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.

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