Tuesday, October 28, 2014

At Louisville Beer Dot Com: "Three tiers for Anheuser-Busch!"

John King drinks beer, runs, crafts wooden furniture, is one-third of a podcast, serves as Executive Director of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers and might even have time left to work at a day job, although I'm not sure about that one.

And then there is John's column at Louisville Beer Dot Com.

Three tiers for Anheuser-Busch!, by John King (Louisville Beer)

... The Kentucky ABC laws can be described as finicky to those inside and outside of the beer industry. They can possibly be classified as archaic since the first beer was cracked post-Prohibition, but they serve a purpose whether we imbibe by them or not. From a three-tier system requiring breweries to sell their beer to a distributor to not being allowed to give away free samples of beer outside of your taproom, the laws can create some questions amongst beer geeks. Let me explain the latter first.

He does, and then returns to AB InBev's latest bid to thwart the three-tier system.

If Anheuser-Busch starts to acquire self-distribution in Kentucky, expect to see those beers you love replaced with their “crafty” impostors (God, who am I Roger Baylor?)

To the Kentucky Guild of Brewers, it makes no sense why the largest brewery in the world would be able to self distribute and our smaller, in-state operations are not allowed to.

Well, it's about time someone was me. That said, John does a great job explaining the esoteric. If you enjoy better beer and reside in Kentucky, register your view.

Monday, October 27, 2014

THE PC: One fine evening at the Zlatý Dukát.

THE PC: One fine evening at the Zlatý Dukát.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Drink beer with bitter hops, eat morning soup with garlic, and you will live long.
-- Central European proverb

In 1991, pre-dating my pub career by a year, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to indulge a dream. Communism had fallen, and suddenly there were opportunities for English-speakers in Eastern European countries where language instruction in Russian had not prepared people for the newly opened worldwide market.

Working through a now defunct agency, I landed a job at the teaching hospital in Kosice, the largest city in eastern Slovakia -- then still part of Czechoslovakia, and not a territory known for its beer.

It didn't matter, and I've never regretted for one moment accepting the first placement that came my way. I've been back to Kosice several times since 1992, though not since 2002; unfortunately, I’ve lost touch with the people mentioned below. Meanwhile, Slovakia is independent and a member of an expanded European Union. I hope they’re all doing well.

The article, entitled "An Evening on the Town," originally was written in 1992. I’ve touched it up a bit for publication here.


Jozef, a dentist, was a late addition to the roster of my conversational English class. He had attended only once prior to a Friday afternoon session in early November, yet even in his absence, I formed a firm opinion that the two of us had more in common than stature.

A big man with a relaxed, open outlook, Jozef played hockey and soccer in the semi professional Slovak leagues of the recently ended Communist era.

My hunch that we were thinking alike was borne out during that same Friday afternoon class, when I noticed his eyes widen as I told the group about my forthcoming cross-country rail pilgrimage to Plzen, home of the Pilsner Urquell brewery.

Wearing a sly grin, Jozef approached me at the end of the hour. "On next Wednesday," he said, "what will you do at night? May we make a meeting? We can go to a good restaurant in Kosice for beer, and my colleagues will go, too."

There were no objections from the lectern.

After class on the appointed evening, Jozef reminded me to meet him and the others in the hospital's main lobby at 5:00 p.m., and when I came down the stairs, he was waiting. Two other students, Ludmila and Vladimir, also were there.

Together we piled into Jozef's weather beaten, dull red, four door Skoda. It isn't easy to place a year of birth on Communist era cars, since the same models were reissued again and again; over the rumbling of the engine, I guessed it was a 1970 model. The other passengers laughed heartily. It was a '79.

We sputtered from the hospital parking lot and lurched downhill toward the center of Kosice, past the 130 year old city brewery (since closed) onto Vojenska Street. The Skoda veered right and slowly accelerated up Moyzesova, then left into the pitch black of Malinovskeho.

Everyone laughed at the provincial ambience of the unlit, deserted street. "It is like Las Vegas, yes?" said Vladimir, and Ludmila answered: "yes, Las Vegas in Slovakia."

"Do you know this street?" asked Ludmila. "We go to the back way," said Jozef. "It is better to park."

The brawny dentist gently eased the Skoda into a space. The car coughed rudely. We began walking, passing through an arched alleyway with chipped, peeling walls, entering a courtyard dotted with stacks of rotted building materials.

The back door to the Zlaty Dukat (Golden Ducat) was open, and behind a veil of steam the kitchen staff was busy. A greasy man in a well traveled black suit seemed absolutely delighted to see us. We were greeted warmly, and he nodded knowingly as Jozef spoke.

We were led to the large ground floor room where clusters of local men and an occasional woman sat at small, square tables no music, no television, just Slovaks seated in groups, drinking, smoking and talking. The room was devoid of decoration apart from standard issue 1950s vintage curtains and a scattering of yellowed Pilsner Urquell posters high up on the walls.

Plumes of acrid cigarette smoke rose from the tables and were dispersed by the lilting motion of a single waitress navigating the floor with a tray of half liter draught beers held expertly aloft, so as to avoid the unconscious gesturing of the thirsty storytellers.

The man in the black suit ushered us into a curtained cubicle marked as "RESERVE" with a hand lettered strip of paper. The cubicle was to be our refuge for the evening. In a space the size of a walk in closet there were six chairs, a table and hooks on the wall for coats. It was intimate, to say the least.

Having settled into our seats and dispensed with small talk, it was time for the business at hand. Jozef ordered four beers. Ludmila leaned over and asked me if I wanted to eat; I was reminded of a German war bride, a Hollywood character actress or a Gabor sister as she spoke good, though heavily accented, English.

Jozef abruptly announced his unshakable preference for a dish called t'lacinka: "Do you like our food?" he asked. "T'lacinka is Slovak food of tradition. At this restaurant, it is very good. Okay?" He literally smacked his lips.

"Maybe it isn't so good for you," said Ludmila. "Maybe your stomach is not good for our Slovak food." Vladimir laughed. Jozef looked dismayed. "No, no," he said, "it is best food for beer. We eat t'lacinka and drink beer. Yes?"

Yes, I agreed.

The beer arrived. One taste confirmed that it was Pilsner Urquell. Three tastes later, it was gone. So was Jozef's. Vladimir, good natured and quiet, abandoned his half full glass to find the waitress and order another round.

I told Ludmila that Slovak food was fine. The previous evening, I'd gone with another student to the Gazdovska wine cellar, an atmospheric, slightly scruffy restaurant where the specialty was bryndza hluska, which I'd heard much about but not sampled.

Every Slovak I'd spoken to considered bryndza hluska to be incompatible with American tastes, perhaps owing to its topping of melted sheep's cheese. Naturally, the Gazdovska's bryndza hluska was excellent: pea sized dumplings in a white gravy, topped with tangy cheese and real bacon bits, and accompanied by a glass of golden, sweet Tokaj wine.

Back at the Zlaty Dukat, Ludmila was impressed by my familiarity with Slovak cuisine. Moments later, two platters of t'lacinka arrived.

I might have yawned, for in the lunchmeat section of the typical American supermarket, you'll readily find t'lacinka. It's called head cheese, or brawn; when pickled, it is souse.

With obvious relish, Jozef said "watch me, okay?" He shifted a stack of raw, chopped onions onto slices of the compressed, unidentifiable, gelatinous meat. He ladled vinegar from a small tureen, dousing the quivering stack of meat by product and onion.

After that, all was flashing forks and lengthy drinks of what, to me, was the world's finest pilsner beer. I didn't hesitate to follow suit, and the t'lacinka was quite good. Why waste time contemplating internal organs and slaughterhouse scrapings so long as they pair with beer?

Later Jozef had a main course of turkey breast stuffed with ham and cheese with what looked to be a full pound of fries. I followed suit, and then we had another platter of t'lacinka, although by this point, I was getting full.

All the while, half liters of Pilsner Urquell disappeared as Jozef, Ludmila and Vladimir regaled me with tales of Slovakia.

Contempt for Communism and Kosice’s local beer was freely expressed. Jozef, who voiced a preference for Budvar over Pilsner Urquell, delighted in telling a "true" story about Cassovar, the beer made by Kosice's brewery the one just down the hill from the hospital, which did not outlast the 1990s.

"Our brewery sent a bottle of Cassovar to Plzen for tests to the laboratory," began Jozef, "and the brewers wait for an answer. They wait for one week, then another week. And nothing!"

Jozef paused, frowning.

"Then comes back the letter to Kosice, and it said there is no need to worry; your horse will be okay."

The laughter had barely subsided when the curtain parted to reveal Andrej, a youthful surgeon from the same English class. Several days earlier, I'd helped him write a letter to a European surgical society, a note in which he expressed genuinely heartfelt thanks for being accepted as a member and equally sincere regrets that he would be unable to attend the annual conference.

He couldn't afford a journey to Amsterdam on a Slovak surgeon's salary, which in his case wasn't much more than the 2,900 crowns ($100) monthly paid to me to teach conversational English.

"Welcome," said Jozef, as yet showing no signs of either slowing or becoming drunk. "We are eating t'lacinka and drinking Prazdroj. Please, you must sit with us and drink. Okay?"


Our slippery, black suited host chose this moment to enter and speak with Jozef. When he left, Jozef said, "Last Saturday, I have duty. I treat 38 patients in this time. My pay for this day is normal, like any other day."

Nothing extra for weekend duty?

"No," he replied, wiping foam from his mustache. “For this day I am paid 150 crowns."

Five dollars.

"And this man, this restaurant man, he wants to make a meeting for me to examine teeth. He does not wish to pay me, but these waiters make more money than me."

"More than all of us," said Ludmila.

Vladimir shrugged from behind his glass: "It is a problem."

We spoke of other problems and of the system in the bad old days, and the wonderful beer encouraged candor. Andrej said, “We want the changes, but for us it is difficult. Maybe we will be like America someday."

Jozef reacted to Andrej's words. "My friend was player for the Czechoslovakia national team in hockey,” he said, "and then he play in Los Angeles with Wayne Gretzky. He tells to me in a letter that all is good in America except one thing. The beer is very bad. It is true, that the beer in America is bad? Why?"

Why ask why? I merely nodded sadly and finished my Pilsner Urquell.

It was 8:15 P.M. Closing time was at 9:00 P.M., so we ordered more beer. The waitress told Jozef that beer could not be served any longer on that particular night. Jozef asked her if the restaurant had run out of beer. She said no, there was plenty of beer and they had decided to quit serving it. The reason? None. I was reminded of the time at the pizza place in my hometown when the new employee panicked because the beer had quit coming out of the wall.

The Zlaty Dukat was emptying, the restroom attendant had abandoned his post not unexpected given the stench and his high level of intoxication and the ashtray woman was in the process of completing her only job: shifting mounds of butts into a garbage can.

Ludmila sighed. "It is not private," she said, "so the workers don't care.” Vladimir and Andrej laughed, and Andrej added, "Maybe it will change."

Jozef snorted and waved through the open curtain, but not even his black suited future patient could reverse the closing decree. It was time to go. Jozef paid the bill for the evening's festivities; it came to 300 crowns, or $10 – two days’ pay. We called it a night, and I walked up the hill, past the brewery that housed the ill horse, and home.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Being a "local hero" may require the use of a different set of muscles.

Let's expand upon this:

No, we'll likely never return to the time when three huge brewers dominate the entire beer marketplace. However, as the big "craft" players from the West Coast continue to establish production facilities on the Eastern Seaboard (Sierra, Oskar Blues, New Belgium and now Stone), aren't we looking at a scenario wherein retail shelf space comes to be their province in much the same way?

Schumacher offers an interesting comparison, one that points to another level of the brewery proliferation discussion.

How do 2,000 wineries in California survive?

Knowing quite little about it, I'd guess that their business models radically differ. Gallo has wine in every supermarket nationwide. Conversely, a small mom 'n' pop vintner ships a few hundred cases a year of something not at all plonk, and achieves his or her goals. California wineries predate "craft" breweries. Legal regimes vary. They've had time to dope it out, evolve and rationalize.

If every community is to play host to its own brewery, and all of them thrive, my guess is that the avoidance of a bubble bursting depends on economies of scale, and accompanying business plans. What worries me are all the new brewers who posit growth (and assume debt in accordance) according to outside distribution. It simply cannot be the case in the way this market currently works. I weary of collective 13% growth blurbs unaccompanied by a breakdown of production size. How much of that percentage is Sierra, and how much the brewpub in Anywheretown?

To be more succinct, it is the case now, and will be so increasingly in the future, that the interests and strategies of a 300-bbl pub brewer and a 30,000-bbl production brewer differ. NABC and Sam Adams are not alike. We're very different. We may both be "craft" in some nebulous way, but the differences are becoming wider, not narrower.

The practical consequences? I'll save those for another day.

The Beer Curmudgeon: LOCAL HERO, by Harry Schuhmacher (All About Beer Magazine)

 ... One of the most commonly asked questions within the beer industry today is: How many new breweries can the market support? Are we becoming saturated with too many breweries opening up? The answer is: not yet, not even close. There are over 2,000 wineries in California alone. If this local thing keeps going, every community will play host to its own brewery, and that’s not such a bad thing.

Friday, October 24, 2014

News update from the Brewers of Indiana Guild.

I'm proud to serve on the board of directors of the Brewers of Indiana Guild. Currently my committee assignments are Festival policy (co-chair) and Membership. As most readers already know, I'm bullish about Indiana-brewed beer, and believe we're headed in the right direction.

Below are excerpts of general interest from the most recent board news update. Note that we're not far away from the first big event of 2015:

Winterfest 2015
January 31, 2015
Indiana State Fairgrounds
1202 E 38th St. Indianapolis


From the Executive Director

ALMOST THERE! We are very close to crossing a milestone. As of this writing, Brewers of Indiana Guild has 97 active brewery members. We’ve come a long way since Broad Ripple Brewpub opened in 1990.

Please let us know if your brewery is visited by the Health Department (state or county), or the office of the State Chemist. In any case, please cooperate with the agent and get a business card. Health Department visits have become fairly common. Officials often use "kitchen" standards for our breweries, but so far the nuisance has not developed into real problems. The Chemist is potentially more concerning as they are looking at spent grain issues, hinting they are formulating new policies. Please keep us informed.

From the President

As a Guild, we have been working on a great number of things, but as a volunteer Board with only two paid staff members there is only so much that we can accomplish. This year we formed a number of committees that are all chaired and co-chaired by a Board member. Our standing committees are: Finance, Government Relations, Membership, Marketing, Education, Festival Policy, and B.I.G.'s Partnership with Purdue. Our plan is to have bi-montly meetings that fall between the months that we hold Board meetings.

I have been fortunate to participate in several Gathering of the Guilds meetings hosted by the Brewers Association and am happy to report that Indiana is on track and moving in the right direction. With the addition of our Communications Director, Tristan Schmid, getting the word out about it all will be more timely and organized.

Marketing & Media News

There's a lot going on with our new public awareness campaign, Drink Indiana Beer, which we launched at Great American Beer Fest and have gotten a lot of positive feedback on. That campaign and other outreach efforts have netted good exposure for Indiana breweries and the beer you brew.

A few quick notes:

Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick airs an interview about the Drink Indiana Beer campaign tonight at 7:30pm on WFYI and Sunday at 11am on WTHR. We'll post a link to the video on our site, drinkIN.beer, once it's streaming.

Indiana Public Media's Noon Edition hosted Doug from Upland, Abel from Quaff On!, and me for an hour-long discussion about the state of craft beer in Indiana. Listen to the chat here.

Indiana Public Media also aired a 4-minute TV segment about the industry's growth, which you can watch here.

The Guild is running a half-page ad promoting the Drink Indiana Beer campaign and website in the next annual edition of the Indiana Office of Tourism Development magazine, Honest-to-Goodness Indiana. The magazine goes to tens of thousands of people across Indiana and in neighboring states. We'll let you know more once it's published.

We're developing an exclusive statewide partnership with the American Red Cross to promote fire safety in homes in our communities this holiday season and will share more about this collaborative effort next month.

Be sure to follow the Guild on TwitterFacebook and Instagram (we're using the hashtag #INbeer for the conversation about Indiana beer).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Here's the flip side of Stone in Richmond.

No, we'll likely never return to the time when three huge brewers dominate the entire beer marketplace. However, as the big "craft" players from the West Coast continue to establish production facilities on the Eastern Seaboard (Sierra, Oskar Blues, New Belgium and now Stone), aren't we looking at a scenario wherein retail shelf space comes to be their province in much the same way?

Hinkle: Brewery deal comes with a hangover, by A. Barton Hinkle (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

The way public officials acted last week, you would have thought they’d already had a long quaff of Stone Brewing Co.’s strongest. The company’s decision to place a brewery in Richmond “really puts Virginia on the map,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe enthused. According to Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, while Richmond is already “one of the coolest cities ... we’re about to get a whole lot cooler.”

Make no mistake: The announcement that Stone chose Richmond as the site for its first brewery east of the Mississippi is great news. The launch will create almost 300 jobs, generate $74 million worth of investment and help revitalize a part of the city that has struggled to go from shabby to chic. Cheers and toasts all ’round.

But at the risk of behaving like the skunk at a beer-garden party, we shouldn’t let the moment pass without noting that the incentives the brewers will get are substantial. Richmond is issuing $23 million in bonds to build the brewery and an additional $8 million to build the restaurant. Stone also will get a $1.5 million economic development grant and a $500,000 sustainability grant ...

And then, there's this.

... The special favors conferred upon Stone must make central Virginia’s longtime craft brewers gag. Companies like Legend Brewing Co., Hardywood Park and Triple Crossing have not always gotten the red-carpet treatment from City Hall themselves. Now they will watch their hard-earned tax dollars help a competitor. If that leaves a bitter taste in their mouths, you could hardly blame them.

It will be interesting to see how long "craft" beer maintains its legendary camaraderie amid the pressures to come.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

These requests from abroad, volume four: "May I ask you to send me one set of your beer labels?"

If you own a brewery or work for one, you've probably fielded e-mail inquiries from overseas asking for beer labels, crown caps and the like, as destined to become cherished keepsakes of private collectors who've heard of your beer, even in far-off Moldova or the Ivory Coast.

To me, there is something compelling and yet haunting about these foreign requests, which tend to come from Central/Eastern European locales, which are places of longtime personal interest to me historically and geographically. They speak to my inner melancholic. Lately, I've been pasting their addresses into Google Map and seeing what their places of residence look like.

The most recent request comes from Peter, in the Czech Republic.

He lives in Teplice, a spa town located in northwestern Bohemia near the border with Germany. His apartment building is very indicative of those constructed during the Communist era. During my time in Czechoslovakia teaching English, the building opposite my dorm residence looked much like this one, and it reminds me of sitting on my balcony, smoking little Vatra cigars, and drinking coffee, bottled beer, or both.

Let's hope no privacy protocols are being violated by my depicting their buildings, seeing as there's a drone hovering outside my front door even as I type these words. It's just that I can't help wondering: What's the rest of the story?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Goose Island on Black Friday? Hmm, that sounds like enough cultural depravity for one corporate holiday.

Nothing personal, Todd, but no. I'll pass.

However, let's credit AB-InBev for its monolith's conceptual grasp: Black Friday and Bourbon County Stout unite Big Beer Brother symbolism in a way previously reserved for the likes of Leni Riefenstahl and the Nuremberg Rallies.

Of course, Black Friday is a mindless celebration of consumerism, contextualized through the plasticized glories of Chainland and the sultry allures of Big Box World. There's nothing remotely "craft" about Black Friday in the mass marketing sense, and accordingly, the late Goose Island is macro as macro can be, reduced forever to inert zombie bondage -- merely a Craft-Shaped Hologram, with any money spent on purchasing its products headed straight to chardonnay-sipping AB-InBev shareholders the world over.

Narcissistic beer hoarders are free to deny this reality until the end of time, and they generally do, but Goose Island remains a wholly-owned subsidiary of the beer world’s largest extortionate conglomerate, and as such, it contradicts virtually every tenet of the "craft" beer indie handbook. Black Friday and Trojan Goose? It's a marriage made in Leuven, and officiated by the Koch Brothers.

AB-Inbev uses its "craft" toy not unlike a drone, aggressively combating the interests of better beer in those venues where money buys shelf space in supermarkets, or taps via the concessionaire’s usual extortion in closed settings like airports and stadiums.

Denial? It's isn't just a river in Egypt any more.

Monday, October 20, 2014

THE PC: Football, swill, brain death and the American Dream.

THE PC: Football, swill, brain death and the American Dream.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.


“What the … ?”

(Old school, rotary dial – it was 1989, for chrissakes)


“We’re cooking and drinking.”


Translation at the speed of hangover …

This undoubtedly meant it was Sunday morning (who’d have known?) and the football games would be starting soon. Barr lived just a few miles away. It would have been senseless calling back.

So, I threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth and drove right over. The house smelled like chili, pre-game shows were blaring, and of course there wasn’t any beer.

That’s not quite true. There was beer, although far short of the amount needed to carry us through the entire day. Because Indiana prohibited carry-out beer on Sunday, the inevitable trip across the Sherman Minton to the West End needed to come sooner rather than later, when highway driving would be inadvisable.

The really dumb thing about our Sunday beer shortages was their frequency. Most of the time, I’d have worked a Saturday shift at the liquor store, and it would have been easy for me to pick up a case of something/anything, receiving my employee discount on top of it.

But no; advance planning would have made far too much sense. Perhaps there was a secret, nostalgic enjoyment about these runs to Louisville, and actually we were reliving junior high school.

There we’d be, cruising down the Interstate, allowing the chili to simmer for another 35 minutes or so as we tried to time our arrival at the front door of the package store to the precise moment of its 1:00 p.m. opening time. Once inside, pushing past the crowds of fellow Hoosiers, the hunt for acceptable swill began in earnest.


Kindly note that by this point in our drinking lives, we knew what good beer was; it’s just that we weren’t always interested in paying the price for it, especially when purchased in bulk during times when the hot pepper content of the chili threatened to render one’s taste buds null and void.

As celebrity chef David Chang recently observed in GQ, mass-market swill pairs with any food owing to its vigorously carbonated flavorlessness. But these were the days of $5.99-per-case Wiedemann and Top Hat, beers to which the words “benign” and “tasteless” seldom were attached. They had plenty of flavor, just the wrong kind, and consequently a process of thoughtful triage was required.

I’d witnessed it countless times while working at the liquor store. Standing in front of the glass door, we’d begin by eliminating the brands we couldn’t or wouldn’t stomach – essentially, all of them – before beginning Round Two by working backwards and nominating two or three of the least objectionable choices. Price points briefly were parsed, cash collected, and within minutes we were back in the car, pointed toward Indiana and safety.

Subsequently, those cryptic words from the telephone came vibrantly to life, usually achieving saturation around halftime of the afternoon game. The feast would continue into early evening, but because Sunday night football had yet to be invented, there was a two minute warning in the form of the weekly and obligatory viewing of 60 Minutes.

Maybe a final cigar … and the last dregs of a Schaefer.

By then, I’d have beered myself totally sober (or so came the slurred insistence), and would take the back road home. By Monday, almost all of it had been forgotten, making an encore performance the following Sunday all the more likely.


Thinking back 25 years to those hours of chili, swill and football, it was all about the camaraderie with wonderful people, not specifically the cooking, drinking and watching. I miss it for that reason alone. Granted, the chili was good. The beer usually wasn’t, but what strikes me today is the football component of the equation, and the way times have changed for me.

We always used to joke about the damage being done to our brains while watching football, never realizing that the carnage on the field was no laughing matter. Today, ignorance no longer constitutes an excuse.

I played football only briefly as a lad, and never was a diehard football fan. Twice I attended college football games, and both were utterly forgettable, not because of the quality of the games themselves, but reflecting my own level of inebriation.

Professional football always appealed to me more; even so, my attention span over the period since those halcyon Sunday couch occupancies has waned steadily, to the point where in recent years, I've seldom seen more than a quarter or two of action prior to the playoffs. This year, I haven’t seen a single down, and probably won’t.

I’ve turned away from football because of the increasingly well-documented, regrettable, lifelong physical toll suffered by the players. It isn't just the professional game. The more I read about youth football injuries, the greater my disconnection. We begin to see difficult subsequent lives, erratic adulthoods, and eventual dementia in a different light, and it’s easier to look away – not from the sadly afflicted, but from the violence of the game itself.

The gladiator as metaphor stops being entertaining when the suffering and death are real, not just implied in a voiceover.

And if it ever required so much good, bad or indifferent beer to fuel those entire days seated in front of the television, soused and insensate, screaming slogans and pumping fists … well, perhaps the memory of it also compels me to look away from the collisions in the modern coliseum.

Into yonder mirror.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Meet the uKeg pressurized growler.

These growler innovators are scoring early and often on Kickstarter. I support innovation, although at the same time, I can't help feeling that if one uses the conventional growler as intended -- by transporting it to a safe spot for draining in one joyful sitting -- home draft systems are a bit superfluous.

But the market will decide. Kudos to the inventors, and thanks to BC for the link.

The uKeg Pressurized Growler for Fresh Beer, by GrowlerWerks

Our mission at GrowlerWerks is to make a growler that works. One that doesn’t let air into your beer, maintains perfect carbonation from the first pour to the last, and keeps beer cold for hours – all in a product you’ll love showing off at your friend’s next BBQ. GrowlerWerks was created by local Portlanders who love craft beer. We've drawn on a combined 47 years of engineering and product-design experience to make a better way to store beer, so it always taste exactly how the brewmaster intended.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chang, Oliver and the inevitability of folding metal chairs in the ring.

Earlier this year, it finally started making sense to me.

At this point, as it pertains to my chosen hobby and profession of all things beer, I've come to an outsider’s position analogous with Willie and Waylon, circa 1973. I'm a congenital malcontent, completely out of synch with the prevailing narcissistic selfie-impelled beer culture, unwilling to accept the New Orthodoxy of better beer as equal parts Viagra and contrived WWE bout, and as good as rendered outright outlaw -- if not the resident argumentative crank.

In WWE bouts, there is theatricality. Posturing, grimaces and noise are choreographed. One is advised to take it exactly for what it is. Even Waylon Jennings himself commented that his identity as outlaw was a manifestation of marketing. He merely continued playing music as he always had, and ignored the tag.

So, there's this NYC chef guy named Chang.

My Name Is David Chang, and I Hate Fancy Beer

For years I've watched craft-beer aficionados go on about their triple-hopped IPAs and cocoa-flavored English milk stouts while inside I've harbored a dark secret: I love cheap, watery swill. Singha, Tecate, Miller High Life—they're all the champagnes of beer, and for more reasons than you think ... there's no beverage that I've drunk more of in my life than Bud Light. (Except water, but what's the difference?) And there's no drink I love more. I love it more than any great white wine, more than any white Burgundy, which I love very, very much. In my fridge, the only beer—practically the only foodstuff I've ever purchased for home—is Bud Light bottles. And since I live in New York City, I don't even have to mow a lawn to earn one.

And a NYC brewer, Oliver.

My Name Is Garrett Oliver, and I Hate Crappy Beer, in which "the brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery fires back at David Chang over his paean to cheap, watery swill."

 ... It's not the fancy beer you don't like. You don't like us, your people. You have a "tenuous relationship with the Epicurean snob set?" You are the epicurean snob set! I've seen you with champagne in one hand and a Noma lamb leg in the other, chatting up celebrities. Why you frontin'? You spent your first three paragraphs insulting people just like you…is the cash, fame and luxury not working out?

Yawn. I detect a plot twist, coming soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Red Yeti's brewing operation has started.

I'm happy that Red Yeti is brewing.

It's a difficult conversion to go from featuring beers from everywhere as part of a run-up to shifting emphasis to those beers you're brewing in-house. Trust me. I know this quite well, from experience. It took almost ten years for NABC house beers to outsell guest drafts at the Pizzeria & Public House. The sooner the transition, the better. We all should be in business for what we got into business to be, in this case, a brewery.

Congratulations are in order. That said, it's potentially confusing to have a Sterling ale in a local marketplace where Sterling of old has been revived and is being sold again.

And did I mention that since 1985, NABC has had a beer called Hoptimus ... which is an I2PA?

Red Yeti begins brewing, taps its first beer, by Kevin Gibson (Insider Louisville)

It was a long wait for Paul Ronau, whose wife Brandi opened Red Yeti Brewing back in May. The restaurant portion took off quickly, backed by a lineup of guest taps. But brewing had to be placed on the back burner.

But Ronau, a long-time home brewer, kept things moving forward, installing a small brewing system and getting all the licenses in place. He began brewing a few weeks ago, and the culmination was the Saturday release of Sterling Pale Ale, named for the Sterling hops with which it was brewed. The first tapping was not a full keg, so it sold out quickly, but a full keg went on tap on Oct. 14.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dirty lines, payola and hijinks? Only since the dawn of human history.

As usual, the opposing social media camps quickly coalesced, and we were advised to move quickly to one bloc or the other by shunning the bribe takers or ostracizing the embittered brewery.

Payola? Fact of life and a feature of capitalism. The best antidote has been, and remains, a consistent conceptual program at the point of dispense, augmented by principle and integrity. There'll never be any system of commerce capable of eliminating palm-greasings, so we might as well get over it and do the best we can.

My question: When supply of a product, the success of which is predicated on expanding distribution in a tightly regulated marketplace, explodes at a rate greater than available dispensing outlets ... aren't we designing a situation tailor-made for the abuses of payola?

BEER BRIBERY, by Aaron Goldfarb (Esquire)

One brewer has cried foul on breweries that pay off bars to serve their beers

With around 3000 breweries now in America producing tens of thousands of beers, I bet you wonder how a bar could possibly choose what to put on their few taps. Of course, we all know some bars prefer the kind of corporate swill that their non-demanding customers can drink a lot of on the cheap. While other, more scrutinizing spots surely opt for local offerings and the absolute best craft beer they can possibly land. But what if I told you something more insidious is actually going on?

Last night while you were sleeping—or closing down a bar—Dann Paquette, co-founder and brewer for Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, decided to blow the whistle on an illegal practice going on right before our very beer-soaked eyes. In a series of Tweets under the brewery’s handle, Paquette revealed that Boston is a “pay to play town and we're often shut out for draft lines along with many beers you may love.”

What’s “pay to play”? It’s when breweries bribe bars under the table to stock their beers and freeze out competition and is, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulations, an illegal practice.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

More about the city of Louisville's craft beer business report.

WDRB has good video accompaniment to yesterday's mayoral press conference.

Louisville planning to grow its craft beer industry

... Now, the city is getting behind the industry boom, and hoping to help it grow. A new report released today contains recommendations for furthering the growth of the craft beer industry in Louisville. The report was composed by a group of local industry leaders appointed by Mayor Greg Fischer.

Monday, October 13, 2014

THE PC: I'd like my world of beer to be special every day.

THE PC: I'd like my world of beer to be special every day.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

The last time I attended Sandkerwa in Bamberg, Germany was in 2006. It also was the first time. We had come to town to ride bicycles, and were pleasantly surprised to discover this traditionally-styled folk festival joyfully under way. There were the sort of activities one might expect at a civic celebration -- as well as beer and food galore.

Recently Sandkerwa has become increasingly well known for the variety of local and regional Franconian beers, many available at seemingly impromptu street stands. Eight years ago, as we wandered the narrow, winding streets of Bamberg’s Old Town, we’d keep turning corners to discover yet another brewery from a small town 20 kilometers away, proudly serving its beers and maybe a snack or two.

Seemingly, it is easier to be casually spontaneous in Germany than Indiana, where a whole laundry list of temporary serving requirements are there for mandatory compliance, including fences and checkpoints. It seems the Berlin Wall wasn't torn down, after all. It just switched continents.

Conversely, the easygoing ambience of Sandkerwa actually began to threaten our exercise regimen. Why beercycle into the countryside in search of breweries, when they were setting up tables just down the way?

Mind you, Sandkerwa was great fun, but I mention the festival for no other reason than to observe that while it was a welcomed addition to a Bamberg visit, the city’s many year-round pleasures were by no means obscured. In short, every other time I’ve visited Bamberg has been a blast, too. Sandkerwa enhances Bamberg. It does not detract from it, and the only discernible pigheadedness comes to you on a plate, with dumplings.

Daily satisfaction doesn’t strike me as an impossible ideal. For most of us, everyday life occurs in a fixed location, amid relatively repetitive habits. If given a choice, I’d prefer these milieus and aspects of normal existence to be “special” all of the time, not just once in a while.

Yes, an annual event like Sandkerwa is wonderful, but Bamberg’s the kind of city where every day is edifying. Similarly, Munich is worth a visit any day out of the year, and not only when Oktoberfest happens to be running, and you could be at one of fifty beer palaces in Munich during Oktoberfest, enjoying their usual bills of fare, and not even know a festival is running.

My current obsession involves breaking the one-off cycle, or at the very least, offering an alternative to it. There is a daily consistency borne of undertow and tail winds, establishing a salutary pattern of everyday excellence, against which is contrasted the one-offs, specials, events and celebrations. The latter provide diversity and add spice, although to me, the prime objective remains excellence all of the time.

It’s instructive to close a street on a Sunday and let bicyclists and pedestrians use it. It’s better if the street can be shared, and humans without cars can use it every day.

Once upon a time, better beer was an occasional treat, something so rare in a place like New Albany that merely finding required planning and effort. These days, it’s much easier to sate one’s thirst, any day.


Earlier on Monday at Against the Grain, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer held a press conference to release a report authored by a Local Brewery Work Group, of which I was a member. The mayor did well, and beer before lunch made me yearn for a resumption of vacation.

At Insider Louisville, Kevin Gibson elaborates:

The Local Brewery Work Group, appointed by Fischer earlier this year, developed the recommendations and strategies to maximize the local craft beer industry, increase its impact on jobs, culture and tourism, and renew the strong beer heritage Louisville once boasted.

In keeping with the notion of day-in, day-out, only one of the five key recommendations pertains to the establishment of a “special” event (one to be bourbon barrel-themed). The others address the advancement of “craft” beer consciousness in Louisville throughout the year.

These five recommendations:

1. Develop an official beer trail/beer map/website/video combination to help promote all local breweries and offer both residents and visitors information on what sets the breweries apart, where they are located, and offer virtual and printed maps that can be seen/distributed at the breweries and other places around town. A bike trail would also be developed with local artists and breweries creating bike racks in front of each brewery.

2. Change Alcohol Beverage Control laws to be more beer friendly. Currently, it is a difficult and winding process to open a brewery, and with the brewing community growing in Louisville and around the state, breweries feel the process should be more intuitive and organized. In addition, it remains difficult for breweries to hold special events, conduct tastings and other promotional activities.

3. Represent local breweries and their products in more city events, functions and venues. Since alcoholic beverages must run through distributors as part of the post-Prohibition three-tier system, it can be difficult for smaller, local breweries to be represented at large events. The goal is to bring down the walls that have blocked local breweries so they can be represented, specifically in city-affiliated events and venues.

4. Create a bourbon-barrel event that will be recognized nationally and internationally. Bourbon is a natural draw, which makes bourbon barrel-aged beer a logical and national way to represent Louisville’s brewing community. Growing such an event not only promotes beer hand-in-hand with the state’s signature spirit, it also draws attention from around the U.S. that Louisville is, indeed, a worthy beer destination as well as a bourbon and dining destination.

5. Reconnect Louisville with its brewing heritage. Many in the city are unaware of the rich history of brewing in Louisville, and the rich heritage in beer culture in general. Louisville was once not just a thriving brewing hub, but also filled with lush, German beer gardens and beer celebrations that can and should be revived today to help promote local brewing culture.

Look closely at the third recommendation, because this morning, at Louisville Slugger Field, with neither a Louisville Bats flunky nor Centerplate functionary in attendance, Louisville’s mayor made the public case for greater local brewery representation at city-owned venues … like Louisville Slugger Field.

You get one guess as to who wrote those words for the report.

Implementation may well be elusive, but vindication ... well, it tastes even better than one’s daily session pint.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Mayor Fischer to announce initiative to promote Louisville beer at press conference Monday."

Kevin Gibson explains how the Mayor's Beer Work Group came to be, and previews the announcement of findings and recommendations, which will be released on Monday morning (October 13) at 10:00 a.m. at Against the Grain.

Exclusive: Mayor Fischer to announce initiative to promote Louisville beer at press conference Monday (Insider Louisville)

Just under a year ago, Mayor Greg Fischer announced an initiative to boost Louisville’s bourbon and dining culture as a major tourist draw.

“They think of Napa Valley for wine,” Fischer said at the time. “We want them to think of Louisville for bourbon.”

The committee charged with driving the initiative was made up of representatives from the bourbon, dining and tourism industry. Even the coffee segment was represented. Brewing was not. And many in the brewing scene took exception.

As Kevin notes, John King and the Kentucky Guild of Brewers grabbed this educational opportunity and wouldn't let go, leading to the establishment of the committee.

I was on the study group. In addition, I was "on it" back in December of 2013, when the bourbon and dining initiative first initiated the brewing business backlash, and the following column was a result. You might find it worth rereading. It seems to me that Mayor Fischer recovered nicely from the faux pas, and tomorrow morning's announcement should be fun.

Now comes the best part. Will anything actually happen?

The PC: Bourbon, bone marrow, Greg Fischer … and Stella Artois?

... Fischer’s advisors neglected to remind him that other elements of the city’s food and drink culture might feel slighted if not mentioned during the photo op, and indeed, nothing whatsoever was said about wine, coffee, food trucks … or craft beer. This is unfortunate, as a mere paragraph surely would have sufficed as appeasement, but someone ineptly dropped the ball … and thinking back to that insular space within the hospitality industry zone, it was inevitable that disaffection would come to be expressed.

See also:

The PC: Now that the Louisville Bats have a new majority owner, are the prospects for local beer in the ball yard any brighter?

The PC: The steamy sweetness of watery boats.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Four views of the Pour Haus in Tell City.

The Pour Haus brewery is under construction.

The guest beer list appears to be the exclusive province of Hedinger (an AB house) and Monarch/World Class. The list is representative.

The former machine shop in Tell City is nicely remodeled, with atmospheric bricks and beams. The dining room is immense. I enjoyed a signature burger and Carson's Brown Cow.

The prognosis is hopeful, and I'd like to return once brewing begins. I do have a mild quibble, in the sense that what soon will be a brewery has mass market beer neons, while a craft brewer's keg (New Belgium) becomes a urinal.

As we know, it always should be the other way around.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Diary: It's the little things that matter, like APA with claypot catfish.

At Bank Street Brewhouse, we do what we can during the annual time of affliction in downtown New Albany, otherwise known as Harvest Homecoming. NABC promotes Fringe Fest, which in essence is our protest at downtown being taken over by a demographic more suited to the state fair in it most elemental form. You can call Harvest Homecoming family-oriented; I'll call it lowest common denominator. Fringe Fest is an alternative to the drollery.

But I digress.

About the only thing Harvest Homecoming and Fringe Fest have in common is the weather. If it's nice outside, everyone does well. If it rains, crowds naturally diminish. The forecast on Friday called for rain all day long, and by about 5:00 p.m., this prediction was being fulfilled. The missus and I made an Irish exit and went out for dinner.

These days, especially since she accepted a new job on the Indiana side of the river in Jeffersonville, we go to Louisville quite seldom. But in this instance, both of us were craving Vietnamese, and while there are a few highly regarded newer Vietnamese eateries, our choice was the tried and true original Indochinese destination, Vietnam Kitchen.

I've written about Vietnam Kitchen in the past. It isn't a good beer place by any stretch, but the food is transcendent (surely K-8 is among the top dishes in town), and lately, there'll be nice surprises on the beer list -- not extreme, but appropriate. On Friday, on the handwritten tab beneath the glass table top, "Sierra Nevada Pale Ale" was written. It had been a while, and so I had one with my meal.

I have no idea where it was brewed; Chico or Asheville or Port au Prince. It tasted as pleasant as I remembered it, and accompanied the sublime K-8 as well as I'd imagined. When everything's an IPA, it's a pleasure to have a beer that's an American Pale Ale in the class sense of a yardstick, one able to complement the food and neither overwhelm it nor be subordinated itself.

That said, I really like what David Pierce and my brewers are doing with NABC's Action! APA. But for one night at Vietnam Kitchen, the quintessential Sierra Nevada worked well for me.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Craft beer costs dissected.

This strikes me as a sensible explanation for a non-specialist readership. Thanks to BC for the link.

Here's How A Six-Pack Of Craft Beer Ends Up Costing $12, by Joe Satran (Huff Post)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: There's never been a better time to be a beer drinker in America. The skillful innovation of American craft brewers over the past decade has pushed beer in delicious new directions. It wouldn't be hard to argue that the craft beer renaissance is the most exciting development in the country's culinary world right now.

But this explosion in quality comes at a price. Literally. With few exceptions, prices for good craft beer are far higher than for mainstream macrobrews from brewing conglomerates such as MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch. A six-pack of beer from breweries like Dogfish Head, Ballast Point or Cigar City almost always costs more than $10 -- and routinely exceeds the $15 mark. You could easily get a 12-pack of Bud Light for that much.

Part of the price differential is due to pure marketing. Like vendors of designer clothing, acclaimed craft breweries can charge more because their customers expect to pay more for luxury goods. I recently spoke with more than a dozen people involved at all levels of the craft beer world to get a sense of the industry's cost structure. It turns out that craft brewers incur far higher costs than mainstream brewers. Indeed, once you learn about all the work and material that goes into each six-pack, $12 starts to seem like a bargain.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Kolsch vs. Double IPA in LEO poll results.

I place little stock in seemingly ubiquitous on-line reader polls, and I don’t personally encourage anyone to vote.

In like fashion, the New Albanian Brewing Company refrains from asking its customers and fans to cast dozens of ballots for the sake of the cause. Some of the time we are mentioned in such polls, at other times not, but as a perennial underdog from unappreciated New Albany, to so much as win, place or show in the absence of chest thumping and similar varieties of narcissistic campaigning always provides sweet vindication, especially if the voting is being conducted by a Louisville-oriented publication.

So, briefly: In this year’s LEO Weekly Readers’ Choice poll, NABC's Hoptimus finished at number two, trailing Alltech's Kentucky Kolsch and coming ahead of BBC APA.

If anything, these results embrace a range. The Kolsch is 4.7% ABV, and Hoptimus 10.7%. It probably also lends credence to Hoptimus as Louisville's only classic I2PA.

Monday, October 06, 2014

The PC: Now that the Louisville Bats have a new majority owner, are the prospects for local beer in the ball yard any brighter?

THE PC: Now that the Louisville Bats have a new majority owner, are the prospects for local beer in the ball yard any brighter?

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Since 1998, the city of Louisville has actively participated in the financing of Louisville Slugger Field.

Whatever the exact proportion of public-private monies devoted to construction and maintenance of the venue, metro government obviously continues to contribute financially in a myriad of ways, both large and small, toward the profitable operation of the ball park and its Triple-A occupant, the Louisville Bats baseball club. Soon the Louisville FC soccer team will be a Slugger Field tenant, too, and share in the largesse.

Slow news week, eh?

No, there is nothing unusual about any of this, and with rare exceptions, Americans seem to accept that sporting venues “work” in this manner, i.e., with public subsidies for private profit generators.

The “major” sporting leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL) are where much of the real money is spent, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t tidy profits to be made further down the hierarchy of minor leagues, as Louisville's business journal documents.

Majority interest in Louisville Bats sold to New York company, by Marty Finley (Business First)

The local partnership team that has owned the Bats for nearly three decades has agreed to sell the majority interest and operating rights for the franchise to New York-based Manhattan Capital Sports Acquisition LLC.

MC Sports also owns the Class A Bowling Green Hot Rods, a minor league Kentucky team in the Midwest League, and the Class AAA Reno Aces of Nevada in the minor league Pacific Coast League.

Given that these matters generally interest me only from the standpoint of whether the “craft” beer selection within Louisville Slugger Field’s turnstiles might improve from its currently wretched depths, what we have here is a classic good news/bad news paradigm.

The bad news: The Bats no longer will possess a majority local ownership share.

The good news: Majority owners from New York, Beijing or even Timbuktu likely couldn’t do any worse than those residing right here in Louisville when it comes to promulgating the ideal of locally brewed craft beer in the ballpark.

Perhaps new blood would bring fresh ideas. After all, as we’ve noted so many times before, baseball clubs at all levels of the game have long since grasped that the very best reason to vend locally-brewed craft beer is market-based. Simply stated, local fans want locally brewed craft beer, and across America, their desires (and cash) are being honored, with a notable exception being in Louisville, where our Bats and their Centerplate hatcheteers continue to succumb to the simple avarice of pay-to-play dealings with multinationals.

So, does the majority stake sale constitutes grounds for optimism?

Alas, probably not.

The local partnership group — president Gary Ulmer; his father, Dan Ulmer; and Louisville businessmen Ed Glasscock, Steve Trager, Ken Huber and Mike Brown— will remain minority partners in the Bats organization. Gary Ulmer also will retain his leadership role, and the team management structure is expected to stay the same …

… “I don’t think fans will see any difference at all,” (Gary Ulmer) said, adding that it will be “business as usual.”

Oh, dear.

Three decades of antediluvian Philistinism have taught us that Gary Ulmer’s executive suite is the Formica-clad dungeon where beer hope crawls off to die, and now, even with an infusion of outside perspective, we’d have far better odds of Slugger Field beer improvement by regularly playing the lottery and vowing to buy 100% of the ball club with our future winnings.

Could this get any more grimly humorous? Yes, it can, and yet therein lies perhaps the only avenue for better beer’s salvation.

At the news conference, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the Katzoffs understand the treasure they are now safeguarding, telling them Louisville will have "high expectations."

Might these "high expectations" for our civic "treasure" include much needed affirmative action for locally produced goods and services ... like "craft" beer?

As mentioned previously in this space, Mayor Fischer recently convened a study group of local beer industry people, of whom I was one, to meet and discuss ways the city of Louisville might help promote locally brewed beer. A City Hall announcement pertaining to this is slated for next Monday, and the section of the recommendation pertinent to Slugger Field and the Bats is repeated below.

Of course, there's no guarantee that our recommendations will be incorporated into prospective courses of action, but speaking only for myself, the consultative exercise was marked by sincerity all around.

Louisville Metro Breweries in local city owned venues

The mayor’s work group recommends that more local breweries be included in city-sponsored events and on city owned property. Louisville Metro breweries would like the opportunity to sell beer at such events like Waterfront Wednesday, Slugger Field, Iroquois Park, Yum! Center. Also noted, Louisville Metro breweries like to be included in city sponsored events or festivals such as Hike, Bike, and Paddle, Worldfest, and Blues, Brews, and BBQ.

Details for Recommendations

It is widely understood and accepted that Metro Louisville government is an equal opportunity employer, one that seeks to utilize minority, female and handicapped employees, whether when hired directly, or indirectly through contractors, suppliers and vendors. The importance of these precepts extends far beyond beer and brewing, to government’s fundamental aim of providing conditions for the improvement of daily life.

In like fashion, metro Louisville government understands the critical importance of the local economy in a sustainable future, as well as the key position that locally generated food and drink businesses occupy in the city’s outreach, whether within the community itself, or directed toward visitors from elsewhere. Alongside urban bourbon heritage and an explosion in innovative dining, Louisville’s breweries serve as exemplars of this new economy.

Aspects of pre-existing “older” economic systems sometimes must be modified to fit new and evolving realities. As an example, it has remained the case that customary concessions practices in venues for sports and music have evolved from the three-tier alcoholic beverage distribution system at state and federal levels, and to a certain degree, reflect private commercial matters between concessionaires and wholesalers.

And yet, there is nothing fundamentally ‘Louisville” about concessions choices emanating solely from contractual arrangements that the general public never sees. For native and tourist alike, viewing a baseball game at a venue such as Louisville Slugger Field should present the opportunity to inform and offer choices that pertain to the community which laid for the venue’s construction – that speak to Louisville itself.

Reflecting the reality that private for-profit businesses entities and drinks vendors utilize publicly financed venues and facilities, Metro Louisville government seeks to be a positive force in encouraging these entities and vendors to provide equal opportunities for local brewers, precisely because public financing of these venues implies acceptance of the merits of equal opportunity, as well as providing the ideal forum to educate attendees as to the merits of local, sustainable economies.

Metro Louisville government supports the creation of branded, destination concessions areas unique to the venues its taxpayers have financed. It works to educate concessionaires as to the benefits of a contemporary local economy as it pertains to beer and brewing, safe in the knowledge that profit margins for handcrafted beers can be equal to or greater than those for products supplied by multinational breweries.

In short, Metro Louisville government enthusiastically greets the chance to expand local brewing consciousness by use of the landlord’s bully pulpit in venues/events that include, but are not limited to, Slugger Field; Waterfront Wednesday; Iroquois Amphitheater; YUM! Center and Hike, Bike and Paddle.

Actually, I’m cautiously optimistic.

If both the city of Louisville and the Katzoffs get it, any hired gun concessionaire, Centerplate or otherwise, can be compelled at the point of a pink slip to get it, too.

Local beer enthusiasts know that Gambrinus gives us the beer. Unfortunately, the Ulmers and Glasscocks of the world keep standing in the way. Maybe ... just maybe ... their time finally will pass.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Fringe Fest 2014 and other upcoming NABC events.

I've vowed of late to keep NABC business off the blog, but in terms of mixed metaphors, exceptions are the spice of life. Events season is mercifully winding down, but first, a capstone of sorts.

New Albany's annual Harvest Homecoming downtown takeover begins this Saturday with the annual parade. For various reasons, the Curmudgeons are unable to host a party at their residence this year, so instead, we'll be at Bank Street Brewhouse sifting the usual floating dross for unanticipated nuggets of wisdom.

Personally, I quite enjoy playing annoying mosquito to Harvest Homecoming's orange-clad 800-lb gorilla. In terms of my business, we simplify matters and seek to have as much fun as possible amid the absurdity. Consequently, there'll be Fringe Fest at Bank Street Brewhouse.

NABC’S 7th Annual Fringe Fest at Bank Street Brewhouse is Oct 9 – 12

Gallery: All 7 of Tony’s poster for Fringe Fest, 2008 – 2014

The coming weekend brings an event that was unexpected when first announced, and now strikes me as very interesting.

NABC and other regional beers at the inaugural Louder Than Life Festival

Why not craft beer with the likes of Judas Priest, Korn and Kid Rock? NABC is joined by BBC, Falls City, Alltech and West Sixth. Collectively, these breweries represent choice ... what a concept. The remainder of the October calendar also has been posted:


Like numerous other breweries, NABC can't always afford marketing grandiosity, so props to RCD for a nice tout,

It’s the NABC-wrapped Ford Transit Connect Van from River City Distributing

That's all I have for now.