French Ale, continued (minus certified Trappists)
16E. Belgian Specialty Ale

Monday, January 31
Category 17 — Sour Ale
17A. Berliner Weisse
17B. Flanders Red Ale
17C. Flanders Brown Ale/Oud Bruin (?)
17D. Straight (Unblended) Lambic
17E. Gueuze
17F. Fruit Lambic

Monday, February 7
Office Hours takes a break so Roger can attend city council.

Monday, February 14
Category 18 — Belgian Strong Ale (minus certified Trappists)
18A. Belgian Blond Ale
18B. Belgian Dubbel
18C. Belgian Tripel
18D. Belgian Golden Strong Ale
18E. Belgian Dark Strong Ale

Monday, February 21
Certified Trappist Ale Night

Friday, February 25
Gravity Head 2011 (13th edition) begins.

Monday, February 28
Category 19 — Strong Ale
19A. Old Ale
19B. English Barleywine
19C. American Barleywine