Monday, March 31, 2014

The Diary of Our Own Jimmy Bracken: I am a man who looks after the pigs.

Since no one is likely to guess the source, I'll confide the origin of the proper name herein: The Diary of Our Own Jimmy Bracken ... or how I've titled my last three diary ruminations.

It refers to a 1930s-era column in a magazine called Metronome, which chronicled the big band years, and as written pseudonymously by the late George T. Simon. As Benny Goodman or Glenn Miller was to big band music, Simon was to big band writing. Think of Metronome as the Rolling Stone of its time.

And so on.

My week in beer begins with a minor disappointment, perhaps best explained by reading a Sunday op/ed piece in the New York Times, written by Steve Hindy of Brooklyn Brewery: "Craft breweries may be a big story in the media these days, but they face much tougher challenges than most other small businesses."

If you're engaged in most legitimate business pursuits and develop a wonderful product, you can take it to market in a variety of ways, limited only by imagination and financing. In the booze biz, producers generally must adhere to the three-tier distribution system. Granted, in Indiana we have the right to distribute ourselves, and that's helpful.

It isn't any help if we wish to distribute in neighboring states, or, as in the case of Kentucky, re-establish distribution. NABC once teamed with Bryant, and when Bryant was bought by Heidelberg, we signed on with them. Thus ensued a bad experience, to put it mildly; the most frustrating thing about it now, post-divorce, is knowing that owing to this wholesaler's large size relative to our smallness, the pain and agony of abject neglect could be felt only by us, and never by them. It's the sort of thing to make a man (and his beer) bitter, although not me. Well, not much.

It's springtime, replete with new beginnings.

We'd dearly love to be back in Greater Kentucky (outside Jefferson County and environs, where we work with River City) sooner rather than later, and so I've been examining options, and thinking about the meaning of life and product lines. It's been a while, perhaps high school, since I've had to look into a mirror and question whether I'm cool enough to fit in with the crowd, and maybe that's why I listened to Quadrophenia yesterday.

NABC started brewing in 2002, and over the ensuing 12 years, norms, tastes and the marketplace have continued spinning like a kaleidoscope with blinders on acid. I've persisted in thinking that our best bet is to make quality beer, and to do so consistently; this we do, and after all, it draws customers to our own two buildings, and does all right regionally when available. For it to be available regionally, we need a wholesaler.

It sounds simple enough, but then there's that mirror again.

Where do you get
Those blue blue jeans?
Faded patched secret so tight.
Where do you get
That walk oh so lean?
Your shoes and your shirts
All just right.

But I'm one. You'll all see.

The PC: My shoes are filled with Volga mud: (1) A tale of a fateful trip.

(Published at on March 31, 2014)


My shoes are filled with Volga mud: (1) A tale of a fateful trip.

A 1999 travelogue in three parts.

March 31: (1) A tale of a fateful trip.
April 7: (2) The future is the past.
April 14: (3) Beer hunters lurking nearby.

(1) A tale of a fateful trip.

I knew we were in trouble from the moment the weather-beaten boat came into view. It had been hired by Allan Gamborg to take us out into the expanse of water that he swore was a river, but looked to me like a vast inland ocean.

A handful of pasty male natives in flowery swimming trunks eyed us with curiosity from behind their reeking cigarette stubs. There was an odor of gasoline in the air … or was it vodka?

Indiana craft beer focus coming to Bloomington during the second week of April.

The 2014 Bloomington Craft Beer Festival is Saturday, April 14. Information is here.

The fest is preceded by Bloomington Craft Beer Week, as described here.

Louisvillians will note that in 2014, with Thunder Over Louisville moved forward a week, the best possible way to avoid the scrum on the banks of the Ohio is to make the short drive to Bloomington, take in the fest, and perhaps spend time exploring one of Indiana's greatest smaller cities.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

"So if you want my beer, you need to keep me happy."

Whenever I read Kevin Patterson's essays, I'm transported through the beer time warp, back to the period 1992-2002. I was much younger, a tad more temperamental, and ensconced behind the Public House bar almost every day. The amazing aspect of my subsequent reputation as one unable to suffer fools is how often I actually did. Some days, when the fastball isn't crackling and the curveball isn't breaking, you get by on guile ... and then overcompensate afterwards by suckling at the taps and consuming profits.

I say this in jest, Kevin, but are you sure you're not somehow plagiarizing my subconscious coping mechanisms from the grunge era? I resemble so many of these remarks.

Screwed Up Beer Week (vol 12) - Don't Be "That Guy"! Here's How...

... Get the hell out of my bubble!: When folks drink, there seems to be the need for them to crawl up in my shirt in order to talk with me. Don't be that guy! I don't need your halitosis and stout breath sticking to my hair to have a good chat. Especially if I'm behind the bar. That's my space- not yours. You cross that imaginary line where the business side of the bar starts and the friendly side ends and I have full permission to put your ass to work! We're probably not as close as you think. Simply put, don't chase me around the bar.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Diary of Our Own Jimmy Bracken: Not unlike the Oakland A's.

NABC has sent two brewers to Schlafly Brewery, a brewer to Huber Winery & Distillery, a salesperson to New Holland Brewing, one chef to Holy Grale, and a second to The Place Downstairs.

We may be on the verge of conclusive evidence attesting to the proposition that in big league sports terms, NABC is a small market team.

Since 1987, when the pizzeria was founded, several hundred people have worked for NABC in one capacity or another -- some for a little while, and others for a very long time. Many, and perhaps most, have gone on to bigger and better things. One's a chef in Louisville. One's a successful real estate professional in Texas. One's doing nicely on the Left Coast. Lots of them own their own businesses. It's impossible to keep track of them all, but it's always a pleasure to bump into successful alumni.

A business is not a person, but the life of a business resembles that of the individual. There are fast and slow times, fat and lean years, and good and bad periods. It's fun for a while, and then profoundly non-fun actions become necessary. People come and go, in life and business. It's all a jumble, and a blur.

Through it all, when it seems the hardest, it's useful to remember that we've been useful. A perfect record is impossible, and yet I'm satisfied that over the years, it's been a good relationship between management and team.

The challenge never changes: Keep it rolling. Some day, even I might decide what I'd like to do when I grow up.

Congratulations to Matt Weirich, now conjuring at The Place Downstairs.

Matt is second from the right.

Matt Weirich was executive chef at NABC's Bank Street Brewhouse for just shy of three years, and now he's landed a position at one of the most anticipated new eateries in Louisville: The Place Downstairs. It's obviously a step up, and also nearer to Matt's home.

Congratulations, Matt!

Opening of The Place Downstairs sets standard for new Louisville restaurants in 2014, by Steve Coomes (Insider Louisville; photo from Matt's Fb page)

You sense an undeniable air of exclusivity when going to The Place Downstairs. To get to the restaurant, which opened yesterday, you walk a bee line through a gauntlet of customers waiting for a table at Mussel & Burger Bar, the always absurdly busy, upscale burger restaurant at 9200 Taylorsville Road.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Allan's beer pusher in Moscow, Part Two ... salting the roaches.

When my friend Allan wrote to describe the new Russian beer "growler" filling station doing business in his Moscow market, he made it a point to include reference to fish sold there, too, presumably in lieu of peanuts or nachos.

Allan did this in part because it echoes our experience in the Russian countryside in 1999, but it also prompts an exceedingly dim recollection of visiting a beer hall of some sort, all metal and tile, somewhere off Kalinin Prospekt in Moscow in 1989, and having a couple of draft beers (Zhiguli?) with salted fish, and as many fish rinds on the floor as peanut shells in a Texas Roadhouse.

I replied to Allan: What about a recipe for salting those fish?

He answered with the video (above) and voluminous instructions, and before I pass along two excerpts, the first thing to remember is that when you initiate your google translation of Russian-language passages devoted to explaining how to go about salting fish, there'll be a common word come back to you: Roach.

First, the skewed snippets, followed by an explanation that will still your queasy stomach.

In the early 70s, I once bought a porter fishmarket "Lighthouse" that Leningradke for "Falcon", two bags of roach. By ruble twenty per kilogram. Here it was summer! We ate roach continuously. Beer for me was free and make profit (standing in a pub drinking beer and chewing dried fish - every one suit and ask the price. Took the tail or a couple of beers, or fifty dollars, it was very cheap). In Odessa, I rented a room for three in the Carolino Bugaz per bag roach month. And the hosts were extremely happy and accommodating.

Or this:

You have successfully went fishing and brought home a solid catch roach. Note: to run for beer and invite friends early conversion of fish notable roach take more than a month.
Take a bucket or large enamel pot. Pour on the bottom layer of coarse salt and put a layer of fish. Then another layer of the layer of salt and fish. And more. A top placing oppression. Roach under the yoke should prosalivatsya a week. And a pot or bucket is better to put in a cool place - for example to the balcony. But not in the refrigerator.

Roach: It's neither a clip for curing river creatures nor the common American insidious insect, but is, in fact, a fish: Vobla in Russian.

Vobla (Rutilus caspicus), also termed the Caspian roach, is a species of cyprinid fish inhabiting the Caspian Sea and inflowing rivers. It is closely related to the common roach (Rutilus rutilus) and often considered its subspecies, Rutilus rutilus caspicus.

Salt-dried vobla is a common Russian meal or snack that goes well with beer. It is popular in many Russian households and beer restaurants.

Salted, jerked roach. Sounds like the perfect menu item for the new generation of star gastropub chefs. I'm checking the Ohio River for carp as we speak.

Allan's beer pusher in Moscow, Part One ... the plastic bottles.

From Moscow, my old buddy Allan Gamborg writes:

In my local market, a guy has set up a booth selling beers from about 20 different microbreweries from Moscow, and the towns around Moscow. He sells both bottles and on tap in 1 liter plastic bottles filled on the spot. Around 6 pm there is always a line of men after work. He also sells dried fish. Wonderful place. Beer is not so good though, at least not to my taste. For some reason, most of the beer is pale ale or stout. Well. I'll make some better photos next time I'm there if you want some inspiration on how to run your business.

PS – It probably cannot match the place we visited out of town, in 1999, on the way home from my dacha. Not much can.

He's referring to this.

It was the quintessential roadside beer stand, the mysterious local brewery’s de facto open-air tap room, nestled under the welcomed shade of trees in a farmyard littered with puddles, chicken droppings and fish bones, where a lady poured beer from a rigged faucet attached to a single keg, minus the needless expense of extras like refrigeration or television advertising.

At her disposal were six mugs, a basin of well water for rinsing them, and a bowl of rubles for making change. A half-liter of draft beer cost 25 cents, and the origin of the bones was revealed when I offered her a 20-ruble banknote for two beers, and in lieu of coins, she offered two small, leathery smoked fish in return.

I've actually been working on an updated version of this tale of Americans and Danes in Russia back in '99, and am considering publishing it at as a multi-part Potable Curmudgeon column. But before that ... what is it about fish and beer in Russia, anyway?

Of a few taverns past, and some new ones on the way.

Here in New Albany, the shortest way to drive from the vicinity of my Midtown home to the Charlestown Road corridor north of I-265 is to proceed first to Vincennes Street, than hang a right onto Charlestown Road and follow it all the way out.

Doing so, you'll pass a vacant spot by Silver Street where Steinert's Tavern  used to stand before it burned down a few years back. It eventually restarted downtown, but folded. All told, it was one of New Albany's oldest drinking establishments.

A bit further up Charlestown Road, on the right side at Slate Run Road, there stands a modern strip mall on the site of what was called the Lone Star (I believe in olden times it was a lumberyard), then became a Tumbleweed some time around 1983, when the Tex-Mex chain still was local. It burned about a decade back, and was demolished.

Another mile down Charlestown Road at the Blackiston Mill Road intersection are the foundations of Sam's Food & Spirits, which occupied the spot from about 1985 through 2013; it burned just before Christmas, and was recently torn down. Before it was Sam's, it was Ye Olde Mill Inn, the Gasthaus, and for decades prior, the Fourth Dam Tavern.

I turned 21 in 1981, and from that point through 1987, when I first began hanging out at Sportstime Pizza five years before actually joining the business, probably 95% of my drinking occurred at Steinert's (until I was kicked out in a dispute over a salt shaker), Tumbleweed, Sam's and the K & H Cafe in Lanesville. Only the latter never burned, and although the bar business there never ceased being operational (it's Big Momma's nowadays), I haven't been inside since the Schneiders retired in the early 1990s.

My dwelling on these memories may have something to do with aging, or with the revelation that an old, dilapidated tavern building near my house is slated for the wrecking ball:

Some of the taverns at 922 Culbertson, from 1937-1996.

What happens to the ghosts of drinkers past when the buildings go away? Must they find a new spot to haunt?

Of more a optimistic orientation are these stories of impending debuts. Great Flood has started brewing, with NABC's David Pierce providing some helpful hints.

VIDEO: Louisville’s Newest Brewery – Great Flood Brewing

... and three other food and drink businesses on the way have caught my eye. Big Four Burgers is owned by Matt McMahan, who also owns Irish Exit in New Albany:

Big Four Burgers eyeing more in downtown New Albany

In Louisville, there's another branch of the BBC empire coming:

BBC-run Brewhouse to replace Dark Star on Frankfort

Finally, where the epochal Maido used to be, comes a new Japanese eatery:

Old Maido location to re-open as Bar Code 1758, featuring Japanese fare

Will the beer selection at Bar Code 1758 come close to what Jim used to stock at Maido? We boys (and girls) can dream -- of old and new watering holes, and of wasabi and Hop Slam speedballs.

Is this the year for craft beer in Louisville Slugger Field, or will it be another ignominious swill-out?

If you search the internetz for "Louisville Bats Craft Beer," you're pointed here: Promotion Schedule.

Then search for the word "craft" on the same page, and the results show: 0 of 0.

That's par for the course, although there are the usual $1 Budweiser Beer Happy Swill Hour promos throughout the campaign. A couple hours up the road in Cincinnati, home of the Reds -- major league parent club of the Bats -- comes this news:


Louisville Bats craft-oriented fans, read it and weep.

The Bats home season starts in two weeks. Recently, when I've mentioned the impending 2014 yearly reprise of "The Sahara of Slugger Field," I've received tantalizing hints in return, to the effect that the adjacent Against the Grain brewery intends to reverse its traditional disinterest in the perimeters of the ball park lying outside its doors, and will be involved somehow in bringing better beer to the ballpark this year, perhaps in conjunction with other Kentucky breweries. This would make sense, especially if done via the Kentucky Guild of Brewers imprimatur.

I'm told nothing, and I know nothing. It's fairly simple: Since the inception of Slugger Field, the Bats and monopolist catering partner Centerplate have refused to comprehend a vastly altered beer world, and as someone who'd dearly love to spend money at games more often than I do now, a selection of craft beer reflecting the real world we live in would be quite nice.

Ultimately, the dollar-is-king-bottom-line Bats ballclub is relinquishing further windfall profits by not lifting a timid finger to the air and catering to consumer tastes in the year 2014. Maybe they're planning on doing so, and will surprise us all in two weeks. I can only hope. The city of Louisville deserves better than mass-market swill at the yard.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Chemists espouse the health benefits of beer.

I stumbled across this during a web search, and although it's a few years old (1996), it's quite inspirational. It makes me thirsty for a pint of Bitter.

A pint a day ...

Sterile, free of toxic metals, isotonic and good for the heart, beer is undeserving of decades of bad press, say David Williams and Jeremy Philpott.

Beer is one of the most ancient foods known to humankind. Grain was being fermented to brew beer as long ago as ca 3500 BC - 2000 years before it was used in baking bread. Used as payment, ration, or gift, beer has been drunk and celebrated by people all over the world for thousands of years. Up to 300 years ago it was safer to drink beer than surface water because the water used in brewing had been boiled, and until recently stout was frequently prescribed for post-natal women and the infirm ...

It is way past time then to dispel some of the myths about beer. When used as part of a balanced diet, beer is beneficial for human health, and the infrequent mishap resulting from a little over-indulgence is no reason to brand beer as contrary to our well-being.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The PC: Swill in the Time of Pornadoes.

(Published at on March 24, 2014 ... it's a reworking of a piece originally posted at NA Confidential)


Swill in the Time of Pornadoes.

I suppose we might consider the breathtaking, cosmic significance of Oberon Day, and the joy of warm-weather beer arriving to crowd store shelves long before it should ever matter climactically, during a frigid March week, primarily because craft beer now insists on being just as vapid as the rest of corporate America.

But since this one paragraph already constitutes rhetorical overkill, let’s move on to what used to be the unquestioned highlight of spring, namely the illicit consumption of wretched swill.

Specifically, it was a long-anticipated spring weekend, planned for weeks amid bursts of testosterone-laden impatience ...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

One fine beer dinner at 610 Magnolia.

On Thursday, I teamed up with Blake Montgomery for a beer dinner at 610 Magnolia in Old Louisville. To be specific, the dinner was held in The Wine Studio, a few yards across the street.

Welcome to The Wine Studio @ 610 Magnolia. As the name suggests, The Wine Studio is not a traditional restaurant but a venue for experimentation, specialty themed events and cooking classes. It is a modern and open, loft-like, 850 square-foot room that will be the home of various events revolving around a new approach to food and wine. It is a place for food and wine enthusiasts to share in the experience of gourmet arts in good company.

It may also be worth noting that 610 Magnolia's Owner/Chef Edward Lee is a local legend, and while Lee wasn't at the helm of The Wine Studio's kitchen on Thursday (he dropped by and checked in), it's safe to say that his vision was pervasive, and the professionalism of staff impeccable -- confident, relaxed and articulate.

Beers from NABC, Three Floyds and Against the Grain were featured, and I represented my brethren, speaking for each. Marquee positioning was afforded AtG, and AtG delivered: The Duck in Four Forms (pictured) with Fruitis the Farmer Beescake (a new Saison with melons, seeded judiciously with brettanomyces) and dessert pairing with Bo & Luke (with smoky notes peeking above the intensity) both were scrumptious treats. Portions and pours were moderate. I was filled, not full; watered and not wasted. The attendees were wonderful.

It was a memorable evening, not because of hype and high (read: forced) energy, but owing to their absence. It was quiet, not loud. Beer works with food in any setting, whether a boisterous Bavarian beer hall or a thoughtful Wine Studio. Very well done indeed.

Local Beer Dinner
20 March 2014

Passed Canapés
New Albanian Brewing Company
Black & Blue Grass

Beef Cheek Pastrami, Pickled Vegetables, Rye Crostini Soil
Tomato-Extra Virgin Olive Oil Mayonnaise, Mache
New Albanian Brewing Company
Tunnel Vision

Braised Elk Neck Stew, Farro, Bone Marrow and Parsley Toast
Herbed Crème Fraiche
3 Floyds
Robert the Bruce

Duck in Four Forms:
Seared Breast, Smoked Duck Sausage, Confit of Leg, Foie Gras Bread Pudding
Braised Cabbage, Green Apple Fluid Gel and Poached Fuji Apples
Against the Grain
Fruitis the Farmer Beescake

Bitter Chocolate Pot de Crème, Macerated Dried Cherries, Whipped Caramel
Pink Peppercorn Tuile Cookie
Against the Grain

Bo & Luke

Friday, March 21, 2014

Brief update on the new Great Flood and Donum Dei breweries, via WDRB.

Louisville's FOX affiliate gives some love to two new local breweries, open soon: Great Flood in Louisville, and Donum Dei in New Albany (off Grant Line Rd and near NABC's original location).

Two new craft breweries to open in Louisville, New Albany, by Bill Francis (WDRB TV)

NABC's David Pierce has been mentoring Great Flood as they brew opening batches, and if Rick Otey needs anything from us as he gets closer to small business fulfillment ... just ask.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Craft Beer Right Here.

The sign prompting issues in Boise is far better than my imitation. Perhaps if humorless bureaucrats consumed better beer, they wouldn't be so touchy. Then again, if they weren't sensitive to the letter of the interpretation of the law according to this morning's spin of the wheel, they'd cease being bureaucrats. My guess is that if NABC erected such a sign in Floyd County, the state would be oblivious, but we'd get a citation from the Floyd County Health Department for failing to have hand sanitizer on hand during erections.

Ingenious Signage Mimics Interstate Road Sign, Gets Brewer in Hot Water (AdRANTS)

Boise, Idaho-based Woodland Empire Ale Craft has taken a unique approach to signage. To promote its location, which is directly next to a main road leading to a major intersection, the brewery erected a billboard atop its roof which mimics green street signs ...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Diary of Our Own Jimmy Bracken: Boomtown, or bring on the Lilliputians, and pour me a Houndmouth.

In New Albany, where we’re all here because we’re not all there, the cat herding has been more difficult than usual lately. However, the crazed critters just may be getting the hang of some recommended synchronicity. Faust took six months of my life in exchange for the bargain, but who's counting lifespans, anyway?

On Sunday, May 25, there is a big musical event planned for New Albany. A downtown festival called Boomtown Ball will run from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and then at 8:00 p.m., the band Houndmouth will play a sold-out “homecoming” show at The Grand.

The Boomtown Ball/Cats in Single File portion of the day has been occupying much of my time. As usual (read: as envisioned by the organizers), the plan is deceptively simple. The city closes certain streets, Production Simple books musical acts to perform on a temporary stage, the Flea Off market sets up shop, and voila – fest time, with adult libations.

That last part is the kicker, necessitating the parsing of various Indiana state alcoholic beverage laws and the disposition of permits, while consulting with lawyers and insurance agents, with commensurate, delicate calculations of who, where, when, what, why and how. Not everyone understands how the world works, and the process of rectification has been exhausting, but in the end, fervent negotiations are yielding quantifiable results.

Ultimately, I believe the Boomtown day will make perfect sense, and the cause of localism in beverage vending and consumer satisfaction will be advanced; imperfectly, perhaps, but with potentially valuable lessons learned.

Please mark these dates on your calendars:

First: Houndmouth Week (sic) in New Albany, circa May 19-25. Downtown bars and restaurants will be planning their own special promotions and events to whet appetites for the Boomtown Ball on May 25th.

Next: The Boomtown Ball itself, taking place downtown on Bank and Market Streets on the 25th, as described above.

Finally: The Houndmouth show itself. As noted, it is sold out, but I’ll hazard a guess that the party will proceed much later into the evening after the show at those late-night establishments operating nearby, i.e., the Irish Exit, Wick’s and Liquidz.

NABC hopes to run through a few kegs of Houndmouth Ale during the course of these various celebrations.

But you already inferred that, didn’t you?

Monday, March 17, 2014

The PC: McAlpine’s Fusiliers and neutral Ireland.

(Published at on March 17, 2014)


McAlpine’s Fusiliers and neutral Ireland

It is St. Patrick’s Day, time again to endure the tasteless annual outbursts of shamrock-mounted hokum fueled by green-colored lager. The Irish among us somehow manage to tolerate it with good humor and eternal grace, even if the fact remains that a vast majority of American revelers on Amateur’s (Day and) Night Out never give a second thought to the history and culture of the island.

It’s a fascinating story. Ireland’s experience in WWII was the topic of this 2007 essay, originally blogged in 2007, now rewritten and updated.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I've got your green beer on St. Patrick's Day.

I read it once a year, dissolve into laughter, and stay home throughout the day.

Just in time for the holiday: "Erin Go Blah" (a reprint).

Publican's note: "Bar" none, this commentary on the St. Patrick's Day holiday, originally written by bartender Chris Halleron some years back for the “Hot Trub” e-newsletter, is the best I've ever read. Permission to reprint has been provided by the author.

Recently a friend asked if I was free to do something on St. Patrick's Day, but I explained that asking a bartender to take that day off is like asking an accountant to blow off work on April 14. It is the busy season for bartenders, when we get to see all those cheapskate rookies who haven't spent a dime in the bar since they threw up in the corner on New Year's Eve but now decide to poke their heads out of their holes and celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Circle K auditions the PEGAS growler filler.

Two Circle K locations in Louisville recently began experimenting with local craft beer growler filling stations. It is said to be a test. The growlers are filled with the use of gizmos from these folks: PEGAS draft beer equipment. It's a Russian company, interestingly enough.

Growler fill stations like this one are not legal in the state of Indiana. A bill was introduced during this year's legislative session to create a class of permit allowing package stores to fill growlers; although I'm not positive, I think the bill did not emerge from committee.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Can a cemetery make you thirsty?

Fairview Cemetery is New Albany's Pere Lachaise, albeit without Edith Piaf or Jim Morrison. However, there is Jouett Meekin, who gets my vote for greatest baseball player ever to emerge from my city -- deadball era, steroid error, whatever. It has been suggested that Meekin may have enjoyed the occasional tipple after his retirement from the big leagues, when he returned home to become a fireman. Might he have imbibed at the tavern across the street from Paul Reising Brewing Company?

During my stroll on Sunday through the city of the dead, which is located a few blocks from my home in one direction, and from Bank Street Brewhouse in another, I saw this monument and lifted an eyebrow. To begin with, it's the rare Slavic surname among the many German, Irish and English inhabitants.

In the Czech language, a "sládek" is a maltster. Was our Mr. Sladek the descendent of a maltster?

One of the tallest monuments in Fairview bears the name Baylor, and if I were to ask numerous city officials (or AB InBev executives) for their opinion, they'd probably reply by pointing out certain phallic convergences.

Cemeteries make you wonder: Will your life and work be remembered? I'm not sure it matters. Almost thirty years ago, I walked along the Appian Way while visiting Rome. Crumbling 2,000-year-old memorials bore the names of tremendously important people who've been forgotten for almost as long. Gazing at them, lost in reverie, I soon realized the significance of the here and now -- namely, autos zooming past my vantage point on the one-lane road. I opted for life, and repaired to the nearest bar for sustenance.

The Bavarians know: In heaven there is no beer; that's why we drink it here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The PC: A Birthday Drinking Song.

(Published at on March 10, 2014)


A Birthday Drinking Song

(The Potable Curmudgeon seeks to avoid self-aggrandizement when it comes to his own place of business. However, today is a special case)

Today is the 5th anniversary of Bank Street Brewhouse.

As luck would have it, Monday is our Ruhetag (in German, “rest day”), so the toasts must wait until the 11th.

The first official day of business at BSB came on March 10, 2009, and ever since then, NABC has been a three-legged stool: A front-of-the-house in two different buildings, plus a brewery at each, which we treat as one. Let’s see; that’s three, two and one, and it equals three.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

"Playing Nice With Bad Beer"? I'd rather not, although adjuncts aren't necessarily the deal killer.

I generally agree with what the Brewers Association does for my industry, but even after these many years, there is an element of wariness. After all, it's the house that Charlie Papazian built. There's also a palpable infusion of Kremlinology when it comes to observing the workings of the BA.

Conceding from the start that "craft" as an adjective has long since descended into utter nonsense, even if I still use it as a variety of colloquial shorthand, for a very long time the BA has chosen to impale itself on the use of adjuncts. Perhaps finally this is changing.

"While this division made sense in earlier days of the craft brewing revolution, we see evolution leading many craft brewers to consider the use of adjunct grains in their recipes," the association said. "Some craft brewers do use adjuncts to bring greater palatability by lightening some of their stronger beers. Other brewers are deliberately going for lighter bodied beers in sessionable offerings. When one looks at the millennia of brewing practice, one common thread for the vast majority of time is that brewers employed ingredients that are readily available to them."

Once each year in summer, my brewery releases a Pre-Prohibition Pilsner brewed with adjuncts. While clocking in at a higher ABV than I prefer, it is nonetheless delicious. It can be done, but of course, doing so is not the same thought or brewing process as churning out alcoholic soda pop.

Which leads me to Kevin Patterson's recent column. It reads so much like my 1990's era pieces in the FOSSILS newsletter that I'm tempted to begin comparing passages to see if I've been sampled.

(Not really, of course)

After 12 years owning a brewery, I've modified my stance only a little. Ya gotta have science in the brewhouse, even if I failed it in high school. But Kevin's right: As it pertains to stirring the heart and emboldening the mind, we need art. Art sometimes tries the patience, but that's better than wet air, anyday.

As is true love.

Screwed Up Beer Week (vol 9) - Playing Nice With Bad Beer- Not This Guy!, by: Kevin Patterson (

A diplomat walks into a bar. And by diplomat, I mean a professional craft beer brewer. While not exactly a diplomat, he was acting all diplomatic when he was talking with his customers and fans. Taking the high road when asked about the efforts of "big beer," such as Budweiser, Miller, Coors, Pabst, etc., He was happy to lament on the difficulty of their tasks, how tough it is to make beers so light, so clean, so consistent- acting like his mind has been blown at the success of such large enterprises. And though I applaud him for being the bigger man, I call bullshit!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Spoiler alert: It's MillerCoors, so there is nothing about beer in this article.

With material this frankly revealing, it's hard for a writer not to be masterful. All he need do is stand aside, and let the speakers impale themselves on their own bilge.

The topic is the aptly named Miller Fortune, and Jim Vorel interviews two MillerCoors functionaries, one a Goebbels agitprop clone and the other a "brewer", who explain the development process. The marketing-driven double-speak spewing from their corporate lips is so hilarious that readers can't quite dispel the possibility of it being satire. Is it real, or is it the greatest comic skit about mass-market-think, ever?

Conceding the obvious -- one juggles whatever one is commanded to juggle by whomever signs the checks, or risks no longer receiving them -- do these two buffoons really believe that the jargon they're dispensing means anything at all to today's beer enthusiast?

Or, that it means anything at all, to anyone?

It's beer! It's liquor! It's market share! (shareholder orgasms all around)

Lamentably, Vorel stoops to the poor usage of "reached out," but apart from that slippage, he does a fine job of exposing the utterly vapid.

Big Beer Innovation: Q&A With MillerCoors' Brewmaster, by Jim Vorel (Paste)

... You will definitely see us approaching a much wider range of beer and cider innovations in the future. Everything we’re doing brand-wide is to reinforce the authenticity of the Miller name. We believe the success of the throwback cans isn’t so much nostalgia but because the image signifies authenticity and quality.

Friday, March 07, 2014

More new craft breweries than this numbers-challenged drunkard can count.

Read about all the breweries coming to Louisville and environs.

Craft beer industry has room to grow in Louisville area, by David A. Mann (Business First)

Well, read part of it; my complimentary media subscription apparently hasn't been processed. The "by the numbers" list is instructive.

Now, read about all the breweries coming to Indianapolis ...

Explosive growth of craft breweries may saturate Indy's beer market, by Chris Sikich (IndyStar)

... assuming you have articles remaining behind THAT paywall. Jesus, this used to be easy (see "complimentary" preceding). Next, contemplate the possibility of saturation. Optimist or pessimist? Back here in Louisville, Great Flood Brewing looks to be next.

Great Flood Set To Open Floodgates, Begin Brewing 'This Week' (Eater Louisville)

You're lucky to be in Louisville, guys. Here in Floyd County, the health department already would be planning a SWAT infiltration to guard against any possibility of fun -- as they may be doing as Rick Otey gets Donum Dei nearer to fruition. He'd get more done if he didn't spend so much time at Gravity Head ... but the list isn't finished yet.

From Bridles to Beer: Leather craftsman Ralph Quillin is opening Paris brewery, by Liane Crossley (Kyforward)

Paris is a few miles northeast of Lexington, and I can only hope that quite soon, other Kentucky towns named for place in Europe get their own breweries: Verona, Florence, Newcastle, Sligo, Warsaw and maybe even Versailles.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

John King at KGB.

John has an enviable task. Helping one another is the easiest part, but there can be no power moves without key politicians feeling the power, which in legislative terms comes when you've blended lobbies like small business, agriculture and tourism into a unified whole.

John's a handsome fellow, except they won't make concessions based on his looks. Until the rowing is synchronized, a nicely seasoned pastiche of smoke, mirrors and theater is immensely helpful.

Good luck, Mr. King. Go often to Frankfort, and prosper.

Meet Kentucky’s new King of beer, by Kevin Gibson (502 Brews)

When nine Kentucky breweries got together nearly two years ago to form the Kentucky Guild of Brewers, the goal was a unified organization that would provide a singular voice with which to promote their beers, breweries and events.

They’ve found that voice in John King, who recently was named executive director to lead the guild’s board. And his voice speaks to the very unity Kentucky’s breweries seek. It isn’t about who can sell the most beer, King says, it’s about helping each other ...

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Covering all the Gravity Head 2014 bases.

Last Saturday on Day Two of Gravity Head 2014, Pattie's and Larry's crazed Daytonans hatched a plot to surprise Larry by wearing bib overalls to their Public House session. Larry always wears overalls, and the last couple of years, so have I. This time it was a mass craze. In the photo above, taken by my esteemed missus, you'll see a non-Daytonan in the upper right of the view. It's Joey Burns, former assistant brewer (to Michael Borchers) when NABC first began brewing in 2002. Joey knew nothing about the Overall Conspiracy, but was delighted to join in on it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Does anyone know anything about Wrecker Brewing Company?

Last week Lee Smith, executive director of the Brewers of Indiana Guild, asked me what I knew about Wrecker Brewing Company. I had no idea what she was talking about, which makes twice this year (see below). Many more times like these, and my claim to expertise will be spurious.

Sure enough, there is an active Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission permit for Wrecker Brewing Company, 1003 Wildwood Lane New Albany 47150. The street view shows a suburban house. Little else seems to be turning up on-line. If you know anything, drop me a line.

Meanwhile, work continues on Donum Dei Brewery, which will be located off Grant Line Road, just a few hundred yards away from NABC's original location.

New Albany's Donum Dei Brewery, coming soon to Grant Line Road.

Since the following was written and posted at NA Confidential in early January, I've met Richard "Rick" Otey on several occasions. He and his business partner are moving steadily forward, with a target date of May to be up and running. Otey's goals -- local beer, light food and comfy coffee shop-style seating -- strike me as reasonable. There may be yet another brewery in the works for New Albany; if you know anything about Wrecker Brewing Company, give me a shout.

(January 7, 2014)

I must confess to finding is somewhat amazing, and perhaps even admirable, that a fellow New Albanian has planned a new brewery, bought equipment and signed a lease without someone, somewhere telling me about it.

Well, why not? It's the sort of era when not one but two separate groups look to start a brewery in Tell City. I think it's a great thing, and so here's what little I know about the advent of Donum Dei Brewery.

My first clue came two months ago, when I saw a list of Indiana breweries in development, as prepared by the Brewers of Indiana Guild. Then John Wurth at put together a page tracking the progress of brewing start-ups in metro Louisville, which pinpointed an address that sounded curiously similar to that of NABC's Pizzeria & Public House.

And so it is: 3211 Grant Line Road, which as it turns out, is the precise storefront once occupied by Earth Friends Cafe, in the 1990s strip building behind El Nopal. Where'd that garage door come from?

Yesterday Blake drove me past, and I snapped the photos above. Donum Dei means "Gift of God." And that's about all we know about it at present.

For quite some time, it has been a goal of mine to convince both city and indie business operators in the Grant Line Road commercial zone between McDonald Lane and the interstate to combine efforts and market the area as College Park, University Woods (prescient, those apartment builders of old) or some such tag to make the connection with IU Southeast and beautify and rationalize the vicinity. Having another brewery across the street fits perfectly. The Blair family is renovating the ramshackle former employment office into a dance studio. Now all we need is for a family-owned Turkish joint to move into the space left vacant when The Exchange moved downtown.

We just might succeed in spite of ourselves, which is the time-honored (read: only) formula in New Albany.

Monday, March 03, 2014

The PC: It doesn’t suit me.

(Published at on March 3, 2014)


It doesn’t suit me.

I pay fairly close attention to civic affairs in New Albany, and perhaps this owes to broad personal interests and a degree of community-mindedness, although as in most communities, a taste for low comedy doesn’t hurt.

Among the political tugs-of-wars witnessed on a daily basis throughout the year, those various mechanisms by which municipal governments of all ideological identities – both country and western – pretend to develop their economies have come to be especially entertaining to me.

Whether it’s my town or yours, they tend to work the same. A business purporting to be the second coming of Henry Ford, Ben & Jerry and Versace, all rolled into one unstoppable juggernaut, argues that it is poised to bring great joy to the inhabitants, not to mention a job or three, if only (ahem) the business climate might be adjusted just a tad. Consequently, it is gifted with a heady cocktail of incentives, including tax abatements, loans, grants, discount sewer coupons, lottery tickets and oral sex on demand ...