Thursday, February 27, 2014

For every brewing Schlafly, there is an opposite and equal reaction(ary) Schlafly.

As a prelude to tomorrow's Gravity Head tap takeover by Schlafly (the beer), here's the back story on an unusual trademark dispute. Because I'm old, and well remember Phyllis Schlafly's presence on the conservative political stage back during the 1980s, none of this comes as any surprise to me.

Meanwhile, by contrast, the last time I saw Tom "brewery owner" Schlafly some years back, he was wearing a replica St. Louis Browns ball cap.

Now THAT's class, at least in my book.

SCHLAFLY Trademark Dispute: A Family Affair at The Trademark Bar

It's rare to see a trademark opposition proceeding where the opposing party is a family member of the applicant. And it is unlikely that there had ever been one where the opposer was the applicant's 89 year-old aunt. Until recently, that is, when The Saint Louis Brewery's application for the mark SCHLAFLY was opposed by Phyllis Schlafly, the aunt of the brewery's co-founder, Tom Schlafly. For good measure, two of Phyllis Schlafly's sons opposed the application as well ...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Brewer's droop, industrial disease, gruit and hops.

Evidently Stephen Harrod Buhner is the Garrett Oliver of his field. One of his books is Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation (1998), which I dimly recall being recommended to me by one of the (shall we say) more left-leaning of homebrewing club members at the time.

But the reason why brewer's droop has arisen in this context goes back to my friend Karen pointing me to Buhner's article about gruit vs. hops.

The Fall of Gruit and the Rise of Brewer's Droop, by Stephen Harrod Buhner (2003)

... To understand why hops replaced gruit it is important keep in mind the properties of gruit ale: it is highly intoxicating and aphrodisiacal when consumed in sufficient quantity. Gruit ale stimulates the mind, creates euphoria and enhances sexual drive. Hopped ale is quite different. Contemporary scientific research has conclusively demonstrated that hops contains large quantities of estrogenic and soporific compounds. In fact hops has been used for many thousands of years in traditional medical practice as a natural estrogen replacement therapy and to help insomniacs sleep. The high level of plant estrogens in hops makes hopped beer an extremely good drink for women in menopause but also makes it a very bad drink for men. Consumption by men of large levels of estrogenic compounds can lead to erection problems later in life. In fact, there is a well-known condition in England called Brewer's Droop which is regularly contracted by bartenders and brewers after years of exposure to hopped beers and ales.

I've no idea whether any of this is reputable, and I always thought it was the alcohol itself that contributes to erectile dysfunction, but veracity isn't my point.

Where had I heard the phrase "brewer's droop"?

It took a long while for it to surface, but finally I traced it back to Dire Straits and the song "Industrial Disease," released in 1982.

Doctor Parkinson declared 'I'm not surprised to see you here
You've got smokers cough from smoking, brewer's droop from drinking beer
I don't know how you came to get the Betty Davis knees
But worst of all young man you've got Industrial Disease'

Brewer's Droop apparently has a double meaning, as it was the name of a band, too. Why was the name Parkinson used? I'm not sure, but Cecil Parkinson was one of Maggie's favorites at the time of the album's incubation.

Downfall of Margaret Thatcher's number one guy Cecil Parkinson; HE WAS the golden boy of the Conservative Party in the early Eighties, by Neil Clark (Express)

A favourite of prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Cecil Parkinson had as Tory chairman masterminded the landslide election victory over Labour in 1983. Handsome, charming and highly ambitious, he was the man who - as newly released private papers suggest - Mrs Thatcher wanted to anoint as her successor.

Unfortunately, Parkinson's mistress turned up pregnant, and his star abruptly fell. No drooper, he; probably a wine drinker, and not Horace Rumpole's Chateau de Thames Embankment, either.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The PC: Mitch Steele at Rich O’s in 1998 – Part Two.

Mitch Steele at Rich O’s in 1998 – Part One (Published on February 24)

This tale has been relayed here before, but it's been almost eight years, so a reprise at seemed merited. Surely Mitch Steele's visit to the Public House is one of the most memorable stories of our first decade in operation.

Mitch Steele at Rich O’s in 1998 – Part Two

Yesterday in “Mitch Steele at Rich O’s in 1998 – Part One,” I explored the background of Mitch’s visit to New Albany on November 8, 1998. Following is the entire, unexpurgated summary of the evening, as published in #99/100 of the FOSSILS newsletter, Walking the Dog.

“Mitch Steele: A great guy doesn’t make a great multi-national corporation.”

It shouldn’t be a problem.

There would be plenty of time before the FOSSILS meeting began to run over to Bluegrass Brewing Company with Syd and Cory Lewison. Our guest speaker, Mitch Steele of Anheuser-Busch, had said he would be there, and it would be a good chance to get to know him better in a more relaxed setting.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The PC: Mitch Steele at Rich O’s in 1998 – Part One.

This tale has been relayed here before, but it's been almost eight years, so a reprise at seemed merited. Surely Mitch Steele's visit to the Public House is one of the most memorable stories of our first decade in operation.

Part Two will be posted tomorrow.

Mitch Steele at Rich O’s in 1998 – Part One
Long ago and far away – roughly 1996, according to my increasingly unreliable memory – Anheuser-Busch dipped its bloated toe into mockrobrewing for the very first time, releasing a line called American Originals, and subsequently expanding its Michelob division to include a wheat beer, among others.

All of them eventually sank like the Titanic ...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

On belonging: Stan Hieronymus has the last word (for now) about craft writing.

Maybe the time has come for me let go of the Craft Writing symposium, and so I will, reserving the final recap slot for Stan Hieronymus.

Now, cue the valedictory.

It's true that I have strong opinions about pretty much any topic. After all, you are entitled to them. My contrarian instincts can be a daily annoyance, even to me. Controversy and outspokenness ... well, my childhood baseball hero was Reggie Jackson, and my favorite writer remains HL Mencken. It is an undisputed highlight of my life that Michael "Beer Hunter" Jackson commended me for skill in polemics.

None of these comments are to be construed as self-congratulatory. They merely are intended to illustrate that whatever else might happen, I know myself fairly well in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Usually this recognition is enough, but at times, when work is a grind and play is fleeting, one needs a bit of reaffirmation.

Jeff Rice provided such by inviting me to participate in the symposium, and I cannot thank him enough. I'm 53, and I've been doing "this" -- good beer for a living; writing because it scratches an itch -- for a very long time, and yet there are moments when I'm James Stockdale incarnate, asking "Who am I? Why am I here?"

The symposium made me feel like I belong somewhere, perhaps not so far away in remote left field as sometimes seems the case. Thanks again, Jeff. It was a priceless experience for me.

How many brewers does it take to open a bottle of beer?, by Stan Hieronymus (Appellation Beer)

... As I said at the outset of my presentation, when I get up in front of a bunch of hung over faces on a Saturday morning, a screen loaded with charts at my back, I’m usually talking to homebrewers about the length of a ferulic acid rest and resulting production of 4-vinyl guaicol. But, with full credit to Jeff Rice, I think this conference was unique beyond giving me something different to ramble on about. The discussion about beer and writing began at 10 in the morning, continued officially for seven hours and, not surprisingly, beyond. Yet somehow it didn’t spiral into navel gazing. Hallelujah (I have already used my quota for exclamation points in a post, that being one, or I would place one here).

Gravity Head 2014: Bullet Train to Blackout Town ... program, starting lineup and 14th starter voting information.

In keeping with recent content management resolutions, most Gravity Head blurbs have been posted at the NABC web site, and will continue to be. This is my blog, not the company nerve center -- if in fact we have such a thing. I'll be doing daily lineupdates in 2014 at, not here. Following are the three most important links as we approach the 16th liver bruiser.

Vote now for the 14th and final opening day Gravity Head starter.

Gravity Head 2014: The starting lineup.

Gravity Head 2014: The Program.

Watch video of the Tailspin Ale Fest, yesterday at Bowman Field in Louisville.

Yesterday's inaugural Tailspin Ale Fest at Bowman Field is described in a WDRB television clip, linked below.

Organizer Tisha Gainey staged a first-rate beercentric soiree; the fact that my back is killing me today amply testifies to the fun. Regrettably, although local beer peeps shared a few hilarious stories, I was constantly advised against sharing them. Damn! But the inevitable tell-all book draws ever closer.

The video at WDRB's site gives a good sense of proportion in terms of the venue. Congrats to Tisha, her assistants and the many volunteers who made it possible.

Tailspin Ale Fest offers showcase of beers at Bowman Field

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Crowds turned out for the Tailspin Ale Fest at Bowman Field Saturday.

Organizers say tickets sold out for the event more than a week ago.

The event gives people the chance to experience all kinds of beer, 150 of them to be exact. People came from as far as Washington state to take part in the fun.

Organizers and participants say the event is a great way to highlight the craft beer movement.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

At Hey Brewtiful: "Beer Nerds Unite Over Kentucky Craft Writing Symposium."

Perhaps a final link to an attendee's recap of the Craft Writing symposium last weekend in Lexington, at Hey Brewtiful, which is explained as ...

What started out as a half-baked hobby to keep one stay-at-home-mom from losing her mind is a now a passionate past-time. HB aims to highlight people, places, products, and experiences that keep our glass full. Drinking in the world of craft beer through her original photography, writing, artwork and design, Jessica Miller is a self-taught social media junkie with a formal background in teaching and creative writing and a passion for the perfect pour.

Take the time to browse through the other articles herein, because there some fine pieces, from Atlanta and beyond. Verily, folks came from all over to take part in the symposium. I hope there'll be a repeat next year. Here's the Hey Brewtiful link:

Beer Nerds Unite Over Kentucky Craft Writing Symposium

Comprised of about 48 hours of continual beer consumption (both in body and in academic spirit) the University-of-Kentucky-sponsored Craft Writing Symposium in Lexington was a lot to take in. It's been almost a week, and I'm still a little hungover drunk on the experience.

There've been no shortage of summative remarks already shared in the last few days (and I'm sure there are more to come). What follows are my lasting impressions, as frustratingly biased and lacking in journalistic ethos as they may or may not be (sorry, Stan).

Friday, February 21, 2014

Keep your gun out of my bar, please. Thank you. Can we drink now?

I live in a Third World country, but there'll be no scoffing from me in the sense of noting, "well, it's Kentucky, after all." That's because Indiana is little better when it comes to bizarre concepts; witness HJR-3/6.

Kentucky Senate OKs Bill Allowing Concealed Carry Permit-Holders to Bring Guns into Bars, by Stu Johnson (Kentucky Public Radio)

FRANKFORT — Legislation that would allow people with concealed carry permits to bring firearms into bars and restaurants is on its way to the Kentucky House.

The state Senate passed the measure Thursday by a 30 to 4 vote. State Sen. John Schickel says he believes Senate Bill 60 is about the right to defend oneself. He told fellow senators that crime rates and gun-related accidents have fallen since concealed carry laws were established.

A few years back, I was phoned from Bank Street Brewhouse. Seems that someone was in the bar with a gun -- and he wasn't a police officer. The gun was in a holster, fully on display. Diners were uncomfortable. The explanation slowly unfolded; staff had expressed gentle displeasure with his choice of outerwear, and the drinker replied that it was too bad, but he had a permit, and could do when and where as he pleased.

Of course, I can walk down the street naked. Just because I can, doesn't mean I will; after all, I have a measure of respect for the sensibilities of my fellow human beings, even the Lite drinkers.

So, who's going to be the one to volunteer to tell the guy with the gun that guns are not permitted at the bar? That's what I thought. Did we comp him just to be rid of the discomfort? Sounds like quite the racket to me.

I grew up around guns, and as an adult, I'd prefer guns not be around me. Like Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce of television's M*A*S*H ...

I will not carry a gun, Frank. When I got thrown into this war I had a clear understanding with the Pentagon: no guns. I'll carry your books, I'll carry a torch, I'll carry a tune, I'll carry on, carry over, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash and carry, carry me back to Old Virginia, I'll even 'hari-kari' if you show me how, but I will not carry a gun!

To, me, firearms are roughly akin to cars, sports and Viagra as penile enhancement devices, and I already have a penis, thanks. Pieces of machinery (including fermenters) generally are value-neutral, their performance dependent on the guiding mind of humans. Conversely, human minds infected with machismo, conspiracy theories, hatred and just plain variable mental health issues offer as much cause to be frightened as the typical armed robber, who after all, just wants my money.

But, I'm no prohibitionist. My own professional world of alcoholic beverages symbolizes "legal but heavily regulated," and that strikes me as utterly appropriate. You need a gun to cope, and I need a bottle. More alcoholic beverages to redress alcoholism? I'll get right on it. Whatever gets you through your life, it's all right.

You can do as you please, with this caveat: Keep your gun out of my bar, please.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Two more craft writing recaps: Digital takeaways and a Beer Trappe's perspective.

Two more Craft Writing symposium review links appear below. First, five takeaways.


Almost all of the brewers who spoke said they also do the brewery’s writing.

I heard both Jeremy Cowan and Garrett Oliver say this, although they conceded doing less of such work writing nowadays. It seems to me that they've succeeded in establishing a house writing character (the Shmaltz shtick, Brooklyn Brewing's authoritative clarity) to guide those who churn today's copy.

It belatedly occurred to me that outside of the period 2010-2012, I could say the same about my writing for NABC. Probably more than 90% of the words written for NABC use since inception have been mine. To some extent, it's a legacy, although it can be annoying to look back and see errors and omissions, hence today's words for life: Everything you do is a work in progress.

Kevin Patterson runs The Beer Trappe in Lexington, and appears to be the voice of his workplace. His columns at have been thought-provoking, and I'm looking forward to further reading and the occasional exchange of ideas.

Screwed Up Beer Week (vol 7) - "The Elephant in the Craft Beer Room", by Kevin Patterson (

So, two hundred and fifty craft beer writers walk into a symposium. And I can say with great certainty that they all knew much more about beer than me. There were esteemed authors of world-renowned publishing. There were owners of beer-centric periodicals. There were current beer bloggers. There were brewers who wrote abut their beer endeavors, for better and for worse. There were beer & food experts. There were beer chemists, biologists and physics experts. There were several masterbrewers. There they all were, all 250 of them... and then there was me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Welcome to the Party ... or, a new Red Room installation.

Profuse and sincere thanks to longtime Public House customer Stephen Bodney, who produced a new piece of Red Room art. It was installed yesterday by Ben and Eric. Below is a close-up.

Hoperatives: On the Craft Writing Symposium.

As I stumble across them, I'll continue to post links to articles and reviews of last weekend's Craft Writing symposium. Tom's is another excellent recap. Grubby daily commercial demands eventually will erase my warm glow, but let's keep it for as long as possible, shall we?

Writing About Beer, by Tom Streeter

 ... I took more than a little bit away from each speaker. Given my former life as an academic (and still involved in education and training), that’s a batting average that never happens. I’m lucky in my day job if a meeting with six speakers has one intro worth listening to (and there’d better be donuts). This lineup? Amazing.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Gary Spedding of Brewing and Distilling Analytical Services on the Craft Writing symposium.

(photo credit to Oliver Gray)

For me, one of the most outstanding moments of the past weekend's Craft Writing symposium in Lexington came when Jeremy Cowan made a humorous reference to his academic weaknesses, math and science. These mirror my own lifelong shortcomings, and now I know I'm not alone among brewery owners.

Jeremy's major is English, mine Philosophy. Thus we plausibly lay claim to shtick, not chemical processes, although after hearing Jeremy's presentation, surely there's a great deal of chemistry to shtick.

Representing the polar opposite (not vortex) of my state is Gary Spedding, whom I had the pleasure of meeting after the show. But not only does he "get" the math and science, he writes wonderfully, too ... as you'll soon see (below). Gary is this guy:

Biochemist Gary Spedding, Ph.D. started in Brewing Analytical work nearly 14 years ago in Chicago at the Oldest Brewing School in the US. Following a move to Kentucky, and learning Distilling Analytical methods, Gary founded Brewing and Distilling Analytical Services (BDAS, LLC) in December 2002 and commenced full operations in May 2003.

Gary's company is Brewing and Distilling Analytical Services, LLC (official website), which also is on Facebook, where Gary published the following symposium review. Many thanks to him for allowing this reprint.


A brief review of the Craft Writing Seminar at UK – February 15th.

First, hats off to the University of Kentucky (and other groups) for sponsoring and covering the expenses of this excellent one-day symposium on writing in general and Craft Beer Writing in particular, as arranged by Dr. Jeff Rice of UK. We learned about good writing and the power of story here, and much more besides.

For those beer and other alcoholic beverage aficionados who could not attend or missed for other reasons, here is a snapshot of details. I'll break it down in order of speaker presentations.

Author Stan Hieronymous (Brew Like a Monk, Brewing with Wheat and For the Love of Hops amongst several other books and key works) spoke to us about Communication in the “New World,” and certainly enlightened me on sites that should be consulted by those interested in beer writing, collection and storage of that information and where to find the good stories. I have known Stan for a few years, mainly on a “hello, how are you basis” at various meetings; now, after having him stop by and tour our lab, I feel I know much more about him and his breadth of knowledge on the beer and brewing culture. His presentation will be online at his blog:

Following Stan was Julie Johnson of All About Beer fame, writer and (in my opinion) historian of the craft brewing since the 1970s. She spoke on the first 10 years of craft brewing news. Again, I had met Julie a couple times over the years, but we spoke about the American Homebrewers Association* as they were back in 1986-88, and the lack of recorded historical data from those early years. If I remember correctly it was the 1987 meeting in Boulder with the Brewers Tasting hall not much bigger than the auditorium venue yesterday, and the attendees who voted for the best beers there. I remember one “13th Colony Amber Beer” was my favorite (unless I have dreamt that since – I am now getting old and short in memory). Yet no one ANYWHERE can tell me if I am right and if that beer really ever existed, and if so, who made it. Anyone from the 13th Colony enlighten the brewing world with a neat story regarding that beer and brewery? Or debunk the myth (in my mind) that it ever existed?

Before a good lunch, the final morning speaker was a friend of mine from many years, Teri Fahrendorf, who talked about creating communities out of thin air. Her neat road trip journey was recounted with respect to social media storytelling and the rise of knowledge about women brewers in particular. Think about the Pink Boots Society if you are a lady involved in any adventure of paid brewing employment. Teri had visited our old lab (in my basement) many years back, and I got to show her the new facilities and instruments before the evening sessions of entertainment at our local breweries began. Thanks, Teri.

The afternoon began with a couple talks with a bit more of a controversial bent, and some twists and tales. We heard from someone I am sad to say I did not know of before but will be following more closely on:

Roger Baylor from New Albanian Brewing (I have not visited them yet but knew the name and believe their brewer is a fellow I may know from years gone by – I will attempt to reconnect) gave just a series of “bullet point” notes but very powerful stimulators of conversation including one of my favorite controversial topics – should beer be local only? One of my own pieces bears on this – the now full-issue printing BA Guide to the Quality of Craft Beer in Trade where I discuss how beer deteriorates rapidly in transport unless very carefully managed (just out this month) and the recent issue on the Brewers Association forums about growlers and reuse. His other points were of interest and maybe covered on his blog site. Either way you will find a lot of stimulating pieces I think at his site.

Jeremy Cowan of Shmaltz Brewing, author of Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah, craftily and very amusingly tells his (self-touted) and bizarre story of how he, knowing nothing himself about brewing, built up a wonderful $3.5M new brewery after “killing” (or maybe my side of the story stealing – hi to Paul here) a contract brewer and whose beers are now gaining more widespread distribution, including right here in KY. I had heard Jeremy regale a full account of the story in Denver last year and he is one very funny and savvy SOB (Sensationally Observant or Obstinate Brewing Marketer - my takeaway on this) whose tragic/comedic rise to fame is covered in the book. Of many books on how to start a brewery, this could be the only one you need to see if you have what it takes to do so.

Mitch Steel was due to talk on IPA, and I know many homebrewers likely attended just to hear Mitch. I have also known Mitch many, many years and heard him speak before at our professional brewers meetings, so I know you missed a good talk yesterday. That said I applaud him for not travelling and attending to his family and ask you all keep him in your thoughts. See Stan’s blog (above) for a bit of dialog on this including Mitch’s apology for not attending. In his absence, I only just bought my copy of his book, where you will get a great account of what he would have covered: IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale, from Brewers Publications. There will be other opportunities to hear Mitch talk at Craft Brewers Conferences for those at the pro-level of brewing.

Finally we heard from -- and I had the pleasure to introduce -- Garrett Oliver; friend, fellow beer judge, client and editor of the dozen or so articles he requested from us for the esteemed Oxford Companion to Beer. With his reach and publications, I think Garrett needed no introduction and many attended to hear him from the perspective of brewing and his beer, food and cultural writings. He informed us of where to look for writings on beer and food and encouraged us to stimulate the conversations in the mainstream press by responding to articles, commentaries and on-line posts. Newspapers only write more about those topics that their reader EXPRESS an interest in. Reading and not responding is not an option if you want the press to expound more on a topic of interest. Important for giants like the New York Times, but also for our more local press. Where was Lee Cruze yesterday from LEX 18 news? Where were the local press during the Mission Small Business campaign a few years ago? It is up to us to follow good writing and encourage more of it. Garrett conveyed the power of emotion and detail and reminded us all that (as for everything) in the end its all about people! That’s what really matters!

We heard many lessons about good writing and its influence and impact from all the speakers and we all learned more than we can ever simply retell in short blurbs like mine here, but I’ll finish with a point that I think sums up the way true writing is supposed to be, gleaned after Julie showed us a photo of Jack McAuliffe.

My take: A picture paints a thousand words, but can a writer can describe that picture in words and bring it powerfully, truthfully, colorfully and emotively to life in the “minds-eye." That is the power of storytelling – no? Sometimes, of course, it needs to be told in black and white.

The picture of Jack was presented (at least) twice in the various morning sessions, and one of the speakers quoted someone describing the scene. It was that description that led to my "a ha" moment and my statement above. I think that was what all our speakers were trying to portray (Garrett’s tears included) about good writing as involving the telling of stories. It was, for me, and I think all the attendees a day well spent.


* Gary might be referring to the Great American Beer Festival here?

Monday, February 17, 2014

The PC: Not so simple a symposium.

(Published at on February 17, 2014)


Not so simple a symposium.

It isn’t often that two A-list highlights from one’s entire life occur in a single weekend, but it can happen. In fact, it just happened to me. Both memorable moments came about because of the craft writing symposium held in Lexington, Kentucky, on February 15.

The lesser of the two came on Saturday afternoon when keynote speaker Garrett Oliver called me out by name (“Mr. Baylor”), to contest a previous bullet point I made about two eighteen-wheelers filled with craft beer, passing each other on a lonesome prairie interstate highway, headed for opposite coasts.

Would the drivers even know to wave amid the widening carbon footprint of their payloads?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The life of a beer writer.

I told Stan Hieronymus that this photo would not be published on social media, but fortunately, this is a blog. We placed Stan in back by the beer samples. Jeremy Cowan contemplates the possibilities.

Along with Teri Fahrendorf and Julie Johnson (Mitch Steele couldn't make it), and of course Jeff Rice and the hosts, these guys helped make the craft writing weekend a blast.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

From Nov. 1, 2011: "Homes Away from Home."

I'm in reruns for a few days, posting past columns of note.

It really is a form of religion for me.

Homes Away from Home

We went for a stroll last Sunday and passed one of those fly-by-night evangelistic churches, this one occupying an old shotgun house.

A man I’d never seen before waved as we passed, and he called out, “One of these Sundays, why don’t you come to church with us?”

I thought about it, and answered: “Sure, as long as you’ll come to my church with me.”

He answered, “Where’s your church?”

“Any brewpub will do,” I replied, and walked on.

Friday, February 14, 2014

From Dec. 15, 2011: "Of Beer and the Pissoir."

I'm in reruns for a few days, posting past columns of note.

The winter of 2013-2014 has been one of the coldest ones we've had for a long while in Southern Indiana. There's been ice, snow and temperatures scaping zero.

My reaction? Well, piss on it.

Of Beer and the Pissoir

It may have been Archie Bunker who observed, “You don’t buy beer, you rent it,” and your humble columnist has gleaned a fair amount of experience in such matters in his career as professional beer drinker, especially when imbibing in Europe. Many aspects of the continent’s beer and brewing cultures have changed since 1985, but none more so than a steady escalation in cleanliness and comfort of the facilities at a typical watering hole.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

From Sept. 15, 2012: "Jackson, Louisville, and the Color Red."

I'm in reruns for a few days, posting past columns of note.

It's a story that ties together the Red Room, geography, colors, politics and beer.

Jackson, Louisville, and the Color Red

Michael Jackson unexpectedly visited the former Rich O’s Public House in November, 1994, a tad more than two years after we opened. If I hadn’t been drinking for much of the same day, tagging along as the Beer Hunter made pre-arranged appearances at Bluegrass Brewing Company and the now defunct Silo, I’d have been far too nervous to properly function as host.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Diary: Indiana craft beer, and how drinking it at the State Fair and buying it at a farmers market may lead to civilization's collapse.

(My diary is the place for unexpurgated thoughts. Maybe I'll edit them later. Probably not)

Did you know that Indiana package stores believe Indiana beer and wine at the State Fair to be a bad idea?

Did you know Indiana package stores also oppose allowing small Indiana breweries to do what wineries have done with their products for thirty years running, and sell local beer at local farmers markets?

Hmm. Did I miss the press release in which Indiana package stores were appointed Official Godlike Overseers of the legislative process in Indiana?

I believe I must have. And it's really lamentable.

So let's just be clear, with a personal thought entirely unconnected with policies determined by my Guild, of which I'm a director: At times like this, heartfelt protestations of undying support and friendship from the package store association (as an entity ... certainly not individuals, whose opinions vary, although Big Red Liquors has openly advanced both these views, and one must express confusion as to why Big Red is doing so) -- well, shall we say, these sonorous proclamations of fidelity ring somewhat hollow?

With "friends" like these, who needs prohibitionist enemies?

Yes, I shall say so. I didn't use the word hypocritical, so give me that much. I might have, and no court in the world would rule against my choice of wording.

My hope is that the House will see past the grandstanding and approve a couple of bills that empower the small brewing business while taking absolutely nothing away from small package stores.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The PC: Conformity, contrarianism and a craft writing symposium.

(Published at on February 10, 2014)


Conformity, contrarianism and a craft writing

by Roger Baylor
In my stray jigsaw-puzzle-piece of the planet, the coming weekend is utterly devoted to the city of Lexington, Kentucky.
I never once thought I’d write that sentence, but Lexington is where my mother attended the University Of Kentucky, which is hosting an event called “Craft Writing: Beer, The Digital, and Craft Culture,” among whose participants I have been included by the symposium’s organizer, Jeff Rice.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

On "Halfway to Louisville Craft Beer Week" and John King's family tree.

I sincerely hope Deep Purple isn't contemplating a punctuation trademark infringement war against the folks at, where going halfway is described in detail.

Halfway to Louisville Craft Beer Week?!

Yup, we're halfway there and we'll be celebrating!

Craft beer drinkers are an impatient bunch, including us. With great success from our 4th annual Louisville Craft Beer Week combined with the expanding craft beer scene in Louisville, we decided to take four days in April to showcase that Kentucky is known for more than just bluegrass and bourbon in the spring time. will be working with the Kentucky Guild of Brewers, local beer bars, and restaurants to promote our thriving craft beer culture in a citywide celebration of local and regional craft beer. Halfway to LCBW is an effort to enhance localism, beer knowledge, and appreciation of the positive growth of the Kentucky craft beer industry.

This four-day event (April 16th-20th) will include events like special beer releases to tap takeovers to beer dinners and anything and everything Kentucky craft beer related. After acquiring sponsorships, we will produce a condensed version of our Craft Beer Guide which will detail every event. Mark your calendars down and expect to here from us in the near future.

On a side note, we have already set the dates for the 5th Annual Louisville Craft Beer Week as September 12-20, 2014!

If you're interesting in a sponsorship or an ad in the guide, please contact SCOTT LYKINS at 502.494.1551 or email

Meanwhile, LouisvilleBeer columnist and co-conspirator John King recently sketched his family tree, but in a way meant to defer implied Kentucky punctuation. Congratulations to John for landing the gig as major domo of the KGB.

Craft Beer Roots

by John King
I tend to get my best ideas and most coherent thoughts while out on a run.  After sticking my hand in many cookie jars throughout the work day, it’s my hour to just reflect (or realize I should have went to the bathroom before I stepped out the door) on what’s going on in my life.   Last night while trying not to slip on ice and bust my ass/head/anything, I started to think about my craft beer family tree and how it led to where I am today in the beer community.  With that, let me describe a little bit of my journey that found me in my most recent acquired position of Executive Director of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Intellectual honesty as it pertains to Goose Island's entirely necessary multinational hash tag.

What's that intellectual honesty egghead horseshit, Rog -- I mean, all we care about is the liquid in the glass, and we don't give a fuck who finances it.

Thank you, narcissists. Meanwhile, back in the real world, in determining whether it's Goose Island or Trojan Goose, geography is only somewhat useful.

More relevant is the eternal admonition to follow the money.

Failure to do so conjures questions of intellectual honesty, as in this plank: 'Relevant facts and information are not purposefully omitted even when such things may contradict one's hypothesis."

Intellectual honesty is an applied method of problem solving in academia, characterized by an unbiased, honest attitude, which can be demonstrated in a number of different ways, including but not limited to:

  • One's personal beliefs do not interfere with the pursuit of truth;
  • Relevant facts and information are not purposefully omitted even when such things may contradict one's hypothesis;
  • Facts are presented in an unbiased manner, and not twisted to give misleading impressions or to support one view over another;
  • References, or earlier work, are acknowledged where possible, and plagiarism is avoided.
  • Harvard ethicist Louis M. Guenin describes the "kernel" of intellectual honesty to be "a virtuous disposition to eschew deception when given an incentive for deception."

Intentionally committed fallacies in debates and reasoning are sometimes called intellectual dishonesty.

For an explanation of the local multiplier effect, elements of which surely apply to this digression, visit a place where principled folks make interesting points: The Multiplier Effect of Local Independent Business Ownership.

Hint: It isn't located at Rate Advocate's web site.

Friday, February 07, 2014

The Gralehaus. "From the same people who run Holy Grale."

It is without the slightest tinge of irony, and absent any discernible snark, that I say: I live vicariously through what Lori Beck, Tyler Trotter and their staff have done at the Holy Grale, and now the Gralehaus. They are not necessarily new or original ideas, but this is not the point at all; they've painstakingly realized these ideas, refined and built and implemented them, and deserve all the plaudits they receive now and in the future for doing so.

Congratulations, salutations and best wishes.

I wouldn't be human if I didn't concede a measure of bittersweet reflection. I've wanted to do something like the Gralehaus since those early days in Europe. For 1,001 reasons, ranging from serendipity through circumstance, and not omitting the very palpable fact that I've had neither the money nor the aptitude to pretend otherwise, it was not to be.  So it goes, with no tears shed and rear-view mirrors reduced to shards with a hammer. But my enthusiasm for the Grale empire is absolutely sincere. I've always known it was possible, and I'm simply elated that they've gotten it done.

Keep on rocking, guys.

The much-anticipated Gralehaus opens today, offering a new take on breakfast and lunch fare, by Steve Kaufman (Insider Louisville)

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Fare thee well, Blue Point; may the multinational brewing assassins at AB InBev stuff your gills full of cash.

If you can find anything remotely craft-like in the following paragraph, if nothing else it at least proves you are fluent in modern multinational corporate-speak.

Congratulations for that ability, and kudos to Trojan Blue Point for cashing in. Maybe Blue Point and Goose Island can do a collaboration brewed in Leuven.

Wouldn't that be something. It could be called Two Zombies in Belgium.

Anheuser-Busch InBev to acquire Blue Point Brewing Company (Beer Pulse)

... “As we welcome Blue Point into the Anheuser-Busch family of brands, we look forward to working with Mark and Peter to accelerate the growth of the Blue Point portfolio and expand to new markets, while preserving the heritage and innovation of the brands,” said Luiz Edmond, CEO of Anheuser-Busch. “With Anheuser-Busch’s strong beer credentials, we share a commitment to offering high-quality beers that excite consumers. Blue Point brands have a strong following and even more potential.”

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Idle 1980s thoughts about bad beers and old men.

I was thinking back to when my love affair began ... with bars, taverns and watering holes. It was before I began traveling, so these were the local spots -- some of them dives, others with slightly more dignified pretensions.

Seeing as I was just south of 21 when it started, pretty much all the patrons were older than me, and it seems that when it came to the old men, who in retrospect probably meant anyone older than 40, most of them were drinking traditional manly, old-man beers like Pabst, Sterling and Miller High Life.

At some point shortly thereafter, when I was in my mid-twenties, I became aware that almost all of them had switched to Lite, Bud Light and even Old Milwaukee Light. Price seemingly wasn’t the issue; if anything, they’d traded up and were paying more to cover the cost of Miller’s and Bud's television ads.

After long consideration, I concluded that a lifetime of Sterling and City finally had gotten to them, and when they realized that light beer was socially acceptable to their peers, under the rationalization that it was less filling, thus enabling them to drink even more beer than ever before, they fled their traditional brands as fast as their terminally damaged taste buds would carry them. Better the nothingness of wet air than something terminally foul ... and you could hear the sighs of relief in air-conditioned lounges and softball fields all across the nation.

It pleases me that local brands like City and Sterling are back, in altered form; in short, drinkable. The Pabst renaissance over the past two decades as yet puzzles me. It tastes nothing like the Pabst I remember. In fact, it tastes like nothing at all.

Wait, I forget; that's the point, isn't it?

Monday, February 03, 2014

The PC: On Sheryl Crow, the bourgeoisie and Flat12.

(Published at on February 3, 2014)


The PC: On Sheryl Crow, the bourgeoisie and Flat12

by Roger Baylor
It is widely believed that noted philosopher-singer Sheryl Crow was the first observer to astutely detect the oxymoronic existence of a concept called “favorite mistake,” which she proceeded to describe:
“The perfect ending, to the bad day I was just beginning.”
For the uninitiated, an oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes seemingly contradictory elements into understandable obscurity. Famous examples include military intelligence, jumbo shrimp, “hurts so good,” and Kona craft beer.
Hearing Sheryl Crow’s old song playing on tinny, crackling outdoor speakers while waiting to pump some petrol got me thinking, and as such idling thoughts tend to go: Might there have been a “favorite mistake” occurring at some point during my career in beer?

Diary: Evolution is a funny thing.

For a great many years, my preferred method for coping with stress was to binge with considerable panache on food and drink. If I could toss sex into the equation I would, but it wouldn’t fool anyone, would it? At one time, travel fit this pattern of excess.

December of 2013 was as stressful a month professionally as I can recall, and to be sure, there was feasting and guzzling amid the holidays. They occurred with a degree of unease; a few times previously in my life, I’ve voluntarily “rehabbed” myself because of physical discomfort, and yet this time, it was more of a psychological matter.

I called a halt to the revelry on January 1, and am down 17 pounds since then. As noted oft times before, there is no secret to losing weight, at least for me. Enhanced exercise, smaller portions of the same food, and a reduction in beer intake. It’s simple, and dreadfully difficult.

The hardest part about reduced alcohol intake is a double-edged sword effect. After a couple of days, I find that all aspects of mental acuity surge upward. There is vastly enhanced clarity … but who really wants to see this miserable, pain-filled, stupid world so clearly?

I’m fortunate to be in a committed and loving relationship, and so the home front has been good. She keeps me rooted. However, just about everything outside the boundaries of my house is more crazily unsettled. My mom needs more help than she used to. The city of New Albany is an infuriating, dull laggard of an entity, resistant to change.

At work, we’re trying to reinvent BSB in mid-air entering into a second five-year plan, and of course, figure out some way to sell more of our beer in a “craft beer” market that makes very little sense, and which seems determined to lapse into intellectually sclerotic self-parody.

Coping with the demands has been draining. Take it from a guy with an SAT score of 680 verbal, 320 mathematics: Being expected to endlessly crunch numbers is agony, and since last fall, I’ve done more of it than ever before. Numbers look like an impressionistic painting to me, and always have. Bankers hover, leering. Capitalism oppresses. I’m ready to scream, stuck in a horror movie of math.

Rather than scream, I’m ready for a good, long, intense binge, filled with pints of beer, bottles of Scrumpy, fried chicken, clam sauce, ribs … and curiously, I haven’t taken it -- at least yet.

Maybe at the age of 53, it’s a sign of maturity. I’m reminded of my first trip to Europe at the age of 24, shy and inhibited and completely overwhelmed. I drank a bit here and there; a few beers, a glass of wine and some ouzo. It was a whole month into a three-month stay before I felt secure enough to get plastered, and when I did, I was in the company of my cousin, in a small town, away from the city lights.

The past six months have been tantamount to some sort of ancient video game. Issues keep popping up, and being shot down or disabled, and then more of them pop up in place of the first wave. The trigger finger is bent backward, and the barrel is white hot. I’m not sure when I’ll feel secure enough again to relax my guard, and to escape from this perpetual cycle of emergencies.

This is my theory for why I’m largely refraining from drink. Responsibility and adulthood. But I’m not sure I like it much. At the same time, I don’t dislike it. The few beers I’ve had since December were great. I’ve greatly enjoyed recent tastings, when small nips suffice just fine.

Someday, things will be back to normal, won’t they?

Sunday, February 02, 2014

The NABC crew before Winterfest 2014.

From left to right: Tony Beard, Ben Minton, Blake Montgomery and Josh Hill. They're holding court at Twenty Tap, one of our Indy faves. I especially like the many examples of Tony's art hanging on the rear wall.

Saturday, February 01, 2014