Sunday, December 30, 2012

NABC Pizzeria (sans Public House) open 11 - 5 on New Year's Eve.

The NABC Pizzeria (sans Public House; pizza side only) will be open on Monday, December 31 (New Year's Eve), from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Last call and kitchen closing will be at 4:30 p.m., and all NABC drafts will be on special, including Hoosier Daddy, which is appropriate seeing that Indiana University opens Big 10 play on Monday afternoon.

Both the Pizzeria/Public House and Bank Street Brewhouse will be closed on January 1 (New Year's Day), reopening on Wednesday, January 2. Note that on Wednesday, Bank Street Brewhouse will open at 2:00 p.m.

Speaking personally: Thanks to all of you who make NABC possible. We appreciate it, and we're looking forward to a great 2013.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Oy, vey: Are you ready for "Economic Beer Gardening"?

With more than 20,000 professional economic developers employed world wide in this highly specialized industry, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) headquartered in Washington, D.C. is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping economic developers do their job more effectively and raising the profile of the profession.
-- Wikipedia

A friend forwarded this to me, and commented wryly: "In a profession ripe with terminology and various acronyms, please add Economic Beer Gardening to the list."

This I have done. Now, get your asses to gardening, ED people.

Everybody's into "buying local" nowadays. Why should your beer be any different?

Microbreweries offer substantial opportunities for communities. Not only do they allow for re-using vacant space, they also create local jobs; attract new companies or expand existing ones; and increase the tax base. In IEDC's first web seminar of 2013, you will hear the academic, professional, and practitioner perspectives on how microbreweries help grow their local economies.

Attend our web seminar on Economic Beer Gardening and:

• Hear from the perspective of a microbrewer, the steps that an economic development professional can take to attract and support microbreweries to their community.

• Learn from detailed new data that supports the strong economic impact of microbreweries, including growth potential, job creation, and growth in tax revenue.

• Understand the importance of place-making in nurturing microbrewery growth and how to capitalize on the success of microbreweries in your community.

• See how buzz created from local breweries can impact everything from tourism to research at your local university; lessons learned by our experts can help you as you explore microbreweries potential in your community or look to capitalize on those already pouring pints and growlers.


Scott Metzger
Adjunct Professor of Economics, University of Texas-San Antonio
Founder & CEO, Freetail Brewing Co.
Texas Craft Brewers Guild Board of Directors
San Antonio, TX

One of several recent academic studies on the economic impact of microbreweries was completed by Scott Metzger of the University of Texas-San Antonio. Scott completed the study on behalf of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, where he is also a member of their Board of Directors. Scott, in addition to being a well-respected economist, is also the owner of the popular Freetail Brewing Co. in San Antonio. He will share with attendees his extensive knowledge related to the economic development impact of microbreweries, experiences opening a brewery, as well as his advice for how best to nurture microbreweries in your community.

Ben Teague
Senior Vice President, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce
Executive Director, Economic Development Coalition
Asheville, NC

Ben Teague, Senior Vice President of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director of the Asheville, NC-based Asheville Economic Development Coalition has years of experience working with microbreweries in his community. Asheville, NC, current holder of the title 'Beer City USA,' is home to 11 microbreweries. They also recently secured deals with larger craft brewers New Belgium Brewery (Colorado), Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (California), and Oskar Blues Brewery (Colorado) to invest hundreds of millions dollars in the Asheville-Buncombe County region of North Carolina. Ben has previously been a featured speaker on the subject of microbreweries and will share with participants his experience in working with local microbrewers and larger craft breweries and the impact they can have on the broader community.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Is West Sixth IPA is Kentucky’s best beer? Insider Louisville says "yes."

As a whole, it's a solid overview of the local brewing scene, with emphasis on the state of Kentucky's rapidly evolving craft beer presence.

Why 2012 is the Year of the Beer, and why West Sixth IPA is Kentucky’s best, by Michael Tierney (Insider Louisville)

Put down your gin-and-tonics gents, and grab yourself an IPA, because micro-brew beer drinking was the biggest, yet subtle, trend in Louisville this wonderful year we have to call 2012.

Tierney's choice for "beer of the year" is West Sixth Brewing Company (Lexington) IPA, and he does a good job of explaining why cans in the contemporary era are not an off-putting development.

The Lexington based brewing company has doubled its brewing capacity in less than a year. West Sixth IPA went out in kegs and cans last April, and the demand curve has risen faster than a rocket to the moon.


Simply, it’s all in the taste.

West Sixth is a refreshing IPA, with a blend of flavor, a wonderful color and a pleasing aroma.

It’s like the beer danced with the fruit of the rainforest, then decided to marry off and settle in a nice 12 oz. aluminum can.

It really is to die for.

It would be churlish of me to quibble with the choice, because West Sixth's IPA is quite good. However, I can hint ever so gently that the prose styling is, well, a wee bit gushy and reads like ad copy.

But that's why I'm a curmudgeon, isn't it?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bet you didn't know about the "chemist's war of Prohibition."

Very seldom does one encounter a story like this; indeed, it has been little-told, and it deserves your full attention. These excerpts should be enough to make you angry, but after reading the entire essay, there'll be major outrage. Thanks to RC for bringing this to our attention.

The Chemist's War: The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition with deadly consequences, by Deborah Blum (Slate)

... Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.

Although mostly forgotten today, the "chemist's war of Prohibition" remains one of the strangest and most deadly decisions in American law-enforcement history. As one of its most outspoken opponents, Charles Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City during the 1920s, liked to say, it was "our national experiment in extermination."

The big enforcement issue during Prohibition was stolen industrial alcohol. The denaturing formula is hard reading, indeed.

To sell the stolen industrial alcohol, the liquor syndicates employed chemists to "renature" the products, returning them to a drinkable state. The bootleggers paid their chemists a lot more than the government did, and they excelled at their job. Stolen and redistilled alcohol became the primary source of liquor in the country. So federal officials ordered manufacturers to make their products far more deadly.

By mid-1927, the new denaturing formulas included some notable poisons—kerosene and brucine (a plant alkaloid closely related to strychnine), gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. The Treasury Department also demanded more methyl alcohol be added—up to 10 percent of total product. It was the last that proved most deadly.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Coomes: "C-J’s star ratings are an offense to serious restaurants."

Steve's point is well-taken, and my point in passing it along is for you, the beer enthusiast, to apply the same variety of skepticism to the beer ratings that guide your purchases.

I might add that in a strict Louisville-centric context, Steve might be guilty of piling on. As much as I cherish the writing of the Courier-Journal's restaurant critic Marty Rosen, whom I consider the local gold standard of erudition, the newspaper's overall influence and reach continue to wane. Who actually is reading the paper and seeing the stars?

Stars and Gripes: C-J’s star ratings are an offense to serious restaurants, by Steve Coomes (Insider Louisville)

Really? Proof and Asiatique are only one star better than a grilled cheese shop and a bar?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Two non-work days, Saturnaliacs.

It was the winter solstice on Friday, and another great time to remind all and sundry of the thoroughly pagan origins of the contemporary holiday season. In ancient Rome, this was Saturnalia time, and we recall the wise words of Catullus, who referred to Saturnalia as "the best of days."

I can deal with the egregiousness of the modern co-opted holidaze so long as we keep it naturalistic, and remember the Romans for their template. So, fine wishes, Saturnaliacs and more recent observers of Festivus, and to all a good pint, hopefully more.

For the record: Both NABC locations will be closed today and tomorrow, the 24th and 25th of December, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Both locations will reopen on Wednesday, December 26.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Brewers of Louisville: Leah Dienes, as profiled by LEO's Sara Havens.

Unfortunately, I didn't think to post this link until after Apocalypse Brew Works had its "Drink Beer 'Til the End" party on the 21st. No matter; I was able to drop by Apocalypse on Friday afternoon, enjoy a quick beer, and say hello to Leah and the gang.

2012 People Issue: The Brewmaster — Leah Dienes, by Sara Havens (LEO Weekly)

Most of us sit chained to our desks from 8-5 dreaming of a better job, a thinner body and a fatter wallet. Very few of us are actually able to break those chains to pursue what it is we really want to do. Leah Dienes loved to brew beer and knew she was good at it. She won competition after competition during her 15 years as a home brewer and was tired of shilling out her swill for free to thirsty friends. So last Derby, she opened her own bar/brewhouse, Apocalypse Brew Works, with some fellow home brewers. The dozen or so taps have been flowing ever since.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

As the Budweisers still battle, let's look back to 1997 and "Anheuser-Busch, Gone Home."

Last week, I found myself in the highly peculiar position of agreeing with Charlie Papazian: Finally! Red hot controversy as (gasp) Brewers Association speaks the truth about mockrobrew.

The zombie craft beer bots went berserk on Thursday as the Brewers Association and fellow travelers launched a long overdue assault-by-press-release on "domestic non-craft" beer producers: "Brewers Association’s Papazian and Pease, Schlafly’s Kopman call out ‘faux-crafts’"

Given my rhetorical history with Charlie, this occurrence had me a wee bit disoriented.

Charlie Papazian? Spare me, will you? (2007)

I’ll remember Papazian as an appeaser first, and a merchandiser second, and there is precious little evidence to suggest that I should change my opinion at this late date and elevate “leader” anywhere near either of these judgments.

Well, what the hell; even a stopped analog clock is right twice a day, and even if full-blown spiritual crises has come from far less, I'm older, wiser and more barrel-aged than before, and thus far, a Robby the Robot's "this does not compute" reaction has been avoided. Yesterday, Twitter pointed me to an article making the point that the 106-year war is ongoing.

Talks collapse in fight over Budweiser name (USA Today)

CESKE BUDEJOVICE, Czech Republic (AP) — They've been arguing about a name for 106 years. A small brewer in the Czech Republic and the world's biggest beer maker have been suing each other over the right to put the word Budweiser on their bottles.

The dispute appears likely to continue a while longer now, because settlement talks between state-owned Budejovicky Budvar and Anheuser-Busch, a U.S. company now part of AB InBev, have collapsed, according to Budvar's director general, Jiri Bocek.

This can only mean that it's time to rewind, back to 1997 and an essay I wrote after returning from the Czech Republic. My first visit to Ceske Budejovice came in 1989, during the Communist period, and eight years passed before a second stay in 1997, which is the one recounted here.

Most recently, I had the pleasure to return in September, 2004. Through all three visits, the hundred year war between Budvar and Anheuser-Busch persisted, flaring periodically in courtrooms throughout the world. By this time, Budvar had sidestepped Anheuser-Busch’s restraint of trade by exporting to selected markets in America under the name Czechvar.

By 2004, the wonderful Masne Kramy beer hall had been closed for quite some time, supposedly awaiting renovation, but we found dozens of pubs and restaurants serving Budvar. It's worth noting that Three Sticks never responded to my challenge.

Here's the larger issue, at least to me: Now that almost two decades have passed since Charlie Papazian brushed me off on precisely this topic, and he finally has taken note of the threat to good beer posed by the gargantuans of bad beer -- a threat enhanced by AB-InBev, but one present all along -- I'm finding the taste of vindication to be quite nice, indeed.



1. From Bohemia’s Meadows and Groves.

Ceske Budejovice’s central square is just that: Square. It is a vast, perfectly symmetrical, open area surrounded on four sides by the beautiful Renaissance and Baroque arcaded buildings that are the city’s most memorable architectural feature. In the very center of the square, there is a fountain -- dormant in winter -- and a dramatic statue of Samson slaying a lion.

Any symbolism to come is purely intentional, but it won’t have to do with Ceske Budejovice’s other brewery, which is named after the Samson statue, and which itself hasn’t done any big game hunting lately.

The powder-blue facade of the recently renovated town hall is to the southwest of the statue. To the northeast is the Black Tower, a belfry and watchtower that was finished 200 years before America’s Declaration of Independence was written.

On the northwest corner of the square, a narrow street leads north, in the direction of Prague, which is a hundred miles away. On the street, where not so long ago dingy COMECON outlets peddled Bulgarian embroidery, East German cameras and Polish strawberry preserves behind dark, imposing, distant counters loosely monitored by dozing and easily offended sales clerks, there now are bright, new shops boasting fancy mirrors and track lighting, which offer current fashions in clothing, expensive jewelry, and the latest in Korean consumer electronics. These attest to the post-Communist awakening and provide stark, almost nostalgic counterpoint to this traveler’s memories of the ancien regime.

A block or so up this street lies the Masne Kramy, which must be counted as one of the top beer halls in all of Central Europe. For three centuries, the building housed Ceske Budejovice’s meat market, where the butchers operated their stalls behind the low, arched arcades on both sides of a long, central hall. Now the hall and the surrounding alcoves are filled with neat wooden tables covered by bright red and white cloths, dotted with coasters and centered with glass ashtrays, all bearing the logo of Budweiser Budvar (or Budejovicky Budvar), the city’s most famous brewery supplier of the Masne Kramy’s exquisite beer.

The beer hall boasts a bountiful dining menu of inexpensive, well-prepared Czech dishes -- pork in all its baked, fried and cured manifestations, tangy goulash soup, rich farm-raised carp, dense potato dumplings and sugar-laden desserts -- but only one beer is available: Budvar, the Beer of Kings, which is dispensed in half-liter mugs for the stupefyingly low price (yet still expensive by local standards) of about 55 cents, American. The lager is golden, creamy and superbly balanced. In the best tradition of like-minded establishments, barmen work constantly at filling and topping off mugs of beer, which are brought to the patron’s table by efficient waiters who continue to line them up until a signal to stop is given, cash is exhausted or unconsciousness sets in ... and sometimes not even then.

On the opposite side of the street, a couple of doors down, there is a lonely, unpopulated cafe front. It is scrubbed, modern and attractive, and it seems out of place, almost as much so as the banners that once were unfurled in streets like this one to announce the fraternal solidarity of the Czech and Soviet people, and were later removed and cut into strips for use as toilet paper.

There is a tidy glass case to the left of the door. It was meant to display the establishment’s offerings; instead, a handsome sign in the case informs passers by, in Czech and in English, that the cafe has closed as of the first of the year. This already dated announcement immediately produces more curiosity than sadness, primarily because the cafe seems so very alien to the environment around it. One notices the red, white and blue rectangle of a foreign flag, and further imagines a strange metallic Missouri arch staring out from the menu case, and these images are overtaken and pushed aside by the reflection in the glass of the vintage local stone arches lining the elderly Czech street.

The Masne Kramy is only a few doors down on the other side of the street, its venerable, confident facade gently mocking the gutted corpse of the fallen interloper. The questions are inevitable. Who was the invader, the intruder, the outsider who couldn’t cut the Bohemian mustard and had to shut down? What sort of creature was this that swaggered into town, boasting of its reputation, brandishing its wallet and peeling off large bills in a humorless parody of the way that the Russians paraded their tanks through the squares and handed out plastic Lenin pins and the charming prospect of a fun-filled holiday in Odessa if the Czechs remained nice little boys and girls and followed the Plan?

2. Hello, We Must Be Going.

In the end, the now-vacant retail floor space was far more than just a spiffy cafe where people could relax and read American newspapers, or attend English language lessons while drinking Folgers and idly dreaming of the Yellow Brick Road that leads from every Wal-Mart to the ice-cold Bud Light on draft at Appleby’s.

The defunct St. Louis Cultural Center wasn’t a cafe. It was meant to be a nice, big, fat, succulent carrot to be waved in the deprived, grubby faces of the citizens of Ceske Budejovice, those only recently roboticized socialist drones, and one meant to entice them, to inflate (and fellate) their expectations, and to purchase their acquiescence as Anheuser-Busch negotiated for a stake in the city’s famous brewery. It was the American imperialist’s Trojan Horse, its magnanimous surface glitter concealing the industrial technologists, the glassy-eyed bean counters, the soulless pitch men and the corporate strategists without whom A-B would be nothing more than a mere brewer of second-rate beer.

This oxymoronic cultural center in Ceske Budejovice was one of the most obvious incentives dangled by the Busches, who’ll never be accused of grasping concepts like subtlety and irony, but the ostensibly benevolent Anheuser-Busch steamroller didn’t spare the rod during the time when it coveted Budvar. There was always the unsavory prospect of

Anheuser-Busch choosing to lay siege to Budvar through endless, full-court litigation conducted by generations of lawyers bankrolled by the Busch billions. There was the announcement that A-B would drastically reduce the amount of Czech hops that it buys, and the company’s subsequent denials that this wicked blow to Czech hop exports amounted to blackmail, and the universal wonderment that ensued given the absence of any existing olfactory evidence of hops in A-B’s factory-brewed beers.

But in the end, no agreement was reached, and the American giant’s advances were spurned virtually on all fronts, and now the techno-brewing colossus is busy doing its own little bit for the ignoble cause of historical revisionism. It says that it all was a misunderstanding of sorts, and that it didn’t really ever want Budvar, and it doesn’t need to achieve an agreement on the 100-year-old copyright dispute that has bedeviled the philanthropic slumber of generations of degraded Busch imperial chieftains, and after all, Europeans love Budweiser from America even if it can’t be labeled that way in a number of European countries ... and, by the way, since we no longer have any business interests in the Czech Republic ... well, you know how it goes with purely business decisions ... not that we don’t still love you and are motivated by a shining altruism that transcends crass commercial considerations ... but we’ll have to close the St. Louis Cultural Center.

First the oppressive Soviets left, and now the carpet bagging Americans. Can true freedom be very far behind?

3. We Have Met the Enemy ...

For those readers who have been slumbering on the swampy rocks along with the cute and cuddly Anheuser-Busch coterie of frogs, ants, alligators and two-toed sloths, it’s been almost three years since the Campaign for Real Ale sounded the alarm that Anheuser-Busch was intensifying its efforts to buy into the Czech Republic’s Budweiser Budvar brewery as a means of resolving the long standing copyright dispute between the two companies, and in malicious intent if not in actual press release, seeking the effective decimation of the Czech brewery that has spent most of this century proudly refusing to prostrate itself at the feet of the Great Satan of the planet’s -- the universe’s -- brewing industry.

Although CAMRA’s warning wasn’t the first issued by parties concerned by A-B’s predatory designs on Budvar, it was a wake-up call for those American beer aficionados who hadn’t previously recognized the nature of the threat to the future of real, traditional beer that will continue to exist for so long as companies like Anheuser-Busch remain free to roam the earth. This may strike some as a harsh judgment, but it is a necessary one, and it is being seconded by an increasing number of beer authorities, including beer writer Fred Eckhardt, who recently went public with the thought that so many have expressed only privately for so long: Anheuser-Busch is the enemy.*

(A Brief Aside: Charlie Papazian, are you reading? Or does the plight of southern Africa’s small, local sorghum beer makers interest you more than the dismantling of Budvar? Shouldn’t they both interest you? Are you speaking publicly now? And just how much do events like the Great American Beer Festival depend on the largesse of the zymurgicidal assassins in St. Louis? Charlie, there are so many questions for you to answer, but so few actual words coming from you ...)

4. ... and Anheuser-Busch Is the Enemy ...

... and yet consider the difficulties that we face as we attempt to make this point to those who’ve never considered the dreary legacy of the seemingly innocuous product that they unthinkingly swallow while watching the tube, changing the oil, playing softball and dreaming from the waist.

To millions of Americans, it is an article of faith beyond any question that Anheuser-Busch exists somewhere in a rarefied utopia of patriotic, mythological symbols that include Ozzie, Harriet, apple pie, baseball when Kennesaw Mountain Landis called the shots, Abraham Lincoln, Manifest Destiny and eagerly scoring with a nubile cheerleader in the frigid back seat of a ‘57 Chevy parked by a barn following the homecoming basketball game, and being utterly unrepentant about it during Sunday School the following morning .

Millions effortlessly accept this image of Anheuser-Busch, one that is enforced by the incessant, digitally-enhanced clatter of the brewer’s public relations and marketing mega-machine, one whose cost exceeds that of the gross national product of most Third World nations and contributes mightily to the price of a "beer" that is filled to the brim with rice, fermented in a couple of hours, lagered for less than the two weeks that entry level American workers meekly accept as the duration of their paid vacations until they’ve somehow managed to avoid termination for ten to fifteen years, and elevated to the status of reigning religious trademark icon for little other reason than a cacophony of advertising that is so venal and patronizing and pervasive that Josef Goebbels surely spins in his grave at the recognition that his notion of the Big Lie has been so brutally corrupted by these robber barons of the buzz biz.

However, in a perverse and backhanded sort of way, perhaps Anheuser-Busch does indeed symbolize the so-called American Dream, in the sense that the idealized, sanitized American Dream is a tricky coin with two radically different sides. On one side the familiar platitudes are arrayed: purple mountain majesty, pursuit of happiness, we the people, the

King of Beers. On the other side, realities intrude, and by dawn’s early light we see the malignant, slimy, exploitative underbelly: The glorification of ends achieved by any means, the corruption engendered by power for the sake of power, the cancerous ideology of growth for the sake of growth.

To be sure, Anheuser-Busch isn’t the only company that rose to a position of prominence by destroying its competitors, by bribing, by threatening, by extorting, by fixing prices, and by caring not one jot about the destruction -- and the utterly vapid sterility -- left in its bullying and arrogant wake. Not the only one, but the best example that we have in the world of beer, which A-B dominates like a mutant Godzilla.

Of course, the ultimate irony is that the vise-grip of A-B’s market share is perpetually tightened by the brand loyalty of those who aren’t able, or interested, or willing, to try and look past the shameless propaganda blitzkrieg to glimpse the savage realities -- the exceedingly relevant truths -- that lurk beneath the motifs of Americana that are exalted and perpetuated by the company’s pervasive public relations machine.

5. Which Bud’s For You?

All I want to know is this: How many of the people -- the common people, just plain folks, the silent majority, the man in the street -- who lift Budweiser to their lips in a daily ritual of patriotic affirmation are using the Busch family’s alcoholic soda pop as a medicinal salve; a few cold beers to wash away the frustration of another long working day caught in the tentacles of regimented, corporate America, at the mercy of tyrannical multinational corporations who can buy and sell them a billion times over, chew them up, spit them out, run rampant, fill the pockets of upper management even as the individual is being down sized into a taco-slinging, minimum-wage nonentity ... and yes, that would be the very same sort of bloated, multinational corporation that has created the blessed, nearly frozen medicine, the aluminum-clad balm, and has done so by way of a cynical agro-industrial process, and now the drinker is angrily slamming the fragile can to the unsuspecting surface of the bar top in a fit of impasioned rage at the economic injustice of the evil multinational corporations without ever grasping that the product in his hand is part and parcel of it, a bulwark against the intrusion of craft-anything, and inexorably woven into the fabric of the evil that he so loudly detests.

The cure is the disease ... but just try making the point to someone who is convinced that the eagle on the dollar bill is the same one on the Anheuser-Busch logo, and that both nest in the nostrils of George Washington’s nose on the face of Mt. Rushmore. As H. L. Mencken said, "Human beings never welcome the news that something they have long cherished is untrue: they almost always reply to that news by reviling its promulgator."

I’ll consider myself reviled.

6. Might Doesn’t Always Make Right.

I find myself back on the street in Ceske Budejovice, at night, watching, listening, savoring the memory of the Slovak band playing that time in the Masne Kramy, the sausages and ham and cabbage, the seemingly endless and always amazing mugs of draft Budvar, and the odd, nagging, Biblical notion that just as the moneychangers were purged from the temple, so were the brewing Philistines evicted from the storefront across the street to beat a hasty and humiliating retreat back to the rice paddies of St. Louis. It is worth noting that Budvar is thriving in the post-Communist milieu, in spite of A-B’s protestations that Budvar would do better under the protective, big brotherly wing of the St. Louis-based brewing Medusa.

Indeed, the spectacle of America’s arrogant brewing Goliath’s defeat at the hands of the small, yet resourceful, Czech David has proven to be the most enjoyable moral saga of our age. How many action/adventure flicks starring luminaries like Steven Seagal and Sly Stallone have yielded such a stirring, enjoyable, feel-good outcome of justice prevailing over the forces of gloom and doom? However, we’re lacking a true resolution to the saga, a fitting closure, something to make sense of it all. How’s this for an unexpected plot twist: Evil empire shocks the world by conceding defeat graciously, and offers a surprising, sensible, overdue trophy to the victor and a treat for the long-suffering, beer-loving spectators.

7. And So, A Public Challenge to the Missouri Kremlin.

Why can’t we buy Budvar here in the United States, the alleged bastion of the free market? Basically, we can’t buy it because Anheuser-Busch won’t permit it to be sold here.

Thus, I’ll bring this tantrum to a close by issuing a personal challenge to August Busch III, patriarch of the world’s largest industrial manufacturer of semi-beer-like liquids, and to set the table, I’d like to remind him of the words of former President Ronald Reagan. During his second term, President Reagan stood before the single most recognizable symbol of the Cold War, the cruel barrier that divided Berlin, and said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

I consciously echo this thought by asking August Busch III to permit the sale of Budvar in the United States, and to do it under whatever label Budvar chooses, whether it be Budweiser Budvar, or Budejovicky Budvar, or Budvar, or

Budvar the Anti-Busch Magic Elixir, or any other name it desires. Mr. Busch, for once in the long and sordid history of the Busch imperial dynasty, just do it; do the right thing; and do it irrespective of whether America’s Budweiser is or isn’t permitted to be sold in the Czech Republic at the present time. They’ve endured enough hardship this century, so let them exclude your beer if they want and explain it to the world in their own fashion. The pet shampoo market in the Czech Republic isn’t that big, anyway.

Of course, acceptance of my challenge will require a ranking Busch czar to seek the high ground, to sprout gills and dive to the bottom of the ocean and discover Atlantis, to run a one-minute mile, to balance the Empire State Building on a six-pack of King Cobra, and to swallow a century's worth of stubborn and egotistical vanity -- it’ll be unfamiliar territory, to put it mildly -- but damn it, why not let us, all of us, beer snob and supermarket case sale shopper alike, decide which of these two, Czech Budvar or American Budweiser, truly represents the best that beer can be. Anheuser-Busch insists that the two beers aren’t alike and pose no threat to each other, so why the continuing, pique-fueled blockade?

How ‘bout it, Auggie III? How ‘bout it, Auggie IV, heir to the throne?

Any one care to guess which one will receive my vote? Mine’s a Budvar, prosim ... and keep them coming until the crowns run out and the last imperialist has headed home to St. Louis.


* Eckhardt’s article originally appeared in All About Beer magazine, and was reprinted in Walking the Dog #78 (March, 1997).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

End of the World: A zombie-themed downtown NA trolley hop on Friday, December 21.

Daniel Suddeath of the News and Tribune provides coverage, so get the whole explanation there.
NEW ALBANY — If some interpretations of the Mayan calendar are right, and the world meets its demise Friday, is there a better way to go than to be with friends enjoying a night of entertainment in downtown New Albany?

Better yet, how about a zombie walk and trolley hop to boot?

All that and more is in store, as 10 downtown establishments are participating in the End of the World Zombie Walk.

Matt McMahan, owner of The Irish Exit and The Warehouse Hookah Bar, headed the effort to organize the event. Two trolleys will provide free trips between the destinations for patrons from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Along with McMahan’s establishments, other downtown restaurants participating include Wick’s Pizza, Hugh E. Bir’s Cafe, River City Winery and the New Albanian Brewing Co.’s Bank Street Brewhouse.

REWIND: "Charlie Papazian? Spare me, will you?"

First published on August 15, 2007. I'm rewinding it as background for this: As the Budweisers still battle, let's look back to 1997 and "Anheuser-Busch, Gone Home."


While in Madison, Wisconsin, joyfully prepping for my very first Great Taste of the Midwest craft beer extravaganza, I experienced two separate Charlie Papazian sightings, and as expected, neither time did I feel the adrenaline necessary to rush forward through a mass of humanity to ask the presumed legend for his autograph.

That’s because I don’t necessarily agree with the apparent majority view that exalts Papazian as deserving of cuddly legend status, at least not without a close, dispassionate and contextual examination of his role in the beer and brewing revolution.

I believe that such an examination proves that Papazian whiffed time and again in his most important at-bats, and I’m just a wee bit prickly about it.

The old-timers among you will remember that back in the early to mid-1990s, when craft brewing was young, I was often outspokenly critical of Papazian, documenting my reasons in the pages of “Walking the Dog,” the now defunct print version of the FOSSILS newsletter.

In fairness, I always freely credited Papazian with advancing the tenets of homebrewing, and consistently acknowledged that his mantra of, “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew,” more than aptly held its own as sound advice considering the vagaries of the hobby itself. However, I held that when applied to the larger, evolving and often hostile market that commercial brewers were then entering, such serial passivity was detrimental to the radicalism necessary to successfully pursue our aims.

That a homebrewer like Papazian became a contributing factor in the commercial realm – someone who was looked to for leadership – certainly speaks both to the universal need for a front man in times of crisis as well as to Papazian’s own sizeable ego and ambitions. The burgeoning Colorado-based fiefdom he built and nurtured, from sideline to day job, purported to speak for homebrewer and professional brewer alike, but the maintenance and perpetuation of the fiefdom curiously seemed always to take precedence over Papazian’s willingness to speak out, speak openly and speak forcefully.

Instead of leadership, we were handed appeasement.

We asked Papazian to speak out against megabrewery attack ads deriding craft beer and homebrewing, and there was nothing but silence as the megabreweries responsible for the lamentable condition of the American brewing industry continued to occupy cash-driven pride of place just beyond the Great American Beer Festival entryway and captured yearly style categories expediently invented to give them something to blush about as they wrote the checks … and Papazian cashed them.

How did that help the movement, Charlie?

Most galling of all, in 1994, we asked Papazian to join Britain’s CAMRA and speak out publicly against Anheuser-Busch’s marauding aggression against the Czech Republic’s Budvar brewery, and the response was the same: Stone-deaf obstinance, except this time Papazian found the words – the legal jargon -- to expressly forbid us from quoting his words of refusal to say the truth aloud, and to threaten us with a lawsuit if we did.

Now that’s leadership. Charlie Chaplin's "little tramp" would have been bolder, and might have even put the ball into play.

Through it all, the Papazian cult of personality has continued to grow and prosper, and as it pertains to individual brand building, I’m all for self-aggrandizement, but when it is parlayed from a position of assumed collective authority that seldom has been taken for a spin outside the protection of the master’s Boulder garage, it’s far less impressive to me.

A savvy self-promoter? Of course.

The creative builder of a beery Rocky Mountain empire as a means of career advancement? Absolutely.

Unfortunately, these achievements, while noteworthy, simply do not combine to produce a great leader.

I’ll remember Papazian as an appeaser first, and a merchandiser second, and there is precious little evidence to suggest that I should change my opinion at this late date and elevate “leader” anywhere near either of these judgments.

Happily, craft beer’s multi-directional market explosion has made the notion of monaural industry leadership largely irrelevant, and while we need some of the things that one of many technocrats at the refashioned and improved Brewers Association offers – indeed, my company is a dues-paying member – a decentralized and strengthened craft beer movement no longer needs a “great leader pretend” to practice self-advancement while shirking the duties of the helm.

Quite a few readers, perhaps even most, will disagree, and I fully expect to be taken to task for these words, but so be it. Sometimes matters get personal, and this is one of those times. When I sincerely asked this great leader for help, he ignored me, insulted us, and was a coward when it came to quoting him. It may have been good politics at the time and somehow preserved the privileges of the brewing charlatans in St. Louis, retaining them as valuable sources of cash to mock the movement for better beer that we started precisely because of A-B’s offenses.

However, Papazian’s duck-and-cover did nothing to gain respect from me.

As a rule, I don’t hold grudges.

Papazian is the rare, and perhaps chief, exception to the rule.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Let's talk about those Kout na Šumavě lagers, because they're pouring now.

As of the opening of business on Monday at the Pizzeria & Public House, our three rare lagers from the Kout na Šumavě brewery in Czech Republic are pouring as billed. Thanks as always to Shelton Brothers and Starlight Distribution for bringing these choices to our attention and delivering, and to Eric for tapping them. Here's the list:

Pale 10º
Pale 12º
Dark 18º

As a prelude to what follows, you probably recall that I was fortunate to have traveled in Czechoslovakia in the 1980s, and accordingly, I enjoyed quite a few excellent beers that in my opinion actually benefited from the communist system.

Now, this may sound ridiculous at first utterance, but consider that outside of a few heavy export hitters (Pilsner Urquell prime among them), more than a few traditional lager breweries in Czechoslovakia routinely were denied substantial investment capital during the communist era. Rather, they were compelled to continue brewing the old-fashioned way ... and maybe that wasn't a problem at all.

After communism, when most of these breweries were privatized (read: sold off to western brewing conglomerates), their operations were modernized and streamlined. To my palate during subsequent trips, this "upgrading" had an effect on traditional Czech lager similar to what happens when the human voice is subjected to Auto-Tune. The beers became technically brilliant, and thus perfectly boring.

It was only a matter of time until the counter-revolution, and although I've not been to the area since 2006, I'm endlessly pleased to read of numerous small brewery start-ups. Modern-think stole character from the lagers; now the new generation is stealing it back. I enthusiastically approve this message, and I want to go back some sweet day. Please?

Until then, and with the help of the Kout na Šumavě brewery website (in English and Czech) and Ron Pattinson's seminal European Beer Guide section on Czech Republic, here's a glimpse at the three visitors. I tasted all of them earlier.

Koutská „tap“ blonde beer 10°/Koutská desítka - výčepní světlé pivo 10%
3-4% (8-10° Plato)
Pattinson: "Pale, low-strength lager. In German the name "Světlé Výčepní Pivo" translates as "Helles Schankbier". Usually highly-attenuated and fairly hoppy. Not lagered for any great time, such beers are sold 3-4 weeks after mashing. The most popular style of beer in the Czech Republic."

Note that desítka simply means the number ten. In general, the term výčepní can mean tapping, tap or draft; in the sense of 10° Czech beer, it seems to denote and perhaps emphasize the lower gravity. Because lower gravity lagers are less expensive, they're the big sellers in the Czech Republic. Crisp and sessionable.

Koutská Blonde lager 12°/Koutská dvanáctka - světlý ležák 12%
4.4 - 5% (11-12.5° Plato)
"The classic Czech pale lager style. The name means the same as "Helles Lagerbier" in German. Individual beers vary greatly, from sweetish and malty (like Pilsner Urquell) to dry and hoppy (Budvar). One thing they all have in common is being heavily hopped with good quality aroma hops (such as Saaz). Beers in this style should be lagered for 2-3 months before sale."

Likewise, dvanáctka means twelve. You may have noticed that the Czech custom is to render the °as %, which can play games with the minds of tourists. Kout na Šumavě's 12° golden lager fits Pattinson's description perfectly; it isn't just the extra body, but perfectly balanced hops from bittering through flavor and aroma.

Now the judgment gets a bit harder. Koutská's Special dark beer 18° is excellent, with a roasty malt edge and balanced sweetness that does not seem to approach Doppelbock's (the body seems light for Doppelbock). I'm not sure which style it best fits. Maybe here:

Special dark beer 18°/Koutský tmavý speciál - tmavé speciální pivo 18%Tmavé (Černé) Speciální Pivo
8 - 10% (18-24° Plato)
"Dark doppelbock. Includes the strongest Czech lagers."

Tmavé is "dark" and Černé is "black." Is it Dopelbock, or it it an example of the nearly extinct Czech style of Porter, which Pattinson likens to the Polish variety?

8 - 9% (19-20° Plato)
"Black lagers. Very full-bodied beers, with lots of dark malt flavours and a good dose of bitterness. Pre- WW II, the standard top-end beer of Czech breweries. Getting rare."

Beats me. Perhaps further information will be forthcoming.

I can say this: These Kout na Šumavě lagers are as good as I hoped they would be. There's a regrettable tendency for today's enthusiast to dismiss "mere" lager, which finds itself outgunned by extreme styles, and yet, in the end, this means only that there'll be more left for me -- and that'll do wonderfully, at least until the next Czech trip can be taken.

"Here’s what you can do with your Westvleteren," at

Thanks for reading my twice-monthly column at, and to reiterate, it is my hope to do more daily blogging there in 2013.

westvleteren12Give me that old-time religion, 
Give me that old-time religion, 
Give me that old-time religion, 
It’s good enough for me. 
The merits of old-time religion seldom are displayed to better and tastier effect than the delicious ales brewed on the premises of six Trappist monasteries in Belgium, which beer lovers typically identify by the names of the nectars they produce: Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle and Westvleteren in Belgium, and Koningshoeven in the Netherlands.
It bears noting that earlier in 2012, Engelszell Abbey in Austria was approved as the eighth Trappist brewing monastery, but of course we’ll have no idea what to make of its beers until Rate Beer and Beer Advocate tell us exactly what to think.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cigars and alcohol: Match Lounge in Jeffersonville is about to open.

I am delighted that Jeff, Sara and Mark have gotten this project together, and I'll be there to perform the requisite inspection as soon as I'm able.

Legal in Indiana: Match Lounge whiskey tasting and cigar pairing Fri., Dec. 21, part of grand opening (at Insider Louisville)

... The Match Lounge will host a whiskey tasting and cigar pairing event Fri. Dec. 21. with a former Maker’s Mark Distiller, part of the Match Lounge grand opening.

The Match Lounge is a speak-easy-style boutique bourbon bar and lounge adjacent to Riverside Cigar Shop at Market and Spring streets in downtown Jeffersonville.

Owned by Jeff and Sara Mouttet and partner Mark Reynolds, Match has specialty, artisan, and local spirits, beer, and wine, according to a news release.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Basket Case Brewing Company, a nanobrewery in Jasper IN, starts serving on December 22.

Considering the amount of beer consumed in Jasper, doesn't it make sense to have a brewery there?

Basket Case Brewing Company is a nanobrewery brewing and serving beer 1.5 barrels at a time within The Mill House Restaurant in Jasper, IN. We at Basket Case strive to blend our love of beer and music to create rockin’ craft beers for the people of Southern Indiana.

Basket Case's opening weekend, an occurrence appropriately called The Revolution, is coming this Saturday, December 22.

Beer will be flowing at The Mill House Restaurant and live music will be provided by Justin LaGrange! Justin will start playing around 8pm. Will you be a part of The Revolution?!

They may not be nano for very long. You can learn more at Basket Case Brewing Company's page at Facebook, or follow the nanobrewery's Twitter account.

What's a nanobrewery, anyway? Reader RC provides the link to enlightenment: Pint Sized, at Slate.

(Nanobrewing is) commercial beer making in its most compact form. Similar operations are popping up around the country, their emergence boosted by America’s growing thirst for craft beer and evolving regulatory attitudes toward brewing. Nanobrewing provides an opportunity for skilled homebrewers to dip a toe into the commercial market, without having to find investors or take on crushing debt to secure the kind of funding required to start a microbrewery or brew pub.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Finally! Red hot controversy as (gasp) Brewers Association speaks the truth about mockrobrew.

The zombie craft beer bots went berserk on Thursday as the Brewers Association and fellow travelers launched a long overdue assault-by-press-release on "domestic non-craft" beer producers: Brewers Association’s Papazian and Pease, Schlafly’s Kopman call out ‘faux-crafts’

Fans of Goose Island, Magic Hat and Pyramid shuffled through soiled drawers. Perhaps appropriately, the BA release was preceded by an op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Craft or crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth

If you think craft breweries are a good force in America, take the time to familiarize yourself with who is brewing the beer you are drinking.

Is it truly from a brewer that is small (producing less than 6 million barrels of beer a year) and independent (less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves craft)?

Or is it a product of a large international brewer, capitalizing on the unprecedented growth of the sector to produce a faux-craft beer?

It makes a difference. By supporting small and independent craft brewers across the country, we are giving them a chance to thrive in business, create more jobs, boost the economy and compete against the massive corporations that have controlled the market for so long.

Don't say it; I already know.

I'm agreeing with Charlie Papazian, an unusual position that has me casting wary eyes toward fence posts and manhole covers to see if Allen Funt is stalking me.

And yes, it's true that I sought to get Charlie interested in this topic as far back as 1994, and could get no comment from him apart from the equivalent of "who the fuck are you?"

Finally, one aspect of the BA definition troubles me a bit: If a locally-owned, small-time brewery took to exclusively producing the best Pre-Prohibition Pilsner ever tasted, would it be excluded as "craft" because of the use of adjuncts (corn), even though such a beer is the very essence of traditional, at least in American terms?

But times change. What the BA has done, finally, is to publicly and specifically recognize the true nature of the threat, and from whence it comes.

Vindication. It's sweet like Doppelbock, ain't it?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Of Maido's demise and Dragon King's Daughter's arrival..

Maido Essential Japanese is no more. The Frankfort Avenue (Louisville) establishment was a favorite of ours for more than seven years (first mention here was in 2005), and lately, the food had gotten better again after a lull following a management change.

I'll always recall and admire the way that Jim Huie handled the beer list during his tenure. Thanks; it was a gem, Jim.

Meanwhile, Maido's original owner, Toki Masabuchi, now the guiding force behind Dragon King's Daughter, is otherwise occupied. The build-out for the New Albany branch of DKD on the corner of Bank and Elm remains under way, albeit it slowly. The crew at Bank Street Brewhouse looks forward to DKD's arrival. So do my wallet and waistline. Sushi downtown? Please.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Three rare lagers from the Kout na Sumavě brewery are coming to the Public House.

Kout na Sumavě brewery's Pale 10º, Pale 12º and Dark 18º lagers will be tapped and ready at opening on Monday, December 17.

As Westvleteren 12 mania grips the populace, my attention has been diverted toward the noble brewing heritage of Central Europe, and the manner by which a newer generation of brewers are reclaiming it. Perhaps my choice of reading lately, Joseph Roth's "The Radetzky March," has something to do with it.

Appropriately, three rare kegs have been delivered to NABC's Pizzeria & Public House. They are imported from Czech Republic by Shelton Brothers, via Starlight Distribution, and are from the Kout na Sumavě brewery: Pale 10º, Pale 12º and Dark 18º lagers.

Without the ability to produce steaming platters of roasted pork and knedlicky (dumplings), we're trying to devise a plan for dispensing these much anticipated beers. Here's the official press release from Shelton Brothers; stay tuned for our plan of action. Don't worry; we'll be quick about it.


Kout na Sumavě

The once-proud Czech beer culture has taken some massive hits since the fall of communism. The largest national breweries have been swallowed up by mega-conglomerates and countless regional pivovars have been shut down, never to return. The traditional and distinctive Czech pivo -unpasteurized, earthy, soft, and complex- has been replaced with fizzy and bland "international lager"-beer devoid of local character meant to appeal to the mass market.

Thankfully there has been a revolt. Czech beer enthusiasts have let it be known they they want their national drink back. In a trend mirrored around the globe, new microbreweries and brewpubs are springing up all over the country. The entrepreneurial enthusiasts starting up these companies are having little trouble locating eager master-brewers who'd lost their jobs in the corporate purge -brewers who know how real Czech beer should be made.

Kout na Sumavé, a small town in the Bohemian Forest near the German border, was a prosperous center for beer production until it's local pivovar was shut down by Pilsner Urquell in 1969. Years later, Jan Skala, who as a young man had worked in the brewery, hatched a plan to revive beer-making in the town. Skala bought the brewery building in 2003, took two years to clean and renovate it, and in 2006 brought in Bohuslav Hlavsa, a master-brewer in the former Pivovar Domazlice (which had also been also shut down by Pilsner Urquell), to create a new line of traditional Czech beers. It was a huge investment, and the company struggled to survive. The undeniable integrity and quality of it's products has gradually earned Kout followers, and awards, in it's home country and abroad. Kout has won Best Beer medals four times in it's native Czech Republic, and has also received honors in France and Italy. Meanwhile, though not available domestically, the beers have attained a cult following in the US, where afficianados have rated 3 of them as being among the top 10 from the Czech Republic.

Shelton Brothers is extremely excited to announce the arrival, for the first time, of Kout in America. In early November we will be offering a very limited number of 20L kegs-just 40 each- of the Koutska 10º ( 4% ABV, the golden flagship beer, named the best Czech beer in summer 2012), the Koutska 12º ( 5%, the somewhat weightier and hoppier version of the 10º, named Lager of the Year in 2010), and the Koutska 18º ( 8 %, the brewery's rich, dark specialty lager, requiring over six months maturation, which won best Czech beer awards in 2007 and 2008). This is traditional Czech beer, made the old way-according to 200-year-old recipes-with it's own well water and all-local barley and hops, using either double or triple decoction mash. It's also open-fermented and unpasteurized-subsequently it has had to be shipped in cold containers, door-to-door, from Kout na Sumavé to Shelton Brothers, to preserve it's unique quality as a "real lager". We are now taking pre-orders, and hoping to ship all the beer out to accounts immediately following it's arrival in our warehouse.

See photos from Kout and some of the other Czech breweries we visited on our Flickr page.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Local's on tap at the Tomlinson Tap Room in Indianapolis.

Tomlinson Tap Room is on the mezzanine at the Indianapolis City Market. It's a special project stewarded by the city, the market and the Brewers of Indiana Guild, because only Hoosier craft brews are sold there, and there's a diverse and constantly changing selection.

Reminiscent of your favorite neighborhood pub, Tomlinson Tap Room offers an intimate atmosphere as comfortable as your favorite chair—a perfect respite after a long day at work or as a weekend spot to gather with friends.

From the moment you step inside Tomlinson, it's clear this is no ordinary pub. For starters, it features only tapped Indiana craft beer by the pint or the growler fill! With its interior design crafted from reconditioned materials—and the historic setting of the Indianapolis City Market as its backdrop-Tomlinson Tap is the ideal place for craft beer enthusiasts to unwind and enjoy full-flavored brews that are both traditional and distinctive. As you appreciate the art of craft beer, you can craft another Hoosier tradition: good times with good friends.

Tom Tap's on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Hell, let’s shake things up a bit.

In the beginning, roughly seven years ago, my aim in having this blog was to write most of the time about beer in general, and occasionally about the beer being brewed by my own company.

I’ve long since reversed the proportion. While reasons for this exist, explaining why seems redundant to me now, because in preparation for 2013, another change seems in order. Hell, let’s shake things up a bit.

Here’s what is being contemplated.

The New Albanian Brewing Company’s website is about to be revamped by Hatch Creative, whose chief (only) designer and bottle washer is John Wurth, who also is the mastermind behind

My goals are (a) to blog about NABC at the NABC web site and to make it the primary source of material about my own business, (b) to blog about beer in general at, in addition to my twice-monthly column, and (c) if any time remains, use my current Potable Curmudgeon blog to collect these writings. It is yet to be seen whether I’ll have the time for this.

As always, stay tuned.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Scotch de Ainslie: Now on tap at both NABC locations. Here's what it means.

Hew Ainslie, New Albany's first commercial brewer, is the inspiration for NABC's Scotch de Ainslie, currently on tap at both locations.

But who was Ainslie?

The biographical sketch below was written by Louisville goldsmith, writer and homebrewer Conrad Selle, with editing by the author. Originally it was published in the FOSSILS newsletter circa 1994. Later it was a staple on the club's web site, and was republished at Potable Curmudgeon in 2005. Many thanks to Conrad, whose tireless research into Louisville area brewing can be experienced in Louisville Breweries, co-written with Peter Guetig. There was only one printing, but a few copies still may be floating around.  

In 2012, NABC brewed four special "throwback" beers for our 25th anniversary. Three of them (Turbo Hog, Stumble Bus and Bourbondaddy) were revivals of pre-2006 recipes formulated by Michael Borchers. Scotch de Ainslie was the fourth, slated for release in December as a prelude to New Albany's Bicentennial celebration in 2013.

Scotch de Ainslie is a 7.4% Scottish-style ale in Wee Heavy territory, but with a twist, one having nothing whatever to do with Ainslie or the typical Scottish ale-making range: We used Belgian yeast, placing Scotch de Ainslie in the smaller, more esoteric category of Belgian Scotch Ales like Gordon's, Campbell's, and my consistent personal favorite, Scotch de Silly.  

Make no mistake: Scotch de Ainslie is a malt bomb, but not without balance. The Belgian yeast accounts for fruity esters that provide a unique complexity to the flavor. The fact that we brewed it early in the year so as to have a bit for preview at the July anniversary party, then sat on the remainder for four months, makes the finished product quite mellow.

Get some before it goes; there isn't much. Here's the rest of the story.


Early New Albany brewer and Scottish-American poet Hew Ainslie ... by Conrad Selle.

Many early brewers worked their trade as a sideline or temporary trade before moving on to other occupations. Hew Ainslie is unique for having been principally a poet.
He was born at Bargany in Ayrshire, Scotland on April 5, 1792. Hew was the only son of George Ainslie, an employee on the estate of Sir Hew Dalrymple Hamilton. He was educated in the parish school at Ballantrae, and later at the academy at Ayr. In 1809 his family moved to Roslin, about six miles from Edinburgh. He married his cousin Janet Ainslie in 1812, whose brother Jock had married Hew's sister Eleanora.

Ainslie studied law in Glasgow, and worked as a clerk in the Register House in Edinburgh. In 1820 he revisited Ayrshire on foot with James Wellstood and John Gibson and in the next two years wrote A Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns, which was published in London in 1822. The book was an account of their travels and visits with some of Robert Burns's contemporaries, with songs and ballads by Ainslie that were much in the style of Burns, and illustrations by Wellstood.

In July, 1822, Ainslie sailed from Liverpool to New York with his friend Wellstood. Mrs. Ainslie and their three children joined him in the following year. Ainslie and Wellstood purchased Pilgrim's Repose, a farm at Hoosac Falls in Rensselaer County, New York. Ainslie and his family lived there for almost three years before joining Robert Owen's utopian socialist cooperative community at New Harmony, Indiana in 1825.

When Owen's community failed about a year later they moved first to Cincinnati, where Ainslie became a partner with Price and (Thomas) Wood in a brewery, then to Louisville. In Louisville, a town of 7,000, Ainslie opened a brewery in 1829 at 7th Street between Water and Main. Records show that B. Foster, Enoch Wenzell and Robert McKenzie worked there.

In February, 1832 there was a major flood of the Ohio River, with the river's waters rising to 46 feet above the low water level. A contemporary account of the "calamity" reads:

This was an unparalleled flood in the Ohio. It commenced on the 10th of February and continued until the 21st of that month, having risen to (an) extraordinary height ... above low-water mark. The destruction of property by this flood was immense. Nearly all the frame buildings near the river were either floated off or turned over and destroyed. An almost total cessation in business was the necessary consequence; even farmers from the neighborhood were unable to get to the markets, the flood having so affected the smaller streams as to render them impassable. The description of the sufferings by this flood is appalling ...

Ainslie's brewery was swept away with most of the neighborhood, but in the following years he remained in the beer business, working at the Nuttall brewery on the west side of 6th Street between Water and Main.

In 1840 he opened the first brewery in New Albany, the partnership of Bottomley & Ainslie. Soon that business was destroyed by fire. In the 1841 Louisville City Directory, Hew Ainslie is listed as a maltster; it was his last listing in the brewing trade. Discouraged by fire and flood, he gave up the brewing business altogether. Thereafter, his working life became somewhat intertwined with that of his children, particularly George and James Wellstood Ainslie.

Hew and Janet Ainslie had ten children, seven of them surviving to adulthood. George Ainslie, the eldest Ainslie son, had been apprenticed to Lachan McDougall around 1830 to learn the iron foundry and moulding trade, and he had acquired a solid business and technical education. He became a foreman at John Curry's foundry and married Mary Thirlwell, daughter of Charles Thirlwell, who was a brewer at the Nuttall Brewery (Hew Ainslie's one-time employer).
Thirlwell eventually acquired Nuttall and operated it until 1856. In 1842, George Ainslie became a partner in Gowan and McGhee's Boone Foundry. By 1845 Hew Ainslie -- still a poet throughout -- was employed as a finisher there as well as working as a contractor and in the building trades.

George and James Ainslie became highly successful in the foundry and machine business, enabling their father to devote more time to writing in later life. In 1853, Hew Ainslie made a long visit to New Jersey to visit members of the family of James Wellstood, undoubtedly providing the poet with a nostalgic link to the Scotland of his youth.

In 1855 a collection of Ainslie's verse, Scottish Songs, Ballads and Poetry, was published in New York. One latter-day commentator called Ainslie's songs of the sea "the best that Scotland has produced," and perhaps this assessment was borne out by the reception accorded Ainslie in Scottish literary circles in 1863, when he returned to Scotland for a final visit.

Janet Ainslie died in 1863 prior to Hew's last Scottish journey. In 1868 the elderly poet/brewer went to live with his son George in a new home on Chestnut Street (between 9th and 10th) in Louisville, where he spent the last decade of his life and was a familiar sight as he passed time tending the garden there. Ainslie died on March 6, 1878, and was eulogized in the Courier-Journal as "a poet of considerable merit to the people of his native land." Hew and Janet Ainslie are buried in Cave Hill Cemetery.

In addition to the many accomplishments noted previously, Ainslie is remembered for his height -- at 6 feet, 4 inches, he referred to himself in his works as "The Lang Linker" -- and for never losing his Scottish accent during almost six decades in America.

There is no specific information to be found as to the products of the breweries with which Hew Ainslie was involved in Louisville and New Albany, but we can surmise from the available evidence that they were typical small breweries of the time, with four or five employees, making ale, porter and stout. As a man who appreciated truth and beauty, it is likely that Hew Ainslie made good malt, and being conscientious with it, good beer as well.

The following poems by Hew Ainslie are copied from the Filson Historical Society's extremely rare copy of A Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns and Poetry, Ainslie's 1822 work combined with later efforts and reprinted in 1892, the centenary of his birth.

(Author's note: I have heard a scrap or two of Robert Burns, and expect these are much better read aloud in Scots dialect.)

The midnight hour is clinking, lads,
An' the douce an' the decent are winking, lads;
Sae I tell ye again,
Be't weel or ill ta'en,
It's time ye were quatting your drinking, lads.
Gae ben, 'an mind your gauntry, Kate,
Gi'es mair o' your beer, an' less bantry, Kate,
For we vow, whaur we sit,
That afore we shall flit,
We'se be better acquaint wi' your pantry, Kate.
The "daft days" are but beginning, Kate,
An we're sworn. Would you hae us a sinning, Kate?
By our faith an' our houp,
We will stick by the stoup
As lang as the barrel keeps rinning, Kate.
Thro' hay, an' thro' hairst, sair we toil it, Kate,
Thro' Simmer, an' Winter, we moil it, Kate;
Sae ye ken, whan the wheel
Is beginning to squeal,
It's time for to grease an' to oil it, Kate.
Sae draw us anither drappy, Kate,
An' gie us a cake to our cappy, Kate;
For, by spiggot an' pin!
It's waur than a sin
To flit when we're sitting sae happy, Kate.

Let's drink to our next meeting, lads,
Nor think on what's atwixt;
They're fools wha spoil the present hour
By thinking on the next.
Then here's to Meg o' Morningside,
An Kate o' Kittlemark;
The taen she drank her hose and shoon,
The tither pawned her sark.
A load o' wealth, an' wardly pelf,
They say is sair to bear;
Sae he's a gowk would scrape an' howk
To make his burden mair

Then here's , &c.
Gif Care looks black the morn, lads,

As he's come doon the lum,
Let's ease our hearts by swearing, lads,
We never bade him come.
Then here's, &c.
Then here's to our next meeting, lads,
Ne'er think on what's atwixt;
They're fools who spoil the present hour
By thinking on the next.
Then here's, &c.

We lads that live up in the nobs,
Tho' our manners might yet bear a rubbing,
We're handy at neat little jobs
Such as chopping and hewing and grubbing.
Tho' we roost in a cabin of logs,
And clapboards lie 'twixt us and heaven,
Our mast makes us fine oily hogs,
And from hoop-poles we pick a good living.
Right quiet -- to a decent degree --
it's seldom we guzzle it deep, Sir,
Tho' we don't mind a bit of a spree,
Provided the liquor is cheap, Sir.
Our neighbours, that live 'cross the drink.
May laugh at our fondness for cider,
But so long as we pocket their clink
They may laugh till their mouths they grow wider.
Our gals make our trousers, you see,
From that beautiful stuff called tow linen,
and in coats of the linsey -- dang me,
If we don't look both handsome and winning.
Our wives are our weavers, to boot;
Ourselves are first rate on a shoe, Sir;
We can doctor a tub with a hoop --
And hark ! we're our own niggers too, Sir,
So here's to our Hoosier land,
The sons of its soil and its waters !
May the "nullies" ne'er get it in hand,
Nor demagogues tear it in tatters.
But still may it flourish and push,
Thro' vetos and all such tough cases,
Till railroads are common as brush,
And the nobs are as sleek as your faces.

To provide context to Ainslie's use of the "N" word, "The Hoosier" was intended as an anti-nullification poem -- a direct slap at the slave-owning caste south of the Ohio River, and a self-mocking espousal of the poor but free residents to the north. If any reader can shed further light on the history involved, please do.

Friday, December 07, 2012

BIG Winterfest tix available now.

The Brewers of Indiana Guild's Winterfest takes place on January 26 in Indianapolis. Winterfest tickets are on sale now through ETIX. Here the link:

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

NABC is having web site issues.

Folks, we're having major issues with the domain, and as we try to resolve these, make sure to check our Facebook page for updates.

In personal terms, if you need to send e-mail to me, please use istanbul85(at)yahoo(dot)com until further notice.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

"No water in the lines": Even golf courses are getting crafted.

This is encouraging news. I've been watching for years as golfers stopped by the pub for a "good beer," absent choice at their chosen course. In some locales, the combination is taken for granted; witness the Putts & Pints blog. NABC has been having success with draft beer at Hidden Creek Golf Club in nearby Sellersburg.

The next step for those facilities getting on board is to actively promote the fact that good beer is available. Sadly, it seems that in sporting venues hereabout (not only at golf courses), it's too often the case that operators seem reluctant to let consumers know about available choice. Why? probably out of an unjustified fear of annoying Da Big Boyz.

The best local example is Louisville Slugger Field, where historically, we've seen the ballclub acquiesce in Centerplate's complicity with the AB-InBev monopoly, restricting signage to table tents and doing little to let baseball fans know good beer actually is available. But let's focus on big positives, albeit 3,000 miles away, and hope that the trend grows here in Business As Usual Land.

GOLF COURSE BEVERAGE SALES GET BOOST FROM CRAFT BREWS: Premium beers enhance the experience for customers, say staff, by Marc Figueroa (U-T San Diego)

Whether it’s special Internet rates, free range balls or a free sandwich at the turn, many golf courses are trying everything these days to keep the tee sheet filled and stave off eroding participation.

And some North County tracks are looking to one industry that is booming in business to help boost its own.

Unlike golf, which has seen participation drop by more than 4 million from 2005 to 2011, according to the National Golf Foundation, the local beer industry is blowing up with nearly 60 brew houses in the county and more than 20 in the planning stages. And courses such as Castle Creek Country Club, Twin Oaks Golf Course, Pala Mesa Resort and Maderas Golf Club are capitalizing on it, serving up quality suds like never before.

“Our motto is ‘No water in the lines,’ ” said Scott Butler, tournament sales director at Twin Oaks, which dedicates its four tap lines to locally produced beer. “That means you can’t get a Coors Light on draft here. If you want one, we have them in cans in the back, but that’s not what we’re about. We’re pushing good beer.”

Monday, December 03, 2012

Zhenya: The Exhibition ... with refreshments.

The refreshments of which we speak will be NABC's Community Dark, Gold and Hoosier Daddy. The downtown New Albany building (234 E. Pearl) is somewhat affectionately known to locals as Jim's Gun Room, an ill-fated business occupying it until a point in the early 1990's (there's a nafarious story to be told, but not today). When built, it was a bank, and renovation currently underway should strip subsequent layers of tackiness, revealing at least some of the previous appearance.

Zhenya: The Exhibition

This year’s IU Southeast Senior BFA Fall exhibition is an exciting compilation of media and styles. Eight artists from five disciplines will display their work, ranging from illusionistic to purely abstract forms. Work includes traditional media such as oils, graphite, monotype, ceramics, and also branches into installation, shadow boxes and vegetable papyrus. The collection will be housed in one of New Albany’s oldest structures, recently purchased for restoration. This diverse repertoire of work promises a night of wonder and excitement that guarantees to fill the hole in Zhenya’s heart.

Exhibiting Artists: Philip Carlton, Wende Cudmore, Jeremy Dattilo, Miri Fetko, Dani Maudlin, Rebeka Trapp, Kayla Troutman, Amie Villiger

The ZHENYA exhibition will be held on December 8, 2012 at 234 Pearl Street, New Albany, Indiana (on the corner of Pearl and Market Street). This show is a ONE NIGHT EVENT open from 5:00pm-8:00pm. Refreshments will be available.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Now up at "Get Back to Where I Once Belonged."

There wasn’t going to be enough time, energy or sufficient money – really, had there ever been an actual desire? – to learn a foreign language, fill a shipping container, wade through reams of paperwork, start all over, and be an American expatriate in Europe, consciously emanating Ernest Hemingway a full century after Papa drank it all in France and Spain. Damned if life hadn’t actually happened while I was busy making other plans.

The Jeopardy category today is Time Passages, and the answer (for a whole sawbuck) is this:
“The years 1982, 1983 and 1984.”
Did you guess the question? It’s a fairly tough one:
“What were the last three consecutive years prior to 2010, 2011 and 2012, when Roger did NOT set foot on the European continent?”
Seeing as 1985 was my very first trip to Europe, it’s a reminder of just how invigorating a run it was, while it lasted. No one ever has been more fortunate for so long, and I’m grateful every single day for the sights, experiences, history and people. There were more than 30-plus excursions over a quarter of a century, and enough beer was consumed to float a ramshackle dinghy from Calais all the way back to Cape Cod, but as we’re constantly reminded, all good things inevitably come to an end.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The 4th Annual Raq'n Around the Christmas Tree Holiday Toy Drive and Taste of New Albany is this Thursday, December 6.

It's a belly-dancing-themed toy drive with food and drink, returning this year to New Albany's Holiday Inn after being held last year at the Grand.

Richard Atnip will be on hand with NABC beer samples, while I work the Ben Sollee performance at the Carnegie Center.

Since the latter is a low-key exclusive museum event that's been sold out for quite some time, I need say no more about it, except I'm looking very much forward to it, and if you're there, say hello.

You're invited to the 4th Annual Raq'n Around the Christmas Tree Holiday Toy Drive and Taste of New Albany extravaganza! Admission to this event is just one new toy or a $10 donation.

Taste of New Albany (6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.)
Tastings by La Bocca, Habana Blues, Louis/Le Francais, River City Winery, The Keg, Rookies Cookies, New Albanian Brewing Co., Wick's Pizza, La Bocca Italian Restaurant, Ice Cream & Pie Kitchen, Dragon King's Daughter, JB Pub & More...

Music by il Trobadore, Indianapolis Premier World Music Ensemble & dancing by lovely Isabelle Celeste Murray

7:30-9:00 p.m. Belly Dance Extravaganza
Performances by Al Hamsa, Gypsies of the Nile and Raqia's Stars led by "Best of Louisville Magazine Award Winner" Raqia.

Toys collected will benefit AIDS Interfaith Ministries of Kentuckiana (AIM). AIM serves children and families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

This will be a unique evening of giving and celebration and the perfect opportunity to support and make this year magical for the children!!

For additional info or donations contact Raqia at 812 989-0821

Event Location: Holiday Inn Express 411 W Spring St, New Albany, Indiana 47150-3615