Friday, February 17, 2012

The Publican’s Gravity Head Diary: Thoughts on New Holland, Sun King and Founders.

Following last year’s Great Taste of the Midwest, the Curmudgeons exited Wisconsin via Milwaukee, loading the Crown Vic onto the Lake (Michigan) Express to Muskegon, and then enjoying a short drive to Holland for a few days of rest and relaxation at the wonderful City Flats Hotel.

New Holland Brewing Company is situated a block away from the hotel, and one afternoon over beers with Fred Bueltmann, it occurred to me to ask whether New Holland would like to “open” Gravity Head 2012 in the same fashion as Three Floyds “headlined” the 2011 edition, with a mini-tap takeover at the beginning. Fred was amenable, and that’s why the New Holland contingent will be on tap all at once when this year’s Gravity Head begins next week.

In the past, we didn’t do things like this, but in my view, it’s vital to follow a pathway of constant reinvention. Wholesale changes seldom are necessary; rather, little changes have a way of keeping ideas fresh.

Yesterday I attended a meeting of the Brewers of Indiana guild, and Clay Robinson of Sun King asked me if Gravity Head 2012 might still be able to use a few additional kegs. Well, of course it would. In recent years, after establishing exactly what we had on hand during Gravity Head and making comprehensive lists and programs, we’ve still welcomed various kegs as “bonus” unlisted surprises -- cameos, as it were.

In this spontaneous fashion, and although they’ll not be listed on the 2012 Gravity Form, expect to see kegs of Sun King’s Dominator Doppelbock and Isis Imperial IPA during Gravity’s Head’s run.

Also, we’re expecting a selection or two from Three Floyds; Oak-Aged Doppelbock from Louisville’s Against the Grain; a keg of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech in Lexington, Kentucky; and gravity-dispensed Schlenkerla Eiche. There may yet be others. In the past, we didn’t run Gravity Head in this exact fashion, but nowadays, it sounds like fun, and so we do it. Do you see a pattern emerging?

Clay and I briefly discussed another beer-related item yesterday, and so I am highly pleased to announce that Sun King will take over the taps at the beginning of Gravity Head 2013, which will be the 15th such celebration. Might there be time for a Gravity Head collaboration brew between Sun King and NABC? Maybe, maybe not. You’ll just have to keep reading.

Meanwhile, there have been a handful of questions and comments since the Gravity Head starting lineup was released, and most of them have been about our decision to place all of the Founders beers in a phalanx, and execute a second bold tap takeover two weeks into the revelry.

In explaining this, it is helpful to remember that no matter what we do, all Gravity Head beers cannot be poured at once, for the simple reason that it isn’t the way we choose to operate the fete. Gravity Head is a state of mind that lasts for weeks, and from the start, the guiding principle has been to accommodate our regular customers throughout the Greater Louisville area by providing successive, undulating waves of higher-gravity goodness.

The Founders “second wave” tradition has evolved over the past three or four years. Founders wares are distributed in Indiana by Cavalier, and it has been convenient for Mat to bring the whole crew down from Indianapolis to visit on an early March date, after Gravity Head has already begun. It also is convenient for John Host of Founders to be here during the same time.

In logistical terms, after the zany hysteria of opening weekend, our collective livers begin to flag as the Gravity Daze inexorably accumulate. By grouping all the Founders beers into a bloc, we can create the effect of relaunching Gravity Head, serving as the second half kickoff. We get to spend some time with John and Cavalier, and there is much happiness in the land.

One thing’s for sure: There will continue to be tinkering with the Gravity Head concept. Gravity Head may have started as my idea, but in the years since inception, thoughts and ideas from numerous other employees, guests, brewers and passers-by have gone toward making it into what you see now. Even I can’t say for sure what it will look like in five years. Comments or suggestions? Let me know, and thanks for your patronage.

No comments: