Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What does it mean to be a member of the Brewers of Indiana Guild?

Brewers and brewery owners, please take heed. The Brewers of Indiana Guild isn't perfect, but we've accomplished quite a lot in recent years. There are no dues, and this is rare. To make it work, you need to be involved. Collective action is how we've achieved what we have. Combined efforts reduce the heaviness of the lift for everyone.

Read up. Questions? Let em know. I'll answer them, or direct you to someone who can.


Thoughts on Membership

Whether it is a club, a gym, a union or a professional association, generally we buy memberships in order to receive special “members only” benefits.

Prospective members should have three questions:
  1. Does this organization reflect my values?
  2. What does it cost?
  3. What will I get?

Your Values, Your Guild

The Brewers of Indiana Guild is a trade association whose sole purpose is to serve the best interest of Indiana’s craft breweries. We advocate throughout the year to make our state a place where the brewing industry grows in numbers and popularity, to give each individual brewery the best chance for success and profitability.

For the last 15 years your Guild has strategized and fought to make Indiana the fertile ground for craft breweries that it is today. The Guild is respected at the Indiana State House, at the Brewers Association, and by other guilds throughout the country.

“Cost” of Guild Membership

We are proud to be one of the only guilds in the country that does not charge dues. Other guilds require member breweries to pay annual dues ranging from nominal to significant. Some are flat-rate, and some are based on production volume. Our border states illustrate the variants seen around the country: 
  • Illinois: $250 to $1,500, based on volume
  • Kentucky: $200/year, flat-rate
  • Michigan: $250/year, flat-rate
  • Ohio: $500 to $12,000, based on volume

You “pay” for your Guild membership in the following ways:
  • Festival Participation. 
    Our Guild is funded by three highly successful festivals. These aren’t just fun PR events, they are fund-raisers, providing 99% of the Guild’s operating budget. 
  • Involvement. 
    Be as involved as you can be. At the very least, this means opening and reading emails from the Guild, and attending the Annual Meeting. Those who can dedicate significant time and energy should consider serving on a committee or running for a board position.
  • Legislative Support.
    Attend the annual legislative reception. Say YES when we ask for beer and volunteers for legislative events. We support candidates who support our industry, regardless of party or other platforms.

Benefits of Membership

As a member of Brewers of Indiana Guild, you receive the following:
  • Representative Government.
    Your current Board consists of 14 directors, representing large, medium and nano breweries from all over the state, brewpubs and production breweries alike. Anyone willing to commit the time and energy can run for a board position.
  • Professional staff. Three full-time staff members manage communications, member relations, festivals and all day-to-day business of the Guild, as directed by the Board. You may only see us at festivals, but we are here, working for you, year-round. (Read more about us in last month's member memo.)
  • Drink Indiana Beer.
    Our state-wide campaign keeps beer enthusiasts informed about Indiana’s beer industry and brings new people into our circle. We maintain a constant social media presence, work with traditional and new-age media, and collaborate with businesses and organizations to spread the gospel about craft beer in Indiana. As a member, your brewery is featured on our fabulous drinkIN.beer website. You may also use the “Drink Indiana Beer” logo on your website or promotional items.
  • Tomlinson Tap Room.
    The Guild is part-owner of Tom Tap, a beer bar at the historic Indianapolis City Market. Its sole purpose is to showcase Indiana beer. Tom Tap will buy and serve your beer whether you distribute or not. No other guild in the country has anything like this. We. Own. A. Beer. Bar. 
  • Active Lobby.
    Our Government Relations committee works with a professional lobbyist. This partnership has delivered some great legislation in recent years, while defending attacks on existing benefits: exclusive rights to fill growlers and to sell carryout beer on Sunday; and self-distribution (up to 30,000 bbls annually). The 2015 session raised the annual barrel cap to 90,000 and eased food service requirements for tasting rooms, among other wins. 
  • Education.
    The first Indiana Craft Brewers Conference was a sellout and a smashing success. This will be an annual event. Between conferences, the Guild hopes to initiate other programs to support new brewers and help all breweries maintain the highest professional standards. 
  • Purdue Partnership.
    After two-plus years of development, collaboration with Purdue University’s renowned Agriculture School is about to bear fruit. An internship program will allow breweries to interview and hire students from the Fermentation Sciences program. Additionally, we are partially funding a new staff position at Purdue, a biochemist who will be available to consult with breweries on bacterial issues and product testing/analysis.
  • Networking.
    The above-named benefits are all important, but in the end, one of the best things you can get from your Guild is the opportunity to meet and befriend your peers. Some of the most valuable “lessons” at the Brewers Conference were gained at the social events, one-on-one, beer in hand. 

Enjoy your membership.

Use your membership.

Value your membership.

Lee Smith
Executive Director
Brewers of Indiana Guild

Monday, June 29, 2015

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 11: My Franz Ferdinand obsession takes root.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 11: My Franz Ferdinand obsession takes root.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Eleventh in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

The Habsburg dynasty reigned in various European configurations and locales from the 1400s through its finale in 1918, famously stockpiling its geographical components through strategic marriage ceremonies more often than armed conflict.

There’s something to admire in wedding banquets as opposed to bloodletting, although unfortunately, hard-learned lessons were forgotten in the very end.

At the dawn of the 20th century, the Habsburg Empire had been rebranded as Austria-Hungary, and occupied a large chunk of Central Europe – from the Alps to what is now Belarus and the Ukraine, and from Poland to the Adriatic.

The empire was populated by numerous ethnic groups speaking just as many languages, representing most major religions and a few minor ones, and held together largely by a steadily eroding inertia, otherwise known as “divine right” in the person of the venerable emperor, Franz Joseph, who was 84 years old in 1914 and had ruled since 1848.

His own son having committed suicide, Franz Joseph’s heir was his nephew, Franz Ferdinand – and Franz Ferdinand was a complicated individual.

The history of the Habsburgs was a major reason for my visit to Vienna in 1985, with the single most important objective being the city’s military history museum, appropriately located in a complex of 19th-century buildings called the Arsenal. I wanted to learn more about Franz Ferdinand’s life, and chose to begin with his death.

Upon arrival in Vienna, and after the cursory stowing of gear at the Hostel Ruthensteiner and a quick coffee, the Arsenal was my opening afternoon attraction. Happily for an inexperienced tourist often too disorganized to eat, the museum boasted a small, efficient canteen operated by its citizen support arm.

The counter was manned by an elderly mustachioed gentleman who served fat local sausages with a roll and mustard, accompanied by a blue collar Schwecator lager, and all of it available at a very reasonable price. Restored to metabolic equilibrium, it was off to the exhibits.

First came the obligatory suits of armor and medieval skull-busters, followed by racks of muskets, Napoleonic-era uniforms and affiliated ephemera. Modern times drew steadily closer, and then I spotted the relics that occasioned my visit: Franz Ferdinand’s blood-stained tunic, the restored Gräf & Stift automobile in which he rode to his murder in Sarajevo in 1914, and numerous facsimiles of photographs taken before and after the assassination.

This was one of the images, and it triggered a lasting personal obsession.

Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie are shown exiting the town hall in Sarajevo. In little more than ten minutes, they’ll be dead, dispatched by two improbably well-placed gunshots from a youthful terrorist, Gavrilo Princip.

When the photo was taken, the Archduke’s visit to Sarajevo already had careened far off the rails. It was about to get even worse, with misfortune ranging far beyond the shortened lives of the royal couple, to victims all over the world about to be claimed in an unprecedented conflagration.


The Archduke Franz Ferdinand comes to us as a blunt, obnoxious, violent and generally unlikable human being, who in his spare time enjoyed slaughtering wildlife under the flimsy guise of hunting.

But had Sigmund Freud been asked, the Viennese doctor surely would have pointed to deeper currents. While not exactly enlightened, Franz Ferdinand’s views on the future of the empire were not in sync with those of his uncle’s conservative coterie. He had his own ideas and advisers, and chafed at waiting his turn, at least in part because of an under-appreciated aspect of his character.

Improbably, Franz Ferdinand was a closeted romantic, and he did something decidedly uncommon among his royal brethren: He fell madly in love, and remained just as madly in love, with a woman of minor nobility who was decreed by the hidebound royal court as inadequately marriageable for Franz Ferdinand -- and so of course, he married her anyway.

Doing so triggered sanctions from Franz Ferdinand’s own family. He was humiliatingly compelled to endure a morganatic marriage, renouncing the path of succession for his two young children, and explicitly acknowledging that Sophie could not participate in the intensively choreographed trappings of royal life.

To the otherwise indefensible Franz Ferdinand, a perfect family man at home, dynastic protocol became a daily slight – an unceasing and mocking suggestion that his beloved did not even exist. It isn’t surprising that he nursed a smoldering grudge.

In 1914, Franz Ferdinand had the chance to attend military maneuvers in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a disputed region of mixed ethnicity once occupied by the Ottoman Turks, and recently annexed by Austria-Hungary to the growing dissatisfaction of the neighboring Kingdom of Serbia, where there existed a body of opinion that all Serbs should be united under Serbian rule.

In such a highly charged atmosphere, the war games seemed a provocation to many people in the region. It was not necessary for Franz Ferdinand to make the trip, but (of course) he did.

Among the reasons for Franz Ferdinand’s decision was this: As defined geographically by the royal court protocol the heir so detested, Bosnia-Herzegovina was outside the reach of official mandated etiquette. It was a veritable loophole, allowing a pleasure trip on company expense, and a chance for the heir to treat his wife to perks otherwise denied her. No doubt he chortled at the turnabout, and her servants began filling crates.

Meanwhile, the background meant nothing to a young group of nationalistic Bosnian revolutionary conspirators, who were being trained and financed by the Black Hand, a covert group of Serbian army officers. As the days passed prior to Franz Ferdinand’s arrival in Sarajevo, a motley crew of inflamed and malnourished terrorists plotted a tragicomic ambush of the Archduke.


As Franz Ferdinand’s motorcade rolled through Sarajevo, one of the inexperienced terrorists managed to keep his wits and toss a bomb, albeit inexpertly. It bounced off the hood of the Archduke’s car and ignited atop the vehicle behind it, injuring a subaltern.

The bomb thrower sought first to drown himself, jumping from an adjacent bridge into the knee-deep river; thwarted, he then tried to ingest poison that wasn't poisonous enough. He was quickly arrested and the group dissolved in panic, with Princip – a true believer if ever there was one – adjourning to the curb outside a coffee house to morosely consider the failures of the botched performance.

But he kept his gun safely in his pocket.

Meanwhile, in spite of the bomb attempt and further warnings that security could not be guaranteed, the supremely annoyed Archduke elected to finish his official visit at Sarajevo's town hall, where his epic tirade ended only after soothing words from the always helpful Sophie.

Hence, the photo: A bedecked Austrian royal, veins still visibly bursting, descends the stairs while local minor officials in vests and fezes offer tepid and embarrassed salutes. The fear in their eyes is palpable even in ancient black and white. A bad moon is about to rise, and they all seem to know it.

Confusingly, the motorcade resumed. Although Franz Ferdinand’s staff had altered the return route to make it safer, the changes were not communicated to the drivers. The Archduke’s Gräf & Stift made a wrong turn, and its driver was told to halt.

The car stopped on the street directly outside the coffee shop where Princip now emerged to find his original target, seated and stock still only 20 feet away, as though serenely posing in the crosshairs. He fired just two shots, each inexplicably perfect, and within moments both heir and wife were gone.

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination provided the pretext for European hawks to settle accounts. Six weeks after his death, Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia as a heavy favorite, but was mauled repeatedly by the outnumbered Serbs until Germany came to the rescue. Meanwhile, general conflict had erupted throughout Europe, the consequences of which endure a century later.

In retrospect, irony abounds. Franz Ferdinand may have been an unsympathetic, disagreeable figure, and yet his genuine love for his wife was in part responsible for their passing.

Moreover, he understood perfectly what so many of his royal compatriots did not: Austria-Hungary was not at all equipped to fight a modern, industrial war. Counter-intuitively, the first casualty of war was a prime voice for peace.

Soon millions of others would perish, although initially, only two funerals were required. In death as in life, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary went his own cantankerous way, albeit with a little “help” from his royal family.

That’s because as noted previously, Franz Ferdinand’s final resting place is not among the Habsburg bloodlines deep within Vienna’s Kaisergruft. Protocol forbade the presence of Sophie in the crypt, so Franz Ferdinand’s testament called for the couple’s burial at his family’s castle in Artstetten, a half-day’s bicycle ride up the Danube from Vienna.

In 1985, I was just getting to know Franz Ferdinand’s story. By 2003, almost two decades later, I’d visited several other places connected to Franz Ferdinand: His chateau in Benesov, Czech Republic; the official residence at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna; and Sarajevo, where I followed the motorcade route and saw the scene of the crime.

In 2003 a friend and I bicycled to Artstetten. As we were leaving, I mentioned to the gift shop attendant that in 1985, I’d gone to Vienna looking for Franz Ferdinand, only to find he wasn’t there, which was the reason I’d finally made it to Artstetten. There was no public access to the final resting place of the Habsburg heir and his wife, and I didn’t ask.

She handed me the key, anyway.

I had my moments with them, alone.



The PC: Euro ’85, Part 10: Habsburgs, history and sausages in Vienna.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 9 … Milan, Venice and a farewell to Northern Italy.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 8 … Pecetto idyll, with a Parisian chaser.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 7 … An eventful detour to Pecetto.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 6 … When in Rome, critical mass.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 5 … From Istanbul to Rome, with Greece in between.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 4 … With Hassan in Pithion.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 3 … Growing up in Greece.

The PC: Euro '85, Part 2 ... Hitting the ground crawling in Luxembourg.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 1 … Where it all began.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Next stop: Kampot-infused Imperial Stout.

That's right, there certainly are beer and breweries in Cambodia. None of them appear to be using the Kampot pepper ... but give it time.

The foodie traveller in ... southern Cambodia, by Liz Boulter (The Guardian)

Cambodia’s Kampot pepper is among the world’s best but it was nearly lost forever under the Khmer Rouge regime. Luckily a few farmers kept their cultivation skills alive and today there is demand from across the world.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

"Kentuckiana breweries on track to double in 2015."

Some folks don't like "Kentuckiana," although it never has bothered me. The alternative, "Indiyucky", has its own issues.

There's lots of information here, so take a look.

I'm by no means "close" to any of these projects, apart from physical proximity to Floyd County Brewing, and drinking beers with Rick Stidham of Akasha now and then. However, it seems that they're all proceeding along a sustainable course, i.e., not positing sales to Alaska and Luxembourg just yet. I judge this to be a good omen, and wish them the best.

Kentuckiana breweries on track to double in 2015, by Bailey Loosemore (The Courier-Journal)

From the core of downtown Louisville, locally made craft beer is spreading.

No longer is the artisanal beverage restricted to a few select neighborhoods. With one new brewery already opened this year, one rebranded and six more on the way — in some areas traditionally lacking their own craft beer spot — the industry seems to be on a delicious mission to take over Kentuckiana.

For years, Louisville and Southern Indiana's local beer scenes stalled with only a handful of established breweries catering to the craft crowd. But between 2010 and 2014, six breweries opened to pick up the slack, and the total number of breweries is now on track to double in the area by the end of 2015 — mimicking a national trend.

According to the Brewers Association, nearly 3,500 craft breweries were operating nationally in 2014 — an about 125 percent increase over the 1,500 breweries operating in 2008.

Friday, June 26, 2015

SkippyFoot Peanut Butter WeeFoot Stout: Now on tap at the Pizzeria & Public House (only).

I keep trying to tell you that the leave of absence is serious, and I'm really running for mayor of New Albany, and I don't know what in the hell's going on at work.

Case in point: SkippyFoot (Peanut Butter WeeFoot Stout). I was only vaguely aware of this being in the pipeline, and now it's on tap at the Pizzeria & Public House only. I'm planning on going over there tomorrow to pick up some "pay packet" (pizza and growlers), and will have a taste then.

There will be a report.

NABC's FOOTED STOUT SERIES has been a staple for a while now. I believe these are the ones we've brewed to date, but I may have missed one.

ClovenFoot (seasonal)
Belgian Stout
ABV: 7.2% … IBU: 33
Color: Black.
Flavor: Medium- to full-bodied. Belgian yeast provides fruitiness to compete with the roast.
Compare to: Hercule; Buffalo Belgian Stout.

QuakerFoot (October - March)
Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 5.7%
IBU: 26
Color: Black.
Flavor: Medium-to full-bodied, with roasty Sweet Stout character made silky by the use of oatmeal.
Compare to: Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout.

ThunderFoot (seasonal)
Imperial Stout
ABV: 10% … IBU: 90
Color: Black.
Flavor: Full-bodied, malty but not overly sweet, with intensely malty, darkly fruity flavors (including a wee hint of cherry).
Compare to: Stone Russian Imperial Stout, Founders Imperial Stout, other more alcoholic Imperial Stouts.

WeeFoot (April - September)
American Stout
ABV: 5%
IBU: 48
Color: Just shy of black.
Flavor: Light- to medium-bodied. Roasty-dry in the mouth.
Compare to: Guinness and Irish-style Stouts, and also lower gravity American Stouts.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"Drinking a locally brewed craft beer is the best way to stick it to The Man and support your community."

AB-InBev cannot fit into this equation, can it?

Beer writer Jeff Baker ... (is) a fan of both punk rock and craft beer and says there are similarities between the two communities.

No, it cannot, so stop making feeble arguments to the contrary and read this.

Drinking local is rebellion, by Jeff Baker (BTV Foodie)

... Both communities at their cores are centered around a sense of rebellion. Rebellion against big business, against blandness, against cheap commodities in favor of something with heart and soul, with substance.

There was probably a day in the history of punk when drinking a craft beer would have been considered too bourgeois. But here in Vermont, where "local" is rebellion against Big Agriculture, drinking a locally brewed craft beer is the best way to stick it to The Man and support your community.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"How to Drink Like a Gentleman", or timeless wisdom about imbibing from H.L. Mencken.

Photo credit: Modern Drunkard

If you're unfamiliar with H.L. Mencken, more's the pity. All those who appreciate and cherish adult libations in their many, varied forms should be card-carrying Menckenites, if for no other reason than his polemics against the prohibitionist instinct in humankind.

Consider this quote.

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

H.L. Mencken, "Alcohol", Damn! A book of Calumny, 1918

Following is the link to an essay of Mencken's that I don't recall reading. First, the introduction and background information.

H.L. Mencken was a columnist for the Baltimore Evening Sun and editor of the American Mercury. This essay was originally published in Liberty Magazine on January 12, 1935.

From 1924 to 1950, Liberty Magazine published the work of such writers and public figures as Greta Garbo, Margaret Sanger, Babe Ruth, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Its weekly circulation reached 3 million. Today, the magazine is largely forgotten, but many of its pieces are being reissued in several collections available on Amazon. The above essay was republished with permission from the collection "Liberty on Drinking."

Enjoy the advice of a master.

How to Drink Like a Gentleman: The Things to Do and the Things Not To, as Learned in 30 Years' Extensive Research, by H.L. Mencken (Gawker)

... The physical and mental effects of alcohol, whether in large doses or small, are very simple. Physically, it slows down all the bodily processes, save maybe digestion, and produces a faint and pleasant drowsiness. And mentally it works in almost the same way. That is, it causes what the psychologists call a raising of the threshold of sensation. The external world retreats a bit, and its challenges become less insistent. The drinker is not so much disturbed as he was by what goes on around him, and so his reaction to it is more friendly and tolerant. And simultaneously he is not so much disturbed as he was by what goes on within his own head, and thus he gathers a sense of contentment and well-being.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 10: Habsburgs, history and sausages in Vienna.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 10: Habsburgs, history and sausages in Vienna.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Tenth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

There was a “wedding crasher” trick I’d learned in the company of a veteran Australian traveler, who between beers had undertaken a careful study of tour groups in Greece.

Note that when it came to ways of saving money, the Aussies were among the very best teachers. They didn’t bother departing from Down Under for a European tour unless they could manage to be away from home for a very long time – and every Greek drachma or Austrian shilling obviously counted.

Not only that, but Australians were invariably friendly and impossible to dislike, and were blessed with a cultural get-out-of-jail-free card.

As an example, for an American or Englishman to drunkenly urinate on a beloved civic monument surely (and rightly) would result in protests, denunciations and arrest. Let an Australian do the same, and he was just an exuberant lad on holiday, soon to be merrily sharing drinks with the very policeman who’d hauled away the American or Englishman.

At least this is the way it seemed at the time.

My savvy fellow traveler’s frugal strategy was borne of simple observation. He had noticed that at museums and historical sites, single visitors bought tickets and were controlled individually, while groups generally were ushered as a mass, straight past the checkpoint.

Therefore, by waiting patiently nearby for an aggregation of fellow Anglos to arrive, solo wanderers like us could artfully feign membership by blending amongst them, sidling over just as they entered the site.

Then, once safely inside, the objective was to detach, but hover close enough to hear the guide’s explanations in English, without being identified as spongers.

After all, what was the worst that might happen? You’d be kicked out, and compelled to circle back later after the shift change, better to try it again – after spending a few minutes perfecting your mock Australian accent.

Just remember: There are no kangaroos in Austria.


This tactic worked perfectly in Vienna at the Kaisergruft, the imperial crypt, where ornate graves of the Habsburg dynasty rulers and their immediate families contain some, but not all, of their body parts.

In a macabre custom, hearts and entrails customarily were removed for interment in selected churches elsewhere, presumably to mark imperial and ecclesiastical territory, because when it came to obscure, arcane and obtuse rituals, no royal house in Europe could touch the Habsburgs.

Merging with a mass of New Zealanders, I followed them down the stairs, learning to my surprise that Empress Zita of Bourbon-Parma, widow of Karl, the last Habsburg emperor, wasn’t even dead yet.

In fact, Empress Zita was 93 years of age that summer of 1985, with almost four years yet to live. She had witnessed the beginning of World War I, and passed away eight months prior to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall.

There was another significant omission that day in the Kaisergruft, one I’ll get around to explaining. Absent for eternal duty in the Habsburg crypt was the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Habsburg throne, whose assassination in Sarajevo came three years after Zita’s and Karl’s wedding, and proved to be the impetus for the wartime horrors to follow.

From the moment I saw Vienna for the first time, stepping off the train from Venice into Sudbahnhof station, changing money and buying a transit pass, a steadily evolving fascination with the history of the Habsburg dynasty kept percolating in the back of my mind.

It was colored with mustard yellow and dark green, in the fashion of the government buildings in the era preceding the Great War. The life and death of Franz Ferdinand struck me as important, although there were many other reasons why I was keen to spend time in the Austrian capital.


For one thing, I was ready for diligent instruction in classical Central European beer culture. The wine- and spirits-oriented Mediterranean had been quite grand, but an eager, youthful palate yearned for schnitzel, sausages, dumplings and the many Teutonic shades of lager I’d read about in the beer writer Michael Jackson’s books.

Naturally, there were cultural bucket list expectations derived from my immersion in written sources, as with absolutely essential texts like Frederic Morton’s “A Nervous Splendor”, which tells the story of Crown Prince Rudolf’s 1889 murder-suicide pact with his mistress in Mayerling.

Rudolf was Emperor Franz Joseph’s only son, passing the imperial succession to his nephew, Franz Ferdinand.

There was the testimony of previous visitors to Vienna, like my cousin Don, and a handful of PBS documentaries I’d watched. “The Third Man” with Orson Welles had been viewed in preparation, and Strauss waltz LPs duly queued.

Once I’d bought a brand of Austrian beer called Kaiser at Cut Rate Liquors, imagining that the old man with mutton chop whiskers, Franz Joseph himself, would approve of my choice.

Now it was available on draft, at my fingertips, and I couldn’t help pondering its namesake, whose chronology was lengthy and eventful. Like Zita, Franz Joseph’s life spanned disparate eras, from the Europe of old ruling houses to the post-modern destruction of the First World War.

Franz Joseph became emperor in 1848 at the age of 18 and sat on the throne for 68 years, until death belatedly claimed him at 86 in 1916. Many of the empire’s leading politicians and statesmen understood that the empire was not strong enough to survive a long, drawn-out war, and the savage continent-wide conflict relentlessly eroded the viability of Franz Joseph’s shaky domain.

He saw it as God’s will, signed the orders, and then died. As it turned out, he was the only force holding the system together.

In Austria-Hungary, obeisance to the emperor’s many-titled royal personage served as the only generally accepted bond between the empire’s many nationalities and their languages, customs, aspirations and diverse outlooks, with virtually every strain of the 19th and 20th century European experience eventually woven into the complex fabric of Vienna, the capital.

Ironically, as Franz Joseph presided over the empire’s inexorable decadence and decline, the world was rewarded with a blossoming intellectual and cultural life of which his own social class was barely cognizant.

Among those with connections to the imperial capital city were artists (Klimt, Schiele) and musicians (Brahms, Bruckner and Mahler); academics and scholars (Sigmund Freud and his retinue); writers like Stefan Zweig, who’ll be considered in a coming instalment of this travelogue; future world political figures (Adolf Hitler, Josip “Tito” Broz) radical Zionists and hyperbolic anti-Semites, the pioneering lager brewer Anton Dreher (namesake of the Italian lager we’d consumed in Pecetto), and even Leon Askin, the actor who played General Burkhalter on the television show Hogan’s Heroes, and who was born in Vienna nine years before Franz Joseph died.

Like Zita, Askin still was among the living in 1985 – he died in 2005 – but the rest were ghosts, and they crowded my thoughts during the four nights I slept at the Ruthensteiner, an unaffiliated youth hostel owned by a native of Vienna and the woman from Pittsburgh, whom he had married after attending college in the States.

The Ruthensteiner started operating in 1968, and remains open for business in 2015 – still not as long as Franz Joseph reigned. These days, the low season special for a bunk bed is a mere 10 Euros, or circa $13 U.S. The price was about $8 during my stay in 1985. That’s not bad.

Four days proved to be time for precious little save an overview of the city’s history; walking the Ringstrasse; taking a bus out into the Vienna Woods; listening to classical music in the imperial gardens: and one memorable splurge of an evening spent eating Serbian-style bean soup and drinking draft Gold Fassl at a dark, edgy Balkan tavern, then having a second meal of plate-sized Wiener Schnitzel (and more Gold Fassl), at an eatery nearby, dining alongside Americans students from Dayton University, and ultimately realizing that one of them had briefly been a roommate with one of my high school basketball teammates.

Compressed within the confines of a schnitzel restaurant in Vienna, generously plied with beer and conversation, the immensity of the planet seemed to keep shrinking until it was the smallest of interior worlds.

That’s another useful trick worth remembering, although coming to grips with the Habsburgs would require a little more time, as well as additional beers.



The PC: Euro ’85, Part 9 … Milan, Venice and a farewell to Northern Italy.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 8 … Pecetto idyll, with a Parisian chaser.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 7 … An eventful detour to Pecetto.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 6 … When in Rome, critical mass.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 5 … From Istanbul to Rome, with Greece in between.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 4 … With Hassan in Pithion.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 3 … Growing up in Greece.

The PC: Euro '85, Part 2 ... Hitting the ground crawling in Luxembourg.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 1 … Where it all began.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Diary: Trying to find a copy of the beer podcast, that time.

As my leave of absence for mayoral games plays out, I haven't been paying very close attention to the beer scene insofar as social media dictates its parameters according to the same usual outline.

And thankfully, at that.

Talk about liberating.

No more endless photos of people erotically fondling the bottles they scored through trades, or listening to labored sophistry in defense of Trojan Goose. It's been like parole. At present, I can enjoy the virtues of good beer without suffering shoe-gazing solipsism.

What I'm looking forward to more than anything else are local brews like Josh Hill's first beers with Floyd County Brewing Company.

But that is not the basis for this diary entry.

After contributing to Rick Redding's podcast last week, it occurred to me to go back and listen to the one I recorded at LouisvilleBeer.com back in late 2013. The date is hazy. I drove to Louisville, and there was snow on the ground.

December of 2013, maybe?

But I couldn't find it at the iTunes page, which begins only at Episode 26 in early 2014. There also wasn't any record of those first 20-odd episodes at the LouisvilleBeer.com web site.

If someone can tell me how I might score a copy of my sole appearance on the podcast, please let me know. I'm a historical record type of guy, even if it won't be played quite as often as the Who's seminal Quadrophenia.


Beer, podcasts and Dick Cavett.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Get a colonoscopy, already -- and listen to me on the Rusty Satellite Show.

This post has two purposes. The first is to divulge that I was on the Rusty Satellite Show on Thursday.

Multi-modal Louisville journalist Rick Redding does the podcast, and ironically, though we're roughly the same age, share mutual friends and have "known" each other through social media and the internet for a very long time, our first actual face to face meeting came only Wednesday at the Public House when Rick came to record my segment.

Talking with 2X, Beers and Blogging with Roger Baylor

Roger Baylor was advocating craft beer before it was such a craze, and he was blogging about important local issues when most people in New Albany didn’t know what a blog was. But now he’s made a name for himself challenging the status quo and politics of the city, and he’s running for Mayor. And still trying to convince people to steer clear of Bud Light. I’m looking forward to watching the Mayor’s race over there.

Coincidence? I don’t know but the same week that I was writing a column about Colon Cancer Prevention Week for Insider Louisville, both 2X and Baylor told me about their recent experience getting a colonoscopy.

Another irony, and the second reason for writing: Both Rick and Christopher 2X recently enjoyed colon cancer screenings, a topic Rick wrote about at Insider Louisville a few days ago.

Colon cancer screenings can save lives – have you gotten yours yet?

And, I had my second colonoscopy on June 12.

Have you had a colonoscopy? If not, it may be time. Mine's tomorrow.

If you're reading this and are (a) 50 years old, and/or (b) have a family history of colorectal cancer, GET YOUR ASS TO A SPECIALIST FOR A COLONOSCOPY. 

Most insurance plans cover this procedure. It is the "only screening method that is both diagnostic and therapeutic," meaning that polyps can be removed before they turn bad.

Do it now, and spare me the excuses. Okay?

Friday, June 19, 2015

NABC's Kaiser 2nd Reising (Pre-Prohibition Pilsner) is on tap at both locations.

It's time again for the annual release of NABC's Kaiser 2nd Reising, which is a perennial favorite of mine. While probably biased, I think it's delicious.

Kaiser 2nd ReisingYour great, great granddaddy’s PilsnerBefore World War One, the Paul Reising Brewing Company was New Albany’s pre-eminent brewing concern, and it occupied a respected position in the pantheon of local business. In the contemporary age, NABC recognizes Paul Reising and the city’s other brewers of old with this Pre-Prohibition Pilsner.
40 IBU
5.9% ABV

Pre-Prohibition Pilsner has been renamed Pre-Prohibition Lager in the Beer Judge Certification Program's (BJCP) most recent style guidelines. No matter. In the Louisville context, these are the forerunners of the beers we knew in their bastardized dotage when we were young pups: Falls City, Fehr’s, Oertel’s, Sterling, Wiedemann and so on.

The BJCP's historical beer categories have my enthusiastic approval. Here's the relevant definition in its entirety.


Historical Beer: Pre-Prohibition Lager

Overall Impression: A clean, refreshing, but bitter pale lager, often showcasing a grainy-sweet corn flavor. All malt or rice-based versions have a crisper, more neutral character. The higher bitterness level is the largest differentiator between this style and most modern mass-market pale lagers, but the more robust flavor profile also sets it apart.

Aroma: Low to medium grainy, corn-like or sweet maltiness may be evident (although rice-based beers are more neutral). Medium to moderately high hop aroma, with a range of character from rustic to floral to herbal/spicy; a fruity or citrusy modern hop character is inappropriate. Clean lager character. Low DMS is acceptable. May show some yeast character, as with modern American lagers; allow for a range of subtle supporting yeast notes.

Appearance: Yellow to deep gold color. Substantial, long lasting white head. Bright clarity.

Flavor: Medium to medium-high maltiness with a grainy flavor, and optionally a corn-like roundness and impression of sweetness. Substantial hop bitterness stands up to the malt and lingers through the dry finish. All malt and rice-based versions are often crisper, drier, and generally lack corn-like flavors. Medium to high hop flavor, with a rustic, floral, or herbal/spicy character. Medium to high hop bitterness, which should neither be overly coarse nor have a harsh aftertaste. Allow for a
range of lager yeast character, as with modern American lagers, but generally fairly neutral.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a moderately rich, creamy mouthfeel. Smooth and well-lagered. Medium to high carbonation levels.

Comments: The classic American Pilsner was brewed both pre-Prohibition and post-Prohibition with some differences. OGs of 1.050–1.060 would have been appropriate for pre-Prohibition beers while gravities dropped to 1.044–1.048 after Prohibition. Corresponding IBUs dropped from a pre-Prohibition level of 30–40 to 25–30 after Prohibition.

History: A version of Pilsner brewed in the USA by immigrant German brewers who brought the process and yeast with them, but who had to adapt their recipes to work with native hops and malt. This style died out after Prohibition but was resurrected by homebrewers in the 1990s. Few commercial versions are made, so the style still remains mostly a homebrew phenomenon.

Characteristic Ingredients: Six-row barley with 20% to 30% flaked maize (corn) or rice to dilute the excessive protein levels; modern versions may be all malt. Native American hops such as Clusters, traditional continental hops, or modern noble-type crosses are also appropriate. Modern American hops such as Cascade are inappropriate. Water with a high mineral content can lead to an unpleasant coarseness in flavor and harshness in aftertaste. A wide range of lager yeast character can be exhibited, although modern versions tend to be fairly clean.

Style Comparison: Similar balance and bitterness as modern Czech Premium Pale Lagers, but exhibiting native American grains and hops from the era before US Prohibition. More robust, bitter, and flavorful than modern American pale lagers, and often with higher alcohol.

Vital Statistics: 
OG: 1.044 – 1.060
FG: 1.010 – 1.015
IBUs: 25 – 40
SRM: 3 – 6 
ABV: 4.5 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples: Anchor California Lager, Coors Batch 19, Little Harpeth Chicken Scratch

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Homebrewers, have you used yarrow?

A friend who is a homebrewer mentioned yarrow in beer. I hadn't thought about it for years, not since Paul Nevitt earned the title "Father of Herbal Brewing."

Welcome to gruitale.com

Dedicated to the revival of Gruit Ale, the beer which stimulates the mind, creates euphoria and enhances sexual drive.

In a not so distant past, beer was brewed with an extended and varied array of botanical ingredients. Herbs, roots and spices where used by our European ancestors in order to give their beers distinct tastes, flavours and properties. These botanicals where sometimes referred to as Gruit, hence Gruit Ale. Today however, beer is almost exclusively brewed with only one, single herb addition: Hops.

If any of you decide to brew with yarrow, please do me a favor and save a bottle for me.

Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)


Parts used: The whole plant, preferably dried leaves and flowers.

Aroma & taste: A rather bitter, astringent taste with a mild aroma. Its taste is not overwhelming and is quite delicious in brewing, especially if the aromatics are brought into the ale.

Brewing method: Yarrow brings both a complementary bittering action and preservative action through its antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. The tannins and astringent action being stronger in the leaves, these should be boiled as with hops. On the other hand, the flowering head of the plant contains delicate aromatics that would be lost in the boil, hence it is recommended to steep the flowers in the hot wort as it cools, or simply add them to the fermentation vessel in the same manner as dry hopping.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I agree: "Local lagers looming."

During the course of research for an upcoming Food & Dining Magazine column submission, in which I'll survey the Gordon Biersch branch in Louisville, this link turned up.

I'd bookmarked the article long ago, and as is my custom, forgotten all about it.

Watson points to three factors to support his contention that we're about to enter a new era of local lagers: Market Evidence, Capacity Equation and Beer Lover Preferences.

I think he's absolutely right, particularly in the second of these. Eventually, there'll be much excess capacity, and when there is ...

Click through for the details.

LOCAL LAGERS LOOMING, by Bart Watson (Brewers Association)

Although a big part of craft beer’s strength lies in its diversity of styles, there are certainly trends in beer lover preferences that make particular styles or groups of styles rise to the top. In recent years it’s been IPAs. IPAs are still growing 40-50% in scan data on a bigger base than ever.

But what might be the next big thing? Looking out at the beer landscape, I think we’re about to enter a new era of the local lager. Why?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Unhappy and happy hours, in Indiana and elsewhere.

I was in my early twenties when Indiana banned happy hours (discounts predicated on time of day) and favoritism in pricing (i.e., ladies night). Since then, it's been Happy Day or Bust in the Hoosier state. If someone is advertising dollar longnecks during the UFC bout, the same price must be charged two hours before.

When the law first took effect, I immediately lost interest in Indiana University basketball, because the Tumbleweed in New Albany had a game night promotion involving "dee-fense, dee-fense": If IU held the opposition to less than 60 points, there was an hour of 2-for-1 well drinks following the final whistle.

This was the era when Mothers Against Drunk Drivers actually had a strong case to make. In later years, MADD became a prohibitionist parody, but then ... yes. In an auto-centric milieu like ours in Southern Indiana, it's simply insane to stage specials like these.

In hindsight, it's regrettable that food-based happy hours never caught on. We used to go to the long defunct Chi Chi's in Clarksville for happy hour margaritas, and when the law changed, the restaurant had a cheap food buffet instead. The cost to the consumer worked out about the same, but evidently there was no traction.

Mapping the United States of Happy Hours, by Aarian Marshall (City Lab)

Some cities are straight-up bacchanalian. Others, not so much.

Imagine this: You trudge off the plane at O’Hare, cranky and disheveled—but luckily, it’s beer time.

Not so fast: Five o’clock brings no discount drinks in the Chicago. In fact, happy hours—time-specific discounts on alcohol—are forbidden in the entire state of Illinois. That is, unless the governor finally signs into law the bill passed earlier this month that would allow bars and restaurants to set reduced drink prices for a portion of the day.

 ... Why are the laws so different in different cities? Many bans were implemented in the 1980s when citizen groups led by Mothers Against Drunk Driving presented state legislatures with some scary statistics.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 9 … Milan, Venice and a farewell to Northern Italy.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 9 … Milan, Venice and a farewell to Northern Italy.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Ninth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

At the conclusion of a recuperative week in bucolic Pecetto, my belly was fuller than it had been at any point during the trip, and my clothes finally were clean -- even if at times, they seemed to be almost hanging on me.

A month’s steady weight loss had been temporarily arrested during my stay in Savoy by pasta courses, table wine, pastries, couscous and frequent infusions of Dreher beer.

Still, by the time I returned stateside in August, the net poundage drop was 25, all the way down to 200.

(Speaking from the current vantage point of 2015, I haven’t seen 200 pounds since 1987, two years after the story being relayed here. As a senior playing high school basketball in 1978, my weight was 175 lbs. These days, at 54 years of age, I’m managing to hold at around 240 lbs.)

Eating had been a feast or famine proposition during the opening weeks of the journey. Sit-down meals were the pricier option, even in inexpensive Greece and Turkey, so bakery breakfasts and street food offered affordable subsistence. There were fewer supermarkets and more small family groceries, the latter requiring the suppression of my innate shyness so as to successfully navigate prices and portions.

As the weather became hotter, I finally noticed the ubiquitous plastic liter bottles of mineral water. In fact, one day in the Peloponnese, I noticed several hundred of them washed up on a beach, which probably is why they now comprise a Texas-sized island in the Pacific. Soon I was carrying one at all times and refilling them from reliable water taps.

In this era prior to standardization, one couldn’t always expect translations on product labels. Truncated vocabularies in indigenous tongues became an acquired skill. Was the water still or carbonated? For many travelers, water “with gas” was a deal-breaker. I grew to prefer it.

The real difference when it came to shedding bulk was regular exercise. If it was a mile to the hostel and it wasn’t clear how to buy tickets for the streetcar, I walked. My bag didn’t have wheels, so I carried it. Few of the places I stayed had elevators, so there was no alternative to climbing stairs.

The same went for cathedrals and towers in virtually every city, where the best view came after a few hundred vertical steps, which tended to be carved of stone and intended for tiny medieval human feet, not my size 16 sneakers.

And so while Pecetto had been a blast, it was time to head east. I thanked Scott profusely for the nightly use of his floor and spare mattress, and consulted with Don about our projected meeting in Munich two weeks hence. Then it was back to the train station, and the heavily traveled route from Turin to Milan.


I’d passed through Milan previously in route to Greece, with no opportunity to explore, save for the neighborhood around the youth hostel. The second time became a literal charm, and I had most of a whole day to poke around, investigate the city, peek into La Scala, and climb the steps to the roof of the Duomo (main cathedral).

I even managed a bus going in the direction of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, home of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “The Last Supper,” but the refectory was closed amid a lengthy restoration that lasted from 1978 to 1999. Pausing only for a sandwich, I boarded a night train and pressed on to Venice, arriving there at 5:30 a.m. the next morning.

A pattern was beginning to emerge. Fixed periods of relative calm, as in Pecetto, and Rome before it, would leave me restless and eager to be put into motion. Every day was a mysterious, bewildering and rewarding adventure. There’d be time later for sleep.

Exhaustion would come after a few days, when there’d be time to recoup with a lengthier stay somewhere. Perhaps more importantly, these lodgings allowed bathing.

And summer was starting to be felt.


The train to Venice made a mainland stop, then crossed the causeway to its final stop. A steady, cool rain was falling on the darkened plaza outside the station. Beyond it, the lapping of canal water could be heard. I joined an inexplicably huge, strange-tongued throng huddled inside the main hall.

With genial politeness, they ignored the half-hearted entreaties of local policemen to disperse. The cops shrugged and melted away. Eventually an English speaker among them revealed that yet again, the paths of the Hoosier Hick and Pope John Paul II had crossed.

You’ll recall that while in Rome, the Holy Father had appeared at the very same Sunday Mass that this inveterate pagan chose to attend at St. Peters, inciting amok adulation among nuns and priests, who seemed ready to resort to physical violence to secure the best camera-ready access to the Pontiff.

Now he’d just concluded a visit to Venice, and although Pope, his Popemobile and a mobile cadre of professional souvenir hawkers were long gone, thousands of pilgrims – many from the countryside of the mountainous Alto Adige and exotic neighboring Slovenia – had not yet melted away, hence the mass of humanity choking the corridors of the rail station.

The practical implications of the Pope’s tour schedule were about to be revealed to me. Placing my bag in safekeeping at the left luggage office, I rushed out into the strange labyrinth of pavement and water, determined as usual to secure inexpensive lodgings as early as possible in a city where cheap rooms were scant in the leanest of seasons.

I hadn’t reckoned with the many pilgrims who weren’t ready to relinquish their spots. By ten a.m., it was clear that budget beds were not to be.

Then, as now, confusing times call for studied reflection, preferably on a quiet street-side bench, with a slice of pizza and a bottle of beer for company. One option was to check back throughout the day to see if beds were available, a task complicated by my timidity over the token-operated public phone, and the difficulties of finding ones that worked.

Conversely, it was still early in the day. The rain was clearing, and the sun threatening to shine. There’d be ample time to ride the boats, view the art, contemplate the Doge’s maritime empire, recall Ernest Hemingway’s “Across the River and Into the Trees” and feel a chill at the memory of Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice.”

With a modicum of parsimony, there’d be enough Lira left over to avoid a Venice sleepover entirely, by booking space in a relatively cheap six-berth couchette compartment for the overnight rail journey to Vienna, capital of Austria, which was the next stop on the tour, anyway.

So it went. There was time to find a copy of USA Today and sneak a peek at the baseball standings, and to board a vaporetto for a sightseeing ride through the canals of a strange city erected on wooden pilings driven through sandbars dotting an ocean lagoon.

In its heyday, Venice was one of the most tolerant, multicultural and egalitarian of cities destined to be folded into the Kingdom of Italy. The reason might have been the hardships of its locale, tenuously hugging land – and this was before climate change and rising ocean levels.

The budget travel impresario Arthur Frommer had a budget restaurant recommendation, and so I closed my Venetian chapter with an actual meal. I was seated at a table adjacent to an elderly British lady, who struck up a conversation. Well-informed and witty, she was traveling alone at the age of 75, her husband having died only recently.

She was delightful company, and I can recall wondering how many 75-year-olds I knew back home in Indiana would dare embark on a journey to Italy, on the cheap, with no language skills. Three decades later, I’m closer to her age than to mine on that night in Venice when we dined together.

Exhausted, but at ease, I boarded the train and permitted my thoughts to drift to the Blue Danube.



The PC: Euro ’85, Part 8 … Pecetto idyll, with a Parisian chaser.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 7 … An eventful detour to Pecetto.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 6 … When in Rome, critical mass.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 5 … From Istanbul to Rome, with Greece in between.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 4 … With Hassan in Pithion.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 3 … Growing up in Greece.

The PC: Euro '85, Part 2 ... Hitting the ground crawling in Luxembourg.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 1 … Where it all began.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Some déjà vu on the unfortunate closing of My Old Kentucky Homebrew and its brew-on-premise facility.

Photo credit: Kelly.

My Old Kentucky Homebrew was in business for six years before owner Paul Young pulled the plug earlier this week, and I hate to see it go. I don't brew at home, but of course know many who do.

Interestingly, Young believes MOKH's rarely seen brew-on-premise (BOP) was at least partially the blame.

Young partially attributes the closure to a surprising lack of interest in the brew-on-premise operation he added about nine months ago. He knew at the time of launch he needed to brew about 15 batches a month to break even, but in that time, fewer than 20 people have used the system. In April and May, he says, it was “barely used.”

In short, a big investment with little return.

If memory serves, the last time someone attempted a BOP in Kentucky was at the ill-fated (or just ahead of its time?) Brew Works at the Party Source in Covington. I'm not sure that one ever got off the ground owing to unsympathetic state laws and the short life span of the business.

Refresh your memory about Brew Works here. A video from the fall of 2014 shows how the Brew On Premise at MOKH was supposed to work, and Gibson also explained the idea at the inception in detail, right here.

My two cents: Homebrewing thrives in selected atmospheric conditions. It will pick up when the economy is bad, and wherever the do-it-yourself among us become hooked on the obsessive hobbyist aspect of the exercise. The sheer abundance of good beer these days, representing numerous styles at different price points in different packages, is a new variable in the equation.

Unfortunately, MOKH may have experienced this sort of fallout. All the best to whatever Paul does in the future, and thanks for your efforts.

My Old Kentucky Homebrew to close by end of June, by Kevin Gibson (Insider Louisville)

Paul Young sits staring at nothing at all. He says it still doesn’t seem real, but he has nevertheless decided he must close My Old Kentucky Homebrew, the business he launched six-and-a-half years ago to serve local brewers.

Sales have waned in 2015 to the point that a tough decision had to be made, he says.

“This is not a decision I want to make,” he says.

The homebrew shop, located at 361 Baxter Ave., will be open mostly only on weekends through Father’s Day, he says. Young informed the owner of the rented space he will be out by the end of June.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Thumbs up: Anderson Brewfest "was about supporting local businesses."

Much earlier in the year, Anderson Brewfest organizer Shanna Henry spoke to me about her local festival back home, and asked whether NABC would participate.

Then I took a leave of absence to run for mayor of New Albany, and Shanna lost her job at Flat12 in Jeffersonville -- not the only person to go in a company-wide shakeup that remains curiously undocumented by the state's beer press.

NABC did not participate, and I didn't go.

But ...

The description here confirms a commitment to localism, and that's very good to know. Congratulations to Shanna for doing something that's becoming increasingly difficult: Offering a beer fest with a twist.


 ... You see, they went above and beyond for this fest. As great as having a fest with hundreds of brewers can be, it was great to see one that featured around 20 local Indiana breweries but also gave local artist, crafters, and businesses space to set up booths. Sure you’ll find a few of these booths at the bigger fests, but not like this. There were just as many local vendors as there were breweries. There was live music, there were educational showcases about brewing your own beer, food trucks, and so much more. This gave you the opportunity to take a small break from the beer and enjoy some of the finer things from around the state. Overall, this fest wasn’t just about the beer; it was about supporting local businesses.

Friday, June 12, 2015

These requests from abroad, Vol. 14: "With best wishes from Russia, Alexander."

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 via the same technology, 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.

Alexander lives in Tyumen, Russia. 

Tyumen is another of those big Russian cities that none of us in America is aware exists. The city lies roughly 250 miles north of Kazakhstan, occupies 90 square miles, and has a population of more than 600,000 people.

Tyumen was the first Russian settlement in Siberia. Founded in 1586 to support Russia's eastward expansion, the city has remained one of the most important industrial and economic centers east of the Ural Mountains. Located at the junction of several important trade routes and with easy access to navigable waterways, Tyumen rapidly developed from a small military settlement to a large commercial and industrial city. The central part of Old Tyumen retains many historic buildings from throughout the city's history.

Judging from the Google Map views, Alexander's area of residence is fairly typical of the newer Tyumen suburbs. He is admirably polite in making his request.
My name is Alexander, I have long been interested in the history of brewing and I have a very fascinating hobby, I collect beer coasters and beer caps. I would be very grateful if you could help me supplement my collection. I hope this is possible, and that my request will not bring you inconvenience.

There's a chain brewery restaurant in Tyumen.

Maximilian's Brauerei's slogan is "Happiness Is Where We Are,"

Each Maximilian’s Restaurant is actually a little brew house, that’s why the name – Maximilian’s Brauerei where German ‘brauerei’ means ‘brew house’ rather than ‘restaurant’. This is what makes Maximilian’s different from other beer restaurants: beer is brewed right in front of you while you’re sitting comfortably at the bar.

The other Russian branches of Maximilian's are Naberezhnye Chelny, Kazan, Samara, Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Ufa, Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk.

Alexander lives in Tyumen, and Tyumen is very far away. That's all I have for now.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Urban Chestnut is brewing in Bavaria where Bürgerbräu Wolnzach used to be.

The beers I've had from Urban Chestnut have been very good, and I have nothing bad to say about the turnabout, wherein an American craft brewer rescues an otherwise dead European brewery space and starts its own operations on the continent.

At the same time, I can't help feeling a sense of profound sadness at the departure of a Bavarian brewery -- any of them.

Perhaps I'm thinking back to my Franconian treks during a time when so many icons were passing away. It's a sense of melancholy borne of inevitable change, and a measure of my own consciousness at present that I'm seeing the glass half empty.

Give me time. For now: Requiescat in pace, Bürgerbräu Wolnzach.

Urban Chestnut begins brewing in Bavaria, by Ian Froeb (St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. has begun brewing beer at the facility in the German state of Bavaria that it acquired in January.

"It's always exciting to get something to the final stage of the process --especially when there's beer at the end," Urban Chestnut co-founder and brewmaster Florian Kuplent, a Bavarian native, said.

Urban Chestnut purchased the Bürgerbräu Wolnzach brewery, which is located in Wolnzach, a town north of Munich, and rechristened it Urban Chestnut Hallertauer Brauerei.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

From NA Confidential: "The life and death of Charles Kennedy."

This posting from my other blog isn't about beer at all. It's about a disease that far too few of us in the beer business take as seriously as we should. Moreover, it's about my fascination with a tiny factoid: Charles Kennedy spent a brief period in Bloomington at Indiana University, which at the time was legendary for partying.

The links make for sobering reading, even without political context.


Kennedy in 1987 (photo credit to the Washington Post)

In 1988, I was fortunate to land my first and only "real" corporate job abstracting periodicals at the now long-defunct UMI Data-Courier in Louisville. I lived off my evening package store pay and bankrolled as much as I could to make what became a six-month stay in Europe in 1989.

During my tenure at UMI Data Courier, it transpired that our British and other English language publications from abroad (The Economist, The Spectator, New Statesman, even Punch) were increasingly shunted onto my stack of work by fellow staffers after it became known that the new guy rather enjoyed reading them, and more importantly, wasn’t troubled by the English essayist’s general habit of hiding the topic sentence somewhere other than the opening paragraph. We had quotas, you know.

Charles Kennedy, who recently died and has been eulogized as a somewhat tragic, Shakespearean political personage, would have been a mere stripling during the period of my abstracting career. We were just about the same age, after all, but he was already a Member of Parliament, destined for greater things -- some of which Kennedy achieved, as with his iconic speech in opposition to the UK joining George W. Bush's war against Iraq.

In the end, Kennedy was felled by drink, and I don't make the citation flippantly. Following are three links that tell Kennedy's story.

The Charles Kennedy Story, by Alex Hunt & Brian Wheeler (BBC News)

Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy led his party to their best ever election result in 2005 but, battling a drink problem, had to resign a few months later. After his death at the age of 55, here's a look back at the life and career of one of the most influential politicians of his generation.

Kennedy's alcohol problems can be seen in a larger context.

Charles Kennedy’s alcohol problem was also Britain’s alcohol problem, by Hadley Freeman (The Guardian)

For the past decade, Charles Kennedy was treated by too many people as little more than a joke. This is, and was, in no way a reflection on the reportedly delightful man himself or his excellent abilities as a politician. It might not be so comfortable for some to remember now, seeing as the coverage of his very sad and all too early death has been focusing on Kennedy’s many strengths, with much emphasis being placed on his stand against the Iraq war.

Yet until yesterday, I hadn’t heard much mention of this for 10 years. Instead, whenever Kennedy’s name has been invoked on topical news shows – by half-assed comedians, by too many members of the public – it has been followed by a joking reference to his drinking problem.

Note the title of this 1999 profile of Kennedy, written as he was about to assume leadership of the Liberal Democrats. His brief period living in Bloomington, Indiana during a time when Indiana University enjoyed a nationwide reputation as a "party" school makes me wonder whether any friends ever crossed paths with him.

Profile: Charles Kennedy - The liberal party animal, by Donald MacIntyre (The Independent)

(Kennedy) was president of the university union before winning a Fulbright scholarship to Indiana University where he went to do to a PhD - and teach - political rhetoric after a spell working as a seasonal radio reporter in the BBC Highland office in Inverness. He was at Indiana University when the Liberal/SDP Alliance candidacy for the seat of Ross, Cromarty and Skye came up. Among several people he consulted was his former colleague - and later the BBC's hugely respected Scottish political editor - the late Kenny Macintyre, who had been something of a mentor and had urged him to have a crack at it. His father Ian toured the constituency, the largest in Britain - "two million acres of mountain glen and moors" as Kennedy junior described it - with his son, playing the fiddle to attract the more apolitical to meetings. At one, in Skye, a wag urged him not to prolong his speech shouting: "Aye, we know who you are, now come on Ian give us another tune."

Kennedy won the election at the tender age of 23. He was only 55 when he died.

Perhaps sometimes, being precocious isn't the best design for life.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Floyd County Brewing Company (in New Albany) is getting closer to opening.

Floyd County Brewing Company continues to progress toward a summer opening.

The brewer is former NABC brewery bad-ass Josh Hill (pictured), and I'm still experiencing mixed emotions in his absence from NABC. I'm simultaneously delighted for him, and wishing he still was on board at my place.

But they all leave the nest eventually, don't they?

FCBC is located in the heart of downtown New Albany on the southwest corner of Main and W. 1st Streets. It's already a busy intersection, and it can only get more highly populated. The YMCA is adjacent, and across the street there's The Exchange pub + kitchen (which currently is building new patio space) and Seeds & Greens Natural Market & Deli.

Previously I've devoted space at my civic affairs blog to noting just how busy this area will be, and the for pressing need to get the intersection equipped with crosswalks or whatever other traffic slowing mechanisms might make it friendlier for people, as opposed to their cars. Customers are going to walk across the street in all directions, and right now, this isn't always safe.

Must we wait for a traffic study to slow traffic and put crosswalks at the corner of Main and W. 1st?

I've served notice to Josh that there needs to be a good Ordinary Bitter on tap for his former employer.

CHECK OUT THOSE HOPS: Floyd County Brewing bringing fun, food and craft beer to New Albany, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune)

NEW ALBANY — The recent revitalization of downtown has often been referred to as New Albany’s renaissance; however, one brewery and restaurant is taking the medieval theme to heart.

From the giant turkey legs on the menu, to the clever “Floyd” character who serves as a sort of mascot for the establishment, Floyd County Brewing Co. seeks to offer a light-hearted alternative to the craft beer invasion that has swept through Indiana and the nation in recent years.

Sure, owners Brian and Julie Hampton, and Master Brewer Josh Hill believe their beer and food will be taken quite seriously, but they want to have some fun along the way.

“I hope it almost feels like you’re walking onto the set of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail,'” Brian Hampton said.

Monday, June 08, 2015

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 8 … Pecetto idyll, with a Parisian chaser.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 8 … Pecetto idyll, with a Parisian chaser.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Eighth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

It was June, 1985, and with a fair degree of self-inflicted ineptitude, somehow I’d reached the village of Pecetto, outside the city of Turin, in the northern Italian hills.

The ensuing six-day sojourn with my cousin Don and his friend (and our host) Scott provided an ideal chance to stop, relax and enjoy a slice of easygoing, rural Europe in temperate summer weather. It was delightful.

The first month of my trip was close to passing, with eight weeks still ahead. What had I learned, and what was to come?

A lot, although the Pecetto stopover provided a mundane amenity far more welcome than philosophical introspection -- namely, the opportunity to use a real washing machine for the first time since my departure.

Following the advice of books and budget travelers, I’d packed a bottle of Woolite and a universal rubber sink stopper, and discovered that sure enough, laundry done by hand in the hostel washroom usually would dry overnight even without a clothesline.

At times it didn’t, and the inevitable chafing taught me to begin the wash cycle earlier in the day, and to trust in the magic of baby powder. A routine was established: Housekeeping tasks first, sightseeing and beers later. It has stuck with me during all my subsequent trips.

Scott’s washer and the Italian sun conspired to successfully restore my sole pair of jeans to foldable status. I felt clean again, and after all, who wants to spend precious beer money at a laundromat? Not often, that’s for sure.

The morning after my arrival, Don and I conducted an inspection trip of the mom ‘n’ pop merchants clustered along the main street in tiny downtown Pecetto. We found a small family grocer’s cluttered shop, amassing a considerable supply of bottled, half-liter, Italian-brewed Birra Dreher, surely enough golden lager to last the entire week, and of course just as surely depleted in less than three days.

There was a return visit, eliciting the patron’s wry smile as he accepted another thick wad of Italian Lira, and surely began plotting his daughter’s burgeoning dowry.

Three times in six days we trundled halfway down the hill to the quiet town’s primary restaurant of note, a jam-packed traditional nerve center presided over by a jovial, mustachioed, Italian mirror image of Lech Walesa, the then-prominent leader of Solidarity, the Polish trade union.

The indefatigable maestro of the house offered a fixed price, all-you-can-eat “pasta carousel”, a much anticipated culinary event that involved a bottle of cheap house red wine, crunchy baked bread sticks, and portions of a dozen different pastas awash in cream sauces, garlic oil, marinara and pesto, each ladled into the waiting bowl of the expanding diner until exhaustion set in, more wine arrived, the kitchen closed, and Don began licking his plate.

One afternoon we happened upon a small distillery of some sort, and later asked our new restaurateur friend what type of spirits it produced. He pulled a bottle from behind the counter and poured samples. It was my first taste of grappa – Italian moonshine, fashioned from the pomace (skin, pulp, seeds and skins left over from winemaking).

The grappa was hot, fragrant and intriguing. I was becoming positively enchanted.


Meanwhile, cousin Don was reveling in the chance to provide information and share advice to me. At 40 years of age in 1985, he was a veteran traveler, whereas I was a painfully inexperienced novice. We’d talked enough about it over beers back home, and now, together for the first time abroad, our chats extended far into the night as we sat outside the villa and smoked cigars.

In 1985, Don was an adjunct faculty member at Florida State University, teaching European history. He’ll be retiring in 2016. His academic specialization was France, his cultural milieu French, and the place he liked to be, above all others, was Paris.

Having previously lamented that there’d be no way for us to coordinate schedules and meet in Paris later in the summer, Don began plotting one Pecetto evening over pasta. Scott had train schedules. We took a look, and possibilities came into focus.

Don’s idea was for us to take a Eurailpass railroad trip from Turin to Paris and back. We’d depart Pecetto on the earliest bus to Turin’s rail station (with Scott’s help, local transit payment options now made sense), then to Lyon in France, where the TGV high-speed train would bring us to Paris.

It was noted that Turin is not particularly close to Paris. At the time, it was more than four hours from Turin to Lyon, and another two and a half hours to Paris. We’d arrive in mid-afternoon, and have roughly six hours to roam the streets before boarding an overnight train back to Turin, on which we’d save money by napping in our seats.

The overnight train home was direct, without changes, but slower. If fortunate, we’d be feeling little pain by then. Given Don’s fundamentally bibulous proclivities, the odds seemed solidly in our favor, so off we went.


From the Gare Lyon, using tickets Don hoarded from a previous trip, we hopped the Metro to Notre Dame, the epicenter of Paris. The first couple hours were spent walking the usual tourist haunts, with care taken to have a draft beer at a sidewalk café. It was an invaluable orientation for my return visit in July.

But in truth, we’d actually taken the trouble to spend seven hours on trains for a far too brief stop in Paris, and then to cut short our sightseeing in the city, for only one reason: To eat and drink. Specifically, we were to find a North African joint and eat couscous – strictly speaking, tagine (stew) with couscous, although I didn’t really learn the difference for many years.

Couscous, tagine, merguez … these were not staples of the diet in Georgetown, Indiana. A cultural sonic boom was about to occur.

Don knew where to look for sustenance, and so had Arthur Frommer of $25-a-Day guidebook fame. Both recommended the Rue Xavier Privas, a tiny, narrow street on the Left Bank named for an early 20th-century French poet and songwriter.

In 1985, several North African eateries were located on Rue Xavier Privas. Googling the area these many years later, I am encouraged to see that at least one of them still operates.

The exact couscouserie we chose, and whether it was Moroccan, Tunisian or Algerian, is lost to me now. However, I recall the décor being simple, the patrons atmospheric, and Don’s suggested choice of communal meal absolutely outstanding. We ordered the least expensive menu option, which yielded a mound granule-sized couscous pasta accompanied by an urn of tagine, and chose a liter bottle of house red wine to go with it.

When the couscous ran out, it was replenished as part of the dish’s asking price. The tagine seemed destined for an early exit, but proved richer than it first appeared, and every last drop was absorbed with the help of crusty bread.

The first bottle of wine was depleted and repeated, too, although we happily paid for a second, because after all, while constituting a splurge, I still spent less than $15 dollars for the meal. I was lucky, as the dollar was strong against European currencies in 1985.

Next morning, there was a groggy awakening in Turin, the correct bus back to Pecetto, and afternoon naps before evening Drehers and stogies.

Couldn’t I do this the rest of my life?



The PC: Euro ’85, Part 7 … An eventful detour to Pecetto.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 6 … When in Rome, critical mass.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 5 … From Istanbul to Rome, with Greece in between.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 4 … With Hassan in Pithion.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 3 … Growing up in Greece.

The PC: Euro '85, Part 2 ... Hitting the ground crawling in Luxembourg.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 1 … Where it all began.