Friday, February 27, 2015

We're Only in It for the Money: Gravity Head 2015 has arrived.

This weekend's weather looks to be cold, and that's a wonderful forecast.

Gravity Head 2015 opens at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, February 27 at NABC's Pizzeria & Public House. For the second time, there'll also be a special Sunday observance at Bank Street Brewhouse (see below).

Following are two articles to help make sense of the institution, as well as links to relevant information.

A particularly relevant note for those planning to visit during Gravity Head's month-long run: Plan your evening and arrange transportation at the conclusion of your gravity session, or have a designated driver. We can help you call a taxi … and be aware that both UBER and LYFT serve the Pizzeria & Public House from many metro locations.

First, beer writer Kevin Gibson.
As craft beer popularity rises, New Albanian’s Gravity Head enters 17th year, by Kevin Gibson (Insider Louisville)

It’s 2015, and so-called “craft beer” has never been more popular, with barrel-aged, big-bodied, high-alcohol brews leading the way.

But rewind 17 years, and we can revisit the humble beginnings of a mini beer festival that happens annually, right under our noses. That celebration of beer is called Gravity Head, and the 2015 version begins Feb. 27.

Here's my take on the local angles of Gravity Head.

The PC: Happy Gravity Head!

Gravity Head is hard to explain, and I’m proud of the obscurity.

In my view, the fundamental difference between Gravity Head and other beer festivals is that from the very start, when we decided to have a second Gravity Head in 2000, we had no idea as to what the “proper” organization of a beer festival entailed. Conventional wisdom utterly eluded us, for which I remain eternally grateful.

The following links contain most, if not all, of what you might need to know.

Gravity Head 2015 starters and lineupdate page … what’s on tap? (as selections change, they'l be listed here)

Link to the Daily Gravity Form (2015 official program, u-print only)

2nd Annual Gravity Head Hangover Hoedown at Bank Street Brewhouse is Sunday, March 1 (a full slate of guest beers, NABC beers, vegan food from VGrits, the Bloody Mary bar and music, wrapped together to benefit the Uplands Peak Sanctuary)

First-ever Oaktimus 22-oz bomber release is at BSB on Sunday, March 1 (available for carry-out at BSB on Sunday)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Media notice: Roger A. Baylor will take a leave of absence from NABC to run for mayor of New Albany.

Media notice: Roger A. Baylor will take a leave of absence from NABC to run for mayor of New Albany.

Two months ago, I utilized the bully pulpit afforded me by my weekly blog column to announce that in 2015, I’d be running for mayor of New Albany as an independent.

ON THE AVENUES: To the third floor -- but first, we throw the rascals out.

My rationale isn't overly complicated. I’m running for mayor because a city in transition like New Albany desperately needs progressive ideas like those espoused by people like me, from all walks of life, who routinely have been marginalized or ignored by the same old game, played the same old way, by the same old, tired political suspects.

It’s a big undertaking for any candidate. One must complete various forms and gather the necessary signatures, and then organize a whole campaign from scratch. All along, it has been my intention to begin the campaign in earnest come March 2 ... and we're right on schedule.

Consequently, the first of many transitions on along the path to come begins today. Effective immediately, I’m taking a leave of absence from the New Albanian Brewing Company (NABC), so as to devote my full attention to the campaign for mayor.

Of course, I’ll honor all previous commitments, but from this point the day-to-day is in the capable hands of my business partners, Kate Lewison and Amy Baylor, and our fine staff.

As many readers may already know, I own 33% of NABC’s two incorporations. When the November election is over and I’ve been elected to the office of mayor, I’ll act immediately to sell my shares to my two business partners, according to the terms of our buy-sell agreement.

Which is to say, I’m all in. I’m very serious about running for mayor -- and winning. Let the fun begin.

Questions? Just ask.

502-468-9710 (mobile)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dermody hatchets Sunday sales bill.

In the end, the entities with the most cash refused to accept a plan that would compel them to spend some of it.

Credit the package store lobby in this round: Artfully played, indeed.

And remember: There IS NO BAN on Sunday carry-out sales as they pertain to beer and wine produced by Indiana's small breweries and wineries.

UPDATE: Indiana lawmaker kills Sunday alcohol sales bill, by Mark Peterson (WNDU)

INDIANAPOLIS The scene that played out at the Indiana Statehouse today could have been called, ‘Death of a Sunday-sales-man.’

“It’s been made clear, I don’t have the votes,” said Ind. Rep. Thomas Dermody, (R) LaPorte, as he decided to give up on H.B. 1624 which would have lifted Indiana’s 80 year old ban on Sunday carry-out alcohol sales.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sam Calagione outlines the Doctrine of Trojan Geese Transubstantiation.

Funny, isn't it?

When I say and write almost exactly these same things, local Indyucky beer aficionados look at me as if I've urinated on Baby Jeeebus.

Then they trot right out to buy Dogfish Head ... and worse, Trojan Goose, the latter pumping money into AB InBev's coffers to pay the lawyers who are opposing House Bill 168 in Kentucky -- you know, the one the aficionados support.  They can spend hours debating wood grains in used barrels, and yet cannot manage to follow the money. Regrettable, but not uncommon in an age of solipsistic narcissism, whether braggot or braggart.

Anyway ... right on, Sam Calagione.

Maybe you can talk some sense into them.

Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione Squares Off Against Budweiser, by Matt Allyn (Men's Journal)

Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione is one of craft beer's great evangelists. Since launching his initial Rehoboth Beach, Delaware brewpub in 1995, Calagione made waves in the brewing world for innovative hopping techniques, recreating ancient recipes, and pushing the limits of extreme beer. Outside his brewery, he travels tirelessly to spread the good word of craft brewing through food, music, and beer events.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The PC: Happy Gravity Head!

The PC: Happy Gravity Head!

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

For the uninitiated, Gravity Head is a month-long celebration of potent beers held each year since 1999 at NABC’s Pizzeria & Public House location in New Albany, Indiana. The program, which provides far greater details, can be found here.

When Gravity Head comes calling, familiar space and time continuums often are found to be briefly altered. Normal routines are rendered Byzantine by comparison. Life’s infinite horizons narrow, and one reverts to existence by the hour, minute by minute. The act of passing through the looking glass inspires boredom by comparison.

Mind you, I’m not speaking of the fest’s actual commencement, because once the opening bell sounds on Friday morning at 7:00 a.m., we all collectively observe the Sidney Freedman dictum from television’s M*A*S*H – in 2015, perhaps literally:

“Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice - pull down your pants and slide on the ice.”

Actually it’s the preparation for Gravity Head that saps working days and requires attention to detail during the run-up to the event’s attendant bacchanalia. We might choose to do it differently, but when it comes to what has unexpectedly become a venerable tradition, an array of minor points adds up to a greater sum. It’s just a beer festival, but it’s more, and different from the rest.

Gravity Head is hard to explain, and I’m proud of the obscurity.

In my view, the fundamental difference between Gravity Head and other beer festivals is that from the very start, when we decided to have a second Gravity Head in 2000, we had no idea as to what the “proper” organization of a beer festival entailed. Conventional wisdom utterly eluded us, for which I remain eternally grateful.

Since then, I’ve become increasingly dismissive of the notion that there are “right” and “wrong” beer fest templates. Buying into black or white norms merely reinforces the predictability of the status quo, and focusing on single day fest events doesn’t necessarily translate into a daily undertow, without which we cannot exist as a business.

If Oktoberfest in Munich can last for 16 days, then Gravity Head surely can run for 30 … or more.

Our aim has been to contextualize Gravity Head within a larger framework of emphasis on localization. Understanding that we’ll be doing something different from the pub’s daily norm by stocking so many steroidal beers all at once, we’ve sought to provide our regular customers and locally-based friends with as many opportunities as possible to taste special beers over a longer period of time, during cooler weather, each year.

That’s it in a nutshell. Of course, the fest doesn’t exclude visitors, who are more than welcome to join the fun, and yet it remains a feast designed for those denizens of the longer haul seated at the Stammtisch.

The listed beers never have been served all at once at Gravity Head. They unfold steadily in waves and appear over a period of weeks. We don’t do flights, because flights imply a vague “right” to taste them all. Rather, the desired end is for folks to taste a few, and then return another time and taste a few more. Not too many at once, because they’re strong.

Of course, Gravity Head’s opening day has become somewhat of a scrum, and possesses a singular tradition all its own. I’m content with the interior logic occurring therein, but while the revelry usually claims me, it isn’t what I look forward to experiencing each year.

Rather, there’ll inevitably be a quiet Tuesday night during the second or third week, with a handful of friends, and the leisurely, contemplative sipping of one or two quality libations, spiced with conversation.

These are the precious times that lead to feelings of timelessness, and timelessness is why I like beer – among other reasons.


And so it’s that time again: the 17th edition of Gravity Head begins on Friday, February 27. As noted previously, nowadays the festival kicks off at 7:00 a.m. at NABC’s Pizzeria & Public House.

That’s because way back in 2008, we convened at 4:00 a.m. for a gravity “breakfast” with Terry Meiners of WHAS television in Louisville. It was tiring, and yet the occasion offered the germ of an idea. In the years since, the concept has been tweaked, and so now breakfast starts at 7:00 a.m., when it’s actually legal to drink beer in Hoosierland.

For several years, NABC’s ever helpful employee Sarah Small cooked breakfast frittatas for the early arrivals, but eventually the throngs became too large, so last year the Pizzeria & Public House’s kitchen was opened early, with the full menu available, including special breakfast pizzas masterminded by the kitchen crew. We’ll do it again in 2015.

There’ll also be locally-baked Honey Creme doughnuts, which I’ll fetch on my way to work; Ed Needham's kickass home-roasted coffee; and the complete opening day roster of Gravity Head selections.

From there on out, your guess is as good as mine.

Also for 2015, we continue to experiment with a Sunday afternoon extension of Gravity Head at Bank Street Brewhouse. This Sunday concept isn’t intended to exactly mimic Gravity Head, but to provide a way of gently descending to reentry and the rigors of the workaday world following opening weekend’s excess.

It’s called the 2nd Annual Gravity Head Hangover Hoedown at BSB, and here’s the itinerary (NABC’s Bank Street Brewhouse’s Sunday hours are 12 noon until 9:00 p.m.)

• Special guest beers from Starlight Distribution
• Unique vegan pop-up kitchen with V-Grits
• Debut of NABC Oaktimus in bomber bottles
• Return of BSB’s Build Your Own Bloody Mary bar
• NABC’s customary beers of proven merit
• Live music TBA
• Benefiting a great cause: Uplands Peak Sanctuary


While writing and arranging today’s column, it suddenly occurred to me that by virtue of Gravity Head being a draft-only party, it is quite possibly doomed to irrelevance. After all, in today’s selfie-driven world of social media one-upmanship, where’s the value in a photo of a beer in a glass, sans bottle, label and bragging rights?

I’m even prouder now.


Recent PC columns:

The PC: On barrelage, Dean Smith and diversity studies.

The PC: The Weekly Wad was a modest start.

The PC: Budweiser explains the Doctrine of Trojan Geese Transubstantiation.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Louisville brewers on ideas for beer and food pairing.

Have food, will beer. Or vice versa.

Local brewers talk beer and food pairing, by Dana McMahan (Courier-Journal)

I'm flattered to bat leadoff -- all hail the power of alphabetizing.

Here are the other interviewees:

Vince Cain .. Great Flood
Sam Cruz ... Against the Grain
Leah Dienes ... Apocalypse
Brian Holton ... Beer Engine
Christopher Turner ... BBC
John Wurth ...

My first thought on the matter follows, and I'm sticking to it.

The best way to begin pairing beer and food is to smile broadly in the knowledge that beer’s dizzying stylistic diversity makes the process fun and enriching. As a beverage fermented from barley and other cereal grains, beer functions not unlike bread with a meal, and it’s also carbonated, which expands possibilities with heavier and oilier foods. Beer is bitter and sweet, pale and dark, heavy and light – sometimes all at once. You could spend a lifetime pairing beers with cheese.

It's been a while since my last beer dinner. Perhaps it's time to correct that.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Structurally, both punk and craft beer are left-wing movements.

Different art form, similar reasoning.

"Craft" beer originated with revolutionary upheaval against the stultifying weight of special interests as exemplified by robber baron capitalism. How can that ever be viewed as right-wing? It's simply impossible, without gutting the conceptual basis.

As for punk, it's an old article, but still relevant.

Left Wing Punk, by satanicpanic (Daily Kos)

So the other day I did a diary on whether or no Punk is Right Wing, discussing a Johnny Ramone quote stating that it is. And I have to disagree. Punk is structurally leftwing- it's democratic, populist and anti-authoritarian. It naturally attracts left wing minds. And it has. A LOT. Left wing bands far outnumber right wing bands in both number and influence, which tends to push the overall feel of the music to the left, maybe more than any other genre. Punk music has covered left/liberal issues like environmentalism, gender, sexual orientation, class, consumerism, religious freedom from the beginning. Rather than trying to name them all, I just wanted to share some of the many left leaning punk bands, artists and songs that I like. And to try to explain why they matter. This is by no means exhaustive, so feel free to add your faves in the comments!

Friday, February 20, 2015

The many faces of Faust.

Photo credit: Linked article in RFT

Thanks to a Twitter exchange between Stan Hieronymus and Mitch Steele, I was made aware of this excellent article about Faust -- a St. Louis restaurateur and lager of olden times, and either of two Anheuser-Busch (now AB InBev) revivals of the beer -- not of the man, even if AB InBev is the Great Satan and the original Faust made a pact with the devil.

Here's the link, and permit me to say that the the rooftop beer garden of Faust's was badass.

Anheuser-Busch Resurrects Faust, the 130-Year-Old Beer Named for a St. Louis Legend, By Nancy Stiles (Riverfront Times)

... Apparently, even non-St. Louisans are instinctively drawn to the man on the postcard: Anthony (or Tony) Faust, Oyster King. Faust was a restaurateur, not a brewer, but he, the Anheuser-Busch family and the history of St. Louis itself became inextricably linked in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1884, Adolphus Busch himself brewed a beer named Faust Pale Lager after his favorite drinking buddy. For many years, it existed only in the documentation in A-B's massive archives.

Mitch Steele was at AB in 1998, when Faust was brought back the first time. I've always enjoyed telling this story (below), most recently last year prior to the beer writing symposium at the University of Kentucky. Mitch was to have been a speaker along with Stan and me, but couldn't make it. Maybe he'll be nearby next year, when Stone opens Gravity Head 2016.

I'm no fan of what AB has become, and yet 130 years might as well be the age of the pyramids. I'd try the latest revived Faust. Wouldn't pay for it, because I don't want my money being recycled to fight House Bill 168 in Kentucky.

But if you gave me one for free ...

Mitch Steele at Rich O’s in 1998 – Part One

 ... One of the American Originals series was Faust, the purported recreation of a 19th-century golden lager, named for a St. Louis restaurateur, and brewed as a house brand for him by pre-1900 AB. I ordered four kegs of Faust from the puzzled wholesaler, yanked the Budweiser, scattered P-O-S materials around the pizzeria, and instructed our employees to pitch the new beer as an AB product just like regular Budweiser, and better than regular Budweiser; furthermore, we were prepared to sell Faust at the very same price point as regular Budweiser even though the cost per keg was higher.

As it turned out, turkeys still couldn’t fly.

Sales of bottled Bud promptly skyrocketed. It took more than a month to sell the first two kegs of Faust, and by the time the third was ready for tapping, the “sell-by” dates already had expired. More confused than ever, the wholesaler bought back the unused kegs.

Brand-loyal Budweiser drinkers wouldn’t touch Faust, even at the same price point, precisely because it wasn’t their totemic Budweiser. Conversely, although it was a good product, and far more interesting a lager than the norm, those aficionados hanging out at Rich O’s wouldn’t drink it, either, because it was suspiciously inexpensive — and emanated from the hated multinational monolith.

(Part Two)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

One-star restaurant reviews and online reviews in general inspire anguish and upheaval.

Synonyms for trauma include stress, ordeal and derangement. Among the antonyms are blessing, contentment and alleviation.

What sort of aberrant psychology is it, then, to be compelled to share trauma like this with others?

With complete strangers?

How does that relieve the pain?

Whatever happened to the simple, eloquent, "I won't be back ... you won't see me again ... never purchase this one, ever again," and so on?

One-star restaurant reviews show signs of trauma, linguists say, by Ian Sample (Guardian)

A bad meal out might ruin your night, but the ordeal could leave you traumatised too, according to linguists who analysed hundreds of thousands of online reviews.

Diners who left one-star reviews on the website Yelp adopted the same phrases as trauma victims, using the past tense to distance themselves from the event, and terms such as “we” and “us” to share the pain, researchers said.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Beer, podcasts and Dick Cavett.

Apparently there's never enough on my plate, and so I've been chatting with an a Louisville area journalist about the possibility of us joining forces for a beer-related podcast.

We're nowhere near the detailed rendering stage, apart from agreeing that a podcast in the 30-40 minute range of length would be ideal; shorter rather than longer. We both agreed that a tone more in keeping with Dick Cavett than "Animal House" also would be preferable.

Suggestions and comments are welcomed, and maybe we'll get around to this soon. I'd like to know what you think.

Meanwhile, here's an explanation of the most pressing question: Who's Dick Cavett?

Dick Cavett Perfectly Sums Up Why We Despise Ayn Rand… And Why The Right Loves Her, by T. Steelman (Addicting Info)

Some of you youngsters might not know who Dick Cavett is. That’s a shame. Cavett is one of the best interviewers in America. He had a talk show many years ago which was must-see TV for any thinking person. Cavett was an unabashed liberal and often had like-minded guests on his show for intelligent, deep conversation. Sure, he would have celebrities like Debbie Reynolds, Groucho Marx (a favorite who was on many times) and John Wayne on the show — which ran in various incarnations from 1968-1995 — but he also hosted people like Shirley Chisolm, Sen. Edward Kennedy, Abbie Hoffman, J.K. Galbraith and NYC Mayor Ed Koch. Taking a look at the guest list for his over 3000 shows is like reading a who’s who of the latter 20th century.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

HB 1311 emerges from committee, and Clay Robinson is looking sharp.

He cleans up nice. The ad featuring Clay Robinson of Sun King Brewing Company appears in the current print edition of The Economist. I know this because I've subscribed to The Economist since the late 1980s.

The ad is from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation: Indiana, A State That Works.

Sun King and Three Floyds have taken the lead in lobbying for rational maximum barrelage limits for Indiana small brewers. Support Indiana Brewers tells you all about their efforts.

Here's the update on today's unanimous House committee vote in favor of HB 1311:

Beer Production Bill Clears Hurdle (Inside Indiana Business)

A bill that includes provisions to raise the production cap on small Indiana breweries is moving forward. The House Public Policy Committee has approved HB 1311, which would boost the limit to 90,000 barrels per year.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The PC: On barrelage, Dean Smith and diversity studies.

The PC: On barrelage, Dean Smith and diversity studies.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

It’s a potpourri kind of snowy day in the Ohio Valley, so let’s begin with a preview of my latest Hip Hops column for Food & Dining Magazine. It’s called “Craft Beer: Where It Has Been, and Where It’s Going,” and can be viewed in its entirety here: Spring 2015 (Volume 47).

This excerpt from a column written well in advance of the current Indiana legislative session seems fairly prescient as bills begin coming out of committee. As a wee bit of foreshadowing: In Indiana, (craft’s) size is starting to matter.

Is craft beer an objective or subjective label? Can it be made by a big producer, or must it always be from a small brewing operation? Must it be made near to its consumers, or can craft beer have a far-flung consumer base?

The Brewers Association, craft brewing’s trade group, has a vested interest in these questions, as does the federal government’s Tax and Trade Bureau. State legislators and alcoholic beverage control agencies are eager to know, too.

Covetous multinational monoliths, watching with alarm as their traditional flagship lagers erode, desire craft beer’s imagery and demographics. They prefer consumers to regard “craft” as a vague advertising term, and to ignore the small print.

Simply stated: From business and regulatory standpoints, craft beer keeps getting bigger and bigger, making it ever harder for the segment to espouse a foundational ethos of smallness. Craft beer remains an artistic phenomenon best experienced locally, but one inevitably destined to mimic commercial imperatives through distribution.

For many, the essence of craft beer is spiritual, not numerical, but while poets and purists prefer to rhapsodize about hoppy, malty, sweet and sour aesthetics, politicians and bureaucrats demand quantifiable criteria, transferable to a ledger sheet, because awarding “small” businesses an excise tax reduction implies an accepted, concrete definition of small, and in beer, this measure begins with annual production by the barrel (31 gallons).

The issue is the total number of barrels, with beer style and brewing methods generally superfluous, leading to numerous statistical anomalies and Jesuitical reckonings.

Enjoy the remainder of the column. If memory serves, 2015 is my tenth anniversary writing columns for John White at Food & Dining.

It's been a blast.


Former North Carolina Tar Heels basketball coach Dean Smith died on February 7, 2015. You may know that Smith retired from coaching in 1997 as the winningest coach in NCAA history (a record since eclipsed), but perhaps you didn’t know this.

Beloved Basketball Coach Dean Smith Spoke Out On Segregation, Prison System, Nuclear Warfare

… Smith’s celebrity owes to his off-court demonstrations of character as well. As a high school basketball star in Topeka, KS, Smith urged his school to integrate its two racially segregated basketball teams … (and later) as head coach at UNC, Smith didn’t have to ask anyone else to desegregate the basketball community he was part of. He just did it …

… the causes Smith chose to exert himself on go beyond racial equality. Smith publicly supported efforts to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world and vocally opposed the death penalty, reportedly even taking players to visit prisons and death row inmates on some occasions to show them the injustices of the American prison system.

College basketball ceased to be of interest to me long before Dean Smith’s retirement, and I cannot lay claim to detailed knowledge of the coach’s life on or off the court. Curiously, from what little I recall, Smith’s principled activism garnered few column inches while he was active, perhaps because it contrasted with the hypocrisy-laden college basketball narrative.

It’s pure speculation, but perhaps a common thread links a coach like Dean Smith, a musician like Woody Guthrie, and a brewing company owner like me, because basketballs, guitars and breweries all are perfectly capable of serving as metaphorical fascist-killing machines, at least when placed in the proper hands, with aligned minds and attitudes.

Writer John Feinstein provides the best possible coda.

To me, (Dean Smith’s) legacy is summed up in something that happened that I was involved in peripherally, years and years ago when I first learned about his involvement in desegregating the restaurants in Chapel Hill. And I asked him about it 'cause it was his minister who told me the story.

And he said, I wish Reverend Seymour hadn't told you that. And I said, Dean, why? Why would you want that? You should be proud of being involved in something like that. And he looked at me, and he said, John, you should never be proud of doing the right thing. You should just do the right thing.

And that's who Dean Smith was.

It’s just one beer drinker’s opinion, of course, but the contemporary American “craft” beer scene would be vastly improved if more adherents took Dean Smith’s advice to heart.

Call it craft, or just plain beer, but a periodic reminder is full merited: It began as a radical, revolutionary movement away from the beer business as usual, and it remains relevant only insofar as this point isn’t forgotten. When we lose sight of this fact, we risk losing our origins.


Earlier in February, I attended the bi-monthly meeting of the Brewers of Indiana board of directors in Indianapolis. As referenced above, this being an even-numbered year, the Indiana General Assembly holds a long, two-month session. Much of what we discussed at the BIG meeting pertained to the guild’s legislative agenda, and one must accept that little of certainty can be said about the legislature’s activities until the session is concluded, and the dust settles.

We customarily discuss many items, and among them in February was a broader consideration of what might be called “diversity” in “craft” beer and brewing circles.

(Note that in rhetorical terms, I favor a gradual weaning from usage of the modifier “craft,” as it has come to mean very little.)

Prior to the meeting, DJ McAllister, the owner and brewer at the Black Swan brewpub in Plainfield, had messaged me with an idea, one I endorsed unreservedly. He proposed recommending to the board that a work group be formed to gather information on beer and diversity. DJ introduced the idea, and it was approved. I’ll be working with him on this project, and am delighted that he took the lead.

A work group’s information gathering will strike some as a flaccid response to our previous spirited debate about sexist beer names and images, but I must disagree with this characterization. They’re called baby steps for a very good reason.

A work group is a good place to start, and a plausible way of gathering facts under the imprimatur of the guild. Any suggestions as to sources of information are deeply appreciated; please e-mail them to me.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Greencastle, localism, craft beer and distance.

I've no idea whether Chris Weeks already lived in Greencastle before conceiving of a brewery there. Kudos to him either way.

I'm often cold-called by chambers of commerce and economic development entities, all of them interested in someone (anyone) coming to their locales, accepting a negotiable degree of civic largesse, and building a brewery.

Unfortunately, not only am I contrarian, but we're fairly skint at this point in time.

To me, given that brewing becomes ever more localized in proportion with greater distance from bigger population centers, perhaps local insights and origins are the single most critical components. In more isolated places, you simply gotta know your local market. The more local involvement, the better.

Maybe we need more communes.

Donovan Wheeler makes a succession of god point, and his rant is appreciated. Rock on, and good luck in Greencastle.

Go West Young Brewmaster, by Indiana On Tap Senior Editor Donovan Wheeler

(Editors Note: This editorial from Donovan reflects his own personal views and not the views of Indiana On Tap).

Last week, Greencastle’s Chris Weeks of Wasser Beer Company announced that he’d finalized a deal on a downtown location, marking the start of the first significant brewery west of the Greater Indianapolis area. For those of us living more than a 40-minute drive west of the nearest craft beer operation, this is a big deal. And given that I’m writing this on a Sunday…it’s actually a much bigger deal.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

There is something wrong with this picture.

To begin, let it be understood that my head does not customarily explode over the topic of "proper" glassware for better beer.

That said, on Friday evening, we stopped for a bite in an out-of-town eatery. We were away form the weekend. My first beer was a draft Rodenbach Classic, served in a signature glass.

My second was a bottle of Orval, coming in at $9. The price seemed normal to me. The bottle was brought to our table by a server who already had conceded that he was new. He popped the cap, placed the bottle on our table, and started to walk away.

Pardon me, I said. Could I, er, have a glass for this?

Of course.

As you can see, he returned moments later with a chilled shaker pint, of which he was very proud, pausing to observe how nicely cold the glass was.

Okay. It's better than drinking from the bottle.

I shrugged and enjoyed my merguez sandwich. Every other aspect of our dining experience was exemplary -- apart from Orval in a chilled shaker pint, and it isn't really a server's fault that he or she has not been taught properly. That's management's job.

Now, teaching moments are elusive on a Friday night in any busy place, and I offer none of this in a spirit of "slag 'em with one star" internet snark. As noted, things were fine otherwise. I don't even believe that signature glasses are necessary; experience has taught how much more likely it is that a branded Orval glass goes out the door in a coat pocket or purse than bare, see-through glass.

A generic, wide-rimmed, quasi-Belgian glass of any sort would have worked just fine with my Orval.

My overarching point is gentle and constructive: Folks are going to detect a higher bar and expect more from an eatery called Taste of Belgium, because in Belgium, there are precious few frosted shaker pints. Just saying.

I still heartily recommend Taste of Belgium, which is located on Vine Street in OTR.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The 80 Year War: Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana.

Personal opinion time again.

Prior to the short legislative session in 2014, the House Public Policy Committee had been helmed for too many years by Rep. Bill Davis, who was an unapologetic prohibitionist and made no bones about his preference for emasculating virtually any alcoholic beverage bills to come within whiffing distance of his hypersensitive nostrils. Since all of them had to pass through Davis's committee, there was predictable carnage.

Last year, not a lot happened in the committee on the adult libations front; then again, it was the first passage with a new man at the wheel, and a half-session.

In 2015, things have been crazy.

Look at the Onion map above. Picture Indiana small brewers, the wholesaler lobby, the groceries 'n' big boxes, and the package store group, all slugging away at their legislative agendas -- and in the process, pounding the stuffing out of each other. My theory is that after those many legislative sessions, in which Carrie Nation Davis kept reforms bottled up at committee level, suddenly there is a new sense of unfettered possibility ... and frantic maneuvering therein.

In the few days since the following was written, I'm told that the grocery chains and big boxes have turned against the package store proposal. It isn't hard to see why. One merely wonders about the extent of the collateral damage.

Deal brewing on Sunday Indiana alcohol sales, by Tony Cook (Indy Star via Louisville Courier-Journal)

Lawmakers have crafted a proposed compromise that would allow Sunday carryout alcohol sales in exchange for new restrictions on how drug and grocery stores can sell beer and liquor.

House Public Policy Chairman Tom Dermody plans to introduce the compromise measure on Wednesday.

RELATED | Bill loosens rules for combined Indiana alcohol sales

It would allow Sunday alcohol sales at any store with an alcohol permit, but it would create more stringent restrictions on retailers other than package liquor stores.

Those restrictions would require hard liquor to be sold from behind a counter and would require beer and wine to be located in a single aisle or a separate room. Clerks would also have to receive alcohol server training and permits.

RELATED | Fate uncertain for Sunday alcohol sale ban bill

Those new requirements are causing a sudden role reversal among grocery and liquor stores, which have been battling over the issue for years.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Trojan Cigar?

At first it seemed like a nice, conventional public courtship among capitalists.

Anheuser-Busch interested in buying Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing, by James L. Rosica (Tampa Tribune)

TAMPA — If you can’t beat ’em, buy’ em.

Despite its snarky Budweiser ad during the Super Bowl poking fun at craft beer, Anheuser-Busch has been steadily buying craft breweries around the country.

Could Tampa’s own Cigar City Brewing be next?

Founder and owner Joey Redner on Friday confirmed that the beer company’s representatives have reached out to him about buying his Tampa-based business.

Of course, every article in America must include those accursed words. Damn it, Rosica, STOP "REACHING OUT" BEFORE I TEAR OFF YOUR ARM."

Meanwhile, Cigar City's owner says it's much ado about nothing, and all he wanted was a chance to drink some nice Scotch on the monolith's tab.

Cigar City selling to Anheuser-Busch? Not likely, owner says, by Laura Reiley (Tampa Bay Times)

TAMPA — It's a tempest in a beer can. At the end of 2014, Anheuser-Busch InBev purchased 10 Barrel Brewing Co. of Bend, Ore. In January, it announced it was purchasing Seattle-based Elysian Brewing Co. And now Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer with 25 percent global market share, is sniffing around Tampa's Cigar City Brewing.

Joey Redner, the founder and owner of Cigar City, says yes, he took a meeting. But he says local beer drinkers shouldn't be worried.

Perhaps Redner saw the Pour Fool's open letter.

Cigar City vs. AB: An Open Letter to Joey Redner, by Steve Foolbody (Pour Fool)

 ... Sooner or later, some brewery owner is going to stare down the barrel of one of those prohibitive buy-out offers from Anheuser Busch or AB/InBev or whatever that pack o’ vermin is calling itself this week and they’re going to think beyond the planetary-scale impact such dollars will have on their own bank accounts and realize that pulling the trigger on this deal, while making that villa in the Bahamas a lot more feasible, is also going to sentence them personally and their staffs to forever being considered sell-outs and greedheads and douche-nozzles by many, many of the same people they saw come into their taprooms and growler stations when they were just starting out. It will permanently remove them from serious consideration when American craft beer fans speak of the country’s great breweries. Because the instant the last curlicue at the end of their signature trails out on that sales agreement, that brewery is no longer a part of that booming American phenomenon called “Craft Beer”. It cannot be. Because it is now nothing more than a regional outpost for corporate greed, bean-counting, arrogance, and Money Is Everything thinking.

Beautiful: "Pack o’ vermin."

So true ... so true.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"Standing in line elevates the craft experience."

It's about queueing at Country Boy, but it might have been anywhere. 

I'm reminded of an experience in 1987 in the USSR of old, and a queueing phenomenon I'd read about, but doubted -- until I saw it first-hand.

Apparently much commerce was conducted from outdoor kiosks. At one of them, we saw a line of people waiting patiently, even though there was no one (and nothing) inside the kiosk. The Russian-speaking guide inquired: They were waiting because they'd heard something would be for sale there. Exactly what was to be vended didn't matter; whatever it was, it would be rare and worth hoarding, usable for swap bait at some point.

Maybe a truck pulled up to the kiosk later, and maybe items were sold. Or maybe not.

America boasts hundreds of great beers. When the time comes for me to stand in line to get one, I'll switch preferences and settle for a different one.

Lexington Gets a Release (Make Mine Potato)
Lexington finally got its release. For three days, Country Boy Brewing hosted its third anniversary with a special release each day of Black Gold Porter: an orange truffle, Mexican chocolate, and espresso variant. Not only do we have release, we have variant release. Lexington can now find itself among other cities of the big release: Muenster, Tampa, Santa Rosa.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Battle brews over craft beer production caps" in Indiana.

As it pertains to alcoholic beverage initiatives, the current legislative session in Indiana has become fiendishly difficult to explain, and about as hard to handicap. Beer production caps have less to do with how many barrels a "small" Indiana brewer can brew and still remain small.

In my opinion, it has far more to do with the right of small brewers in Indiana to self-distribute, and more succinctly, how the state's traditional wholesaling tier feels about it ... and the extent to which Indiana's traditional wholesalers want to disrupt something they can't get a piece of.

Cher once sang of gypsies, tramps and thieves. She omitted leeches.

That's also my opinion, of course.

Battle brews over craft beer production caps, by Maureen Hayden (CNHI)

 ... Indiana now has more than 100 microbreweries on tap, with more in development. At Three Floyds, head brewer Chris Boggess said production caps, which he calls "stupid" and "arbitrary," are hindering the brewery's growth.

Three Floyds is poised to expand far beyond the 40,000 barrels it produced last year, with a $4 million investment in a new bottling line that could produce 150,000 barrels within five years.

“People keep saying, ‘Send us more beer,’ and that’s what we want to do,” Boggess said.
Standing in the way are alcohol distribution laws that date to the end of Prohibition. Designed to control an uncorked industry and collect millions in alcohol tax revenues, the 1935 liquor control act created a three-tier system that separated alcohol makers from retailers with a middleman - distributors.

Monday, February 09, 2015

The PC: The Weekly Wad was a modest start.

The PC: The Weekly Wad was a modest start.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Strictly speaking, this column is not about beer, and yet there is a common assumption (not without foundation) that in my life, everything has been about beer – and beer has been about everything.

Fair enough.

Once upon a time, the beer writer Michael Jackson referred to me as a polemicist, and while I knew what the word meant, I hadn’t previously thought of myself as a practitioner of polemics. He was right, of course, and ever since then I’ve tried to determine why – why a polemicist and not a poet? Why an essayist and not a novelist?

What exactly compels me to quote David Brinkley again and again: “You’re entitled to my opinion”?

I still don’t know, but it started as early as 1972, when as a sixth grader at Georgetown Elementary, I composed a list of grievances called the White Paper and Blue Ink Report and taped it to the desk of my teacher. It was the first of many times I’d hear a variation of this exasperated verdict:

"You’re a good writer, but couldn’t you use it for something constructive?"

But that’s always been the whole point. I was ... I am.

The Weekly Wad happened in 1975. The following essay has been published in the former New Albany Tribune (in 2010) and was republished at NA Confidential in 2013. I’ve retouched only one passage to reflect passing time. Then, as now, it is dedicated to the memory of the late David Roark, whose boundless wit so enlivened those far-off times. He was a kindred spirit, and I miss him.


The Weekly Wad was a modest start.

Not so long ago, an old friend observed that my meek and unobtrusive writing style – as displayed for over 35 years in letters to the editor, a beer appreciation newsletter, Internet blogs and finally newspaper and magazine columns like this one – can be traced back to baby steps at the Weekly Wad.

I’m not entirely sure he meant it as a compliment.

For the record, the inaugural Weekly Wad was an underground “newspaper” of four crudely mimeographed pages. A dozen Floyd Central freshmen collaboratively wrote and “published” it in 1975 by purloining paper and supplies from the audio-visual department, running off 200 illicit copies, and distributing them free of charge to a subscriber list made up of friends whom we trusted not to tell on us.

The first Weekly Wad is widely remembered for a front page illustration depicting our principal, Don Sakel, as wearing a Nazi armband and giving the requisite Hitler salute. Seeing that he subsequently served on the local school board, and voted enthusiastically for neighborhood school closings, the mature adult in me is resisting the temptation to draw obvious parallels.

Another feature of our first born was an open advocacy of beer consumption on the part of a group still well short of legal drinking age. There were a few unflattering references to fellow students and teachers, and a music review of a group long forgotten, or elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or neither – maybe both.

Floyd Central’s corridors were teeming with excited readers when one of our distribution associates was collared by the heat. After a brief round of water boarding, he was coerced, sans Miranda Rights, into a full confession. In short order, the entire staff was taken into custody. Parents were called, suspensions were plotted … and then the scandal became even more bizarre than before.

Much to our surprise, our folks (two of whom were teachers, including my mother) took the case full bore against the somewhat befuddled administrators, arguing that for 15-year-olds like us to seek creative literary and journalistic outlets apart from the pre-ordained curriculum surely denoted abject failure somewhere in the chain of bureaucracy, and that we might better be rewarded for educational initiative rather than punished for illegality.

After all, we were writing, albeit poorly, and not painting graffiti on the walls.

There was the small matter of materials we’d appropriated in the name of the revolution, and so after a cooling-off period, cursory wrist-slappings and assorted pieties intended to channel our youthful energies into more conventional artistic directions, we were permitted to remunerate the school corporation for its dead trees and resume our journalistic careers, so long as we had a faculty advisor and refrained from A-V pilferage.

Belated thanks to you, Mr. Neely, for agreeing to sponsor the “new” Weekly Wad, circa 1976, and to my mom for letting me use her 1950’s-era manual typewriter to compose screeds against cafeteria food, undemocratic cheerleader selection processes, and turncoat hall monitors. These were cut out with scissors, pasted into place, and when an adult was available to play taxi, taken to a long-departed business called Pronto Press in New Albany.

Our allowances and odd job monies were pooled to pay for these sporadically released opuses, which decreased in frequency as we advanced toward graduation. A final farewell issue planned for the autumn of 1977 was completed and printed, but never released owing to the possibility that the athletic department might object to the strident tone of an expose on individual versus team sports.

It has become known as the “Lost Wad,” and occasionally pops up on Ebay at vastly inflated prices.

Throughout the 1980’s, during my tenure as part-time clerk at the late and lamented Scoreboard Liquors, I staged periodic revivals of the Wad. Most of these were undertaken with the help and connivance of my primary co-conspirator Byron, whose colorful accounts of high life in low places appeared under the banner, “And Now for the Truth,” which I believe we lifted in its entirety from a Herbert W. Armstrong religious tract.

My favorite episode detailed an unfortunate incident with a loaded taco on a crowded Market Street during Vodka-Thon, an annual walkabout through the bedlam of Harvest Homecoming’s Saturday night booths, when we’d be armed only with plastic cups of Stolichnaya previously passed through the shadow of a Rose’s Lime Juice bottle to produce the best ambulatory Gimlet in town.

During this second Weekly Wad era, with the subject matter turning toward topical downtown New Albany issues like the stone-deaf construction of the canvas-topped waterfront Trinkle Dome, I first took to referring to the Wad’s newsroom as occupying an opulent suite high atop the glittering Elsby Building.

More than anything else, these developments foreshadowed endeavors to come. When the NA Confidential blog was founded in 2004, it stemmed from an escalating personal interest in the downtown area. Recalling my nascent interests in the topic during the late eighties, and how these peeked through the nebulous haze, I almost named the blog the Weekly Wad before changing my mind at the last minute.

It’s stupefying and quaint to consider the history of an underground newspaper in that dusty, pre-wired era. Kids today build interactive web sites at the age of five – that is, if they haven’t already abandoned the Internet for sophisticated journals of cultural critique disseminated by their handheld mobile devices.

My generation had subversion in our brains, and larceny in our hearts. If the Internet had existed then, we’d probably still be in jail.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

BIG Winterfest recap, 2015 edition.

When we're able to throw a party this big in Indianapolis on Super Bowl weekend without snow, it's a positive. I concede that fests of this magnitude are not really my speed any longer, but Winterfest seemed to proceed smoothly. The Dump Buckets do video ...

The Dump Buckets at the Brewers of Indiana Guild Winterfest 2015

 ... and the Indy Star does text.

Sours, spice and bacon? 5 craft beer trends from Winterfest, by Amy Haneline (Indy Star)

While a Super Bowl commercial from Budweiser poked fun at beer geeks sipping on pumpkin peach ales — it was those crazy combinations of flavors that pulled more than 5,000 attendees to the 7th Annual Brewers of Indiana Guild Winterfest.

Forget the house staples, Winterfest is about specialty and small-batch. At least that is what people remember.

In Kentucky, House Bill 168 should be passed.

The Bluegrass-fueled power of traditional wholesalers, who are afforded monopoly conditions under the three-tier system, is such that Kentucky "craft" brewers know from the start that they'll never be allowed to self-distribute. Consequently, they must choose their poison.

And AB InBev is as poisonous as it comes. Hence, preservation of the three tiers is the priority. It makes sense to me, given the prevailing senselessness.

So, if you live in Kentucky, contact your representative and support House Bill 168. Kindly note that if you're of the solipsistic narcissist persuasion, it might be best to include actual words, and not just a photo of whatever beer you traded so hard to get.

Cheers to clarifying state law on beer sales, an editorial in the Herald-Leader Editorial

It's probably not possible to know now whether Kentucky law governing production and distribution of beer is so confusing by intent or mistake. Regardless, it's time to clear it up.

House Bill 168 promises to do that and protect the interests of beer producers and consumers in Kentucky. It should be passed.

The bill seeks to prevent breweries from owning distributorships in Kentucky. It would enforce a three-tier system of beer production, distribution and sales much like that for wine and spirits. Under this system, adopted in many places after the repeal of Prohibition, the producer of an alcoholic beverage, with few a few exceptions, can only sell it to a wholesaler who sells to retailers.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

The 12 Days of BrewLou are under way.

I spent some time on Friday night with Bailey Loosemore, who works for the Louisville Courier-Journal, and a couple of her friends. We drank beer and talked for a long while.

Bailey is in the middle of an admirable fact-finding journey.

12 Days of BrewLou: Reporter seeks craft beer

 ... I'm going to do the difficult job of drinking for you guys, so that the next time you want to grab a local brew, you know where to go and what you might like when you get there. On Monday, I'll embark on a nine-day journey during which, as you can guess, I visit nine breweries in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Then, I'll post stories about the different breweries online daily, along with looks at a few nearby cities' craft beer scenes and other bits of information. Most of the content will also make its way to our Feb. 12 issue of Velocity.

You can find all the links to her stops in a central location: Louisville Brew

If memory serves, NABC is up on Monday, February 9.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Brewers of Indiana Guild has a new president.

Greg's going to be a fine leader. So was Clay, and Ted and John before them. BIG is a work in progress, and I think we're making progress.


Greg Emig, owner of Lafayette Brewing Company (established in 1993), was voted in as President. He takes over the position previously held by Clay Robinson of Sun King Brewing Company. Other board members voted into officer positions are as follows, all of whom return to their positions: Rob Caputo, Vice President (Director of Brewing Operations,Flat12 Bierwerks, Indianapolis); Justin Miller, Secretary (Owner, Black Acre Brewing Company, Indianapolis);  and D.J. McAllister, Treasurer (Owner/Brewer, Black Swan Brewpub, Plainfield). All officers serve one year terms.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

About the looming crossroads.

From the iconoclastic to business-as-usual.

It's where we're headed, isn't it? But as the article makes clear, the shakeout will create bargains for those who possessed the capital in the first place.

Paging Herr Marx ... Groucho, not Karl.

Craft Beer Is Booming, but Brewers See Crossroads, by Ian Mount (New York Times)

... “What’s interesting is you have a lot of entrants, with low barriers to entry, chasing a finite amount of growth,” he said. “The industry will do very well as a whole, but you have a lot of people who are doubling or tripling capacity and taking on debt to do it.”

Mr. Steinman of Beer Marketer’s Insights agrees.

“People have built out way in front,” he said. “They’ve made bets and not all will succeed. It’s pretty likely there will be some that won’t survive. And then there might be some capacity available for cents on the dollar.”

Monday, February 02, 2015

The PC: Budweiser explains the Doctrine of Trojan Geese Transubstantiation.

The PC: Budweiser explains the Doctrine of Trojan Geese Transubstantiation.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

The Super Bowl means very little to me.

Back when the NFL was all about mud, blood and grizzled steelworkers gouging each other’s eyes out – on and off the field – I sometimes paid attention, but these days, not so much.

It’s true that I've never been a diehard football fan at any level. The last college game I saw in its entirety ("watched" would be insinuating a level of unattainable sobriety) was the last one I attended in person, a University of Louisville game in the late 1980's.

Professional football has slightly more appeal to me, and yet in recent years, I've seldom bothered viewing more than a quarter or three until the playoffs start. This year, I paused long enough to watch the very end of the fourth quarter when the Packers imploded, and that’s it.

As an aside, it occurs to me that my disinterest in football has been cemented by the increasingly well-documented phenomenon of brain injuries and the regrettable, lifelong physical toll suffered by players. We have ever more concise medical insight into these injuries, and how they impact lives after football, often explaining erratic adulthoods and the onset of dementia at impossibly youthful ages. How can anyone watch this sport without pondering the human toll?

That said, it’s the Super Bowl, and just as one stands for rote readings of the Pledge of Allegiance without ever thinking about what any of it really means, or whether the content actually matters at all, I watched a few minutes of the first half. Periodically I’d glance at the Twitter feed in my usual, once-yearly and entirely futile effort to comprehend the phenomenon of mass market advertisement envy.

It transpired that at some point during the first half, there was a Budweiser commercial with a puppy. I yawned and gulped my gin even faster.

Seeing as I’d already booked my own Super Bowl halftime show via the good offices of YouTube (Kasabian at Glastonbury, 2014 – an excellent choice), the television volume was turned all the way down, and so I didn’t catch what Carlos Brito’s mutts were doing or saying, although in the predictable time warp of my cultural appreciation, ancient notions of forcibly neutering Spud McKenzie came bubbling to the surface.

Thus aroused to wax cynical, I posted a tweet and went to bed to read a damned book.

And while you're scoffing at Budweiser's ads, always remember -- and never forget -- that Goose Island IS Budweiser! #trojangoose

On Monday morning, I groggily awoke to mass annoyance over AB InBev’s Super Bowl ad, as summarized in this tweet from a friend:

If Budweiser thinks craft beer is pretentious, why are they buying up all those craft breweries?

I was confused.

Were the puppies I'd silenced actively denouncing Jim Koch, or more likely, urinating into a Lagunitas tumbler?

Neither, because as it turns out, my throwaway #trojangoose tweet proved unintentionally prescient. During the second half, AB InBev lobbed a potshot at what Ad Age ineptly describes as “fruity micro-brews and beer geeks.”

Budweiser stole the Super Bowl pregame with a cuddly, cute puppy. But the King of Beers came out swinging in its second Super Bowl spot with a hard-hitting approach that proudly declared the nation's third-largest beer as a "macro" brew. The ad, which aired for the first time during the game, also revived the old "This Bud's For You" tagline that will anchor a new campaign to replace "Grab Some Buds."

The campaign's debut ad is notable for its swagger. The spot, by Anomaly, takes what appear to be shots at fruity micro brews and beer geeks. Bud is "brewed for drinking, not dissecting," the ad declares over footage of three men who are caricatures of beer snobs. Then comes this: "Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale, we'll be brewing us some golden suds."

Fans of better beer immediately took to social media to return AB InBev’s backhanded compliment, showering the multinational brewing conglomerate with amusing abuse centering on the notion of all-encompassing hypocrisy, because after all, AB InBev possesses its own product lines brimming with fruity mockrobrews, and besides, it is conjuring Zombie Craft beer subsidiaries (those pesky Trojan Geese again) faster than GOP presidential hopefuls book their flights to Iowa.

But why is anyone surprised? It's not like AB InBev ever possessed a moral compass. The Pour Fool explains:

… In their everyday actions at limiting the growth and distribution of craft beers, AB/InBev shows the hollowness of their claims of being a friend of brewers everywhere and big fans of craft beer. They’re fighting craft on dozens of fronts simultaneously, from Florida’s ongoing dust-up over allowable growler sizes (Bud and its associated brands and not, of course, growler-fill items) to its bloodthirsty attempts to obfuscate the issues in South Carolina’s bid to get a Stone satellite brewery and pub in Charleston. Anyone who thinks for a second that AB’s goal in acquiring Elysian, Goose, 10B, and Blue Point is anything other than an attempt to either control or kill craft beer simply doesn’t know history or is so spiritually vacant that they can easily rationalize away all that messy fluff like business ethics and morals and customer loyalty and independence and American entrepreneurship and what’s right and wrong. For those empty meat sacks, “It’s all about the beer, man!” and they areexactly the brain-dead geese AB relies onto keep their markets profitable and their ink black.

This part will be on the test: When I issued my random tweet last night prior to the offensive ad, I intentionally capitalized the word “IS,” and am underlining it in today’s column, because it helps to clarify AB InBev’s seeming hypocrisy. Think of it as the doctrine of Trojan Geese Transubstantiation.

Transubstantiation (in Latin, transsubstantiatio, in Greek μετουσίωσις metousiosis) is the change whereby, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, the bread and the wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist become, not merely as by a sign or a figure, but also in actual reality the body and blood of Christ.

Consequently, it isn’t at all hypocritical of AB InBev to savage “craft” beers and beer geeks, because the products AB InBev peddles from its own specialty portfolios are no longer “craft” beers even if “beer geeks” still embrace them. In actual reality, they ARE Budweiser. The evil empire’s theological rationale is impeccable, and by the standards of multinational corporate logic, even unimpeachable.

When you drink Bourbon County Stout, you ARE drinking Budweiser.

However, the situation is not without consolation. The doctrine of Trojan Geese Transubstantiation points to a noticeable flaw in ad agency thinking, because in this scenario, lifted straight from Aquinas's scrolls, beer “geeks” are not being pretentious.

Just painfully naïve.


Last week's column: Getting our SHIFT together … again.

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