Saturday, January 31, 2015

Caution, Swill Only: "New Albany Roadhouse offering beer, pizza delivery."

And for January's winning entry in the Slow News Weekend competition ...

New Albany Roadhouse offering beer, pizza delivery, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)
NEW ALBANY — The restaurant remains open for regular business, but the New Albany Roadhouse Restaurant and Sports Lounge is now offering pizza and beer delivery.

It's already the place where New Albany's DemoDisneyDixiecrats go to suckle longnecks of mass-produced goodness, and now there is so much more: That 30-pack of Silver Bullet comes to $38, including a mandatory $8 delivery fee.

However, in fairness, it certainly does surprise Hoosiers to learn that such deliveries are perfectly legal.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Trillin hilarity with ACI: "A new way of measuring pretentiousness."

The parallels with "craft" beer are immediate, stunning and entirely accurate.

ACI: A new way of measuring pretentiousness, by Calvin Trillin (Slate)

... No sooner had I ordered a drink than we had occasion to exchange glances that communicated dismay: Three men who were sitting at the other end of the room had begun discussing wine in voices that seemed intended to enlighten oenophiles who were strolling past Rockefeller Center.

The man at the end of the bar nodded in their direction and said, “Among people who think of themselves as wine connoisseurs there’s a 61 percent ACI.”

I was puzzled. “What’s an ACI?” I asked.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Making it easier for Indiana wineries to ship wine?

Count me among those rooting for removal of these restrictions.

GRAPE SENSE: Legislation could remove onsite restriction, by Howard Hewitt (News and Tribune)

Wine enthusiasts have read about the great wines of Huber, Butler, Oliver, and Turtle Run wineries in Southern Indiana. But what if you’re reading Grape Sense in Marion or Peru Indiana? You just can’t pick up the phone and order some wine to try these great bottles. It’s prohibited by state law. And let’s admit, it’s a long drive.

There is seldom good news in Indiana on direct shipping laws but there is hope in the ongoing session of the Indiana legislature. Current law, in place since 2006, requires consumers to visit on site and make a face-to-face purchase before they can order online. It hurt Indiana wineries significantly when enacted and winery owners are excited it could disappear.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Brewers of Indiana Guild: "We obviously don’t condone sexism or racism."

I'd have posted this statement sooner, but only now was made aware of its release. No such sentiment is perfect, but I'm just glad the Brewers of Indiana Guild said something publicly about an issue I feel is significant (my column on sexism and racism in "marketing messages" is here).

These thoughts are appreciated.



January 23, 2015 | Tristan Schmid, Posted in News | Be the first to comment.

As the craft beer industry grows rapidly (there are already 100 craft breweries in Indiana alone), so grows the array of associated marketing messages–and the likelihood that a beer name, or even a whole brewery’s branding, will offend someone.

We’ve recently been alerted to questionable beer branding put forth by some of our members. While we, the Brewers of Indiana Guild, do represent all Indiana craft breweries, we do not exist to police them or offer a moral authority on the way they conduct their business.

Our objectives are to:

  • promote the highest standards of professional brewing in Indiana
  • increase public awareness and appreciation for the variety and quality of Indiana craft beer
  • advocate for state and federal laws that promote Guild Members’ ideals and that foster brewery profitability
  • provide a forum for discussion, support and initiatives for the common good of Indiana’s brewing industry

Given the above, we obviously don’t condone sexism or racism.

Yet we cannot enforce regulations or principles upon any of our members. We support their constitutional right to free speech and their ability to run their businesses as they see fit.

However, the Guild, as a non-profit trade association, can offer guidance to our member breweries that can help prevent issues which are likely to cause offense–or even the failure of their business.

We’re working on offering continuing education opportunities, like our first-ever Indiana Brewers’ Conference this spring, and creating an Indiana Brewers’ Handbook, all of which will offer guidance to to both new and established breweries and decrease the likelihood that our members will make mistakes.

We’re working hard so we can bring the craft brewing industry in Indiana to a higher level–together.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The PC: Getting our SHIFT together … again.

The PC: Getting our shift together … again.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

It may surprise some readers to learn that I have determined to stand in this year’s New Albany municipal elections as a candidate for mayor.

It should surprise no one that my aim is to do so as an independent candidate, freed from the encumbrances of America’s two-party duopoly – whether Democratic and Republican ... or AB InBev and MillerCoors.

Are the thought processes prefacing the advancement of better beer all that different from those encouraging improved local governance? Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, founder of Denver’s Wynkoop brewery, surely has thoughts on the matter.

It’s hardly a secret that many of us frequently borrow ideas from the world outside beer, primarily because beer hardly exists in a vacuum, although try telling this to (a) burrowed survivalists, or (b) chasers of the current Great White Whales of rare beer.

Whether it’s better beer or the little shop on the corner, concepts of shift and economic localization are cross-disciplinary. The following essay was originally published at on January 15, 2013, and has been edited to reflect a handful of altered details.


Political stump speeches differ very little from religious sermons, and that’s probably why we call it a bully pulpit, not a milk crate.

However, a soapbox might be useful, or better yet, a couple cases of Bud Light in tall cans, because if the pet shampoo is too disgusting to drink, at least you can stand atop it and preach.

(By the way, President Theodore Roosevelt was the originator of the “bully pulpit” usage. Roosevelt was one of the last and best examples of a species now extinct, the progressive Republican)

During these past few years at the bully pulpit, I’ve endeavored to echo two important, recurring themes – economic localization and shift – because both notions should be of interest to the well-informed contemporary beer drinker, even if their foundations are rooted elsewhere.

Beer loving Louisvillians are familiar with LIBA, the independent business association that coordinates the annual Louisville Brewfest. LIBA works to “Keep Louisville Weird,” primarily through advocacy and education about the fundamental merits of economic localization. My city’s version of the same is called New Albany First, and my company, New Albanian Brewing Company, belongs to both organizations.

A chart provided by LIBA illustrates in simple, introductory fashion one aspect of the stakes involved with localism. The chart has to do with circulation and reinvestment.

These and other topics pertaining to economic localization can be explored at one’s leisure, and at numerous web sites. Here are two of them: AMIBA and BALLE.

At LIBA’s web site, I’m struck by this single, brief paragraph. There is much to consider in just these few words.

Each time we spend a dollar, LIBA encourages you to weigh the full value of your choices, not solely to yourselves immediately, but for the future you want for Louisville.

Granted, it may not seem immediately evident that one’s spending choices have value, although we’ve long seen that a principled refusal to spend can make a difference when such a calculated abstention aims at facilitating a desired end, as in the practice known as the boycott – so named after Charles C. Boycott, a 19th-century English property manager in Ireland, who was targeted by an organized, non-violent, systematized campaign of disinvestment that eventually came to be named in his dishonor.

A more recent example of sustained economic sanctions came during the 1980s, when numerous investors, from institutions to corporations, and from individuals to governments, expressed their protest against apartheid in South Africa by an international campaign of disinvestment. The objective of this boycott was to compel South Africa to commence the dismantlement of institutionalized discrimination, which in time did indeed occur.

However, for those readers despairing of history lessons buried within a beer column, LIBA’s wording suggests outcomes ranging beyond those pertaining merely to the withholding of expenditures. In fact, one’s spending choices absolutely can reflect positive, active shadings of value beyond the short term and ephemeral … so long as they are weighed, a notion that implies thought and at least some measure of deliberation.

I believe that most self-identified beer lovers/enthusiasts/aficionados grasp instinctively this crucial point in a broad sense. They realize that in a modern consumer society driven by mass marketing, saturation advertising and various insider tricks (legal or otherwise), those dedicated to pursuing better beer must learn to disregard norms previously judged as acceptable, and instead to think their way past the easiest and most commonly available beer, not to mention the cheapest.

Grasp is one thing and reach quite another, and for this reason, I view the second significant pillar of economic localization to be the ongoing process of shift, which by its very nature is gradual.

In an economic system largely predicated on non-local spending, where there may not be an independent grocery or filling station (whether it dispenses gasoline, beer or both) to patronize, going cold turkey isn’t always a viable option.

Rather, one begins to support economic localization by shifting spending where and when such a shift is practical.

Perhaps the single greatest misconception greeting soapbox speakers like me who tout economic localization is that the listener is being expected to boycott non-local entities in their entirety, and either buy local or starve. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the forward march of better beer is a fine example.

That’s because better beer itself did not explode full-blown into the phenomenon it is in this day and age. Better beer evolved and grew slowly and continuously over three decades, incorporating constant shift as breweries were established and communities served. Now most of the country is within range of a local brewery, and with proximity comes a wider array of choice.

When it comes to craft beer, the implications of economic localization and shift are increasingly obvious. You needn’t digest them all at once. Little sips work just fine.


In 2014, the NABC shipped limited quantities of 22-oz bomber bottles to Indiana, Ohio and Florida (via Cavalier); Kentucky (River City Distributing); and Massachusetts and Rhode Island (Humboldt Imports). In 2015, we’ll pick up most of Kentucky through Clark.

Appropriately, a friend and NABC supporter proffers this excellent question:

How does shipping beer to Ohio, Rhode Island, et al, fit in with a "buy local" message?

Economic localization involves the incremental shifting of spending choices. Shift is ongoing, and shift happens. It’s real. As the shift evolves and market for better beer further progresses, brewery owners must nonetheless continue to view our marketplace the way it actually functions, not the way we wish it to function some day in the future. We live and work in the present as we strive for the ideal. We make decisions accordingly, and hope they bear fruit.

During his Indiana U.S. Senate campaign in 2012, eventual winner Joe Donnelly was asked by a reporter whether he would renounce PAC money from outside the state’s boundaries – a particularly plentiful source of campaign financing for his opponent, the GOP’s Richard Mourdock. Donnelly said no. He would continue to accept out-of-state contributions, and explained why he didn’t view this act as hypocritical.

To paraphrase Donnelly:

Until campaign finance reform is bilateral and the playing field becomes level for all, a candidate cannot pursue campaign finance reform unilaterally; after all, the object in politics is to win, because without winning, how can the candidate pursue his platform?

The same goes for my business.

Shift may be happening, but pieces of brewing equipment still are machines that make beer; using them makes money, and unfilled excess capacity costs money. Losses impede the business cycle, and the business cycle remains in large measure dependent on larger-scale market precepts. The regulatory regime largely precludes genuine marketing innovation.

If one can do what must be done while retaining the bulk of his principles, there can be periodically restful sleep … and the bills get paid. My fundamental objective remains as before: Shifting toward economic localization on as many fronts, whenever and wherever possible.

As I pursue this objective, selling more beer to the folks nearest to our brewery is a priority, and that's precisely where most of our beer is sold: Close to home. Concurrently, pragmatism ordains a clear view of other business prospects in other places.

Given the innate complexities of life and living, it's impossible for human beings to entirely escape shadings of hypocrisy. The trick is to shift inexorably away from self-contradiction, and to keep moving progressively forward. This I intend to continue doing.

Last week's PC column: Ripped straight from the pages of an Onion satire: “13 white males not really so eager to discuss issues like racism and sexism.”

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The draft list for Gravity Head 2015 is complete.

The whole process each year of organizing Gravity Head begins with a pervasive pea soup fog. Around the holidays, Eric Gray will provide a list. Foraging continues, and it becomes a bit easier to see the goalposts. Vision gradually clears. As of today, we have a final list.

We're over our self-imposed limit, but not by very many kegs. We might yet pull a few for another year's aging.

Gravity Head 2015: “We’re Only in It for the Money,” with Against the Grain leading off with a showcase on Friday, February 27 at NABC’s Pizzeria & Public House.

Flat12, Founders and NABC selections comprise a third weekend wave (Friday the 13th of March). Others will appear according to no apparent plan throughout the fest’s run, into early April.

There’ll be a special Sunday Sunrise & Gravity Head Brunch at Bank Street Brewhouse on Sunday, March 1, with food and draft selections (with guests cooking and curating both), to be announced.

See any mistakes? Let me know. Gravity Head deploys BJCP style categories, and I try to get the information as "right" as I can. Go to the NABC web site to see the list.

The Pour Fool on Elysian and AB InBev's "malignant tentacles."

The Pour Fool rules.

During the course of discussing Elysian's absorption into the Evil Empire, I found myself chatting with an employee of Trojan Goose (Island), who freely noted the pride with which he served AB InBev, the single most destructive entity in the history of American brewing.

All I can say is this:

"I'd rather remembered for giving middle fingers to the corporate brewing oligarchs than rim jobs to their shareholders."

Read the Pour Fool. He waxes heroic.

Elysian and AB/InBev: Greed, Overweening Ambition, and the Whoring-Out of a Culture, by Steve Foolbody (Pour Fool)

 ... For those who want a basic primer on how I feel about AB getting its malignant tentacles into ANY part of what has been, for 30 years, the most uplifting, soulful, life-affirming, humane, and decent business segment in American history, this link will take you to my piece on their acquisition of Bend’s 10 Barrel, and this link will go to my Seattle P-I post on AB’s take-over of Chicago’s legendary Goose Island. There’s no need for me to plow all that ground again but just know, if you decide to click over, that every single thing said in those posts applies here."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Read all about Tailspin 2015.

Kevin Gibson on the local beer beat means that bloggers can relax, drink and link.

Tailspin Ale Fest 2015 will prove inaugural event was just getting started

The news has been out for a while that this year’s Tailspin Ale Fest has grown to two days — Feb. 20 and 21 — and added several new lead-up events. Let’s face it, last year’s inaugural event was a huge hit. In fact, I walked away thinking it was one of the better beer festivals I’d ever attended thanks to its diversity, specialty beers and various other attractions — beer-related and otherwise.

Speaking for NABC, we have a few bookings in February:

BIG Winterfest in Indianapolis on January 31
Lafayette Brewing Company's Winter Warmer on February 7
Cincy Winter Beer Fest on February 13 and 14
Tailspin in Louisville on February 20 and 21

And then the 17th convening of Gravity Head at the Pizzeria & Public House, beginning on Friday, February 27.

Got exhaustion?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A shout-out to the employees at NABC's Pizzeria & Public House.

The following is a reprint of a short piece I posted to the NABC company website. For obvious reasons, it seems worth repeating here.


And here is WHY you should cross the Ohio for the NABC Pizzeria & Public House.

As longtime NABC fans know, we seldom become engaged in the more ephemeral manifestations of social media — voting, click bait and seemingly endless lists.

However, I’m making an exception for this list, not so much because NABC’s Pizzeria & Public House comes in at number one, but because being number one illustrates the pride, hard work and professionalism of our employees, who quite simply rock, and have been rocking full-tilt for almost 28 years.

They’re the best, and so are our customers. Thanks to all of you for helping to create and perpetuate the NABC community. Here’s the link.

11 Reasons Louisvillians Should Cross the Ohio for Indiana, by Colleen O’Leary (Impulcity)

Pizza and beer – what more could you want in life? Not just any beer, either. New Albanian Brewing Company has become a legend in the region, and for good reason.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"A Bar Calls Out Negativity."

Been there, written that.

My disillusionment goes deeper than my own position of admittedly self-inflicted enslavement to bankers. It extends further than my ongoing annoyance with “beer geeks spend(ing) all their time hunting (great) white whales instead of drinking beer in their back yards,” their historical ignorance, or Trojan Goose’s sad masquerade.

It’s even worse than knowing how few present-day “craft beer” enthusiasts and “craft” brewing entities have so much as heard the phrase Think Globally, Drink Locally, and that’s because they’re not even thinking locally nowadays.

It's just this colossal buzz kill. Time to go back to beer, sans adjectives ... been there, said that.

A Bar Calls Out Negativity. Something I Totally Get [Op-Ed], by Reid Ramsay (Beer Street Journal)

The Common Table, craft beer gastropub in Dallas, Texas let their feelings about the state of craft beer and some of their clientele fly on Facebook today. It’s pretty amazing ...

... A bar calling out the negativity in craft beer is incredible. These folks understand the hatred. Yelp, Beer Advocate forums, Reddit forums, email listservs. There really is no perfect way to distribute a case of rare beer. They are basically set up to fail, but they keep doing it for the love of beer. I’ve seen people complain in places that have an amazing tap lineup, that there’s “nothing new.”

Monday, January 19, 2015

The PC: Ripped straight from the pages of an Onion satire: “13 white males not really so eager to discuss issues like racism and sexism.”

It's a "double" IPA -- get it?
The PC: Ripped straight from the pages of an Onion satire: “13 white males not really so eager to discuss issues like racism and sexism.”

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

This column is written by an individual. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of businesses and organizations with which I’m affiliated.

The rise in support for same-sex marriage over the past decade is among the largest changes in opinion on any policy issue over this time period. A new national survey finds that much of the shift is attributable to the arrival of a large cohort of young adults – the Millennial generation – who are far more open to gay rights than previous generations … The long-term shift in the public’s views about same-sex marriage is unambiguous (Pew Research).

Shift happens, but today’s column is not about same-sex marriage. Rather, it’s about changing one’s mind.

To me, not only is this possible. It’s inevitable, and old dogs can indeed learn new tricks. Pertaining to humanity’s evolution, change and adaptation are necessary for our very survival, and if you need proof for this assertion, read Jared Diamond’s 2005 book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

I’ve changed my mind many times when presented with persuasive evidence contrary to my previous assumptions. I used to be satisfied drinking Stroh’s – then I wasn’t. My mind and my tastes evolved, and an immensely enjoyable 30-year journey through the world has followed. Changes in latitude could not have occurred without changes in attitude.


In 2011, the New Albanian Brewing Company participated in a collaboration with De Struise Brouwers and the Louisville Beer Store. The beer we brewed together at Bank Street Brewhouse was (and is) called Naughty Girl.

I’m not entirely certain who coined the name, though probably it was Urbain from De Struise. With characteristic irreverence, we all agreed to describe it as a Belgo India Blonde Ale. Tony Beard, NABC’s one-man graphics department, created a mermaid image, and we’ve used it ever since. Naughty Girl has been brewed once or twice a year, and the current plan is to do so again this spring.

A question has been asked of me on more than one occasion since 2011, most recently yesterday: Is NABC’s Naughty Girl an offensive example of stereotyping, using sexual imagery to sell beer?

My flippant stock reply has been consistent. Given the painfully small amount of Naughty Girl we’ve actually sold, in this instance the sex hasn't been nearly salacious enough. It’s a seasonal release, we’re a small brewery, and for us, viral remains something applicable to prevailing influenza strains and not annual barrelage growth rates. We don’t sell as much of anything as we’ve hoped, and the biggest mover remains Hoptimus, which bears a depiction of an anthropomorphized children’s toy.

In fact, when it comes to shameless stereotyping, we’ve thought of putting IPA in big, block letters on every label of every beer we produce: Belgian Table IPA, Robust Porter IPA, English Mild IPA, Doppelbock IPA, and so on. Now, there’s a strategy for cynical exploitation as it pertains to spotlighting and unfairly targeting obliviousness-ism.

But seriously: Is NABC Naughty Girl representative of sexism? Does it reinforce sexist responses?

Sexism or gender discrimination is prejudice or discrimination based on a person's sex or gender. Sexist attitudes may stem from traditional stereotypes of gender roles, and may include the belief that a person of one sex is intrinsically superior to a person of the other (Wikipedia).

Maybe it is sexist, and maybe it isn't, but either way, I’m prepared to think about it, to discuss it, and to open my mind to ideas differing from those I previously took for granted. I think Tony’s images reinforce positive tenets, because they’re strong women – and yet I can see where there is disagreement.

Although I don’t have any children, maybe it would be a good idea for me to imagine that I did -- and not only daughters. Granted, I could make the argument that my company is 67% female-owned, but I won’t. It’s irrelevant.

So much for stock replies, because I’m in the process of changing my mind, as well as slipping the leash. That’s because at the risk of hypocrisy, I’m suggesting that more “craft” beer advocates, whether brewers or consumers, insiders or outsiders, should take a step back and glance outside our self-congratulatory perimeter, out into the real world, especially when confronted with an image like this one.

I know what you’re probably thinking, so let’s pause here. Two weeks ago in France, fundamentalist Islamic terrorists of medieval outlook ruthlessly murdered twelve people over satirical cartoons, and this sickens us all, so you need to know that I’m on Voltaire’s side as it pertains to Route 2 Brews in Lowell, Indiana, and in defending the absolute right of this brewery to be utterly, remorselessly tasteless.

I suppose raincoaters have needs, too.

As an individual whose viewpoint is capable of evolution, I accept the customary dictate: I support your right to hold views contrary to mine, and when our spheres overlap, I reserve my right to try with all my might to persuade you otherwise, stopping short of physical violence, and relying on the veracity of my ideas.

Irrespective of the potential outcome of my efforts, it remains clear that individual conscience is the first step in this evolution. It can take time. So do a great many good things.


Now, to the next interconnected ring. From individual conscience, one moves to communities both great and small.

In general, the “craft” beer business is avoiding this dialogue about sexism, and I view this as a high horse in urgent need of dismounting.

In particular, Leg Spreader is a “craft” beer brewed in the state of Indiana. Does it convey the message desired of Hoosier beer?

In turn, this begs other questions: Collectively, what is our message? Exactly what are we espousing? Are we a collective, or does each brewery stand alone? If we are a collective, what are our rights and responsibilities as free-standing breweries within the broader grouping?

Why ask these questions?

I’ll answer this with another question, one referencing a familiar example: How many rugged individualists, by themselves, ever managed to convince the Indiana legislature to allow Indiana breweries to sell carry-out beer on Sunday?

The answer is none. Rather, it was all of them working together, collectively and cooperatively. That’s the message, at least in part.

As many of you know, I’m a director on the board of the Brewers of Indiana Guild (BIG). It’s a chartered non-profit professional trade grouping that works, organizes and lobbies on behalf of all Indiana breweries, including ones as small as Route 2 Brews and NABC, and as large as Three Floyds and Sun King.

To me, as it pertains to Route 2 Brews as a de facto member of this guild, irrespective of precise obligations implied by a dues structure, which the guild does not yet enforce (in my view, it should), there are certain understandings that need to be shared, and certain obligations that need to be recognized.

Most prominently, the guild works very hard, all year round, to make the business and regulatory atmosphere in Indiana more amenable to “craft” beer, as the growler sales example above illustrates. By extension, the guild obviously helps to improve the bottom lines of Indiana “craft” brewers, including Route 2 Brews. Leg Spreader has the potential to harm these efforts, and while censorship is out of the question, a firmly friendly chat about collective cooperation surely is not.

Interestingly, and in my opinion something fully applicable to the present discussion, the conceptual basis of BIG’s annual legislative agenda rests on a plea of exceptionalism. Because Indiana’s brewers are small-scale, artisanal producers, we qualify for special minority status. We get breaks. We can self-distribute. We’re delighted to pour growlers to go on Sunday when other outlets cannot. In a heartbeat, we’d accept lower excise taxes awarded us by virtue of our minority status.

To a greater or lesser extent, “craft” beer’s outreach in legislatures across the nation, and also with the federal government, is reliant on this argument from an exceptionalism based on size. We accept what amounts to affirmative action on the production end of the beer supply chain, and some (like me) advocate openly extending it to product placement in government-owned venues like sports stadiums, and at government-sponsored civic fests.

Given this, wouldn't you think that whether the grouping is Route 2 Brews, Craft Beer Nation or the BIG board itself, there’d be a bit more, shall we say, sensitivity to the sort of “minority” issues typically experienced by people who have been marginalized by discrimination?

Like women?


When Leg Spreader was brought to my attention, I duly forwarded the information to the BIG board, reasoning that as we enter the perilous rapids of the 2015 Indiana legislative session, sexist crotch shots with beer bottles might come to be seen not only as disturbing to one’s own conscience; they’d also would not likely be tidiest images to be allowed to define Indiana Beer as we walk the corridors of the Statehouse.

After all, does anyone really want me to be seen wearing a logoed t-shirt like this one to the important annual legislative reception tomorrow?

Yes, I expected differing opinions from the board in response.

No, I did not expect to be outnumbered 11-2 (thanks, Nick), even after offering the suggestion that take no more action as a guild than issue a faux coincidental, non-specific, general statement reaffirming the guild’s commitment to universal principles of non-discriminatory fairness as the legislature reconvenes.

Even this was too much.

We don't need to make statements regarding this type of stupidity. It just draws more attention to them. The guild needs to ignore their tactics and let the consumers make their own choices.

Yes, except we’re a professional trade grouping, aren’t we, and these sorts of entities can have standards, can’t they?

I do not like it either, it’s not my style, BUT... we have no authority or moral high ground to talk to an independent business owner about how he promotes his business … it seems obvious Route 2 Brewing has realized their branding wasn't going to work for them, so they canned it. There is absolutely NO reason to reach out to them with some bizarre I'm-big-brother-and-I'm-watching-you message.

I agree: No reaching out, EVER. But ... guys, we don’t exist in a vacuum, do we?

If we venture into making policy statements about things non-beer related issues do we include drone strikes, child labor, sex trafficking, domestic violence? All of which are horrible, offensive, and much more oppressive than Route 2 Brews poorly planned branding exercise.

Unfortunately, even if we had the time to think about policy statements, there’d be no time to act on them.

I believe we should ignore it, because it is not even close to being the biggest issue on our plate … why are we wasting time on this at all? … issues like this need to be prioritized, and right now this need not be a priority.

Go tell it to Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King … but wait.

Perhaps I needed a supporting example, so I asked. “What if an Indiana brewery were to attach to a beer an image such as this one from the 1920s?”

Well, yeah, THAT might be considered off-limits – kinda sorta, as long as they're males.

I am in absolute opposition to the Guild having any sort of moral standards being dictated or implied in any manner as part of our mission. Trying to equate racism and sexism, is misguided. No racism is acceptable in our culture (but) a level of sexism is acceptable and it pervades almost every part of our society, every gender (assuming there might be more than 2), and is the basis for whole industries.

So, sexism is acceptable, and whole industries profit from it, although it remains that while Victoria’s Secret is supposed to be about sexy lingerie, since when is “craft” beer supposed to be about spreading legs?

Furthermore, who’s to say that we as “craft” brewers cannot have a higher standard rather than a lower bar?

At least this comment offers hope that my thoughts didn’t go entirely unheard.

I don't believe that policing and judging our membership is part of our mission as a guild, but I do think that we have a responsibility to membership to act on those items and issues that impact our industry as a whole. How we define what those are is for us to decide as we move forward.

Let’s hope we do move forward. As Dr. King once said, "We must keep moving. If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving."


My term on the BIG board ends this year, and I’ll be up for re-election at the annual meeting in March. I understand and accept that my thoughts today might harm my chances of remaining on the board, although this ultimately depends on whether others want to serve. However, my father raised me to speak my mind, and to fight for my beliefs. It’s what I’m trying to do, right now. I'm not at all sorry if it "bugs" you.

Would I have done so two decades ago? Ten years ago? In 2011, when Naughty Girl was brewed for the first time? The record shows I didn’t. But my mind seems to be changing, and now I must be willing to follow where it takes me.

After much deliberation, I’ve chosen to use real quotes, but to pass them along anonymously, because at the end of the day, I enjoy serving on the board, and I respect my fellow board members. More than anything else, the “craft” sexism issue is about a collective mindset, one composed of individual consciences that I hope are evolving. The collective group-think extends far beyond our own board, into the whole of Craft Beer Nation, and I believe that as opposed to a glass of Pilsner, it requires lots and lots of sunlight.

I’m not angry at the individuals on my board. After all, their views are no different from those I’d expect to hear from the man in the street.

Yet maybe – just maybe – that’s an important aspect of this issue, because my board is composed of 13 white males. Typically, they're quite busy. Are we really hearing about racism and sexism?

Maybe – just maybe – this homogeneity causes us to miss a few important social and cultural nuances. Like I said, we get busy.

Maybe – just maybe – we all get so involved with "dollars and cents" issues that we forget about the varied composition of the marketplace supporting our efforts. I have never been in this game for the money, and yet as a closing remark, here is a snapshot of the “craft” beer market, gleaned from survey data captured in 2014, as contributed by Julia Herz of the Brewers Association (thanks TM):

Women consume almost 32% of craft beer volume, almost half of which comes from women 21-34.

Even as our minds are changing, perhaps we could do a better job of thinking with our wallets. How can there ever be an "acceptable" place for sexism in craft beer?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

These requests from abroad, Vol. 11: "I love beer for the fact that with every breath of the world is getting better."

Lviv has a beer, and an "official" brewing museum, too. 

If you own or work for a brewery, you've probably fielded numerous e-mail inquiries from overseas asking for beer labels, crown caps and the like, as destined to become the cherished keepsakes of private collectors from just about anywhere -- although it seems that most of them live somewhere around eastern and central Europe.

To me, there is something compelling and yet haunting about these foreign requests, places of longtime personal interest to me both historically and geographically. I've been in or near many of them. They speak vividly to my inner melancholic. Lately, I've been pasting their addresses into Google Map and seeing what their places of residence look like.

After all, they can look at my business, and it seems only fair for me to see where they live, so very far away. Especially coming from European locales, these are images that speak powerfully to me, conjuring memories of places I've been, people I've met ... and beers I've consumed.

Michael is a resident of Lviv, Ukraine, which is one of the few remaining "bucket list" cities in Europe for me. 

Wikipedia quoted verbatim strikes me as the best way to introduce the city of Lviv.

Lviv (UkrainianЛьвів L’vivIPA: [lʲvʲiu̯] ( )RussianЛьвов L’vovIPA: [lʲvof]Polish:LwówIPA: [lvuf] ( ),[2] GermanLembergLatinLeopolisthe city of the lion) is a city in western Ukraine that was once a major population centre of the Halych-Volyn Principality, the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, the Habsburg Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, and later the capital of Lwów Voivodeship during the Second Polish Republic.
Formerly capital of the historical region of Galicia, Lviv is now regarded as one of the main cultural centres of today's Ukraine. The historical heart of Lviv with its old buildings and cobblestone streets has survived Soviet and Nazi occupation during World War IIlargely unscathed. The city has many industries and institutions of higher education such as Lviv University and Lviv Polytechnic. Lviv is also a home to many world-class cultural institutions, including a philharmonic orchestra and the famous Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet. The historic city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lviv celebrated its 750th anniversary with a son et lumière in the city centre in September 2006.

To know me is to grasp the centrality of the Habsburg dynasty and the Austrian (later Austro-Hungarian) empire as situated within an overall love of European history. As the map shows, Lviv lies at the center of Eastern/Central Europe.

Some day ...

To date, Michael's request for swag is the most light-hearted and colorful. It deserves to be quoted in its entirety.

My name is Michael Khomik, I am a passionate fan of beer. I collect beer Labels, Caps and beer mats. I love beer for the fact that with every breath of the world is getting better. I have a beer with no borders, except for age. eer - it's one of the few things that can unite people of different views and speak different languages. Even for that it is love. It is the oldest drink - drink of the Gods. It works wonders, and only having drunk it before the end bottles, can become an angel or a demon. Beer for connoisseurs Men and real Women. I decorate my kitchen with beer labels, beer mats, caps, and various attributes of the beer. This is my mini-museum. If this does not contradict the rules of your company, please send me promotional material of your company ( you have a very nice label, and beer coasters are beautiful.) What would I and my guests, who will be coming to visit me, admired them, praising your company and your City. What would everyone know about your wonderful beer brewery, and your, as well as about the wonderful people that make a beer from the heart and with Love! Please send me, Labels, Beer mats, Caps, and other attribute in my collection. Front, rear and top label produced today, and made in the past or are no longer available. Please make an exception and send for Free!!! , I'm on my mini - Museum. I hope that your company is not difficult.

Happy New Year to you and all your friendly staff

P.S "advertisement motor trade and collector distributor of advertising."

With respect and hope for Michael.

Not unexpectedly for a city of 730,000, Michael lives fairly far outside the historic town center. Look behind the smaller vertically arranged buildings, to the apartment block running horizontally behind them.


I think Michael will be getting a package soon.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Geographical illiteracy in TTB label approvals ... and NABC Eastern Front "Post-War" Imperial Pilsner

Last year, for a nanosecond, social media was filled with chat about the solitary federal government bureaucrat who single-handedly approves or rejects 20,000 beer label approval requests each year, presumably in his sleep.

Meanwhile, this being the year for NABC to release our Eastern Front Russian Imperial Pilsner (formerly Elsa Von Horizon), Tony submitted the requisite label approval form.

The label was rejected pending the removal of all references to "Russian," whether referring to Imperial Pilsner, or describing zakuski, which in Russian (sir, can I use the word to describe a language?) are snacks and appetizers, often pickled and smoked, meant to accompany drinking sessions.

Germany or German? Fine.

Slavic? нет проблем.

Vienna? It ain't nuthin' but a malt, after all.

Tony and David had a quick conference, and Tony suggested "Post-War" as a solution, which was approved, meaning that it's okay to talk about a war but not a civilization. This just may be the foremost example of bureaucratic dumbassery I've experienced since my list trip through airport security.

By the way, thanks to Beer Buzz for the label display. Eastern Front will be out in February. Here is the story. Come to think of it, the name Lyudmila Pavlichenko probably is Ukrainian, not Russian.

Could we have called it Ukrainian Imperial Pilsner? Might need to give THAT wheel a spin, some day.

The Story of Eastern Front (2014)

Throughout European history, the Eastern Front has been the place on the map where German and Slavic lands overlap, both geographically and culturally. However, perhaps owing to so many decades of watching the History Channel, most Americans know of the Eastern Front only in the context of military history. This is not unsurprising, because there has been far too much fighting in the region.

Most of us know about the terrible battle of Stalingrad, but few today remember the role played by female sniper teams posted to the Red Army of the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War (in the West, we still call it World War II).

The most famous female sniper was Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a student who volunteered for service following the Nazi invasion of the USSR, and refused to serve as a nurse. Rather, her most obvious aptitude came apparent when she was armed with a rifle. Eventually, Pavlichenko recorded 309 certified kills, and such was her fame that in far-off America, folk singer Woody Guthrie took notice.

After all, Guthrie knew a fascist-killing machine when he saw it.

Miss Pavlichenko's well known to fame;
Russia's your country, fighting is your game;
The whole world will love her for a long time to come,
For more than three hundred Nazis fell by your gun.

But oddly enough, we’re here to discuss malt paddles, not telescopic sights. NABC’s assertive, hop-forward Eastern Front (formerly known as Elsa von Horizon) is meant to emphasize the virtues of cultural assimilation in brewing, and posits a strong, hoppy lager’s stylistic re-augmentation as a Russian "Post-War" Imperial Pilsner.

It’s the ideal toast to peace.

Eastern Front

Russian Imperial Pilsner (RIP)

ABV: 8%

IBU: 80

Color: Golden.

Flavor: Full-bodied, but deceptively drinkable, with all the attributes of a crisp, clean, hoppy Pilsner – just more of everything.

Compare to: Rogue Morimoto, Samuel Adams Imperial Pilsner and Lagunitas Scarecity #1.

Description: War, huh yeah … what is it good for? Absolutely nothing; oh hoh, oh war -- huh yeah -- what is it good for? Absolutely nothing: Say it again, y’all.

Recipe suggestion: Eastern Front’s clean and strong German hoppiness brings Russian-style zakuski to a standstill: Funky cheeses, caviar, rye bread, smoked meats and pickled vegetables are typical accompaniments.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Kalamazoo to be home to nation's first sustainable brewing degree."

I can only hope that Purdue University is next. The Brewers of Indiana Guild has been working with Purdue and Indiana state agriculture officials to inaugurate programs that might some day lead this direction.

Them I'll be freed to incorporate the donation of a wealthy benefactor and start the Beer Writing School at Indiana University Southeast, my alma mater in New Albany.

Kalamazoo to be home to nation's first sustainable brewing degree, by Cheryl Roland (Western Michigan University)

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Kalamazoo area closed out its 2015 Beer Week January celebration with news that the nation's first higher ed programs in sustainable brewing are being launched at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University.

The brewing programs, which will be offered starting in fall 2015, were developed by the two schools working in close coordination with the industry. The resulting "two-plus-two" program in sustainable craft brewing will offer students the opportunity to earn a certificate or associate degree at KVCC, then move on to a Bachelor of Science degree that marries industry art and science with WMU's national reputation in sustainability.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Arts and beer in Evansville.

I'm not a frequent visitor to Evansville, but I try to make it "down" there (the city is down river from Louisville, after all) whenever possible.

NABC has had lots of good friends from Evansville, and my mother was born and raised in nearby Henderson, Kentucky. In fact, back in 2008, I penned a brief essay about my family gathering held at the Executive Inn.

I'm reporting live from the beautiful Hotel Volga in downtown Bucharest, Romania, where the mystery meat in gray sauce was featured at the recent Plenum of the Workers' Party 18th Conference ... no, wait; my mistake. Actually I'm at the Executive Inn in Evansville, Indiana, for my family (mom's side) reunion.

I didn't disturb me in the slightest when I heard it was demolished three years later.

But don't get me wrong; I like Evansville, and to me, one of the happiest Indiana beer stories in recent years has been the advent of Tin Man and Carson's breweries in Evansville, joining Turoni's/Main Street.

They're good breweries and good people, and a town the size of Evansville needs them. It remains an unexploited better beer market, but that seems to be changing.

Last year, I noticed an arts-related story about Evansville. It's a great read, which fairly weighs the good and bad points about arts-led revitalizations.

"Best of All Possible Worlds": An amazing tale about a public art contest in Evansville, Indiana.

This brings me to another article, this one in Indianapolis Monthly.

Why Indy’s Creative Class Loves Evansville Right Now

If all you know about Indiana’s third-largest city is that Madonna slept there while filming A League of Their Own, it’s time to get reacquainted.

A brain sandwich and Tin Man Rivet sound good to me. It's time to head back that way.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The PC: Gimme a pigfoot and a bottle of beer.

The PC: Gimme a pigfoot and a bottle of beer. 

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

This will come as a surprise to many readers, but I’ve never considered myself the smartest person in the barroom.

Happily, even when you’re not the smartest person in the barroom, plenty of options remain open, so long as you’re willing to find the folks who are, and to learn something from them. I may have evolved into a passionate, opinionated, contrarian and reasonably articulate leftist, yet these are traits developed over many years, and sharpened by reading, questioning and listening.

Consequently, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in this regard is that the smartest people in the barroom are well aware of how little they ultimately know. In a world so large and complex that we’ll never be able to grasp any more than small shards of the profusion, wisdom surely reinforces the wonders of the journey itself.

As a case in point, there is my own experience with Bank Street Brewhouse, which will turn six in March. What a long, strange trip it has been. Somewhere around 2008, going into the project, I caught a fleeting glimpse of something mistaken for certainty, and for the briefest of moments, concluded that this ephemeral “craft” beer industry snapshot was a reflection of permanence.

I might have saved a bucket of borrowed money and stayed at a Holiday Inn Express instead. To paraphrase Mikhail Gorbachev, history punishes those who think they’re the smartest person in the barroom – when they’re not. NABC makes great beer, and many people like it. Granted, we haven’t grown like we thought, and dull moments have been few and far between, but our brewery business perseveres.

What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger … and you can insert your own tired cliché right here; the one I like has to do with the constant bombardments of WWI trench warfare, but let’s return to the point: The value is in the journey, and lately it has occurred to me that mine has come full circle.

I’m okay with that.

Back in college, when I knew next to nothing about anything, it was a matter of personal pride to be known as a beer drinker, as opposed to a wine enthusiast (too pretentious) or a garden variety omnibus drunkard of the sort I routinely encountered while working at the package store, seeing as there simply is no future, least of all mine, in anyone’s ability to drink a quart of whiskey or vodka every single day.

Beer was different, at least for me. Back then, it may have been odious swill, but it was my odious swill, and even then, there was an inkling in my cosmos that beer might yet connect those various other dots floating aimlessly within my psyche. In many respects, it eventually did, although first I had to do my fair share of listening to the denizens of the barroom … the ones who were smarter than me.

As my education progressed, it all seemed to fit together. Beer was about science, art, geography, history, capitalism and socialism. Beer was an avocation, and later it morphed into a vocation. It still is, although I’d be lying if I said that it’s as much fun as it used to be.

So, the journey continues.

Recently I saw an essay purporting to explain the differences between a beer geek and a beer snob. After glancing at it, my first reaction was to sigh deeply before finally deigning to accept a new, probably temporary certainty, which has been building for years: That’s it; I’m done.

It’s back to being a “beer drinker” again, with no qualifiers necessary – no geeks, snobs, hopheads, sourpusses, crafts, imports, gypsies or Trojan Geese. Just a plain ol’ beer drinker, and mighty proud to be one.

Don’t worry; I’m not going soft, merely deploying a version of Occam’s Razor to pare the propaganda and protect what’s left of my patience, not to mention sanity.

You won’t see me drinking a Silver Bullet any time soon. American low-calorie “light” lagers still disappoint, and always will. Also, I as yet will insist on knowing where a beer was brewed, and by whom, and if the information is handily offered on Rate Advocate, I’ll even go there to read it, while continuing to ignore th crowd-sourced reviews amassed below.

Aesthetics, mood, locale, and personal preference still mean a great deal to me, and I’ll espouse them. I’ll write about them, talk about them, teach them, and try to embody them in whatever I do with beer as an individual, and NABC does with brewing as a company.

(As an aside, kindly note that for me, my role as educator remains free of bile and jaundice. Last weekend, I conducted a tasting for 16 relative adult novices, few of whom knew hops from barley. I gave good story, and they asked sensible questions. Perhaps they looked to me as the smartest person in that particular barroom, but the fact is we all learned something from the experience.)

What matters to me right now, in 2015, is that I know enough about the small shards of difference when it comes to beer to satisfy myself and help others into the tent. Knowing just enough about beer makes me both proud and happy. However, to take it a step further and expand upon the immortal words of the British rock band Wild Beasts, it no longer is valid for anyone to “confuse me with someone who gives a fuck.”

You don’t need to know where I drank it. If I tell you, it’s because I’ve found the location to be something genuinely worthy of note.

I don’t need to be informed by crowd-sourced beer rating aggregators. If I praise a beer, it’s because the beer deserves it.

There’ll be precious few selfies, and even fewer photos of the beers I’m drinking, because seriously, haven’t we been looking in the mirror long enough to have seen and learned absolutely nothing? Maybe once in a blue moon, so long as it isn’t Blue Moon.

Make no mistake: Chase all the brightly colored barrel-aged butterflies you wish, and more power to you. At the same time, there are reasons why coaches truly worth their pay teach fundamentals to athletes. It’s because in the end, fundamentals win games.

The simple fundamentals of being a beer drinker.

Back to basics.

Playing John McIntire’s Reverend Pengilly to Burt Lancaster’s Elmer Gantry.

I like it already.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

“We’re Only in It for the Money”: Gravity Head 2015 cashes in with headliner Against the Grain on February 27.

Here is a first look at NABC art-guy-in-residence Tony Beard's design for the Gravity Head 2015 logo.

Gravity Head 2015 is the 17th spectacle in a series that began in 1999. This year, the theme is "We're Only in It for the Money," and Louisville's Against the Grain Brewery will open the show on Friday morning, February 27, with a headlining multi-tap breakfast lineup.

There’ll be another Gravity Head Sunday Sunrise Brunch at Bank Street Brewhouse on March 1, with food and beers to be announced, and the traditional Flat12/Founders/NABC wave on Gravity Head's Third Friday (March 13, 2015).

The most recent web site. update is Friday, January 9. There are 41 draft listings so far, including the Against the Grain contingent.

We’ll be aiming for 50 selections, and as you can see, the slots are filling quickly. Check back, and there'll be occasional reminders. We also reserve the right to pull certain kegs and save them for next year if numbers become to unwieldy.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Beer Business 101: How Brewdog successfully lied through its teeth.

It brightens my day to learn that lying to bankers still works, at least some of the time. When I tried lying to my bankers, it did not work.

Maybe I'm just not very good at lying.

How controversial beer firm Brewdog became so popular, by Will Smale (BBC News)

When the founders of popular but controversial beer company Brewdog needed a second bank loan to enable them to expand production, their tactic was a simple one - lie through their teeth.

Friday, January 09, 2015

"Craft Brewers Are Running Out Of Names," clever or otherwise.

Evidently Leg Spreader was NOT already taken

A few years back, when NABC decided to brew a Helles-style lager full time, we did what we imagined was due diligence and searched the Internet to see if Bat Out of Helles already was taken. We didn't see anything, so stuck with it.

Last year, we received a very nice e-mail from a brewery elsewhere, informing us that it produces a beer by the same name -- well, almost the same name: Bat Outta Helles. While hitherto this had not been worth nothing, canning was about to begin ... and so could we chat about terms of shared usage, i.e., our continued in-house, draft-only use of the name outside of the other brewery's distribution area, etc?

Frankly, Bat Out of Helles wasn't my favored name, anyway, so I wrote back and said we had no problem whatever changing to mere Helles, a style descriptor beyond restrictive copyright, much like ... steam beer?

Never mind.

Craft Brewers Are Running Out Of Names, And Into Legal Spats, by Alastair Bland (NPR)

Columbia? Taken. Mississippi? Taken. Sacramento? El Niño? Marlin? Grizzly? Sorry, they're all taken.

Virtually every large city, notable landscape feature, creature and weather pattern of North America — as well as myriad other words, concepts and images — has been snapped up and trademarked as the name of either a brewery or a beer. For newcomers to the increasingly crowded industry of more than 3,000 breweries, finding names for beers, or even themselves, is increasingly hard to do without risking a legal fight.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Wasted: Jim Koch, Sam Adams and Indifference.

The first point to make clear is this: First-rate beer writing here (it is Andy Crouch, after all). How very refreshing to read a piece about beer that isn't a list, a selfie or a professional rassling video masquerading as a beer review.

As for Jim Koch's place in the sun circa 2015, surely he must be credited for occupying such a polarizing position. You can't do that without being known, and arousing feelings one way or another.

Personally, it's a struggle for me to decide how to feel about Koch. He performed valuable services by elevating the standard of airport beer, introducing seasonal styles to a wide audience and "perfecting" the art of contract brewing ... and now overall beer standards are better when you fly; seasonals proliferate like weeds, and punk gypsy brewers using someone else's brewery get the ink formerly reserved for Koch.

He didn't stay "cool" ... but was he ever "cool" from the outset?

You see, as a reluctant capitalist, it's hard for me to feel bad about a guy with millions in the bank. I suspect it is Koch's unalloyed profit motive that always has kept me aloof -- it's my issue, and not necessarily yours, but it helps explain my indifference, because that's what it is. I simply don't care.

Mick Jagger is a very rich human, and yet even at the age of 70, he can bound across a stage and convince many of us that he means it. I'm not sure Koch ever possessed this ability, and unfortunately for him, Samuel Adams Boston Lager has not aged as well as "Satisfaction."

Wasted: How the craft-beer movement abandoned Jim Koch (and his beloved Sam Adams), by Andy Crouch (Boston Magazine)

Jim Koch was pissed off.

The most recognizable man in American beer, who sold us all on the idea of craft brew three decades ago on his way to a billion-dollar fortune, was having dinner last October with a group of brewers inside Row 34, one of Boston’s top-rated beer bars. The drink list was filled with esoteric options from hot new breweries throughout the country, as well as palate-pleasing offerings from abroad. But Koch had a problem: Though this mecca for beer nerds carries two dozen beers on draft and another 38 in bottles and cans, it doesn’t serve his beloved Sam Adams.

Staring at the beer menu, Koch began to criticize the selection. More than half of it, he said, wasn’t worthy of being served—inadvertently insulting the establishment’s owner, who unbeknownst to Koch was sitting next to him. Then Koch interrogated the beer manager about the offerings. Unsatisfied with the answers, Koch complained about the beers so intensely that an employee at the bar teared up. Koch rose from his seat and walked into the keg room, where he started checking freshness dates on his competitors’ kegs.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A bill has been filed to allow Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana.

But without the key legislative player whose authorship was sought by proponents.

I'll be asked this numerous times in the weeks to come, and so allow me to answer again: Neither NABC nor the Brewers of Indiana Guild has a stake in this fight. We're neutral. The fact that NABC can sell Sunday carry-out growlers owes to legislation from 2010 defining our position as a small brewer, within the framework of brewery licensing. The bill described below is cut from a different bolt of legal cloth.

Rinse and repeat.

Bill filed to allow Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana, by Tony Cook (Indy Star)

A bill that would allow Sunday alcohol sales at groceries, pharmacies, and liquor stores has been filed in the Indiana House, but the man who will decide whether it gets a hearing is not the author.

Some, including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, had hoped that House Public Policy Chairman Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, would author the bill and in doing so signal his support for the measure.

That would have been a big victory for those who want to overturn the Prohibition-era ban because the bill must pass out of Dermody’s committee to get a hearing in the House.

Monday, January 05, 2015

The PC: My brain cells sent me a nice thank you card.

The PC: My brain cells sent me a nice thank you card.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Lately I’ve tended to swear off end-of-the-year lists, enumerations and reflections, particularly as they pertain to beer. My official, recurring explanation is that during a typical twelve-month time span, the sheer volume of great beers and wonderful beer drinking experiences has tended to overwhelm my narrative and organizational abilities.

In short, I can bask in a warm glow of beers past with a sort of year-long area buzz without trying to remember each one of them.

However, it strikes me that the past year was different, for the simple reason that I didn’t drink nearly as much beer as usual. Granted, there were plenty of good beer times, just fewer of them. Therein lies a story.

Beginning on January 1, 2014, I resolved to “lose some damned weight, already.” It wasn’t the first time I’ve had this good idea (2007 springs readily to mind), but it assuredly has been the most successful such effort in recent memory. One year later, exactly 30 lbs. had disappeared, and I’ve managed to hover around the lighter target range for more than six months, even when allowing for periodic bursts of caloric debauchery.

For most of us, the formula for weight loss is no mystery: Eat and drink less, exercise more. That’s it, in a nutshell, and generally it works quite easily for me. Of course, the trick is continuing to follow the formula consistently without sustained lapses. Binges are my biggest enemy, inevitably leading to lost yardage and an erosion of faculties both physical and mental, and so I tried keeping them to a minimum in 2014.

This brings me to mental health in the form of clarity, a double-edged sword if ever there was. Simply stated, when your head is clear, you can see life’s infinite possibilities and sometimes even act accordingly. Unfortunately, you can also see the squalor, grubbiness and stupidity surrounding you, and these are precisely the observations that can lead to a resumption of bottle feeding.


To tell the truth, clarity was the primary reason for curbing my bibulous proclivities in 2014. It was the reward for consuming half the usual trencherman’s portions (I said less food, not necessarily “better”), walking roughly 4 - 5 miles a day rain, snow or shine, and stopping after the second pint … well, most of the time.

I came into the year knowing quite well that it was going to be a very difficult twelve months, likely demanding my full attention without the debilitation of binges, and as such, it’d be the time to practice keeping a clear head. It seems my prescription was timely, because the prediction was accurate.

While it may not have seemed obvious to onlookers at the time, the year 2014 began with the cumulative daily continuation of a long-term review of the food operation at Bank Street Brewhouse, undertaken with the specter of humorless bankers looming overhead and numerous bookkeeping tasks up for examination and resolution.

As you know, the review culminated with the Bank Street Brewhouse kitchen being shuttered in May after five aesthetically successful (and financially underwhelming) years. I had to let 15 good employees go in one fell swoop, and never in my life as an independent small business owner have I felt lower.

(It was far too hard to do drunk)

Then there were the long months afterward spent dealing with the various business repercussions of this move, which might be summarized as the frustration occurring when the same bank that kept insisting on the need to boldly cut expenses, responded to those expenses being utterly gutted overnight by expressing newfound and decidedly tender concern for the entity’s cash flow.

(Thanks much. As Jeeebus is my witness, there are times when I really would rather be a Commie)

But to return to the point, while none of this was a certainty amid the torpor of my January 1st hangover, the very possibility of it happening strongly suggested clarity. Once the change of direction for the front of the house at BSB was determined, a fresh breeze would fill the room, the fog would lift … and naturally, a whole new set of challenges would be manifested, each of them screaming for attention, queuing the buck-stops-here process all over again.

(That’s right – there are times when the thought of working for someone other than myself is appealing, at least until I consider that a quarter-century on my own has rendered me absolutely unemployable)

Of course, it was advisable to hoard excess clarity even after navigating these revolutions in the front of the house, because there was a brewery in the back of the house, and after five years of imagining that the quality of our beer would always be enough to carry the day, it was becoming evident that I understood very little about the selfie-driven, solipsistic narcissist’s “craft” beer-porn-market … apart from the multi-syllable words I so dearly enjoy using to denounce it.

(That’s why I contemplated escaping to go and join the French foreign legion, except that I’m too old for camping and have very little use for guns)

Also in 2014, I lost a few friends way too soon, moved my mother to a new residence, emptied and sold her house, revisited far too many ghosts of youth while doing so, disposed of two vehicles formerly belonging to my parents, had one of our cats die, and struggled mightily on an hourly basis to understand why my chosen city is so unremittingly mistaken about most everything it does despite my frequent reminders to the contrary.

(Which means I’m running for mayor, but more about that later)

Through most of it, I kept to the regimen of clarity with a shrug and a sigh, as ever certain that for me – an opinionated, intellectually pretentious asshole of an individualist – quitting simply isn’t an option. Neither is lapsing into a 275-lb alcoholic stupor amid the detritus of chicken wings and bacon. That’s life. You continue throwing punches, landing a few and absorbing more, and cease only when the bell can no longer be answered.


It's about being comfortable in your own skin. I’m just a natural born dissenter, perhaps even a full-scale dissident; always have been and always will be. I understand that the 90 percentile never can be mine, because the 90 percentile is made up of the planet’s cookie-cutters – Taco Bell, Budweiser and Wal-Mart – and who wants any part of mass-market insipidity of that magnitude?

But the 90 “majority” percentile also applies to conformity within my own “minority” peer group. This is the hard part, but it is no less vital to question the precepts of one’s own coterie than to dissect the platform of the opposition.

Where this leads next, I’ve no idea. As always, the joy will come in finding out, and all the better if my head is clear, because it’s probably a bit too late for purity of heart – don’t you think?

Friday, January 02, 2015

Indiana does Platonic Sandwich Dialogues: Is a hot dog a sandwich? Is pizza? Are tacos?

Last year in June, six weeks after Bank Street Brewhouse's kitchen was shuttered, we received a citation from the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission (ATC) for not meeting the minimum food requirement as defined by 905 IAC 1-20-1. Actually, the food was there, in the freezer, but our employee at the time screwed up, and boom: The bottom line got $250 lighter.

This was particularly annoying for two reasons.

First, from the moment the kitchen change at BSB was announced, I was well aware of the food requirement. The law is 13 years older than me, and this isn't my first rodeo. Second, I'd spoken with the ATC about it to be sure we had the necessary materials to comply with the rule: Frozen weenies, buns, cans of soup, instant coffee, powdered milk and soft drinks enough to serve 25 persons.

Here's the law in its Truman era glory, as originally discussed in a post entitled "Law abiding by weenie never was this viral."

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)

This story also was revisited recently in "More about frozen weenies and powdered milk."

Throughout this saga, it may have occurred to more than one reader to ask a simple question.

Is a hot dog really a sandwich? 

Note that our district branch of the ATC overtly accepts the use of hot dogs as sandwiches, so long as they're served warm -- remember, "sandwiches" must be heated, so granny's world-class fridge-aged chicken salad is ineligible ... unless, of course it is eligible, because after all, our district ATC has determined that pizza qualifies as an exception to the rule.

Is gazpacho an exception to the "hot soup" provision? I sense little eagerness to find out. Now that NABC has partnered with Taco Punk for tacos on Friday and Saturday nights at Bank Street Brewhouse, need we ask the next logical question?

Are tacos sandwiches?

If so, then we still must cover the "off" hours when Gabe's not in the kitchen, and so the reign of freezer-cured weenies has not come to an end.

As a disclaimer, understand that here, as always, I have no beef with the Indiana ATC, whose police officers are charged with the task of enforcing laws written by variously informed politicians. The ATC is good people, and the ATC itself probably finds the food requirement a distraction, considering the agency's perennial understaffing and many important items of daily business.

However, until now, probably few of us grasped the philosophical dimensions of the sandwich identity crisis within this specific mechanism of Indiana alcoholic beverage laws. Thanks to JR for pointing it out to me.

Is This a Sandwich? Teaching the Platonic Dialogues through sandwiches, by Dr. M. Ritchey, PhD (Medium)

... I decided to do an exercise in my classroom that would attempt to engage my students more deeply with the socratic method and perhaps help them realize its usefulness in their own lived realities. For some reason, reading about Socrates asking Euthyphro if what is pious is pious because it is loved by the Gods or whether the Gods love that which is pious was not really making much of a dent in my students’ understanding of the world, so instead I had them try to prove that they knew what a sandwich was. I put them in pairs and instructed them to create as clear and literal a definition as they could—one that encompassed all things they knew to be sandwiches, while providing criteria for excluding all those things that were obviously not sandwiches. Furthermore, anything they were going to submit as examples of a “sandwich” also had to pass the thought experiment of imagining ordering “a sandwich” in a restaurant and being brought that thing—because after all, this is an exercise about common knowledge. We all “know” what a sandwich is. Their definition had to somehow account for this shared mental understanding. So “a bowling ball between two pieces of lettuce” would not count, for example.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Essential reading for the New Year: "Crowd-Sourced Ratings and Why They Suck."

Steve Foolbody goes into detail to make a point running somewhat parallel to my thoughts from a recent diary entry.

Diary: The Taylor Swift Theory of RateAdvocate.

 ... I do know that my own use of non-beer ratings aggregators (florists, et al) generally bears little fruit. One tires of seeing a perfect five-star review posted adjacent to a hideous one-star pan, leading to an existential despair over the unfashionability of objective criteria.

He fluently demonstrates just how subjective the entire process really is, and more power to him for doing so.

Crowd-Sourced Ratings and Why They Suck (The Pour Fool)

... Crowd-sourced ratings – for anything; beer, whiskey, wine, chocolate, movies, restaurants, you name it – actually do the people they’re intended to help about as much good as they’d get from opening the yellow pages or a beverage catalog or standing in front of a store rack, closing their eyes, and picking at random.