Monday, June 30, 2014

The PC: Beercycling with Le Tour.

The PC: Beercycling with Le Tour.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

American clocks do not synchronize with Europe, and so each year that I remain stateside during the Tour de France, I must adapt with breakfast buffets of espresso, baguettes, gnarly goat cheese … and beer.

I’ve seen brief snippets of Le Tour in person on two occasions, in 2001 and 2004. Oddly, both glimpses came not in France, but in Belgium. The first viewing was in Lo, a very small town, and the second came in Liege, a very large city. Rural or cosmopolitan, the vibrations were identical, and it’s a thrill to be in proximity to the festive atmosphere surrounding the Tour, watching people of all ages gather to witness what can be the most fleeting of sporting seconds.


But first, an obligatory word from the Tour’s sponsors, namely, the mechanized entourage preceding the cyclists’ arrival, equal parts dromedary and circus sideshow. In Lo, we got to see it all.

Support vans for the various teams roll through at intervals, and there is no mistaking which corporation pays their freight. Dozens of vehicles in all shapes and sizes belonging to various subsidiary sponsors dart past, leaving mounds of advertising paraphernalia strewn in their wake. When this colorful parade is over, there is a pause before sirens blast, bells toll, policemen noisily clear the street, and the actual cyclists finally make their appearances.

When riding on flat ground, the peloton can go past so incredibly quickly that if you yawn, you’ll miss it. Once past, enterprising spectators then rush back to their cars (or bikes) to take pursuit, and perhaps choose another vantage point further down the road.

But in Lo, it struck me that residents of villages not graced with the Tour’s presence for many decades take a far more leisurely opportunity to make a day of it, first introducing their children and grandchildren to the event’s history, and then watching the pedal-by before returning to their homes for cocktail hour and the evening news.


Having taken up walking, I’ve done little in 2014 to merit the description of bicyclist, but still consider myself a lapsed, casual, commuting cyclist. My riding resumed in the late 1990’s after a long hiatus, beginning with a mountain bike for short jaunts only, then graduating to a hybrid – a heavier frame and wider tires.

I still have the bike. Except for the original frame, every bit of it has been replaced numerous times with replacement components. It has traveled with me to Europe on at least four occasions for the pursuit of beercycling, or the discriminating art of doing just enough riding to justify the beers (and meals) that come afterward.

It is inexcusable hedonism at its finest, though not without informative sightseeing, hearty exercise and enriching camaraderie. If you can bike past a Belgian frites stand without stopping, you’re a better – and thinner – man.

In beercycling, one experiences the cityscape and countryside, just not at speeds customarily traveled by Tour de France riders. I weigh more than them, and they climb mountains like the Pyrenees faster than I traverse the neutral terrain of Flanders. Their support teams are not at my disposal, although in the early days of the race, riders were compelled to carry everything they needed to make necessary repairs.

And, much as now, the Tour de France’s cyclists used to seek the assistance of performance enhancing substances. A poster on the wall at the Public House shows 1920’s era Tour participants on break, seated on the steps of a café, with admiring children clustered behind them watching intently as they hoisted big mugs of beer.


A few years ago, I read “Tour de France: The History, The Legend, The Riders,” by Graeme Fife.

Fife, an English amateur cyclist, provides a workably chronological, if sometimes meandering, account of the race’s century-long history, as well as gritty descriptions of his own two-wheeled gonzo ascents of the particularly gruesome climbs expected of riders each year in the Alps and Pyrenees.

These climbs provide instruction as to why drugs of all conceivable types have always been taboo, as well as (arguably) indispensable elements of the Tour. Before the fame and riches, there came a race designed by its founder to be a superlative, supreme test in the annals of human endurance, something otherwise found only within the pages of a US Marine Corps training manual.

In fact, early Tour routes were calculated, lengthened, augmented and toughened according to their prime mover’s earnest (warped?) desire for the “perfect” Tour as one so abominably difficult that only a single rider would survive each year to approach the stand and claim victory.

Perhaps this is why I feel about the Tour de France much as I do about American baseball: Some sportsmen may well be cheating dopers, and I’ll waste no time defending their actions, preferring to gaze benignly past the ephemeral, toward the timeless and true essence of the sport itself, this being what matters the most to me.

Accordingly, my personal Tour de France moment was in 2006 in the Czech Republic. In one grueling day, my compatriot Kevin Richards and I rode roughly 125 late summer kilometers through ceaselessly hilly, gorgeous Bohemian countryside, fully laden with panniers, stopping exhausted just before dusk at a three-word, multi-syllabic town, renting a room, showering, and finally dining on beer, wine, duck, beef and more beer. These are the drugs of choice for the discerning beercyclist.

Vive la France! … and, long live Ceska Republika, too.


In 2001, the Lo year, we beercyclists made the newspaper in Poperinge. As translated by the inimitable Luc Dequidt, here is the article.

Did we really say that about Lance Armstrong? Maybe it was the beer talking.

4 Americans visit the Tour - Beer and Cycling

Four Americans stayed this week at the Palace Hotel in Poperinge - Bob Reed and Kevin Lowber from Kentucky, Tim Eads and Roger Baylor from Indiana. Mainly here to sample local brews, they did not want to miss the Tour de France; they watched it from the terrace of a local pub in Lo, a more than unique experience for the four Americans.

Kentucky is mainly known for breeding horses, so horse racing is extremely popular. Indiana is more industrialized with steel industry around Lake Michigan. Needless to say that they were charmed by the peace and quiet of the Poperinge area, a cyclist's paradise. Their home states are more car orientated.

On Monday they cycled to Lo; they had never seen the Tour or any other main cycling event. American TV pays more attention to extreme sports, cycling is not one of them despite the presence of Lance Armstrong. They were impressed by the publicity caravan, carnival as they called it; a Michelin flag or Champion cap made a nice souvenir. They watched out for the American cyclists; they recognized the US Postal shirts but not who rode with a blue shirt. They strongly believe in another victory of Lance Armstrong but did not hear yet about the cooperation with the controversial Italian doctor Ferrari.

They do not speak in public about drugs. "Armstrong seems to be an honest guy." They would be very disappointed when it would appear that their hero in the Tour takes illegal products.

They do not know many names of Belgian cyclists, exception made for Tom Steels and Eddy Merckx, of course. After the Tour passed through Lo, Westvleteren was the next stop for a delicious Trappist.

Roger, Tim, Kevin and Bob already visited Poperinge in 1999 during the hop fest. Bob remembers the refreshing taste of Hommelbier and still speaks highly about the Hop Queen.

Again local real ales are the reason for staying at the Palace. Landlord Guy serves them another brew each evening in a matching glass; no less than 130 different beers are available at the Palace.

Before leaving Poperinge, they cycled up the Cassel-mountain and visited a local inn, het Kasteelhof, where another local ale was tasted.

As a salesman, Kevin introduced the Hommelbier in quite a number of American pubs and also Roger serves it in his Rich O's Public House. He will soon serve his own homebrew.

This column contains bits from previous writings on the topic.

Friday, June 27, 2014

I'd gladly pay you later for a picnic shelter today.

In its original 1940s-era incarnation, Silvercrest was a tuberculosis hospital. It is located atop a lesser "knob," or hill, just a couple of miles to the northwest of downtown New Albany. Now it is a retirement community. My mother recently moved to an apartment on the fifth floor.

My interest is directed not to the massive former hospital building itself, now adaptively rebuilt in truly impressive fashion, but to the the state-park-grade shelter house in the foreground. I need it, or something like it, in the Lloyd's Landing beer garden area at Bank Street Brewhouse.

Do you think Silvercrest would let me borrow it?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Nate Silver puzzled as "Social Index: The Hottest Beers in Louisville" heats down.

No disrespect intended to either Red Yeti Brewing Company or Falls City Brewing Company, but if one of them doesn't yet brew its own beer, and the other's flagship brand is not brewed in Louisville ... and the belated "doh" update aside ... what REALLY is the point of the article, apart from Insider Louisville's gooey tabloid imperative to display the word "hottest" on a banner?

Flip side: It's nice that NABC is thought of as a "Louisville beer" in this context; sometimes we are, and other times not, which is understandable given the river, a state border and decades of confusion. I'd venture a guess that given the far greater geographical reach in distribution of both BBC and Against the Grain, NABC's social media showing here might be punching even higher in a strictly localized, metro-centric sense.

And: Great Flood deserves kudos. They came out of the gate doing things right, and it shows. Red Yeti's turn comes soon, and I'm pulling for them when it does.

Social Index: The Hottest Beers in Louisville, by Chris Hall

(Update: This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Falls City Beer, though a Louisville brand, is currently brewed in Nashville, and Red Yeti is not yet making its own beer, instead serving guest brews at its Jeffersonville brewery.)

The Louisville local beer scene got a shot in the arm this year with the opening of Red Yeti Brewing and Great Flood Brewing — two breweries that are being talked about a lot on Facebook. But there are some strong incumbents, so I wanted to find the Louisville beer you should be drinking — and where you should be drinking it — based on social data.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Diary of Our Own Jimmy Bracken: Celibacy is starting to seem like a viable alternative.

My diary entries are for unexpurgated utterances. I may flesh them out later, or not.

I tell you, I don’t get no respect.

When you’ve been knocked around as often as me, it’s really hard to muster the enthusiasm for getting back into the dating game, but fetishes are fetishes. It’s just my luck to be fatally attracted to Kentuckians. I like them. They sure don’t seem to like me.

Still, my first relationship was quite good for a while. It was me and the black mamba. Then tragedy struck. There was a diagnosis of terminal illness, and a slow wasting away. It was painful to watch.

Right after the funeral, I got fixed up with a transplant from Ohio. Boy, did that one turn out to be a bad match. There are three-toed sloths on Prozac with more get up and go, so I got up and went. I’ve never witnessed such flatulence roaring through ANYTHING.

It seemed like the next one was a perfect fit: Smart, focused and totally on the ball. A genuine dreamboat. However, it ended before it even started, and all because of me: Turns out I’m just not sexy enough. That one hurt. I’m the first to admit I’m no runway model, but I can whistle Beethoven’s Ninth in any key while having my brain washed at Rate Advocate.

You’d think that would count for something.

Undaunted, I kept looking. More recently, there was another pretty good prospect. We actually have mutual connections in other states. I was honest and up front: “You know, I’m not asking for much.”

“That’s good,” came the cavalier reply, “Because you can’t have anything at all.”

Ouch. I’m telling you, these Kentucky wholesalers are a tough crowd. You try to get in bed with one of them, and BOOM. I’m into fireworks, though not necessarily when they start exploding after you’ve been cracked on the noggin with a two-by-four.

Well, wish me luck. There’s another blind date next week. Maybe this one will lead to lasting pleasure. If not, I’m starting to run out of choices.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Another forgivable loan, another new indie food & drink business in downtown Jeffersonville.

In New Albany, we indies use our own money so that municipal government can make mad, passionate love to the industrial park.

But make no mistake: I'm a big fan of Tom O'Shea, and I wish these guys the very best in Jeff. It means we don't have to cross any bridge -- even the Big Four pedway -- for fish and chips and a long, cool pint ... and there's nothing whatever wrong with that.

(7:30 a.m. update: Steve Coomes covers far more of the more interesting details here, including Tom's "fast casual" concept and a few thoughts on the adaptive evolution of Patrick O'Shea's into an events venue)

RAISE YOUR GLASS: O’Shea’s to open on Spring Street in downtown Jeffersonville; Louisville-based pub to open between November and March, by Matt Koesters (News and Tribune)

JEFFERSONVILLE — Downtown Jeffersonville’s trend of attracting new restaurants and drinking establishments continued Monday.

The Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve a $50,000 forgivable loan for a new O’Shea’s location in downtown Jeffersonville. Commission members Derek Spence and Jamie Lake were absent from the meeting.

The restaurant and bar will locate in a space between Schimpff’s Confectionery and Perkfection Cafe on Spring Street.

“It’s really exciting to have them come into our downtown,” said Redevelopment Director Rob Waiz. “It’s going to be a big boost for us. With all of the other restaurants and having O’Shea’s come in, things are really coming together. With the walking bridge, with the new restaurants, with the microbreweries, it’s just really making Jeffersonville thrive.”

Monday, June 23, 2014

The PC: Therapeutic ramblings as BSB Mach II trundles forward.

The PC: Therapeutic ramblings as BSB Mach II trundles forward.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

On a rainy Monday afternoon in May, there was a mandatory front of the house (FOH) meeting for Bank Street Brewhouse’s employees. The Mother’s Day brunch had gone quite well, and capped the highest sales week of the year to date.

(For those readers interested in foreshadowing: "But all was not as it seemed")

At the FOH meeting, my business partners at New Albanian Brewing Company joined me in performing a solemn ritual, one we’d never before had to do. We threw in the towel, raised a white flag and punted. We shuttered the Bank Street Brewhouse kitchen, and began planning for altered existence as a brewery taproom only.

In keeping with the endearingly quirky history of our company, it was a hard transformation to explain. We were not closing a business, because we would remain open to the public, selling NABC house beers for immediate consumption and carryout. The brewery would continue to brew, and beer distribution to the outside world would be uninterrupted.

In fact, while any transition is a coin flip, the upside to being a taproom alone appeared boundless in terms of creativity. We already had customers, and all we had to do was sell a new concept to them.

For many, the closing of the BSB kitchen has proven a deal-breaker, and that’s understandable. To them, nothing seemed broken – so why fix it? However, our decision was all about the numbers. No matter the abacus, we just couldn’t make them come out right. It was clear for a very long time. We merely chose to ignore it, and to continue making tweaks when minor fixes couldn’t address larger issues.

It was frustrating and bittersweet, our perfectly rational act of analysis and reformatting. That’s probably because eating and drinking aren’t always numerical equations; they’re spiritual, sacramental acts, and any alterations to their cadence can be a decided jolt.

At the same time, the opportunity to renew the business by focusing on beer and placemaking continues to be positively invigorating. Moreover, my hope is that by plunging forward into a creative unknown, at least a few ghosts of decisions past will leave me alone.


If being in the restaurant business was easy, everyone would be doing it … and making money. NABC should know, right?

When Bank Street Brewhouse debuted in 2009, we’d operated a pizzeria in New Albany for more than 20 years, and we all thought we knew a thing or two about kitchens. How hard could it possibly be to have a brand new (well, for us) stand-alone culinary concept, one requiring completely different equipment, a well-trained, chef-driven staff, two dozen hitherto unknown suppliers, and a whole pot of rapidly diminishing money?

An overnight leap from conveyor pizza oven to French terminology couldn’t be that difficult, right? To the contrary. Looking back, it would seem that even when draft craft beer is consumed in copious quantities, it isn’t enough to cure one’s rampant naiveté.

Given the sheer complexity of the learning curve, it’s a wonder we lasted as long as we did. Having quality people helped. From start to finish, our employees were troupers. Letting them go was the hardest act I’ve been obliged to perform in 22 years as a business owner.

When we opened BSB’s doors in 2009, our talented young chef Josh Lehman hit the ground running with innovative small plates, multiple homemade sauces for hand-cut frites and a Croque Madame better than any I’ve ever consumed in Belgium.

Local eyes blinked – at the food, portions and prices. We referred to it as a “gastropub,” a term that worried me. For one, the prefix “gastro-“ was unknown in New Albany apart from customarily being attached to bouts of “intestinal flu.” Moreover, the word itself struck me as vaguely counter-egalitarian. Were we setting ourselves up for a fall?

We tried to use local farm-raised meats and produce whenever possible, and alongside our own beers, there were craft sodas, small-batch spirits from independent companies and Indiana-made wines. I suppose it really was a gastropub, albeit located in a city seemingly forever defined by steam tables and White Castle.

Off we went, opening in March of 2009, and what I’ll always remember about the first weeks comes in three broad groupings of consumer feedback (followed by my gentle, veiled whisper in reply):

Size matters: “C’mon, Rog -- these portions are way too small for the price! Ya, gotta feed people, you know?”

(but you see; local food and quality labor is a bit more expensive, in the kitchen as with the BREWERY we have here … )

Low-calorie soda rules: “Where’s my Diet Coke, and while you’re at it, how about a soda straw? What do you mean, no Diet Coke? We won’t be back, no sir.”

(but we’re trying to stay away from evil multi-nationals, and besides, we’re a BREWERY too … )

Wine whines: “I know you want to be local and all, except that local wine is so incredibly wretched, so can you just bring in something from Chile, California or France? You know, for the sake of the food!”

(if I believe that local wine can’t be any good, then how am I supposed to feel about local beer, seeing as though we’re a BREWERY and all … )

The gastropub concept evolved, then devolved. The menu became more fixed, and less experimental. Josh moved on, to be replaced by Matt Weirich, who managed to find a better overall balance. Somewhere along the way, we began using the phrase “bistro cuisine.”

A Sunday brunch was added to the build-your-own Bloody Mary Bar, and both became popular. As the kitchen stabilized, we developed a following. We even succeeded in convincing diners to drink local wine, and many of them approved.

When Bank Street Brewhouse was hitting on all cylinders, it was great, and when we weren’t, it still was fairly good. In fact, there was only one problem: The restaurant remained unprofitable.

Some times were better than others, but in five years, we never found a sweet spot when it came to the numbers, and the restaurant became a slow-bleeding, loss-leader of a vanity project. In some ways we were fortunate; there always was the pizzeria and brewing operations, and because of them, the noble experiment lasted longer than it would have otherwise, but early in 2014, it became obvious that the whole company was being starved of investment.

It had to change, and so it did. Not that it was easy …


The jury’s still out, and BSB’s new phase is evolving.

One thing I didn’t clearly grasp until the kitchen stopped was the extent to which it had become a veritable 800-lb gorilla, albeit one existing on life support. In a business that had been imagined as balanced between FOH and brewery, with one supporting the other, we’d gotten to a point where even the smallest bright marketing idea (beer, events, opening hours, promotions) had to be vetted in the strict context of the food program’s needs, which became maddening.

Now, anything goes. An idea may be good or bad, but at least there is nothing to prevent it being tried. We can tout a burger wagon, another restaurant’s carry-out menu, delivery pizza and a pop-up dinner – all at the very same time, sans contradictions. We can host social gatherings, musical performances, flea markets, guerrilla theater, revolutionary cells … or just watch a game and drain pints.

It is liberating.

Gazing at those unrepentant numbers for almost eight weeks since the shift, I’ve noticed one very interesting trend. Of course, gone are the food sales, along with their high cost in both ingredients and labor. Still there, holding strong, are the house-brewed beer sales, which have accounted for only marginally less in the absence of food than they did when accompanying a gastropub’s meals. Beer alone may or may not be enough; only time will tell. But if the value of the food didn’t enhance the beer any more than that, what was its purpose in the first place?

I can live with these beer sales figures -- and live without being told that it simply cannot be expected of discerning diners to eat locally sourced cuisine of a certain quality without commensurate wine from somewhere else available alongside it. Perhaps we needed to be reminded that while food is good and liquor is quicker, we’re all about the beer.

Now we can proceed to sink or swim accordingly, and that sounds fair to me.

Friday, June 20, 2014

But what if minors began drinking warm beer? Then what?

Granted, if you're looking for contradictory and often hypocritical weirdness within codes regulating beverage alcohol, each state in the union has something unique (and often hilarious) to offer. This said, Indiana certainly does appear determined to remain decidedly more weird than most.

Court Rules on Cold Beer Restrictions (

A U.S. District Court has upheld a state law that does not allow convenience, grocery and pharmacy stores to sell cold beer. The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association took the matter to court, claiming the law is unconstitutional because it favors one class of retailer over another. The organization says it will continue to fight for "fairness" in the marketplace.

Oh dear; fairness in alcohol vending. Unfortunately, the first commandment taught to all bureaucrats seeking to regulate human consumption of alcoholic drinks is that "Thou hast no obligation to be fair." Personally, I don't think it's fair for the Centerplates of the world to price gouge in sports venues.

As noted previously, I've no dog in the big box/groceries/convenience stores vs. traditional package stores fight, apart from detesting corporate/chain entities on general principle. But even I have learned something from Inside Indiana Business's report, underlined in the passage below.

Indiana remains the only state in the country that regulates beer sales based on temperature. The law does not apply to wine products, thus allowing convenience stores to sell these products cold. According to IPCA and its members, the law causes confusion among customers who are able to buy cold wine but are forced to purchase beer warm, even though wine products contain approximately double the amount of alcohol.

Proponents of regulating beer based on temperature claimed that liquor stores are better at preventing the sale of alcohol to minors.

Dude, it depends on what the temperature of "cold" is. Right?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

On beer placemaking and Placemaking Lager.

“All travel is circular. I had been jerked through Asia, making a parabola on one of the planet’s hemispheres. After all, the grand tour is just the inspired man’s way of heading home.” 
--Paul Theroux

There's an adage about going great distances in order to understand one's starting point, and at some elemental level, that's probably where my own head is going to be for a long time to come. To greater or lesser extent, I've been in the better beer business for 30 years, and these days, coming full circle is an apt description. What it means for the future is anyone's guess.

I've learned quite a lot in recent years, and much of it has no direct connection to beer and brewing. Except that it does, which is my recurring point, as with matters like placemaking. To reiterate:

Another contemporary societal trend to consider is the notion of placemaking, generally described as “a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces.” Placemaking is a grassroots, community-based phenomenon, in which those ordinary people using a public space help to determine how that space is used. Placemaking may help in part to explain my re-emerging interest in community-based beer consumption -- keeping the beer drinking venues local, listening to the local beer drinkers, and knowing who supplies the beer.

As such, it is unthinkable that I'd be the only one contemplating the theory and practice of placemaking. Meet Tony Allegretti, who is attaching the name to a (contract) brew.

Jacksonville downtown advocate Tony Allegretti brews new craft beer for One Spark, by Carolyn Komperda (

One way to bring together a city as diverse as Jacksonville is with a nice, cold beer. One Spark creator Tony Allegretti has been brewing up a new brand of craft beer that he hopes will be enjoyed by everyone old enough in the Jacksonville community.

Allegretti’s brand, Placemaking Lager, which was brewed in a small amount at Intuition Ale Works, a brewery in Riverside. Placemaking Lager is an independent lager and is not part of Intuition Ale Works’ production, Allegretti said.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Of quality vs. quantity: A recap of Fishers On Tap 2014.

I wasn't able to make it to Fishers on Tap this year, but I worked last year's inaugural event, and had many of the same observations as Donovan Wheeler in his piece at Indiana On Tap. It is a delightful gathering staged by folks who are actively considering quality vs quantity, and running their show accordingly.

Plainly, there isn't enough introspection in "craft" beerland as to the relative merits of beer festivals. There seem to be plenty of willing customers, seas of beer to be consumer, and much money to be made (where it goes is a variable story). However, the customarily stated rationale of "education" can be elusive when crowds are trampling fences to urinate behind bushes in the absence of sufficient port-a-lets.

“Back in the ‘90’s,” said Broad Ripple Brewery’s John Treeter, “all brew fests were like this. Bigger events are just drunk fests, but here you can interact with the patrons…and with other brewers.” Treeter’s last comment echoed with a rising inflection, emphasizing the enjoyment brewers feel when they get to talk about their work with their competitors.

There is a disconnect in "craft" beer, in the sense of "craft" brewers having the time (in some cases, the willingness) to explain exactly what me mean by "craft," not be reference to barrels produced, but what exactly is artisanal about what we do. Whatever one's intentions, a beer festival attended by 5,000 drinkers probably isn't the best place for that. It doesn't mean it's a bad thing. Just different.

Wheeler's essay is thoughtful and well written. Here's to Fishers on Tap; good job, guys.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Craft" beer could stand some of its own revitalization first.

Should we be excited by developments like this one, or head for the Grampian Hills to plot strategies for starting all over?

Craft Breweries as Neighborhood Revitalization Tools (American Planning Association, Indiana Chapter)

Learn from industry experts about the benefits of local breweries and what it takes to help one locate in your area!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The PC: If only we had H.L. Mencken to help us define “craft” beer.

The PC: If only we had H.L. Mencken to help us define “craft” beer.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

The whole life of the inferior man, including especially his so-called thinking, is purely a biochemical process, and exactly comparable to what goes on in a barrel of cider.
-- HL Mencken

It is said that the fabled American journalist, writer and social commentator H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) celebrated the repeal of Prohibition by drinking a glass of cold water.

“My first in 13 years,” he succinctly explained.

Who was this wordsmith known as “The Sage of Baltimore”? The Encyclopedia Brittanica provides background.

H.L. Mencken, in full Henry Louis Mencken … controversialist, humorous journalist, and pungent critic of American life who powerfully influenced U.S. fiction through the 1920s … Mencken was probably the most influential American literary critic in the 1920s, and he often used his criticism as a point of departure to jab at various American social and cultural weaknesses.

Controversialist – now there’s a wonderful word, indeed. Mencken’s written output of curmudgeonly feistiness verifies his mastery of the polemical arts, and as such, you can count him among my most prominent role models.

In addition, as a militant German-American enduring a “dry” era brought about by the same religious zealots, health fascists, cultural terrorists and bubble-headed activists now inhabiting local health departments nationwide, Mencken was not averse to the merits of the tall, cool one.

Mencken was one of the earliest advocates of unrestricted bile as a means of equal opportunity, and understood that common sense is remarkably uncommon.

All professional philosophers tend to assume that common sense means the mental habit of the common man. Nothing could be further from the mark. The common man is chiefly to be distinguished by his plentiful lack of common sense: he believes things on evidence that is too scanty, or that distorts the plain facts, or that is full of non-sequiturs. Common sense really involves making full use of all the demonstrable evidence and of nothing but the demonstrable evidence.

In short, he was an iconoclast of the highest order, and so the word itself is worth revisiting.


1. A breaker or destroyer of images, esp. those set up for religious veneration (like the bicentennial junta’s year-long fixation on the year 1872).

2. A person who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc., as being based on error or superstition … rather like your humble correspondent.

Know that my own heroes have always been iconoclasts. From Socrates through Tom Paine, and Mencken through Hunter S. Thompson, there’s nothing as thrilling to me as an iconoclast taking a headlong swipe at cherished, unexamined assumptions. What’s more, as Russell Brand’s recent pro-revolutionary rantings remind us, the most wonderful aspect of iconoclasm is that rampant personal dissipation does not pre-empt the message. It actually may enhance it.

Until his recent, providential resignation, an Indiana state legislator named Bill Davis frequently used his sinecure as chairman of the House’s public policy committee as a bully pulpit to denounce beverage alcohol, often “bottling” up sensible reforms by preventing their passage through committee to a full reading and vote. Davis does not drink, and Mencken well understood the implications of this habit of mind.

Teetotalism does not make for human happiness; it makes for the dull, idiotic happiness of the barnyard. The men who do things in the world, the men worthy of admiration and imitation, are men constitutionally incapable of any such pecksniffian stupidity. Their ideal is not a safe life, but a full life; they do not try to follow the canary bird in a cage, but the eagle in the air. And in particular they do not flee from shadows and bugaboos. The alcohol myth is such a bugaboo. The sort of man it scares is the sort of man whose chief mark is that he is scared all the time.

A single column can only hint at the richness of Mencken’s writing, which reached well beyond newspapers, magazine, essays and polemics to history and etymology. In particular, he was a scholar of the American tongue, documenting the “old” English language’s transformation into something new, vital and distinctly ours. Here is a brief excerpt from Mencken’s seminal The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States (Fourth Edition, 1937):

"An English saloon-keeper is officially a licensed victualler. His saloon is a public house, or, colloquially, a pub. He does not sell beer by the bucket, can, growler, shell, seidel, stein or schooner, but by the pint, half-pint or glass. He and his brethren, taken together, are the licensed trade, or simply the trade. He may divide his establishment into a public-bar, a saloon-bar and a private-bar, the last being the toniest, or he may call his back room a parlour, snug or tap-room. If he has a few upholstered benches in his place he may call it a lounge. He employs no bartenders. Barmaids do the work, with maybe a barman, potman or cellarman to help. 

"Beer, in most parts of Great Britain, means only the thinnest and cheapest form of malt liquor; better stuff is commonly called bitter. When an Englishman speaks of booze he means only ale or beer; for our hard liquor (a term he never uses) he prefers spirits. He uses boozer to indicate a drinking-place as well as a drinker. What we call hard cider is rough cider to him. He never uses rum in the generic sense that is has acquired in the United States, and knows nothing of rum-hounds, rum-dumbs, rum-dealers, the rum-trade, and the rum-evil, or of the Demon Rum. 

"The American bung-starter is a beer-mallet in England, and, as in this country, it is frequently used for assault and homicide."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ten vital commandments for localism in beer.

On Thursday and Friday this week, I richly enjoyed a one-sided debate (we were Netherlands to their ineffectual Spain) about the merits economic localism, which flared up after I published my weekly column at NA Confidential.

ON THE AVENUES: As a journalist and entrepreneur, I’m not tired of the “Buy Local” argument. Not at all.

Yesterday, I revisited a column from 2012.

REWIND: My column at Food and Dining: "Localism + Beer."

Following is an excerpt from the ON THE AVENUES piece. These ten commandments are not unique to the burgeoning world of better "craft" beer ... they just explain that world's origins and vitality, as well as providing a common sense warning of what stands to occur as we allow our world to become exactly like the one we fought a revolution to depose.


... Why does (localism) matter? The Institute for Local Self-Reliance ( offers these ten vital commandments. The sooner New Albany grasps them, the better, but slowly, the shift indeed is happening.

1. Protect Local Character and Prosperity
New Albany is unlike any other city in the world. By choosing to support locally owned businesses, you help maintain New Albany’s diversity and distinctive flavor.

2. Community Well-Being
Locally owned businesses build strong neighborhoods by sustaining communities, linking neighbors, and by contributing more to local causes.

3. Local Decision Making
Local ownership means that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.

4. Keeping Dollars in the Local Economy

Your dollars spent in locally-owned businesses have three times the impact on your community as dollars spent at national chains. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create jobs, fund more city services through sales tax, invest in neighborhood improvement and promote community development.

5. Job and Wages
Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.

6. Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

7. Public Benefits and Costs
Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.

8. Environmental Sustainability
Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

9. Competition
A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.

10. Product Diversity
A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.

Friday, June 13, 2014

REWIND (2012): My column at Food and Dining: "Localism + Beer."

The following first appeared here on November 9, 2012. First the 2012 preface, then the main text.


2012 Blog Preface

I usually get around to publishing the columns I've written for Food and Dining magazine, but I seldom think to do it until a few weeks (sometimes months) after the quarterly issues hit the street. This time, I'll make an exception. Vol. 38 (Winter 2012) of Food and Dining has been released, and you can read the issue here. My column is called Hip Hops, and this quarter's piece is entitled "Localism + Beer." For the near future, consider this as a blueprint for my advocacy. It's time to go to the mattresses and return to the grassroots, and it's going to be plain fun.



If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
--Henry David Thoreau

It always has been my aim to accurately describe various aspects of my beer-infused everyday world, but even as I’ve done so, my everyday world persists in evolving. Apart from necessarily using the word “beer,” I’m increasingly unsure how to view any of the rest of it.

Long ago, good beer was about imports exclusively, because there wasn’t very much good beer in America. Several thousand domestic brewery start-ups later, there’s plenty of good beer here, and these days, we refer to it collectively as “craft” beer. This term is fine by me, except that the definition of craft beer starts on a tiny end with the scant barrels produced by a nano-brewery, and ends voluminously with the nationwide airport lounge availability of Samuel Adams.

Semantics aside, the real point of this digression is to acknowledge that I’m changing, too. Back in 1982, St. Pauli Girl probably was the best beer we had during my first-ever gig as a liquor store clerk. Thirty years later, there are dozens – nay, hundreds – of far better beers available hereabouts, and while I’m entirely comfortable in making a “good, better, best” value judgment, it isn’t as simple as it used to be.

Amid the giddy, exploding exuberance, which I’ve long professed and will continue to advocate, it seems that something important is lost. There exists an understandable zeal to embrace the unprecedented availability of international craft beer, but I find myself thinking back to points of origin, and what has made so many of my beer travels memorable: Localism.

It’s drinking great beer at or near its birthplace, primarily because it never tastes fresher than by doing so, but also because the place itself matters. Beer and community reflect each other, and although we must continue to think globally, I’m sensing a new imperative to drink locally.

Home, Not Away

My professional reputation as a beer purveyor was established owing to a stubborn determination to stock the best legally obtainable (well, most of the time) beer, as brewed in locales across the planet. Nowadays, I’m far less inclined to look past my own geographical proximity. The Louisville metropolitan area has its own great beer, with plenty more quality beer being produced within a hundred mile radius.

I’ll never entirely dismiss Belgian Lambics, German Maibocks and Irish Stouts. There’ll forever be a spot for India Pale Ales from San Diego and New York-brewed Saisons, and yet they’re no longer essential to me; rather, they’re for special sampling occasions, as they were years ago when availability was limited. Inexorably, my beer drinking is shifting to local and regional sources, and for the best of all reasons: Drinking local makes me happy.

Places, Not Prizes

Shift happens. It is perhaps the single, fundamental tenet of emerging economic localism, and when it comes time to have a beer, the concept of shift means putting this principle into liquid practice.

Having acknowledged the efficacy of buying local, as measured by factual indices consistently recognizing that localism keeps more money in one’s community, my household is incrementally shifting toward local sources of goods and services, whenever practical. Shift is a process, not an all-or-nothing crusade. If my shift to locally brewed beer implied being compelled to drink an inferior product, obviously I would think differently. Fortunately, it does not.

Another contemporary societal trend to consider is the notion of placemaking, generally described as “a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces.” Placemaking is a grassroots, community-based phenomenon, in which those ordinary people using a public space help to determine how that space is used. Placemaking may help in part to explain my re-emerging interest in community-based beer consumption -- keeping the beer drinking venues local, listening to the local beer drinkers, and knowing who supplies the beer.

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.

Session, Not Sledgehammer

I’m in my sixth decade, and my body reacts differently these days to the excesses of my profession. American craft brewing has excelled in the creation of highly alcoholic genre classics, including Imperial India Pale Ale, Barley Wine and Quadrupel, and while I still adore these styles, increasingly my palate turns to an evening’s reasonable sustainability, in the form of session beers.

The Pennsylvania-based beer writer Lew Bryson is the founder of the Session Beer Project, and he provides these helpful parameters.

Session beers are:

► under 4.5% alcohol by volume
► flavorful enough to be interesting -- no light beers, please
► balanced enough for multiple pints
► conducive to conversation
► reasonably priced

In brief, low-alcohol, but not low-taste. It's deliberately vague. The great thing about session beers, especially the ones that come in under 3.5%, is that you can enjoy several beers, and still have a BAC of under 0.04.

Craft Beer Is A Journey

Maybe some day I’ll come full circle, and find myself craving bottles of Bud Light iced in a pickle bucket. Doubtful, but entirely possible, because beer is less a destination than a journey, and you make the road signs yourself. All I’m asking is that craft beer drinkers resolve to be unafraid of where thinking can lead drinking, especially when thoughts turn to local options.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Flat12 provides a status update on its Jeffersonville brewery.

Back in April, I sneaked through an open door and snapped the above photo of the interior of Flat12's prospective Jeffersonville location. For those of you asking about Flat12's progress in opening for business in this spot, the Indianapolis brewery has posted an update:

You should begin to see the visible changes beginning to take place that will transform the building into a taproom and brewery.

Savaging the Louder Than Life festival? Me neither.

I'm delighted to observe that my de facto columnar replacement over at, the estimable Todd Pharris, already has gotten the hang of beer writing without reference to beer. In this week's posting, Todd puts 530 words on the board before mentioning beer at all.

Going to the Louder than Life Festival? Me Neither.

(530 words, then)

There will apparently also be local beer there. Good for local beer. I’m mentioning this to justify this article’s place on

Atta boy. Just don't horn in on my turf too closely.

Todd refers to a music (not beer) festival called Louder Than Life, being held in Louisville in October. I'd venture a guess that the participating bands loosely would be described as "metal," which is not so much my preferred listen. Moreover, the promoters are from elsewhere, and they've gotten plenty of attention (and criticism) so far with their promise of "gourmet man food."

Well, I've been known to be critical of such easy targets as they pertain to beer festivals -- but you see, this is not a beer festival. It's a music thing. Furthermore, after pulling teeth for years to convince more highly esteemed local music festivals (read: Forecastle) to care about local beer, the organizers of Louder Than Life emerged from the chute having already contacted local wholesalers about these options, and vowing to include local beer in the event.

Even if local beer at a metal fest were consigned to token status, it still would represent placement in front of a non-traditional, non-enthusiast crowd. I'm not sure I can find anything objectionable about that. To me, the goal has always been to have better beer everywhere, not just somewhere, and available for the times of our varied lives when we need it.

Consequently, as it appears right now, NABC beer will be available at Louder Than Life. I'm told that BBC, West 6th and Alltech are likely, as well.

Why not?

Monday, June 09, 2014

The PC: Merlot? Sorry, it isn't IPA, either.

The PC: Merlot? Sorry, it isn't IPA, either.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

The German Café has moved from Paoli to French Lick, and a few weeks ago, we traversed the pastoral Southern Indiana countryside and visited the new location, situated opposite the casino in a much larger, altogether nicer space than before.

As I’ve noted previously, there’s a restaurant just like the German Café in the middle of most German towns and hamlets. Whether in French Lick or Memmelsdorf, the food is hearty, the price mid-range, and the vibe community-oriented. Naturally, there’ll be beer, though not necessarily an enthusiast’s dream lineup; just good beers to accompany the pork and dumplings.

The revamped German Café has three draft handles in addition to the smallish bottle list from its Paoli times. On the day of my visit there was Beck’s on tap (who knew it still exists?) along with two wheat ales: Weihenstephaner and Franziskaner Dunkel. Given that I hadn’t had hefeweizen for the longest time, Weihenstephaner was my choice. It was tasty, indeed.

On the one hand, the consultant in me would love to swap the Beck’s at German Café for Hofbrau, and to substitute a schwarzbier (black lager) for the Franziskaner; still, letting loose of my hoary prejudices and going with the prevailing flow by drinking Weihenstephaner proved to be unexpectedly pleasurable, and it tasted great with my zigeuner schnitzel and sauerkraut.

It had been a while between hefeweizens. Why so long?

Probably I’d permitted myself to be scarred by those timid Public House customers of old who refused to try anything different, and invariably insisted on hefeweizen. At the time, my disgust with their fear became manifested by my own rejection of hefeweizen, but in the present age there is no reason for me to take it out on myself, and anyway, times have changed since then. These days, it’s the hopheads, not the wheat-kneed, who are supremely annoying by virtue of their monocultural fixations.

One must change with the times. First, is the following a dream sequence, or real life?


I couldn’t help noticing that you’re making funny faces. Is there a problem with your beer?

You bet there’s a problem. This beer is absolutely terrible. Worst ever. Your lines are dirty. Yuck. I’ll be giving it to you good on RateAdvocate.

(The bartender pours a bit from the tap, smells it, and takes a taste.)

Sorry, but it tastes fine. I’m not getting any “off” flavors or aromas.

Oh, it’s “off” all right. Where are the hops? I can’t taste any hops at all!

Possibly, that’s because it’s a hefeweizen.

That’s exactly what I’m trying to tell you! This beer you just sold me isn’t an IPA! Didn’t think I could tell, did ya?

Of course it isn’t an IPA. It’s the one you chose from the beer list. It’s a German wheat ale.

So what? I wasn’t born yesterday.

You see, that’s a particular style of beer. Knowing the style gives you information about the beer’s flavor. It’s like when you have children, and you give each of them a different name so you can tell them apart.

Whatever. Who has time for that? You guys have really slipped. I remember when this place used to care about beer, now this beer with no hops. I’ve been coming here for five years, dude. So, tell me this: If it isn’t an IPA, then why isn’t it sour, huh?

It isn’t supposed to be. In classical terms, Berliner Weisse is sour, not German-style wheat ale.

It just proves that those other breweries are way better than yours. I’m going to say so on Untappd.

Feel free, and if you like, I can give you directions to those other breweries. That’ll be $6.75, sir. Have a nice evening.


Although I’ve ground my teeth to the nub through variants of the preceding dialogue during the course of “discussing” beer at on-line geek sandboxes, the episode is entirely fictitious.

Once upon a time, I was grappling with well-meaning folks who knew nothing about beer, but at least didn’t pretend to, while nowadays, everyone’s an expert – except the knowledge level hasn’t really changed, and all too often, this inability to grasp objectivity – this failure to know the difference between personal preference and value judgments based on shared criteria – irreparably taints the various ratings measurements, thus corrupting an already tottering system of snobbery promotion.

Surely it’s better than all that, isn’t it?

Sorry, but I’m not sure. If you’ll accept only one face of beer, whether light lager, German wheat or IPA, you’re missing a universal point about the brewing revolution. What's more, solipsism is a poor substitute for style consciousness.

Meanwhile, if you’re like me and perpetually inclined to contrarianism, merely kick back and revel in the shifting perspectives. I never thought I’d be divulging it, but the summer forecast for 2014 is for me to drink more hefeweizens than previously predicted.

In fact, it may be time for a grand hefeweizen tasting … maybe even at the German Café?

So, who's in?

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Kentucky would like to discuss what it means to be a growler.

The Great Kentucky Growler Conspiracy came bubbling to the surface late last week, and understandably so, given the tendency of social media to function not unlike Plato's Allegory of the Cave, spitting out shadows vaguely representing substance without really getting at the universals (if any) behind the curtain.

Here's the tip: Kentucky officials threaten growler sales by sanitation.

804 KAR 11:040. Growlers.
NECESSITY, FUNCTION, AND CONFORMITY: KRS 241.060 authorizes the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages. This administrative regulation allows a licensee that holds a retail malt beverage license to sell growlers.

I elected to wait a couple of days to comment, in the assumption that someone with more time and patience would parse the legalese -- and the Hoperatives duly stepped forward.

Because this became a story for us relatively late on a Friday afternoon, we did not reach out to Trey Hieneman at the KY ABC. We’ll raise some of the issues we brought up here with him next week and see what he says. We’ll definitely report on that. This could be something that winds up being a disincentive for retailers to keep and maintain growler systems,. That would be a real hit to the growing craft beer movement in Kentucky. On the other hand, this proposal could just as easily be rules that legitimately protect public health and helps brewers by making sure their product is being poured in a sanitary fashion. The story here doesn’t appear to be that these rules are good or bad. It seems to be that this is unclear. The good news is, there’s time to work that out.

In this instance, as in like occurrences (health departments everywhere smelling the do-re-mi and eagerly seeking regulatory territory to demarcate), it is worth considering the point when administrative shortcuts conflict with statute. At any rate, thanks to Carla and Tom for their balanced view; I look forward to the follow-up.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

One fine day at Design Werks in North Vernon.

John and Blake (above); PR and a "Starlight" jockey box (below).

Nice end pieces on this model.

But we managed to make it more harmonious.

"Beverage Coolers, Jockey Boxes, Kegerators, Displays, Studios, Man Caves, Bars & Accessories and anything/everything custom."

Blake and I drove up to the bustling crossroads town of North Vernon, Indiana, last Thursday to examine the showroom and shop of John Elliott, who does business as Design Werks. John is a master carpenter and a craft beer lover, and his customized coolers are the fruition of the union of a skill set and a hobby.

Just don't try to find John's esoteric lair. There is a considerable element of secretive Bat Cave to his professional digs, and the shop is cleverly camouflaged by a ready-mix concrete company. John had to guide us in via cell phone. The photos don't do justice to his pieces, which truly are hand-crafted, and also fully functional and suitable for heavy duty use.

These aren't your grandaddy's single-use styrofoam conveyances, or even garden-variety Colemans. John may not be making craft beer, but in a sense, he's putting the craft back into it.

Design Werks on Facebook

Friday, June 06, 2014

Trouble brewing? Tell me something new, will ya?

The authors peel back the layers without getting all the way to the bottom of the disconnect.

Trouble Brewing for Craft Beer; Regulations are creating harmful barriers to the craft beer industry, by Matthew Mitchell and Christopher Koopman (US News & World Report)

... A more direct and effective solution would be to clear the tangle of regulations that stand between craft brew­ers and their customers.

Regulatory issues are the easiest target of all, and brewers certainly aren't the only working group in a position to complain about them. In my mind, there is another level to any paean to deregulation, this being the religious moralism that still is brought to bear against alcoholic beverages. It's what helped bring about Prohibition in the first place, and one need spend very little time among legislators to learn that it still flourishes.

Trans fat initiatives aside, at least chefs forced to contend with health department fascists aren't being told that God is against their burgers.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Over the 9: Old 502 Winery "joins forces" with Falls City.

Here is Robin Garr's remix of the press release, as published at the Louisville Restaurants Forum. The Old 502 alliance with Falls City has been known but on the down low for a while; suffice to say that the Neace business empire has the resources to make good on the promise. It will be interesting, indeed.

FYI: It is rumored that Falls City seeks a brewer. Let me know if you're interested, and I'll forward to the right people.


Old 502 Winery and Falls City Beer Plan Growth Through Partnership

Craft beer and wine destination planned for downtown Louisville

Two Louisville brands -- Old 502 Winery, Kentucky’s only urban winery, and Falls City Brewing Company, with its rich local history -- have joined forces to foster synergy and growth.

John Neace, owner of Old 502 Winery, has become an equity partner in Falls City Brewing Company. David Easterling, who reintroduced the Falls City brand 4 years ago, will remain chief executive officer of Falls City.

Falls City and Old 502 will be investing $1 million in a renovation project to create a craft beer and wine destination on 10th Street between Main and Market, at the current location of Old 502 Winery. The more than 35,000 square-foot complex spanning multiple buildings will feature both wine and beer production facilities, tasting rooms and indoor and outdoor event spaces, and serve as an anchor in the ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown areas west of 9th Street.

The renovation project will double the winemaking capacity for Old 502 and relocate Falls City’s production facility and tasting room currently located on Barret Ave.

“We’re creating Louisville’s craft beer and wine block,” said John Neace. “We believe this facility can be a hub for both beer and wine lovers, and also serve as a catalyst for not just our two brands, but for this part of town as well.”

The co-location of Old 502 and Falls City, and the new beer and wine hub, further expands Louisville’s focus as a food and beverage capitol, drawing culinary tourists from across the country and beyond.

“While both brands will maintain their unique and distinct identities, we believe that bringing them together ‘over the 9’ is going to be a big hit,” Easterling said. “The Old 502 and Falls City complex will offer a truly unique experience where patrons can enjoy locally-produced wine and beer in a top-notch venue.”

In addition to wine tastings and bottle purchases available currently at Old 502, visitors to the new craft beer and wine hub will also be able enjoy a pint, take home a growler or sample some special-edition and experimental Falls City brews. In addition to on-premise sales, the venue can also accommodate wedding receptions and large meetings.

Old 502 and Falls City expect the renovation of the craft beer and wine hub to be complete later this summer.

In addition to moving the brewery to the 10th St. location, both brands will benefit from an expanded sales force in the near future to better cover emerging markets in Ohio and Indiana.

“We’re excited to see the growth of these two brands and plan to continually reinvest to improve capacity,” said Neace, who added that long-term plans for Falls City include moving the production and bottle that currently takes place in Nashville to Louisville.

“These brands both have a history and a heritage that is uniquely Louisville, and we are focused on growing these brands in a way that reinvests in the city,” Neace said.

About Old 502 Winery

Located at 120 S. 10th Street in Downtown Louisville, Old 502 is an award-winning winery that produces a variety of unique wines that embrace the spirit of Kentucky. Using grapes grown by local farmers, Old 502 crafts some of the most eclectic — dare we say funky — wines you'll ever have the pleasure of tasting. The winery also boosts a tasting room and event space in its reclaimed 19th-century warehouse venue. Old 502’s products are sold in its tasting room and at over 200 retailers across the region.

About Falls City Beer

Falls City Brewing Company was formed in Louisville in 1905 and continued brewing in Louisville until 1978. At its peak, Falls City produced more than 700,000 barrels per year. David Easterling revived the brand and reintroduced Falls City to the Louisville market in February 2010. In the early days, Falls City made ales, such as the English Ale that can be found at most bars and restaurants in the Louisville area now. In addition the the English Ale, Falls City has American Wheat Ale and Hipster Repellant IPA in distribution and many other varieties (that are not distributed) available at the Falls City tasting room at 120 S. 10th St.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

"The supply chain benefits of using non-returnable PET kegs."

In order to ship beer great distances to satisfy the cravings of beer (fill in blank with plural noun; choose among "geek," "aficionado," "bro" or otherwise) we'll be compelled to use more disposable kegs.

The argument is made here that doing so is friendlier for the environment event when the one-way kegs are tossed into the landfill.

What remains to be addressed is why a movement founded on localism now must ship beer great distances, but since such consideration tend to lead to exploding heads and balled fists, we'll leave sleeping (fill in blank with plural noun; choose among "geek," "aficionado," "bro" or otherwise) lie.

Monday, June 02, 2014

The PC: Last of the summer beer.

The PC: Last of the summer beer.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Lately I’ve found myself enamored of the venerable British television series, “Last of the Summer Wine.” It’s hard to imagine a more unfashionable concept in the milieu of the iPhone and Bitcoin, and perhaps that’s why I’m so attracted to it.

For the uninitiated, the series ran from 1973 through 2010, a staggering 37 years, with almost 300 episodes aired. Virtually all of them emphasize a timeless sense of place, with much location filming amid the workmanlike stone buildings and rustic, gorgeous rolling hills of Holmfirth, Yorkshire. There is a basic narrative premise remaining unchanged throughout the program’s run:

“A whimsical comedy with a penchant for light philosophy and full-on slapstick (following) the misadventures of three elderly friends tramping around the Yorkshire countryside.”

Reruns of “Last of the Summer Wine” have been showing on KET for as long as I can remember, and while the electronic media of today’s world enables one the selective luxury of binge viewing on-line, the series itself decidedly is not about today’s world. As such, I prefer the old-fashioned manner of viewing: Pouring a drink and sitting in front of the television at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday with the missus.

On those occasions when life gets in the way, there’s always YouTube to play catch-up.


Just a few weeks ago, the chronological episode spool ran all the way back to the pilot, filmed in 1972 and aired in 1973. Astoundingly, plot elements subsequently enjoying a shelf life of decades are largely intact from the very start, except I’d argue that the word “elderly” isn’t really a valid descriptor of the primary male characters, at least in the very beginning of the series.

In fact, while the first trio (Cyril, Clegg and Compo) might accurately be described as redundant, pensioned or retired, the actors portraying them, as well as their fictional characters, are in their early- to mid-50s as the series begins in 1973. They get to be genuinely elderly, but what are the odds of a television series lasting almost four decades?

Because “Last of the Summer Wine” keeps going and going, there are minor changes, tweakings and cast turnover. The character of Cyril is replaced by Foggy Dewhurst, and then Seymour Utterthwaite; Foggy later returns, and is replaced a second time, by Frank Thornton’s Herbert Truelove. Bill Owen (Compo) dies in 2000, and so does his character. Peter Sallis’s Clegg ages the most; he appears in all 295 episodes and is still alive in 2014, in his early nineties.

However, in the beginning – insert a shocked “gasp” here – they’re my approximate age (53), or only slightly older. This, dear readers, boggles my mind, and it speaks to the endlessly convoluted mind games of time and history.

As an example, consider Foggy, who constantly exaggerates his experiences in the Asian Theater during the Second World War. When Foggy came to town in 1976, it had been only three full decades since the end of the war, which as we know initiated a post-war baby boom … which in England produced the earliest fans of a group like the Rolling Stones … who in 2014 are in the third year of celebrating the band’s 50th anniversary.

On one of the last of the newer (1991) episodes aired on KET before the rotation began anew, Foggy encounters a man on the street in Holmfirth using an ATM. By contrast, the 1973 pilot episode might as well have been filmed in the 1920s. Modernity in Holmfirth is relative. There is an absence of overall hurry, and few items are made of plastic. Anglicanism isn’t dead, and there are as many buses and tractors on the street as automobiles.

Into this compelling tableau steps Clegg, Compo and Cyril. Apart from wartime service, these former schoolmates never left their nowhere town. Now, with nothing to do, they wander about hill, dale and high street, reminiscing and philosophizing, indulging in harmless antics inspired by boredom, and more in keeping with children’s play than retiree community social scheduling.

In short, it is a worthy ideal, indeed. Where do I sign up?

The trio’s day invariably brings them to Sid’s Café for tea and sticky buns, and often includes extended sessions in various local Holmfirth pubs, including the White Horse Inn, Butcher’s Arms and Elephant and Castle. In these intimate bricks and mortar monuments to Real Ale when it really was real, they enjoy leisurely pints from the hand-pull while hatching the next scheme. Periodically there is disagreement over who buys the next round, but three more pints generally materialize in front of them, to be deliciously drained.


Because the title character of the series “Inspector Morse” specifically addresses the virtues of traditional cask ale at regular intervals, he’s probably the foremost telly-centric exponent of traditional British ale-making virtues, albeit leaning a bit toward the geekier side of things.

“Last of the Summer Wine” also ranks highly, if for no other reason than its depiction of the pub experience in such affectionate fashion, as a daily component of the well-rounded ne’er-do-well’s life. Of course, this is the whole point of a pub, and I thank the series for making it.

Not only that, but I salivate and become all Pavlovian. I see the Holmfirth boys lifting their pints, and for the briefest of moments, the stress-ridden workaday routine disappears from view. There is simplicity.

In a daydream, I join my pals Mark and Graham in shuffling through the streets of New Albany, solving the world’s problems, and repairing to a clean, well-lighted place for liquid sustenance. We hector politicians, recall the good old daze, and toss a water balloon at a passing tractor trailer.

It can’t ever be the same, although a boy – and even an older man – can dream.

Or, he can watch “Last of the Summer Wine” and envision the art of the possible.