Saturday, June 22, 2013

"NABC vs. Floyd County Health Department", at Louisville Beer Blog.

Kevin Gibson's Louisville Beer Blog delivers as promised: It's a locally-oriented, fun look at the Louisville beer scene. He's a longtime LEO columnist and free-lance writer.

Kevin offers a solid take on the current imbroglio afflicting my world here: NABC vs. Floyd County Health Department).

My thought about this strange and sudden clamp-down is “why?” Baylor called it a “power grab” in a press statement and filed an appeal, standing up for the fact that this abrupt mandate has no precedent. Meanwhile, Floyd County Health Officer Dr. Tom Harris is calling it a “state regulation,” and that vendors pouring beer at any public event must indeed pony up the $20 for a food permit. Yet, Baylor, who has been doing business in Floyd County and the surrounding areas for years, has never experienced it or even gotten a whiff of it until now.

Photo courtesy of Kate Caufield.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Week in review: Current history of the Floyd County Health Department's great power grab of 2013.

It's dress down day at the health department,
and Dr. Harris is dining at Chick fil-A.

Let's review the past week, beginning with tonight, when there'll be a concert at Bicentennial Park featuring local favorites Ballroom Blitz.

Because these days New Albany periodically functions almost as an urban area should, it is achieving a modicum of pleasurable results.

WAVE-3: 'New' New Albany attracting visitors and dollars.

People like it, and this is an utterly alarming development for Floyd County's perpetually reactionary and non-creative political ruling class. About the best idea these second-raters can come up with is to harass those who actually are "doing" something, by means of petty bureaucratic racketeering.

Another day, another Floyd County Health Department power grab.

The beer and wine sellers are being told they are entitled -- privileged, even -- to be regulated and cited according to statutes as yet unrevealed, ones apparently unknown outside Floyd County, while being held weirdly responsible for certain known food handling regulations (for pre-packaged liquids) that specifically exempt us from learning procedures we’ll subsequently be cited for not knowing, while we have one simple question: Exactly how is it that a local health department trumps our own beer and wine business’s regulatory authority, the Alcohol & Tobacco Commission?

Food handling, panhandling and regulatory free-basing.

But amid the tortuously Orwellian world of Dr. Tom Harris's health department, it's just another $20 slapped down to fund programs his county political bosses won’t. Others in New Albany might be interested in the implications, assuming they're finished with the party intended to congratulate themselves for … for … er, I guess for holding congratulatory parties.

Health Department's revenue enhancement + Develop New Albany's event calendar = ?

Whilst swatting at the torpid newfound regulatory mosquitoes, NABC prepared to contest the citation issued last Friday.

Preview: NABC's appeal to the Floyd County Health Department.

The full appeal then was published, as full transparency always matters, both to NABC and NAC.

ON THE AVENUES: The long train of usurpations adds a caboose.

The News and Tribune picked up the story, offering Dr. Harris the opportunity to inform a breathless world that NABC’s appeal would be overturned, before ever being heard, thus rendering the concept of “due process” into the sort of thin, worm-ridden gruel last seen being eaten by peasants in a Dostoevsky novel.

On the song and dance routine of Dr. Tom Harris.

Perhaps the leftovers can be fed to the inmates at the county jail?

It is now 8:00 a.m. on Friday, and there's a show to cater tonight. Deadlines approach. As NABC awaits an appeal, a procedure already publicly compromised by the health department's chieftain's detached smugness, we have an obligation to proceed judiciously. Let's slow down this game for just a moment.

In the short term, we will comply with the health department's demands for tribute, however specious, and pay $20 each time we pour pre-packaged alcoholic beverages into plastic cups. We will do so under specific written protest, each and every time. In these instances, we will comply in such a manner as to fulfill ATC regulations, which we regard as pre-eminent, and that we always seek to implement.

In short, the master event caterer (NABC) to whom the ATC permit is issued will indeed possess a temporary food service permit.

County government can rest at ease, safe in the knowledge that further taxation of recalcitrant tea-baggers in the Woods of Lafayette need not be considered, after all.

Kudos to those who have been reading the past week's dispatches here at NAC. The hit counter has been spinning furiously. You are urged to speak with or write your local elected representatives with input on these and other matters. As for this particular issue, the short-term has concluded. Mid- and long-term strategies begin today. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A note on Brew at the Zoo, 2013.

With appropriately misplaced fanfare, the organizers of Brew at the Zoo (Louisville edition) have revealed on Facebook that "We're excited to welcome Goose Island Beer Co. as a sponsor of Brew 2013!"


That's too bad, because I'm not excited at all.

This unfortunate move contradicts what the festival has always been about, which is the value of localism in beer, and as a consequence, NABC will not be able to actively participate this year. I fully understand that AB-InBev's predictable shell game puppeteer routine v.v. Goose's sponsorship money does not constitute overall title sponsorship of the zoo event (although it may be only a matter of time). It's just that certain principles genuinely matter, and to myself and NABC, this is one of them.

I'm not angry, just saddened. Note that we'll happily return to Brew at the Zoo when thematic unity is restored.

Other local brewers are free to examine their consciences with respect to whether they should participate under AB-InBev's chosen conditions (foreign ownership, foreign sponsorship, payola, anti-localism), which cruelly negate the ethos and rationale of their own small breweries -- but this is no litmus test. Do as you please. As of this moment, I'm finished with the topic ... in 2013. perhaps the dark clouds will abate in 2014, and we can gather together at the Parrot Dice Casino once again.

Lest readers draw the wrong conclusions, my personal and brewery support for Brew at the Zoo goes back to the very start. In 2004, at the very first one, NABC drove all the way back to New Albany and back to fetch two kegs of beer and keep the drinkers at the Zoo watered when all the other beer was gone. Search the pages of this blog, and find yearly reminders from me to attend the event and be part of the fun.

The zoo event has evolved quite positively over the years, but AB-InBev's cash clearly signals regression. I hope it isn't indicative of a permanent shift. Only time will tell.

Localism + Beer (Nov. 15, 2012 at

Eyes and Palates, Wide Open

Not so long ago, Goose Island Brewing Company was a proud independent, but now it is 100% owned by the multinational monolith called AB-Inbev, meaning that in cold, hard fact, Goose Island is no more independent than an Ignatius J. Reilly-themed weenie wagon on the streets of Pyongyang, North Korea. Honkers Ale remains certifiably better than Budweiser, but to me, it really matters where the money goes … and dollars paid for Honkers ultimately travel to corporate headquarters in Leuven, Belgium, not Chicago, Illinois.

Sorry, but Goose Island sold out. Craft beer drinkers need to examine their consciences lest they sell out, too.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A VIP and an IBU walk into a beer fest ... and our day at Fishers on Tap.

Yesterday's Fishers on Tap in Indianapolis ran the requisite VIP hour at the beginning, followed by three hours of general admission. But rather than waxing egregious, the VIP portion at Fishers offered the opportunity for attendees to pair Indiana beers with food from local restaurants. The food presenters stopped serving when general admission began, but food trucks (Indy has such a culture; I imagine Floyd County's Health Department prevents it here) began.

The Fishers event was very good in all respects, and a veritable model for how a small outdoor beer fest should find its opening legs. There was a refreshing absence of geek samplers tethered to Untappd, and no roving bands of 22-year-old males asking for the highest alcohol content. There was a surfeit of locals, considerable community spirit, and a mellow vibe all around -- and the band Soul Street was the best music I've ever heard at such a beer fest.

Kudos to the organizers. Here's my column at for June 15.

A VIP and an IBU walk into a beer fest

I went to my first rock concert at the age of 15 in 1975. The venue was Louisville Gardens, and the band was Chicago, which had made it only to IX at the time and wasn’t yet overtly pop. Tickets were $7 in advance, and $8 “on the day of show.”

My most recent name brand concert was the Who at Yum Center in February. Tickets cost somewhere around $75 after Ticketmaster’s various digital anal probes, but for a mere $750 (maybe more; who can remember a spare zero or three?) I might have tithed myself into position backstage as a VIP, fed organic Black Sea caviar with a coke spoon formerly wielded by the late, great Keith Moon, and exchanged pre-curtain pleasantries with Pete Townshend just prior to him ceremonially smashing his guitar atop my tonsure – although it occurs to me that fretboard abuse cost an extra C-note, of which I keep plenty around to light cigars.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

O'Connor Brewing headlines the craft selection in Norfolk, as Bats lose again.

The Louisville Bats have traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, where the Tides play at Harbor Park (opened in 1993) as the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

So, what are the craft beer options at Norfolk's field? How do they compare with the perennially disappointing macro-mania fixation in Louisville? My verdict after cursory Internetz research: Thumbs up.*

Once again we see a locale comfortable with the proposition that mega and micro are not mutually exclusive, happily grasping the existence of demand for craft beer among the customer base -- a statistical certainty that neither the mercenary Bats nor others in Louisville's own craft brewing community seem able to bring themselves to concede. Entertaining all the fans who come to a game by offering genuine choice? Wow, what a concept.

The examples begin with a homebrewer:

To culminate an enjoyable brew session, the family and I traveled down to Norfolk, Virginia for an evening at the ballpark and a Norfolk Tides baseball game. For a long time, ballparks have been a veritable craft beer wasteland, and Harbor Park was no exception. In recent years, however, craft beer options (albeit limited) are starting to become available. Located on the first base side of the main concourse at Harbor Park is a draft beer stand featuring two beers from Norfolk’s own O’Connor Brewing Company.

Harbor Park can even be reached by light rail.

And while we’re on the topic, most of the concession stands sell only Bud or Coors products, but there are a couple of places in the park that you can pick up a craft beer; even some from the local brewery, O’Connor Brewery (reviewed below). Down the third base line on the main concourse is the Park Avenue Brewery stand. While it only has bottles, it has multiple options for craft beer including options from Starr Hill, Harpoon, Flying Dog, New Belgium and O’Connor.

Good grief. Even the park's Yelp reviews laud the selection of local (and other) craft beers.

The Louisville Bats?

Two well-hidden local craft beers on tap at a roasted peanut stand, and laughable ads touting Saturday specials for poseur mockrobrews like Shock Top, Amber Bock and Landshark Lager. The Bats place "craft" in quotation marks for the promos, indicating that even the club itself knows it's full of it.

The Norfolk Tides? Much better.

Tides win.

Season craft beer record: Opponents 7, Bats/Centerplate 1.


Probably no craft beer options for Gwinnett Braves games at Coolray Field, so the Bats finally win one.

If you can find where the Charlotte Knights play, there's craft beer there.

Craft beer at Lehigh Valley IronPigs baseball games.

Buffalo Bisons, Coca Cola Field, and local craft beer access.

Indianapolis Indians, Victory Field and a merciful end to "don't ask, don't tell" in local craft beer access.

Toledo Mud Hens view locally brewed craft beer as positive enticement. Imagine that.

* The standard disclaimer, to be considered any time one cannot actually be there to see things up close and personal, pertains to the bastardization of the "craft" concept by multinational, industrial brewers. Absent qualification, it remains likely that "craft" in many PR-speak contexts probably includes beers that are "crafty" (i.e., mockrobrews like Shock Top and zombie crafts such as Goose Island), and not locally-brewed craft beer.

Friday, June 07, 2013

BoomBozz coming to Veterans Parkway (Jeffersonville side).

I'll never be a "concept creator."

Everything I do in business is for the long haul, whether successful or not.

But Tony Palombino simply does great work, and the BoomBozz on Eastern Parkway was an instant classic the day it opened. The pizza is wonderful, and thanks largely to the daily creativity of Michael Beckmann, the beer selection is ever varied while remaining anchored to local and regional breweries.

I've no doubt the BoomBozz on Veterans Parkway will not only transcend the depressing chain-think prevalent in the vicinity, but be a craft beer destination in its own right. That's good by me.

Boombozz Pizza and Taphouse opening new location in Jeffersonville in August, by Steve Coomes (Insider Louisville)

Mid-August is the projected opening of the newest Boombozz Pizza & Taphouse, a 6,000-square-foot, 195-seater with a large bar and patio area located in the Jeffersonville Town Center on Veterans Parkway.

Concept creator and franchisor Tony Palombino said he and franchisee Rich Cleaves negotiated almost a year to get the rights to lease the building, which formerly housed a Beef O’ Brady’s restaurant.

Aching feet, pounding heads: NABC's event schedule for the remainder of June.

During the course of the year, there are three primary NABC businesses: The Pizzeria & Public House (3312 Plaza Drive); Bank Street Brewhouse (415 Bank Street); and the combined brewing operation occurring at both locations.

As the following list illustrates, in summertime a fourth whole effort gears up. It's the all-purpose umbrella title of "events season," which requires quite a lot of planning and manpower. It includes setting up accounts at venues (Dubois County Bombers, Derby City Roller Girls); catering (Bicentennial Park concert series, last week's Culbertson Mansion Garden Party); and pouring samples at beer geek gatherings (Fishers on Tap).

The list doesn't include hosting my 35th high school reunion on Friday the 28th at Bank Street Brewhouse, or the music we're planning at Lloyd's Landing (at BSB) beginning on June 29th.

NABC now has more than 60 full- and part-time employees working at their various jobs at our on-premise locations, and during events season, it takes each of them to accomplish all of the event commitments -- some by holding the bricks 'n' mortar forts, others by volunteering to stage or pour. We manage to keep most of the balls in the air. It could not be done without our workers, so cheers to them.

Now through the end of June:

NABC at this summer’s Bicentennial Concert Series, on Fridays from June 7 through August

Once again, NABC is on tap for Dubois County Bombers home games, all season long

June 8 & 9: Elector & Tafel at the 7th Annual Art on the Parish Green

NABC’s lineup for Zoo Brew 2013 (Saturday, June 8) at Mesker Park in Evansville

Derby City Roller Girls home bout this Saturday, June 8

Smokin’ on the River with BBQ and craft beer (June 14 & 15)

NABC reminds you about Music at the Mount on June 15

NABC at Fishers on Tap, June 15

The 2013 “Art Walk During & After Party” is at Bank Street Brewhouse on June 22

Monday, June 03, 2013

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Culbertson, Reising, Tricentennial and all that.

Bottles of Tricentennial will be along later in June. It will be pouring briefly at both NABC locations beginning on Tuesday, June 4.

Rocking the Culbertson's garden party with NABC Tricentennial.

Turns out a day's worth of weather anxiety was utterly misplaced. There wasn't a drop of rain on the Culbertson Mansion's garden party last evening, and yet it was appropriately wet insofar as an entire 15.5 gallon keg of NABC's Tricentennial Ale was concerned -- that is, before it became "dry" when the keg floated at last call.

During my lawn chat about the history of brewing in New Albany, I read this chestnut to the crowd. It's a longtime favorite, and "Drive on Old Bock" should be a Houndmouth song.

"Mr. Paul Reising, West End brewer, will issue his second edition of "Bock Beer" tomorrow. His customers will be supplied with the beverage in a prompt manner, as Mr. Reising is a prompt and reliable business man. Some people drink sassafras tea in the spring of the year; others use sage catnip and such, and others sarsaparilla. That is their privilege. Another class prefers Bock Beer and it is their privilege to do so. This is a free country. Drive on old Bock."
-- New Albany Ledger-Standard, April 29, 1881

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Indiana Statecraft, concluded.

No one asked me what I thought, but that's never been an impediment.

Written by 

(Full disclosure: I am a director on the board of the Brewers of Indiana Guild. However, my thoughts are strictly my own, and do not reflect official guild policy. Part One of this column is here)
“I promote local pride, not jingoism.”
– Greg Koch (Stone Brewing, San Diego CA)
The Brewers of Indiana Guild stages three yearly beer festivals, with these events providing the bulk of the non-profit organization’s annual operating revenue. The festivals are Winterfest (held in February in Indianapolis), Bloomington Craft Beer Festival (April; Bloomington) and BIG Microbrewers Festival (July; Indianapolis).