Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"New Public Awareness Campaign Launches to Promote Indiana Brewing Industry."

The Drink Indiana Beer campaign and the Brewers of Indiana Guild's new website have launched.


If you work at a brewery or own a brewery, and information or contact info needs to be updated at the new site, send anything and everything Tristan Schmid: tristan.schmid(at)brewersofindiana(dot)com and he'll get to work on it.

Here's the press release.


New Public Awareness Campaign Launches to Promote Indiana Brewing Industry

"Drink Indiana Beer" aims to support local options, tourism and legislative efforts

INDIANAPOLIS (September 30, 2014) – The Brewers of Indiana Guild, a non-profit trade association that represents Indiana's nearly 100 craft breweries, has launched a public awareness campaign and a new website dedicated to promoting the Indiana brewing industry.

The campaign, called "Drink Indiana Beer," will encourage people to purchase local beer instead of national or global brands; promote Indiana as a beer tourism destination; and urge those who already purchase Indiana beer to support the industry further by backing legislative efforts.

"We're excited about this new effort to get the word out about the importance of the 96 craft breweries in Indiana," said Tristan Schmid, communications director for the Brewers of Indiana Guild. "Our breweries aren't just places to get beer: They're small businesses whose owners invest in their communities, and every time someone chooses to purchase a pint or a six-pack locally, that money helps support the surrounding area."

The Guild's new website, drinkin.beer, launches as the Guild heads to Denver to represent Indiana beer at Great American Beer Festival, one of the largest beer events in the country. The website features a geolocation option allowing visitors to search for nearby breweries on their mobile devices. It also includes information about beer festivals--the Guild hosts the state's largest, Indiana Microbrewers Festival--and other ways to become involved.

The craft brewing industry in the state is growing quickly. According to the national Brewers Association, 6,139 full-time employees contributed to an economic impact of $609,240,000 in Indiana in 2012 (the latest year for which numbers are available); these numbers will increase as Indiana quickly approaches 100 craft breweries and brewpubs toward the end of 2014.


About Brewers of Indiana Guild: The Brewers of Indiana Guild provides a unifying voice for the nearly 100 craft breweries and brewpubs of Indiana. The Guild promotes public awareness and appreciation for the quality and variety of beer produced in Indiana, advocates for favorable regulatory treatment from state and federal agencies, and provides support to brewers throughout the state. For more information, visit drinkin.beer​.​

Monday, September 29, 2014

THE PC: Getting in tune with the straight and narrow.

THE PC: Getting in tune with the straight and narrow.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

“You can feel that there’s something coming,” said Johannes Heidenpeter, who opened one of Berlin’s newest craft breweries, Heidenpeters, in the gritty-but-hip central neighborhood of Kreuzberg last December. “I think the time is good to change the taste of beer.”

Mr. Heidenpeter may represent the most iconoclastic and cosmopolitan take on Berlin’s newly developing beer culture: instead of traditional German lager yeast, he praises the aromas from the Belgian and English ale yeasts, and he eschews his own country’s favorite pale lager style of pilsner, or pils. Instead, as he explained when we met up the next day, his brewery offers an American-style pale ale as its standard pint, which uses non-German hops such as Cascade and Amarillo.

Yeah, well – I missed it.

In fact, while visiting the German capital for two enlightening days in September, I missed all the rest of the varied outposts of the Berliner New Beer Wave, too.

However, to be perfectly honest, my neglectful attitude toward this rebellion-in-progress was not intended as an overt political statement of any sort. It’s just that there was no time, this time.

My last visit to Berlin came way back in 1999, and an alarming quarter-century has elapsed since I spent a whole month in the then-divided city, just prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. With only two days on the ground in 2014, what my soul (?) needed most of all was a refresher – a worldview booster, an agitprop refresher, and perhaps a final contextual putting to rest of those ghosts inhabiting my beer cultures passed … except that some of them still flourish.

And so it was, quite successfully.


My 34th in a series of European vacations served both as reunion and greatest hits tour. Little new music was performed, apart from selective embellishments to arrangements tried and true – a new breakfast room at Brauerei Spezial, Schlenkerla’s youthful heir to the crown, and a Belgian-hopped beer and food pairing on the Grote Market in Poperinge.

The rich history of my connections with these beers, places and persons dates back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. In terms of impact on the course of my own beer business career, they were to me what the Ramones and the Clash were to U2 – and like the latter’s new album, it's all about these and other formative influences, invaluable and impossible to overstate:

Berliner Weisse … long before sour was cool, with the many choices of syrup entirely optional.

Those sublime smoked beers in Bamberg, the centuries of diligent craftsmanship they represent, and the local thirsts they slake.

Crisp, subtle Kölsch on a gorgeous autumn day, in the shadow of Cologne’s mountainous cathedral.

The amazing, unchanging Daisy Claeys and her life’s work of art, the seemingly eternal Brugs Beertje café in Brugge.

The stolid crossroads town of Poperinge, observing its hoppy heritage every third year with one of the most genuine and honest fests known to the world of beer.

Food and drink, too, in abundance: Escargot and beefsteak with De Dolle Oerbier; Leberkäse and Spezial Rauchbier; East Prussian meatballs with white caper sauce, beetroot and Berliner Pilsner … pork shoulder and mussels, Mahrs Ungespundet and Rochefort 10, espressos and currywurst, tartare and Hommel Bier, and a Doner Kebab for good measure.


It seems to me we’re all guilty at times of espousing a false dichotomy, in which there is mass-market corporate swill on one side and exuberant, innovative craft beer on the other, but the problem with hegemonic Cold Beer War dualism like this is that it utterly excludes a beer like Schlenkerla Marzen. Maybe it fits rather comfortably in the same metaphor with non-aligned nations of the 1970s.

Schlenkerla obviously isn’t swill, and it’s hardly innovative in the newspeakable sense of a hyacinth-infused, dry-meringued Triple India Pale Ale. Schlenkerla is as craft-based and traditional as tradition possibly can be, fully guaranteed to offend any oblivious beer drinker who believes that Bud Light represents brewing nobility (tell it to the AB-InBev global shareholders, dumbass), and yet is often ignored by today's hoarding narcissists precisely because excellence on purely traditional grounds isn’t sexy enough for selfies.

Yes, I’m slightly exaggerating, although I believe it to be the immutable case that both here in America and elsewhere, an informed grounding in certain eternal beer truths helps provide perspective when gauging flavors-of-the-moment in an understandably changing world. It’s what I’ve tended to forget, and what the September journey helped me to recall.

It was off the grid. I didn’t carry a phone, and there were no books available to consult. The object was to survey classic European beer styles, in their ancient, preferred public settings (with one exception, an amazing bottled Trois Monts from Northern France, supplied by my friend Jeff), and to go with my gut.

My gut turns out to have remarkably good taste, not that there were many doubts in my other mind.

Don’t get the wrong idea. Naturally, I support the continued innovative advance of “craft” beer. At the same time, it strikes me that the very last thing I want to see happen is every beer drinker in Bamberg waking one morning to the conclusion that India Pale Ale is the only beer for them. It’s a nightmare scenario.

Let there be an artisan working his or her side of the marketplace, providing alternatives for contrast and comparison, but don’t sacrifice those elements of tradition which still function as fundamental cultural markers, especially when they're doing a better job of defining "craft" than the majority of "craft" brewers everywhere.

A damned fine Pilsner still is, and it pulls the Baltic right out of the Matjes herring. If I return to Berlin 25 years from now, I hope the pairing still works, and maybe I’ll have time to visit Heidenpeter’s newer tradition, too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Can't we stay just a little bit longer?

It's hard to leave scenes like this one, on Mechelen's main square. Going across the pond never gets old. Returning home never gets any easier.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Various reasons to love Mechelen.

I've never, ever, had an espresso machine in my hotel room. The Martin's Patershof Hotel bar's few taps included Gouden Carolus and Ename Tripel. The stained glass wasn't bad, either.

How it came to pass is detailed here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Poperinge's parade of hops.

The history of the hop. Friends and enemies of the hop. Monks, itinerant hop pickers and bagpipers. Beetles, mites and birds. It's a broad cross-section of life, nature and mankind, all coming past our table at the Pousse Cafe on Ieperstraat.

More photos are here. We also visited the hops museum.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: An evening at Cafe de la Paix.

These hop cones have nothing do to with my meal at the Cafe de la Paix, apart from our being in proximity to the cafe's kitchen during the hop fest in Poperinge.

That's because I had no camera with which to take photos, and would not have used one if it were present, because a religious experience should not be subject to crass selfies.

Opener: Succulent escargot with Rodenbach Grand Cru.

Main Course: Steak (medium rare) with Béarnaise sauce and frites, and De Dolle Oerbier.

Closer: Rochfort 10.



Friday, September 19, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Tinkling under the stars.

On Friday evening, we investigated Poperinge's temporary fest version of a Bavarian beer hall, one capable of holding hundreds of people atop wooden tables and benches, and with oom-pah bands performing full tilt, singing and sausages.

Granted, the only beer available was half-liters of Stella Artois, sponsorship money from which enables the tent's setup. It's a First World problem for all of us, and about the only multinational incursion pertaining to Poperinge's hop party, but while golden lager has quite little to do with Belgium's ale-making heritage, it's the town's show, and I played along with it just like the gamer I am. The "marque" is great fun in spite of it.

Among the innovations witnessed at this pop-up beer hall was the notion of charging a one-time fee for using temporary port-a-loos (Euro 1.20 with a hand stamp), and open-air pissoirs outside for the gents.

The one pictured above was festooned with a campaign poster for one of three competing hop queen triads. One of the triads was declared victorious after a vote the following night; one of the girls becomes the queen, and the others her maids of honor. Here they're shown reclining semi-clad amid piles and piles of hops -- tastefully, of course, seeing as hops taste good ... naturally.

Verily, seeing slyly positioned teenage hop queen candidates advertising with their posters on outdoor urinating stations at a Bavarian beer hall in Belgium is precisely the sort of thing to remind one that he's no longer in New Albany.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Daisy!

I don't pretend to know Daisy Claeys all that well on a personal basis, although perhaps in a professional sense, "mutual admiration society" is a good way of putting it.

She is the owner and operator of the legendary 't Brugs Beertje, a specialty (entirely) Belgian beer cafe in Brugge/Bruges. My first visit was in 1995, and I remain enamored of the cafe's principled timelessness. It is impossible to overstate the influence of it in my own working world. Both Cafe Abseits in Bamberg and 't Brugs Beertje are 31 years old. My pub business is 27. I'm not sure what any of this means, apart from it being great to see Daisy again and to know she's doing well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Transitioning to Brugge by means of a Cologne rail layover.

On Wednesday, September 17, four of us (minus Jeff and Karen) were to ride four trains over a seven-hour period to travel from Bamberg to Brugge. Little did we know that the German rail system was poised to fail massively; in the end, it took six trains and twelve hours to make the trip.

The silver lining was an unexpected opportunity to be stranded in Cologne for three and a half hours. That's time to check baggage, see the cathedral, and dash around the corner to PJ Fruh for a Kolsch-powered midday meal.  Above is a huge salad, boiled potatoes and herring remnants, with rolls and lovely small glasses of subtle golden ale -- roughly two swallows per glass.

Serendipity. Sometimes it works. We came into Brugge around 8:00 p.m., and shifted gears, patronizing a "night shop" license for French and South African wine, and shifting multiple bags of takeaway Tandoori from shop to rental apartment.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Cafe Abseits and all.

Only after doing the usual forced march around the train station in Bamberg did we learn that at long last, there's an exit from the tracks opening at Brennerstrasse, making it far easier to access the myriad joys of Cafe Abseits.

Gerhard Schoolman joined us during a delightful outdoor lunch for an instructive chat about the current state of beer in Bamberg, Bavaria and the rest of Germany. Joe selected a beer from the Weyermann malting house's test brewery; the legendary Weyermann facility is a short distance to the north by the rail tracks, and Cafe Abseits is the only establishment outside of it to serve the "test" beer, which was tasty indeed.

I drained a few glasses of regional Helles beers, savoring the smooth expertise, and hoping that they never, ever undergo a Kafkaesque metamorphosis into IPA. Some things just need to be left as they are.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Schlenkerla's next generation gets an early start.

Young Julius donned the apron and manned the Spülboy for a round of glass-cleaning ... of course, under the watchful supervision of his papa, Matthias Trum. Julius's sister Felicia was born just before we arrived in Europe. We toasted the Trums, Schlenkerla, Rauchbier, Bamberg and anything else that came to mind while cherishing Matthias's valuable time, and the chance to meet the next generation up close.

The beer was fabulous. But you already knew that.

THE PC: Law-abiding by weenie was never this viral.

THE PC: Law-abiding by weenie was never this viral

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

This week's column is a reprint of last week's ON THE AVENUES at NA Confidential. Next week I'm taking a vacation day. 

Those of you who are reading locally, or are familiar with the recent history of the New Albanian Brewing Company, already know that in May we suspended the kitchen at Bank Street Brewhouse for purely financial reasons. We couldn't figure out a way to make money from a menu we all loved, and so we stopped to consider other possibilities.

It wasn't easy, but of course good things seldom are. We're trying to reboot BSB as a brewery taproom, freely borrowing ideas from other places near and far, and it will take time for the new concept to take shape. One of the central pillars of this evolving plan is to determine ways to encourage our customers to continue eating -- just not food we're preparing on site (with occasional exception, like the two pop-up dinners to date).

The possibilities are endless, and they reflect the multitude of options within minutes of our building:

Carry-in from nearby eateries
Takeout Taxi (see below)
Delivery from those who do so
Vendors cooking in the beer garden
Picnic baskets
Food trucks, at least as they begin arriving in New Albany

But here's the rub: Even with all of these options, it is impossible for us to continue serving alcoholic beverages by the glass without complying with an Indiana state law dating from the time before color television that defines bars as restaurants serving drinks.

From the moment the kitchen change at BSB was announced, I was well aware of this fact; after all, the law is 13 years older than me. I spoke with the regional Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and made sure we had the materials necessary to comply with the rule (note that this is not uncommon): Frozen weenies, buns, cans of soup, instant coffee, powdered milk and soft drinks enough to serve 25 persons.

To make a long and annoying story shorter, we failed our first test of this new "menu," and so I went back to the drawing board. In order to keep ourselves aware of the responsibility not just to store these foodstuffs, but to serve them, I decided to incorporate them in a real, tactile menu and to price them based on the surreal nature of the law itself, which does not stipulate mark-ups. Moreover, we needed to collate the carry-in and delivery information in one place. Perhaps one well aimed stone would do the trick.

Hence, the menu reprinted below. Much to my surprise, it landed on the front page of Reddit on Tuesday, generating more than 1,700 often amusing comments, and since then it has been picked up by a dozen other internet sites.

Knock me over with the proverbial feather.

There's an undeniable element of Chicken Little (nuggets?) to all this. For once, I've not sought the notoriety, and I have absolutely no beef (teriyaki, perhaps) with the ATC. They're the police, and the police enforce laws; end of story.

However, in perfect sincerity, I feel as though we're doing our level best to honor the obvious intent of the 1947 statute by offering ways for our customers to eat while they drink. Dragon King's Daughter keeps longer hours than BSB, and its kitchen is closer to the BSB front door than many service bars are to their patio seats.

Isn't the law somewhat archaic? It doesn't mention pizza, and both the sandwiches and the soup must be "hot," ruling out chicken salad on rye and gazpacho. Is a taco a sandwich? We now know that coffee plays no sobering role, and perhaps the Dairy Council inserted the milk provision as a sop to Indiana milk cows. Today's service industry realities are light years removed from a shots 'n' beer roadhouse in 1947, and the law does not take these realities into account.

The BSB kitchen remains licensed, and we continue to sift through ideas to restore a cost-effective food service to the limited space we have to utilize. The options are countless, and as they are considered, it is my hope that the following "compliance" menu suffices as proper statutory observance, as we've always prided ourselves on adhering to the rules defining our daily business.


Yes, There Is Food at Bank Street Brewhouse, and Here Is the Menu.
Updated August 10, 2014

As of May, 2014, Bank Street Brewhouse is a brewery taproom dedicated to providing creative edible options to our patrons, ranging from carry-in to delivery every day, to periodic pop-up dinners, special catering and mobile “food truck” appearances as the latter become available. Menus for local eateries are kept at the bar. Please note: Outside alcoholic beverages cannot be brought into Bank Street Brewhouse.

Our Top Choices of Eateries … Close By for Carry Out or Delivery
225 State Street
Pizza, Sandwiches, Pasta
Delivery:  812-945-9425
Wick’s takes 20% off deliveries to Bank Street Brewhouse

 2602 Charlestown Road
Traditional Chinese
Delivery: 812-945-6789

Japanese-Mexican Fusion
Bank Street
Carry-out: 812-725-8600
DKD is 75 yds from BSB

Pair the city's best food with the city's best beer. Multi-Restaurant Meal Delivery & Drop Off Catering Service Serving Southern Indiana
Food from local restaurants, delivered
Call (502) 895-8808
Takeout Taxi brings restaurant meals directly to you at your office, home or More Variety and Choices than anyone while giving you more time to take care of family, friends or business.
Delivery is $5.99 plus 5% of the order.





Italian, Pizza, Pasta, Subs

Smoothies, Wraps & Coffee

Sandwiches, Salads & Soups


More local eateries - call them to order carry-out.

CAFÉ 27 (Modern American) … 149 E. Main … 812-948-9999
COMFY COW (Ice Cream Parlor) … 109 E. Market … 812-924-7197
EXCHANGE PUB + KITCHEN (Gastropub)  … 118 W. Main … 812-948-6501
FEAST BBQ (Barbecue) … 116 W. Main … 812-920-0454
JR’S PUB (Pub Grub/Fish Sandwiches) … 826 W. Main … 812-920-0030
RIVER CITY WINERY (Bistro/Pizza) … 321 Pearl Street … 812-945-9463
TUCKER’S (Sports Bar) … 2441 State Street … 812-944-9999

NABC’S Pizzeria & Public House is located 3.5 miles away from Bank Street Brewhouse at 3312 Plaza Drive, phone 812-944-2577


Bank Street Brewhouse's Indiana Statutory Compliance Restaurant Menu.

Statutory Overview:

Permit premises where alcoholic beverages are consumed by the "drink" are required to have food service available, at all times, for at least 25 persons. Minimum food service required consists of hot soups, hot sandwiches, coffee, milk, and soft drinks (see attached rule). (IC 7.1-3-20-9 & 905 IAC 1-20-1) see complete and unexpurgated statutory language on page 4 of this menu.

Our Famous Hotdog Sandwich
Microwaved to perfection, including both weenie and bun, sans condiments.

Chef Campbell’s Soup of the Day
Served in a bowl. Your choice of whichever can is on top of the stack.

Instant Coffee
Caffeinated only. Available black, or black.

Powdered Milk
With or without water.

Sprecher Craft Soft Drinks
Different flavors … market pricing

This menu is available all of the time.


The Fine Print: Indiana State Law.

In order to possess an Indiana retail alcoholic beverage sales permit, Bank Street Brewhouse must comply with a 67-year-old state law that compels us to maintain a restaurant located on the premises. 

Rule 20. Food Requirements
905 IAC 1-20-1 Minimum menu requirements
Authority: IC 7.1-2-3-7; IC 7.1-3-24-1
Affected: IC 7.1-3-20-9

Sec. 1. Under the qualification requiring that a retail permittee to sell alcoholic beverages by the drink for consumption on the premises must be the proprietor of a restaurant located, and being operated, on the premises described in the application of the permittee; and under the definition of a "restaurant" as "any establishment provided with special space and accommodations where, in consideration of payment, food without lodging is habitually furnished to travelers,"–and "wherein at least twenty-five (25) persons may be served at one time;" the Commission will, hereafter, require that the retail permittee be prepared to serve a food menu to consist of not less than the following:

Hot soups.
Hot sandwiches.
Coffee and milk.
Soft drinks.

Hereafter, retail permittees will be equipped and prepared to serve the foregoing foods or more in a sanitary manner as required by law.

(Alcohol and Tobacco Commission; Reg 36; filed Jun 27, 1947, 3:00 pm: Rules and Regs. 1948, p. 58; readopted filed Oct 4, 2001, 3:15 p.m.: 25 IR 941; readopted filed Sep 18, 2007, 3:42 p.m.: 20071010-IR-905070191RFA; readopted filed Oct 29, 2013, 3:39 p.m.: 20131127-IR-905130360RFA)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Spezial Keller in Bamberg.

What else is there to say? Bavaria overflows with appropriately situated beer gardens that offer delicious beer, bountiful food and slices of local life in equal measure ... but Spezial Keller is my favorite. It's on a hill overlooking Bamberg, and while lightly attended on the chilly September Sunday of our visit, welcomes huge crowds in optimum weather.

The beer is the lightly smoky Spezial, itself perhaps a Top Ten selection on my all-time list. It is brewed at Brauerei Spezial, a mile or so away; management of the brewery and beer garden is separate, but the beer just as lip-smacking. To get to the Spezial Keller, one must walk past the actual brewing site of Schlenkerla, as opposed to its tavern nearby.

I advise knee pads, given that opportunities for kissing the ground come fast and furious n Bamberg.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Berliner Kindl Weisse.

My aims these days tend to be modest. Berlin evidently is the über-center for beer geekiness, with numerous new wave breweries and brewers and beers, and with only two days on the ground, I chose instead to ignore them all and honor a solitary indigenous virtue by enjoying a Berliner Weisse.

This I did, sans schuss/syrup, in a beer garden located within the Volkspark Friedrichshain. It's where I worked as a volunteer in 1989, just before the Berlin Wall came down. The more recent beer garden in question stands on the spot where a simpler Imbiss once operated, one serving half-liter mugs of East German-brewed Berliner Kindl Weisse with raspberry syrup for less than 50 cents.

My work crew drank lunch there almost every day in 1989. I had just one in 2014, and enjoyed it very much. My ghosts were just as impressed.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Gaststätte Ambrosius in Berlin.

Our Berlin "hotel" was a wonderful Airbnb property located on Einemstrasse, south of the Tiergarten park and east of Zoo Station. Recalling that 70% of the city was destroyed in WWII, the area around our lodging is mostly newer construction, but with a sprinkling of surviving older buildings. It's a genuine neighborhood.

Often we speak of hotel bars, and how most are wretched but some quite good. Obviously our host didn't have a bar attached to her apartment, although just meters away, to the left of the building's entrance and facing the main street, lies this solid local eatery: Gaststätte Ambrosius.

Here's the draft list (with 0,3 liter and 0,4 liter pricing ... actually a bit higher at the time of our visit):

Berliner Pilsener 2,30 € 2,80 €
Warsteiner 2,40 € 2,90 €
Krusovice Schwarzbier 2,40 € 2,90 €

I didn't bother with Warsteiner. The Pilsner was nicely representative, and the Czech dark lager pleasingly dry, and less sweet than these usually are.

For dinner, there was goulash soup (beef) and East Prussian meatballs with white caper sauce, boiled potatoes and beet root. It seemed an appropriate choice, given that my ancestors spent quite some millenia working as peasants on Junker estates.

Monday, September 08, 2014

The PC: The steamy sweetness of watery boats.

THE PC: The steamy sweetness of watery boats.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Lately my Twitter feed has been invaded on a daily basis by sponsored tweets touting the city of Louisville’s Centennial Festival of Riverboats in October.

Obviously, the prominent player in this celebration is the birthday girl herself, the 100-year-old Belle of Louisville, a steamboat locally owned and operated by none other than the city of Louisville itself.

Before I return to this historic event, it’s useful to recall that earlier this summer, Mayor Greg Fischer commissioned 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 “craft” beer.

(As a side note, I was (and remain) genuinely flattered to be included in the group. Owing to the state line, NABC both is and isn’t a part of Louisville, depending on the definition used to determine such judgments. We’re here, and then we aren’t. It’s just the way it’s always been, and I appreciate Fischer’s team being broad-minded about it)

After three substantive meetings, the study group emerged with a document containing five points, with recommendations:

1. Develop an official beer trail/beer map/website/video combination
2. Change ABC laws to be more beer friendly
3. Represent local breweries in more city events, functions and venues
4. Create a bourbon-barrel event that will be recognized nationally or internationally
5. Reconnect Louisville with its brewing heritage

My committee assignment was Number Three, and here is our recommendation. You might even be able to tell who wrote it.

Louisville Metro Breweries in local city owned venues

The mayors 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.

It figures, doesn’t it? The one city-owned venue/property/object we forgot the mention was the Belle of Louisville, and this morning’s sponsored tweet reveals the reason why the omission rankles.

That’s right. For a once-in-a-lifetime event purporting to exalt all things metaphorically Louisvillian, there’ll be a special Belle of Louisville cruise featuring beers from … Atlanta, and yes, of course I understand that Sweetwater and River City Distributing are helping to sponsor the shindig by paying for whatever expedient combination of program ads and titles were up for grabs, but you see, it’s just that the idea itself sounds so very much like something emanating from the brain of a small-time marketer (“Georgia, Schmorgia – the beer’s got WATER in the name, and it’s a BOAT!) that my gag factor is heightened another notch or two.

I’ve got nothing against Sweetwater, and in fact, if I were to be marooned in Atlanta any time soon, I’d seek out the beers – you know, localism and all that.

It’s just to me, and I’m probably in the minority like always, there is no substantive difference between AB InBev’s ability to alter the marketplace with cash from very far away, and Sweetwater’s.

Look, I’m sure the sweetsteamwaterboat event was planned long before the advent of the study committee and its recommendations. At the same time, the study committee’s recommendations specifically pertain to a situation like this, even if we didn’t think to refer to it by name. And so, I will, because someone’s got to do it.

Perhaps by the time the Belle of Louisville’s bicentennial hits the Ohio River in 2114, there’ll be firm and abiding localist beer principles in place, although it’s far more likely that by then, we’ll have reverted to the brewery population distribution of 1980, and will require a “craft” brewing revolution all over again.

Too bad I’ll miss it. They’re fun, at least until they aren’t.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Diary: From platinum to unplugged in a six-pack or less.

My diaries are intended to be extemporaneous utterings of ideas, without gloss or sheen. Sometimes I come back to them and polish, other times not.

In the music business, it used to be that a band toured relentlessly with low remuneration to build a market for its album releases, and if albums and songs hit it big, the returns were huge. Notice how every member of any band that had a 10-million selling album in the 1980s owns one or more castles?

Nowadays, and album is huge if it sells a couple hundred thousand copies in tactile format. Bands give away their music to build interest in touring, or perhaps songs are marketed on television commercials and on-line apps.

The point is that business model has changed completely. I suspect that in coming years, analogous considerations will pertain to the "craft" beer business as it becomes saturated. There'll be the top tier of players -- New Belgium and Bell's and Whomever Else playing the roles of the Stones, Springsteen and other major touring acts. Then there'll be the remainder, finding that the daily production undertow required to get by increasingly resembles those CD sales figures.

There'll have to be other ways of making bank. Probably those on a brewpub/on-premise scale will find it easier. Those on a production scale, with declining outlets, will need to determine how they become the equivalent of touring bands. In short, I think the business model is changing in my world, too.

The question is, how to survive? Not sticking with what are about to become outmoded strategies is an obvious first move.

The analogies aren't exact ... but they're intriguing.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Kevin Gibson will perform selections from his new book at these fine venues in September.

As noted previously, Kevin Gibson’s new book is wonderful, and you need to get one. It’s called Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft.

My review: THE PC: Kevin, meet Tony. I’ll just take notes and drink beer.

Kevin writes chronologically, beginning with Louisville’s earliest Anglo-Scottish ale traditions and concluding with today’s local craft beer boom. He detours briefly to consider the brewing process and beer styles, including our indigenous Kentucky Common and the Bock beers that once proliferated in springtime.

Wisely, he does not detour from the beer tale at hand to attempt a detailed examination of the alpha acid content of bittering hops used in pre-Prohibition Pilsner. Rather, he describes the experience of Louisville beer in everyday life, and documents how it has changed over time.

Kevin is mounting a considerable personal appearance campaign to promote the book. Here is a listing, with more information available at Facebook.

Here is a list of events where you can purchase a book and/or meet the author:
Sept. 5 – Buffalo Wild Wings, Highlands, 6-9 p.m.
Sept. 6 – WAVE-3 Sunrise, 6:30 a.m.
Sept. 10 – Against the Grain, 401 E. Main St., 8 p.m.
Sept. 13 – Karen’s Book Barn, 127 E Main St, La Grange, Ky. , 2-4 p.m.
Sept. 13 – Apocalypse Brew Works, 1612 Mellwood Ave., 6-9 p.m.
Sept. 17 – BBC Taproom, 636 E. Main Street. 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 – WHAS Great Day Live, WHAS-11 TV, Time TBD
Sept. 18 – Salsarita’s, St. Matthews, 4-5:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 – Great Flood Brewing, 2120 Bardstown Rd, 6:30 p.m. (as part of Gus Bus Trivia)
Sept. 20 – Seven Sense Festival, 11-2 p.m.
Sept. 20 – Lock Stock and Smoking Barrels, Copper & Kings Distillery, 4-7 p.m.
Sept. 25 – New Albanian Brewing Company (Public House), 3312 Plaza Drive, 6-7:30 p.m.
Sept. 26 – Trolley Hop at A Reader’s Corner, 2044 Frankfort Ave., 7-9 p.m.
Sept. 27 – Nulu Fest, East Market Street (time TBD)
Oct. 9 – Beer Garden on Main (details TBA)
Oct. 11 – Costco, 12-2 (pending)

Oct. 17 – Louisville Brewfest, Slugger Field (time TBD)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Every state in the USA, ranked by its beer narcissism quotient. How very unexciting.

Hey look: It's a state by state ranking of "craft" beer, based entirely on highly-rated beers desired by beer narcissists.

How incredibly useful.


It would make better sense, and be far more relevant, to rank states based on an aggregate index seeking to gauge the prevalence of good beer on a daily basis. Establishing rankings based on beers that aren't always available means little. Rather, it's the daily reality: Are good beers available? Where? How far away are they?

I'd take the time to compile such a list ... if I had the time.

Every State in the USA, Ranked by its Beer, by Ben Robinson, Andy Kryza and Matt Lynch

Monday, September 01, 2014

THE PC: Kevin, meet Tony. I’ll just take notes and drink beer.

THE PC: Kevin, meet Tony. I’ll just take notes and drink beer.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Like so many other local beer people, I’ve been reading Kevin Gibson’s new book. It’s called Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft, and I picked it up just as I was finishing another, arguably weightier tome: Thinking the Twentieth Century, by the late Tony Judt, with Timothy Snyder.

One is a specific account of beer’s rise, fall and resurgence in Louisville, and the other a series of far-ranging conversations about 20th-century intellectual history. These may seem unrelated, and in many respects they are. However, there are points of convergence; more about that in a moment.

The last book to be written about Louisville beer was Louisville Breweries: A History of the Brewing Industry in Louisville, by Conrad Selle and Peter Guetig. It was published in 1997 and printed only once (I understand Peter is contemplating a revised edition). Obviously, much has changed since then, with breweries coming and going, and Kevin’s Louisville Beer provides ample coverage of our contemporary period.

I haven’t yet gotten to this second, more recent half of Kevin’s story. Rather, it is the first sections of his book that I find compelling, as he seeks to depict what beer really meant, day in and day out, in a place like Louisville prior to the era of Prohibition.

Broadly speaking to post-Colonial times and the early 1800s, beer arguably was of secondary consideration to cider and whisky – until substantial numbers of Germans began coming to this area following the disruptive revolutions of 1848.

Germans brought with them the technological underpinnings of lager brewing, which was about to explode into a worldwide phenomenon. More importantly to daily life in Louisville, they came equipped with cultural proclivities, which included beer as an integral part of social life. Because these immigrants enjoyed their tankards, it was a natural next step for “Know Nothing” nativists to conflate beer with immigration, and to incorporate xenophobia into what evolved as the temperance movement.

In short, there was Carrie Nation-building: God says drinking is bad, but forget that; just look at those non-English speaking, beer-drinking immigrants taking our jobs … and what’s more, we’d all work harder and be more efficient cogs of capitalism if we were sober. Hatchets fly, and nutrition becomes a crime. Rinse and repeat in the here and now.


And so we see that in the late 19th-century, some Louisville neighborhoods closely resembled the Fatherland, and these areas would have reminded me very much of those German milieus I was so eager to experience a century later during the 1980s.

It should suffice to note that beer was consumed voluminously at work and play, while bowling and playing baseball, during weddings and funerals, and in morning and nighttime. There were dozens of breweries, and rushing the growler meant dispatching one’s 10-year-old to the corner saloon, laden with a metal bucket. Some people succumbed to alcohol-induced diseases, while others sweated out the beer and lived to ripe old ages. Life went on, as it tends to do.

Prohibition came very close to wiping the slate clean. There were surviving breweries after Repeal, and some (Falls City, Oertel’s, Fehr’s) did quite well for a long time, but by the time of the Reagan administration, none remained in operation. Around 1990, David Pierce fortuitously brewed a batch at Charley’s Restaurant on Main Street in Louisville, and then he opened the Silo in 1992. Times began changing.

Since then, we’ve spent countless hours and brain cells debating whether this new “craft” beer era represents a restoration of the past, or a revolution. This consideration brings me back to Tony Judt, the historian.


During the course of his reflections, Judt asks a question: “What is the purpose or nature of history?” He follows it with another statement, “You cannot invent or exploit the past for present purposes.”

As I think about Kevin’s depiction of pre-1900 Louisville beer as an all-pervasive cultural norm, it seems to me that quite often I’ve done precisely as Judt admonishes. In fact, we all have. We’ve exploited the previous history of local beer to explain our present purposes, and to claim cultural (and mercantile) territory for ourselves. The problem is that by doing so, we consistently fail to account for how pervasively craft- and locally-driven 19th-century beer and beer culture really were.

Yes, beer came from elsewhere in America, floating down the river on boats and later in railway cars. Occasionally, beer came from very far away (see below). But the bulk of the beer produced in the neighborhood breweries of old were consumed nearby, within the neighborhood. Brewpubs of the current era generally have remained true to this model, production breweries of any size, less so.

In the end, it would be fascinating to know more about the business motivations of these 19th-century brewers. Were they content with being small and local, with limited range, or were they open to the idea of acquiring capital through hook or crook, and expanding to ship beer longer distances according to the capitalist export-driven ideal? We probably can’t know, although speculation’s worth a beer or three.

Judt also makes this observation:

“A history book – assuming its facts are correct – stands or falls by the conviction with which it tells its story. If it rings true to an intelligent, informed reader, then it is a good history book. If it rings false, then it is not good history, even if it’s well written by a great historian on the basis of sound scholarship.”

Louisville Beer passes this test. We can quibble over details, and yet it matters less what we know now about brewing methods and stylistic categorization, and more that in olden times, people were not aware of these details. Being a beer drinker in Louisville in the year 1890 was not about checking-in, chasing and hoarding. Rather, it likely involved a healthy dollop of German-ness; came accompanied with a good deal of child-like mystery as to the process; and resulted in prodigious intake in the relative absence of plasticized tap water, smoothies and teeth-corroding “soft” drinks.

In a future column, I’ll survey the “contemporary” section of Kevin’s book. Until then, we close with something posted to the Louisville Restaurants Forum many years ago. It’s a restaurant menu, with wine list and libations, from the Louisville Hotel, circa 1857.

All the essentials are in place, with a purely French approach to cooking, ample quantities of meats, purely dispensable veggies, abundant wine from around the world, and the requisite “correct” imported beer list; none of that new-fangled German beer, and heaven forbid the inclusion of locally-made “Porter and Ale.” Instead, the beer stars are Guinness (then as now, imported from Dublin) and Allsop’s India Pale Ale from the United Kingdom.

Amazing. This still would have been the best beer list in Louisville in 1957, and as recently as the 1970s. We’ve come a long way, baby … and sometimes, not at all.

Photo credits: