Friday, July 31, 2015

Cider in Poland, where "drinking is a national duty."

Why has it been 13 years since I've visited Poland?

When last there in 2002 for the ostensible purpose of drinking Polish-brewed Porters, my tour group often became sidetracked by the excellence of Polish mead.

Why not cider?

Cider in Poland: Apples, apples everywhere ... When drinking is a national duty (The Economist)

TOMASZ SOLIS dreams of the day when the countryside round Lublin, on the eastern edge of Poland, turns into another Tuscany: a place where motorists or cyclists make leisurely tours, stopping to refine their palates by sipping a delicate drink which only the local terroir could produce. But the beverage would be cider, not wine.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The brewing plan at Tell City's Pour Haus.

Thanks to my friend Mark for forwarding this link. We visited the Pour Haus last fall.

Four views of the Pour Haus in Tell City.

I've always been supportive of the notion of brewing returning to a place like Tell City, and I wish these guys the very best. At the same time -- and I'll try to keep it gentle -- let's hope the brewing business plan as briefly outlined below has more nuance than we're shown here.

The "craft" beer market currently isn't in a space where new beers take over the planet (or a tri-state area) just because they're new beers. Pour Haus needs to begin brewing with the idea that they'll be selling A LOT of their own beer in-house ... and have they prepared their customers to become the vanguard? There was A LOT of mass market beer being consumed on the night of my visitlast October, and frankly, that's Tell City's reputation. It can take time.

This isn't intended to be negative, just instructive. I've lived these successes and these mistakes, and feel as though I'm in a position to offer advice. I'll be pulling for them, and will make the drive down as soon as Pour Haus's beers are flowing.

Tell City restaurant to open brewery, by David DeLong (WFIE)

After being open for just over a year, a Tell City restaurant is close to opening up a brewery.

The owner says the new beer will be available for people across the Tri-State.

Eight fermenters at the Pour Haus in Tell City are ready to go, but first the crew needs to decide what recipes they like.

“They taste pretty good,” says Co-Owner Derek Cronin.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The wisdom of Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" -- without pounding that Budweiser.

Photo credit

Ostensibly, this post is about baseball and beer, although I will not be approaching it from the angle of "craft at the ballpark," because I simply cannot muster the interest necessary to dissect the inept beer presentation of the Louisville Bats for a 21st consecutive year.

For all I know, it may have gotten better this year; if so, I'm sure it is an accident.

Rather, as I've reminded readers so often in the past, one does not live on IBUs alone. There must be cross-disciplinary associations, sometimes providing reinforcement, and often suggesting new perspectives.

Or, you can have a Bud Light.

Like the writer Seth Magalaner, I also read Ball Four around the year 1970, when I was 10 years old. It may have been 1971, because my copy was a paperback, generally released only after the publisher had profited sufficiently from the opening hardbound release.

It made a deep and abiding impression. In this review of sorts from 2009, Magalaner hits me right where I'm living these days.

Ball Four endures on strength of its characters, by Seth Magalaner (Hardball Cooperative)

I first read Ball Four in 1970, the year of its publication, when I was 10. In the years since, I have kept a copy fairly constantly on my bedside table; every few months I’ll usually pick it up and read some passages at random, the way a man of faith might refresh himself with a periodic dip into scripture. OK, I will not go so far as to suggest that Ball Four is a sacred text. But unlike virtually any other sports book I can name, it compels and rewards re-reading. Why?

Why? I'll be 55 on Monday, I'm running for mayor of New Albany, and in terms of my consciousness as it pertains to thirty-odd years in the beer trade ... well, I'm "fending off professional mortality, and re-defining (myself) in relation to (my) vocation and avocation."

For me, it’s because Bouton’s baseball diary stands in the classic line of great coming-of-age books, or perhaps more accurately, coming-of-consciousness books. He’s an archetypal comic hero, negotiating experience with a mixture of exhilaration and anxiety, and an acute, intuitive sense of both what he possesses and what he is missing. What makes this so poignant—and so resonant for readers of all ages—is that he’s outgrowing baseball’s acquiescent, adolescent mindset, fending off professional mortality, and re-defining himself in relation to his vocation and avocation, all at the same time. He’s Huck Finn, Yossarian, and Frank Bascombe stuffed into a single uniform. (With a dollop of Stephen Dedalus for good measure, as he struggles to master the sublime and ridiculous art of the knuckleball in the sweaty smithy of the bullpen. It’s easy to imagine a tonsured, Bud-soaked Joe Schultz grabbing his crotch and saying “Well, forge this.”).

Very eloquent.

Actually, I'm feeling stronger every day. Let's see where this goes.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The PC: We pause Euro '85 to remember the Mathäser Bierstadt in Munich.

The PC: We pause Euro '85 to remember the Mathäser Bierstadt in Munich.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

I. In which we take a bathroom break at halftime.

Having reached the approximate midpoint of my ongoing Euro '85 series, there'll be a small breather now while I exhume various relics from the banker's box in the basement. The transition from Munich to Ireland in July of that year represents the point at which all previous efforts to write about my experience have run aground.

This time, I am quite determined to finish the story.

First, there'll be some belated editing of the Munich installment. Almost immediately after publishing it last week, there was a loud slap of my forehead in annoyed recognition of my omitting certain significant details about 1980s-era Munich, like experiencing the gargantuan 5,000-seat beer hall known as Mathäser Bierstadt, and in doing so with none other than my cousin, Don Barry, because he was there, too.

At least I think he was.

Of course he was.

Well, maybe ...

For the moment, while I take a pause for additional research, let's move briefly forward to 1987 ... and 2007, and 2009, and even 2011, because in the end, one of the most rewarding aspects of blogging is feedback, and in the case of my 2007 rumination about our 1987 frivolity at the Mathäser, it took two years before two comments were appended. Two others followed in 2011.

Reprinted below, these are uproarious and informative stories, and they stand entirely on their own. Reading them, I find myself strangely moved, almost to tears; four complete strangers, all expressing reverence at the memories of this legendary beer hall, and feeling genuine sadness and pain to know it is no more.

This is why I sought a life in beer -- not the fleeting ephemera and narcissism and chest-thumping, but this sense of mystical awe. This is what I'm chasing. The thought crosses my mind that there may need to be a Mathäser Fan Shrine somewhere on the internetz so we all can pay our respects to what once seemed the epitome of Munich-ness.

Here is the 2007 post that got the ball rolling.


II. Mathäser, Munich and the summer of '87 with the lads.

July 16, 17 and 18 are holy days in the pantheon of the Curmudgeon’s beer travels, for it was on these three days in 1987 that I was joined in Munich by Bob Gunn, Barrie Ottersbach and my cousin Don Barry for three nights of Bavarian bacchanalia.

The stories have been suitably embellished over the decades, and yet there remains a core of truthfulness to the anecdotes.

There was my episode of disgruntlement at having to leave a beer hall at an hour I considered to be far too early, and a stern worker’s gentle suggestion to take the argument elsewhere.

There was Don rising from the bench to tell us that he’d had enough and was returning to his hotel … except that his lips never moved and no sound was emitted in spite of his subsequent recollections of prime oratory brilliance.

There were liter steins of beer, various and sundry sausages, Deutschmarks and Pfennigs, aspects of unfathomable etiquette that became second nature before the last glass was poured, and a constant flow of conversation, information and education.

To me, it remains remarkable that we coordinated our arrivals so well. While making plans to meet friends in Munich in order to partake of the city’s bountiful beer and pig flesh wasn’t such an unprecedented feat, and we’ve managed to do it many times since, considering the circumstances at the time and our relative inexperience traveling, the manner by which our scheme came to fruition still elicits a smile.

Knowing that we all would be in Europe during the summer of 1987, detailed planning began over the Christmas holidays in 1986. Barrie and I had booked a two-week tour of the Soviet Union and proposed to approach Munich by rail from Prague. Bob, who was on his first trip to the continent, and Don, who had been many times, had devised detailed itineraries, and both would be arriving in Munich on the same day, but from different directions. As was his habit, Don booked a single room at a favorite haunt, while the rest of us made reservations together in a triple at another hotel somewhat near the Munich train station.

We knew what day to be there and where we’d be staying, and yet in those far-off and primitive times, lacking e-mail and mobile phones, and with each member of the quartet having been traveling for quite some time before the projected Munich gathering, a considerable element of uncertainty was palpable.

In essence, could we remain sufficiently sober, avoid unexpected transportation delays, show up on time, and be where we were supposed to be?

Happily, it went off without a hitch. Barrie and I arrived at the Hauptbahnhof and found Don idling with beer in hand at the fabled Track 16 Imbiss, and after enjoying a few Pschorrbraus and portions of Leberkäse, we ran into Bob at the hotel.

Admittedly, had I known then what I know now, we’d have avoided Munich entirely and gone instead to Bamberg, but given our remedial state of beer knowledge, it’s likely that the choice of Munich was all for the best. We might not have fully grasped Rauchbier and Kellerbier. We needed a larger stage, and found it.

The city’s brewery consolidations had already started to diminish historical distinctions, although international corporate investors had yet to appear as they have in recent years. The future could be glimpsed, but at the same time old ways seemed to persist.

These traditions can be pleasing so long as it is remembered that much of what Americans know about Germany actually pertains to Bavaria, and much of what they know about Bavaria actually applies to Munich alone.

For example, “beer halls” in the sense of the Hofbrauhaus generally do not exist in matching scale outside the city of Munich. Moreover, in 1987 a beer hall even larger than the Hofbrauhaus was our home away from home for two glorious evenings: Mathäser Bierstadt, which was tied to Lowenbrau.

It was cavernous, filled with nooks and byways and various banquet rooms and snugs, and decidedly grittier than the Hofbrauhaus – no less attractive for tourists, but rowdy and with an earthier composition of native German barfly.

These many years later, what I’ve taken away from three Munich nights in July isn’t capable of being detailed. That I experienced it with wide eyes and a sense of wonderment cannot be doubted. For a beer- and history-loving Hoosier just shy of his 27th birthday, roaming Europe for the second time, Munich was the epitome. It was Disneyland with ubiquitous mugs of foamy lager and all the sauerkraut and potatoes one cared to eat.

Unfortunately, the Mathäser perished, and the site is now an ultra-modern cinema and entertainment complex. I walked past it in 2004 and bowed in reverence for what used to be. The last time I was there during its actual existence was in 1995, and even then the beer hall seemed exhausted even if we did our level best to enliven the proceedings.

Dubbed American movies probably are showing now, and outside the cinema, you’ll see imported Miller and Corona throughout the city. The old brands aren’t the same, at least to me. Oktoberfest lagers become ever more golden, and all beer tastes steadily colder on each trip. There even is a Hofbrauhaus franchise in Newport, Kentucky, and more coming to America.

Fond memories, indeed, and now increasingly balanced by melancholy.


III. Now for the comments: RIP, Mathäser Bierstadt.

D said ...

Beautifully written, I share your sentiments totally and with equal sadness. In the winter of '62-'63 while working in the banquet hall and night club at the Hotel Bayerischerhof, the Mathäser ( I agree with that spelling too) was THE BEST.

My daughter, Meghan, is about to embark on a trip to Munich ... here is what I wrote her today July 29.09:

Your upcoming trip to Germany is bringing back some pretty strong memories, one of which unleashed a flood of emotion when I just discovered, a few minutes ago, that my all-time favorite Beer Hall in Munich, the Mathaeser (which used to be a stone's throw from the main station, the Hauptbahnhof, and the main traffic circle, Karlsplatz -- colloquially known to us locals as Stachus) has been torn apart and has become a modern, artificial multiplex cinema and urban bar/restaurant center.

That is a fucking crime.

Meg, this breaks my heart and I'm crying as I write this and knock back a couple of Labatt Blues, saddened that a place which was so central to my experience in Munich has been so abused and all I am left with is my memories of so many wonderful wild nights there with my best friend, Andy Gardiner (who was to die, almost appropriately, a few years later in a late night, post pubbing car crash near Cambridge, UK).

The Mathaeser was a HUGE, and I mean massive open beer hall (held 3000+) with a boxing ring type stage in the middle upon which performed various wonderful oompahpah bands with their 'blasmusik' ...I can hear them now ... "Heute blau und morgen blau und oooooooooober morgen wiederrrrr!" ("Sad today and tomorrow sad too and the day after all over again!"). Perfect to sing when you are half wasted on huge steins of frothy beer straight 'vom fass' (from the spring or barrel) interspersed with shots of schnapps dispensed by hefty aproned waitresses with an aluminum bucket full of ice containing a bottle or two of schnapps over their muscled arm. In the same hand they held a tray of shot glasses. They just wandered through the crowd pouring shots which we sometimes just dropped into our steins, glass and all, depth charge style.

(A depth charge was a mine dropped on submarines in WW2 … when it reached a certain depth it exploded, hopefully on top of a German submarine. Those schnapps 'charges' were pretty devastating too!)

All the while singing lusty (lustiger) German beer drinking songs, arms locked with those of complete strangers and rocking rhythmically back and forth, row-the-boat style, on the benches on which we all sat, twelve to a table.

Then, if you were hungry you could retire to one of many satellite rooms off the main hall which served 'eintopf' of wonderfully tasty linzensuppe (lentil soup) served with semmeln (rolls with sesame seeds), soup guaranteed to make you fart for a week.

Oh Meg, those were great times. We were so broke but managed to have such memorable times.

The Mathaeser's ( pronounced mattayser) rival was the Hofbrauhaus....after which the famous song was sung...

In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus (Hofbroyhouse)
Eins, zwei, g'suffa ...(pronounced zuffah)
Da läuft ( loyft) so manches Fäßchen ( fessschen) aus:
Eins, zwei, g'suffa ...


In Munich is the Hofbrau pub--
One, two, drink up!!
So many kegs flowed out of it
One, two, drink up!!!

To us it never rivalled the wildness of the Mathaeser. Hitler spoke here and you could feel, even in 1962/3, an undercurrent of angry, cold, nastiness, as opposed to the Mathaeser's good old German friendly spirit (gemütlichkeit = gemootlichkite)

But, today it is all that is left and the service sucks and they steal your change if you aren't careful but it is still a must in Munich.

Prost !!!


P said ...

Thanks for your reminiscences of the Mathäser Bierstadt, which also left me with a feeling of melancholy for great times gone forever.

I caught the overnight train from London to Munich in the summer of ‘75 looking for a holiday job. Having spent all the first day in a fruitless search for work, I was heading along Bayerstrasse back to the Hauptbahnhof to collect my stuff in anticipation of having to sleep in the park for the night when I tried one last time at the hotel right next to the Mathäser, Hotel Stachus. It worked and I got a bellboy/washer-up/night porter/general dogsbody job for the summer.

My duties basically consisted of anything that nobody else wanted to do, such as washing up for breakfast. Now, standing over a hot, steaming sink at 7.30 am on a warm summer’s morning washing up for 150 Swedes may not sound like a lot of fun, but the perk of the job was the handily-placed fridge, packed with deliciously cold half-litre bottles of Löwenbräu.

I have not drunk beer at that time of day before or since, but never has the golden nectar tasted so sweet or slipped down so effortlessly and however much I drank, I never felt drunk because I was sweating so much from the hot kitchen it just seemed to go straight through the system. This was going to be a great job.

The Mathäser was a constant presence. It was so close you could see into it at the back because the kitchen windows of the hotel looked straight down onto it. The oompah bands were generally audible in the background at most times of the day and night, and even during the hours when it was closed there was always activity or movement of some sort going on and the place seemed to be reassuringly alive and breathing even if it was now at rest, like a friendly giant slumbering in the background.

As you would expect, the Mathäser had a huge kitchen (or apparently five kitchens:äser). Whenever a large party arrived at short notice and the hotel was short of food, I would be sent round from the hotel to pick up a few hundred frozen Schnitzel. The head chef knew me and would just add a couple of ticks to the slate as I staggered out under the load, a mere drop in the ocean of the vast quantity of supplies at his disposal. I think they must have brewed beer on site as well, because on warm, slightly damp mornings the streets around the back were always filled with that wonderful smell of brewing hops.

There were plenty of other large beer-halls and beer-gardens in Munich, usually displaying the arms of the brewery to which they were attached: Spaten, Paulaner, Franziskaner, Hacker-Pschorr come to mind and I selflessly devoted many hours to a thorough investigation of the particular qualities of each of their different brews: Pils, Export, Export Dunkel (always my favourite but you don’t seem to be able to get it now, not the same stuff anyway) and so on.

But none had the all-encompassing warmth and down-to-earth openness of the Mathäser. You walked in and it was always busy and unaffected: all life seemed to be there simply enjoying itself and to have been there enjoying itself for eternity, like a timeless tavern scene painted by one of the Dutch masters. But after a moment’s surprised contemplation, you realised that all you had to do was find a small space in those vast, cavernous rooms, sit down and get the Fräulein to bring you the first Maß, and you became a part of that eternal scene yourself.

The Mathäser was not sophisticated, but it was genuine, and it is indeed a tragedy that it has been replaced by a soulless, glass-and-aluminium ‘entertainment’ complex, where the closest you can get to a decent drop is a miniscule amount of beer served in a champagne glass at some frigging café. They don’t know what they’re missing …


E said ...

Thank you for your wonderful memories and for stirring my own deeply felt memories of youth.

On my nineteenth birthday, a Sunday in June 1968, I found the Mathaeser Bierstadt of Munich by accident. Walking on the street outside with my buddy, a fellow soldier from the 24th Infantry Division, we entered an alcove, drawn by the wonderful smells of cooking sausage. Then, from somewhere, I heard music. We explored further, up a staircase and opened two huge doors--and there it was--beer-drinkers heaven. It was 11AM on a Sunday morning and there were two thousand people in the place! DRINKING BEER! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

We were two dopey kids, but we stumbled upon one of the greatest beer-drinking joints in the world! And I love beer. For the next year, it became my favorite place in Munich, our home away from home. We would take the #6 trolley to Karlsplatz, walk toward the Hauptbahnhof and there we were. It was, at one time, in the Guinness Book of Records. More beer was served in that building, in one year, than anywhere in the world.

Everything the previous posters wrote was right-on about the place. I have the warmest of memories the place of how kind the people treated a young soldier. I can't believe it's gone. That makes me very sad.

Again-thank you for the memories.


J said ...

My partner and I lived and worked in Munich in '78-79. The Mathäser was our favourite watering hole by a country mile and believe me we sampled a few! Saturday nights at the Mathäser were always packed with incident. It was a place that you felt was steeped in history, very down to earth and REAL compared with the tourist traps.

We were so happy that on a visit ten years later very little had changed and we naively expected it to be ever thus. I only found out its fate today (April '11) after a search on Google Earth/Streetview. We are devastated that it has gone. I thought that Müncheners of all people were a breed that valued what they had.

So sad.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Vomitorium now in progress as AB-InBev hack dupes CNBC stenographer.

Reading this article reminds me of the time 35 years ago when I made it all the way through Mein Kampf, written (screamed?) by some fellow named Hitler.

Wait a minute -- no, it doesn't. There's a crucial difference.

Like AB-InBev's flunky Andy Goeler, Hitler was spouting pure gibberish. Unlike Goeler, Hitler believed in his own gibberish and set about to prove how catastrophic it really was.

Goeler doesn't believe his own corporate gibberish. Unfortunately, many "craft" beer aficionados will, and that's catastrophic, too, so let me remind you of something:

The very existence of AB and its engorged successor, AB-InBev, made it necessary for us to take beer back from the bean-counting Philistines by prying it from the monolith's cold, dead (but profitable) hands, by means of a revolution. There is no way, as in cannot happen, that anything AB-InBev ever does can facilitate better beer in any meaningful sense. It can only subtract from better beer. It can only bastardize. It can only destroy integrity. It cannot add it. Ever.

Death to AB-InBev -- then, now, tomorrow.

Inside Anheuser-Busch’s craft beer deals, by Tom Rotunno (CNBC)

 ... "If you look at craft right now, it's playing a very important role in the industry, and while around 80 percent of consumers still enjoy and drink domestic large lagers, the craft piece of the business is really growing," said Andy Goeler, CEO of craft for Anheuser-Busch InBev's Anheuser-Busch division. "It's adding a lot of excitement and so our strategy is really simple, it's to participate in the excitement that's going on in craft" ...

 ... To that extent the Anheuser-Busch has developed a two-pronged approach: Create its own in-house national brands like Shock Top, while at the same time expanding its portfolio by acquiring established regional craft brewers with room to grow.

"We look for owners that share a passion, have an amazing beer culture and have partners that take a long-term view and who want to keep expanding and do more things in the world of beer," he said.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

When NABC's Porter become "old," but not as a result of aging.

Label art by the inimitable Tony Beard.

Ten years ago this July 17, I explained a delicate issue about Porter. 

First, let's review the origins of Bob’s Old 15-B.

When NABC first brewed Bob Capshew's competition-winning homebrewed Robust Brown Porter back in 2003, the reaction was so favorable that we decided to continue. Later, when the Beer Judge Certification Program unexpectedly altered its numbering system for style categories and subcategories, Bob's became prefixed "old" rather than be renumbered – but don’t be fooled, because the flavor is forever young.

Here is what I wrote at the time. Note that Publicanista! has long since been abandoned, but the ale lives on. 


New Albanian Brewing's porter to become "old," but not as a result of aging.

Every other week, and sometimes more often if there’s time, I write Publicanista!, the official newsletter of Rich O’s Public House, the New Albanian Brewing Company and Sportstime Pizza.

You can subscribe to this on-line newsletter by going to and following the directions in the box to the bottom right of the page.

Here’s an excerpt from last week.

NABC brewer Jesse Williams has a batch of Bob’s 15 B porter on the way, and therein a problem has arisen. Evidently, the official numbering scheme for style and sub-style definitions has changed, and according to the Beer Judge Certification Program, 15 B now refers to German Dunkel Weizen.

I’m inclined to leave the name unchanged for the sake of tradition, and to observe the vital dictates of remaining contrarian at all times with respect to style, but your thoughts are appreciated. Next Friday (July 22) we’ll have a cask-conditioned firkin of Bob’s 15 B pouring from the beer engine.

Both my business partner Amy and longtime FOSSILS club stalwart Ed Tash wrote to suggest that we change the name of the beer to Old 15 B, and Ed included this rationale:

I've been giving some thought to your dilemma, caused by the BJCP changing robust porter from 15 B to 12 B. I suggest you call your Porter "Bob's Old 15 B.”

Here's why. There is book about Jack Daniels whisky published about a year ago that attempts to explain the origin of Jack Daniels Old Number 7.

According to the author, the number 7 was the license number of the Jack Daniels distillery. The borders of the county the distillery was located in changed, and the distillery changed counties (without moving), which caused the distillery to be given a new license number. Jack Daniels had established “7” as a brand name and didn't want to start over with a new name, so he put "Old Number 7" on the barrels, bottles, etc.

I have not read the book, but I heard the author interviewed on WFPL-FM 89.3 when the book came out.

Now you know more about Jack Daniels than you ever wanted to know, but bottom line is that I think you should keep 15 B in the name; your customers already know the name and what to expect from the beer.

Besides, only a handful of geeks know that Robust Porter is now 12 B.

Ed makes a strong case, and Amy agrees -- so it will be.

The forthcoming batch of Bob’s Old 15 B will be the first to bear the qualifier … but not the last.


Friday, July 24, 2015

"Am I post-craft?" Yes, The Cat's Back is where I'd rather be.

He doesn't post often, but it's worth reading.

Am I post-craft?, by Jeff Pickthall (It's Just the Beer Talking)

... A recent long weekend in London allowed me to consider my own feelings about the craft revolution I had long wished for.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Roger Baylor's $21 at 55 Birthday Party Fundraiser on Monday, August 3.

For those just tuning in, I am running for mayor of New Albany as an independent candidate ... and there's a birthday coming up. I'm rolling them together.

Roger Baylor's $21 at 55 Birthday Party Fundraiser (on Fb)

Please don't bring a gift to my 55th birthday party at the Public House on August 3. Rather, pack a $20 and a $1 (or the equivalent) as a recommended donation to my mayoral campaign. I hate to be crass, but honesty is a rare virtue in political circles, and yes, we need a few bucks to mount the campaign.

I have resolved to forego big-dollar PAC money and unregulated "soft" slush funds from afar -- and it's a good thing I did, because no one's offered any of it to me, anyway. If you can't make it on the 3rd, kindly permit me to direct your attention to our Square portal, where small donations to the campaign can be made.

Shift to Baylor

Thank you for your support. On the 3rd, the usual food and drink options will be available for those wishing to dine, or just come for a chat. If you're short on cash, don't worry. COME ANYWAY.

See you on the 3rd.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kevin Gibson in LEO Weekly: "Homebrew: Craft beer before craft beer was cool."

FOSSILS meeting in 1997.

Kudos to Kevin Gibson for this well-researched and entertaining "recent" history of homebrewing in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

Kevin surveys LAGERS and FOSSILS, the latter of which celebrates its 25th birthday in September. I'll have more information on this, but in the meantime, if you were a member back in the day, keep the weekend of September 11, 12 and 13 open.

Homebrew: Craft beer before craft beer was cool, by Kevin Gibson (LEO Weekly)

The mustachioed 20-something sips away at his IPA of the week as he peers around the bar. All around him, people drink beers of all styles, colors and creeds. “Craft beer” is the buzz term of the 2010s thanks to a beer-drinking public that has increasingly demanded more and more from its beer than a 12-ounce, ice-cold bottle of “Corporate Light” can muster.

But good beer has been around for centuries. And it’s been around Louisville since the city was settled in the late 1700s and even after the fall of commercial brewing here in 1978. Home brewers kept the boilers burning in small batches during Prohibition, and they kept them burning even when light beers became the American fancy and the boilers at Falls City were turned off. At that point, the only beer Louisvillians — and most Americans — had available to drink was what many beer enthusiasts now call “corporate swill.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"It is the death of all original thought."

Two brief ruminations about beer, both British, and both finding the center of the target in my increasingly jaded world.

First, the lamentable passing of the neighborhood boozer, and the trend of marketing beer with food.

How to get the Brits to drink more beer, by Henry Jeffreys (The Guardian)

... One of the things I love most about beer is its uncomplicated pleasure. I appreciate the taste but I don’t want to worry about whether I’m drinking the right one with my pork scratchings. As soon as people start trying to match beer with food then it can add a layer of pretension.

I have not disavowed my longtime advocacy of beer and food together, and intend to continue being hedonistic when the mood strikes, but even so, I harbor similar reservations for similar reasons. Balance, I say. Let there be Minted Pepper Saison in the lamb marinade and thimbles accompanying it at the beer dinner, as well as four-deep pints of session-strength Best Bitter ... and public transportation to make it home.

And, let's applaud a boot in the groin of these pub chalkboard images serving as the sole educational outreach of all manner of on-premise establishments on social media. It drives me crazy. Do we educate about anything any longer?

Free with every pint: how about a boot in the groin of the pub chalkboard?, by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett (The Guardian)

As a Guardian contributor, there are many things that grind my gears: rampant inequality, the prohibitive cost of quinoa and, of course, the consequences of rewilding in Hebden Bridge. But if one thing is guaranteed to raise my blood pressure faster than you can say neoliberalism, it’s the “humorous” pub chalkboard.

The tedious, predictable, cynical, unimaginative, intellectually vacuous cult of the pub chalkboard has become a national problem, and I have reached the end of my tether. Every day on social media ever more specimens seek me out, cynically concocted to maximise exposure. When I walk down the street they sidle up smugly, and I am transformed into a senselessly furious punk. I want to buy a pair of Dr Martens just so I can kick one in its smug, intentionally Instagramable groin, making them all topple like dominoes as I snarl and spit and swear.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 14 … Beers and breakfast in Munich.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 14 … Beers and breakfast in Munich.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Fourteenth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

It took a month and a half of roaming the continent, but finally came Germany. Upon arrival in Munich, I was presented with a reality check.

The jolt was not unexpected. In fact, I’d avoided it for a while.

The Mediterranean – Greece, Turkey and Italy – had proven to be refreshingly affordable in the summer of 1985, but I had always been aware that as I moved northward, this would change. In Vienna and Salzburg, the independent hostel prices had been so reasonable that with a modicum of restraint in food and drink, the budget stayed balanced. The challenge would begin in Germany.

Simply stated, finances were not a negotiable proposition for me. Periodic splurges had to be planned with laser precision, and the daily undertow was vital to maintain. Between traveler’s checks and a debit card, I had just enough money to average spending somewhere between $20 and $25 a day for roughly three months.

There was no Plan B, although it helped that the exchange rate for most European currencies in the summer of 1985 was praiseworthy to the point of unprecedented (three Deutschmarks to one U.S. dollar, for starters). This was as good as it would get for some years to come.

Still, for the remainder of the trip, bargains would be few, and it was time to deploy the full arsenal of budget travel tricks, as outlined by Arthur Frommer in his “Europe on $25 Dollars-A-Day” or “Let’s Go: Europe,” as well as gleaned from conversations with fellow travelers.

For instance, it always was a good idea to carry a few plastic freezer bags, and this assertion requires a “preferred lodgings” digression.

That first trip, I stayed in many youth hostels. Understandably, youth hostel breakfasts (when available) tended to be basic. There’d be coffee and tea, some rolls, butter and jam, and maybe fruit. They tended to be just enough, which was fine for the price – sometimes inclusive, other times a la carte.

My hope for Munich was to stay in an officially registered “international” youth hostel. I knew it would be my only chance to do so, given that in Bavaria hostels did not accept guests over the age of 25. I was as yet 24 and fully qualified, but to my disappointment, beds were exceedingly tight, as in: None at all.

(The major drawback to hostels was the frequency of stays by large groups of younger schoolchildren during high season, and this was the problem in Munich.)

In the end, I was compelled to stay in an actual hotel near Munich’s central axis, albeit it in a tiny closet of a room with communal toilets and showers down the hall, and for double the price of a hostel bunk. But it was clean and private, and there was a nice surprise in store.

The saving grace of my hotel room was the breakfast buffet at no extra charge, and on the first morning it seemed as though I’d entered the wrong hall by mistake. Bountiful was an understatement, and available beverages and edibles included coffee, tea, juice, milk, quark, yogurt, fresh fruit, bread, rolls, eggs, muesli, ham, salami and cheese.

I ate as intemperately as possible, and the discrete use of my handy freezer bag meant that lunch later in the afternoon became a seamless extension of breakfast.

Granted, I didn’t always stay in reputable establishments like this, of the type affording such creative buffet options for secretive carry-out. When I did, the goal became double duty. All hail the plastic freezer bag.


In an era of railpass holders, Munich’s Hauptbahnhof (main train station) obviously was the focal point of arrival and departure for most visitors to the city. A country bumpkin like me soon learned that it also served as crossing point for numerous U-Bahn (subway) and S-Bahn (suburban rail) lines.

The latter was operated by the German state railway, and so it could be used with a railpass, but not the subway, which had its own tariff regime. Travelers confusing their U’s and S’s were sometimes spotted paying on-the-spot fines.

Just outside the Hauptbahnhof, city buses queued and fixed track trams rattled past. As in Vienna, the transit options were fairly bewildering. It should suffice to say that literally, one could get anywhere in Munich (or Germany, or Europe) from the Hauptbahnhof.

As with airports, big urban train stations of the time were complete one-stop shops. A traveler could get a hot shower, buy fresh produce and snacks, peruse the latest in electronics and video gear, or pick up a newspaper from just about any European country.

At the same time, these train stations seemed gritty, evocative and genuine, invariably more “real” than airports, which by virtue of their isolated locations always felt artificial and contrived by comparison.

Train stations were organic and connected, not hermetically sealed, perhaps precisely because they served as daily crossing and congregating points for ordinary people from all walks of life, generally of the sort who don’t routinely commute to work, shopping or visits to grandma by airplane.

Beginning around 1989, Munich’s Hauptbahnhof was extensively remodeled and modernized, evidently as part of a long-term European goal of making train stations into sleek, antiseptic, carbon copies of airports. It is a trend I detest.

Which brings me to the art of drinking beer in a train station.


So it was that in Munich in 1985, a city where all self-respecting beer tourists were supposed to submit to the ritualistic visit to the Hofbrauhaus (yes, I duly complied during my stay), and then make the rounds of various beer gardens, tap rooms and traditional restaurants (for me, these came on later trips), the single most enduringly totemic chapter in the beer travel narrative of mine, which would expand exponentially during the years to come, but still was very much a work in progress early on, was a fatal attraction to the Imbiss (snack bar) by Gleis (track) 16.

The Imbiss, as it was then, has long since been gone. There’s probably a Burger King there now. To be honest, it wasn’t all that much during its heyday, but during the 1980’s this simple, functional train station concession stand was a genuine Munich destination for budget travelers the world over.

There were two long windows with outside counter space, plentiful tile and stainless steel, wonderful beer taps, kitchen equipment for preparing basic food, and several customarily greasy, though by necessity crisply efficient, employees in blue smocks.

In front of the Imbiss were a handful of wooden tables that resembled smaller, elongated versions of the telephone wire spools that used to litter backyards in the Georgetown of my youth.

Standing at the tables during morning, evening and night were locals, tourists, commuters, vagrants and assorted hangers-on, the majority of them savoring the Imbiss’s only true specialties: Cool Hacker-Pschorr golden lager and a portion of delicious Leberkäse, a high-quality form of all-meat bologna for the aesthete, cut from a warm deli-sized square loaf, weighed and priced, and served with a crusty roll and plenty of spicy mustard.

True, there were other choices. I could have opted for a Hefeweizen and Weisswurst (wheat ale and white sausage) combo with sweet mustard. Perhaps there were soft drinks, too, but no matter. The Imbiss at Gleis 16 was the place to sip beers and watch people, and it rarely disappointed.

The same could be said of Munich. My three days there were filled with long walks, museum visits, a day trip to Fussen in the Bavarian Alps for the bus up to looney King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein castle, and periodic visits to the Imbiss at Gleis 16 for refueling.

Insofar as my budget permitted, I emerged sated, and it was time to begin gravitating toward the Atlantic Ocean.



The PC: Euro ’85, Part 13 … Tears of overdue joy at Salzburg's Augustiner.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 12 … Stefan Zweig and his world of yesterday.

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

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, July 19, 2015

Local restaurants join to fight addiction by raising money for The Healing Place.

Wednesday, July 22 is the date:

Dine Out and Support THP!

Join us on July 22nd as dozens of Louisville restaurants join the fight against addiction and raise money for The Healing Place.

Thus far, the only Southern Indiana restaurant on this list is Bread and Breakfast (157 E. Main Street in New Albany). Thanks, Laura.

My friend David "Bistro New Albany" Clancy's life quite possibly was saved by this program, and when he contacted me earlier this year, I recommended NABC's participation in the event. Perhaps the memo got lost in the tall grass.

Sorry if it offends anyone, but bluntness is merited here: Substance abuse is an occupational hazard of the restaurant industry, period. If you've been part of this business, you know exactly what I mean. Please do what you can to support THP, either by dining out on the 22nd, donating directly, or just helping get the word out.

Restaurants tackle addiction among workers, by Jere Downs (Courier-Journal)

Rampant substance abuse in the restaurant industry has sparked the upcoming “86 Addiction” event, whereby dozens of local eateries will donate 10 percent of their proceeds Wednesday to help The Healing Place.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

My beer with Cezary Wlodarczyk, and what's up at Falls City, Old 502 and Over the 9.

I've been intending to publish this link for ages, and finally something happened this week to remind me.

First, the overview.

The home of Falls City Beer and Old 502 Winery on the edge of the Portland neighborhood is adding a new restaurant and bar called Over the 9, at

With a name referencing the emerging district west of 9th Street near downtown, Over the 9 is adjacent to the brewing and winemaking facilities for Old 502 and Falls City, at 120 S. 10th Street. The previous beer and wine tasting room is currently undergoing renovations to include an expanded, full-service bar and the facilities needed to accommodate a kitchen and table service.

Over the 9’s menu will be curated by Griffin Paulin, known for his culinary creativity with local restaurants Hammerhead’s and Roux, as well as the popular Ten Tables program.

Next, the ownership clarification.

The addition of a full-service restaurant and bar, Over the 9, comes on the heels of a leadership transition at Falls City. Louisville entrepreneur John Neace has acquired the ownership rights of Falls City Brewing Co., purchasing the storied beer brand from David Easterling. Neace first partnered with Easterling last year as an equity investor in a deal that resulted in Falls City co-locating with Old 502 Winery, which Neace also owns.

Here's the really interesting part, at least to this old roamer of Eastern European lands.

Neace has named Cezary Wlodarczyk president of Falls City Brewing Co. Wlodarczyk has extensive experience in the beverage alcohol business, including international marketing, sales and general management leadership roles with Brown-Forman, Nolet Spirits and Diageo. Past experience also includes leadership roles with Snapple and Procter & Gamble.

Cezary called me two weeks ago, and we met for a beer at Bank Street Brewhouse. It turns out that we're about the same age. He was born and raised in Gdansk, Poland, and his father worked at the Lenin Shipyards during the time of Solidarity. Later he moved to Mexico, then lived both in Miami and Louisville during the high-powered beverage career recapped above.

We had a wonderful discussion about Central European culture and history, barely even touching on current business affairs, although I'd like to learn more about what Cezary and Neace have in mind for Falls City.

Meanwhile, early "pre-reviews" of Over the 9 have been stellar. I plan on meeting Cezary there soon, and giving it a sample.

Friday, July 17, 2015

If you care about whatever "craft" remains in beer, then Firestone Walker's "deal" with Duvel Moortgat means absolutely nothing.

Rolls eyes, yawns.

The unspeakable tedium.

Then inevitably, someone must "reach out."

Acquired, invested in; semantics, gymnastics and pyrotechnics. Human being are incrably predisposed to speak in terms of euphemism. We slept together, had sex or had conjugal relations, though never just plain "fucked," when the latter describes it far more elegantly.

Yes, the article is updated.

[Update] Firestone Walker Brewing Makes Investment Deal With Duvel Moortgat, by Dan at the Full Pint

7/17 Update — 17 hours after we posted this, David Walker of Firestone Walker reached out to me regarding the headline “Firestone Walker Brewing Has Been Acquired by Duvel Moortgat.” He said the headline was causing trouble and if I had any questions, to send them his way.

After asking both David Walker and Simon Thorpe of Duvel flat out if this was an acquisition or sale, I was not given an admittance or denial.

When I pressed Mr. Walker harder, I was given the quote “It’s more an investment than an acquisition.”

So with that said, as a trusted platform for all craft breweries, we have altered the headline to accurately represent the public information available. Stay tuned as I share my thoughts on these current events.

(Paso Robles,CA) – Firestone Walker Brewing Company has just announced that they have been acquired “invested in” by Duvel Moortgat. This will be the third American based craft brewery that Duvel has acquired, joining Brewery Ommegang and Boulevard Brewing. We hope to have more questions answered in the near future, here is the official press release sent out by Firestone Walker.

I was asked about this on Facebook.

Was I aware that Firestone Walker and Duvel-Moortgat were fucking?

Yes. I can't even muster a strong opinion, apart from this: Now that this wonderful thing we built is about money, and money alone, it actually interests me very little. During the remaining years of my beer drinking life, insofar as possible, I'll seek to spend my money with brewers who still exemplify the foundational ideals. Life's just too short to care about Firestone Walker. The end.

An interesting exchange followed.

JM: Firestone rubber and tire is a 2 billion dollar company. You think Duvel buying the brewery is only about money?

Me: You think my comment was about this transaction alone?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"There Are Four Types of Drunks, Says Science."

I can see elements of each in me. Which one best describes singing along with Oasis?

There Are Four Types of Drunks, Says Science, by Marie Lodi (Jezebel)

For the people who proudly display their Myers-Briggs results on their online bios, there’s a new personality test you can take. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have categorized drinkers into four different roles, inspired by cultural icons and film characters. Right next to your Myers-Brigg “INFP” type, you can now say you’re one of the following kinds of alcohol imbibers: “Ernest Hemingway,” “Mr. Hyde,” “Mary Poppins” or “The Nutty Professor.”

Josh Hill departs Floyd County Brewing Company.

Josh Hill is good people. He worked for NABC for a very long time, and fully earned his sobriquet of "Brewery Badass." No one works harder or is more reliable, and when he had the chance to take the head brewer position at the Floyd County Brewing Company start-up just down the street, I hated to lose him -- and was delighted for him.

They all leave the nest sooner or later, I guess.

Yesterday Josh made this announcement at Facebook. It's all I know at this point, so don't ask.

I am officially leaving my position as Head Brewer at Floyd County Brewing Co. I won't go over the details of why I came to this decision, but it has been made. I want to thank everyone for their support and encouragment during this process and I apologize that things didn't turn out as expected. I'm going to take a little time to relax and collect myself and then hit the job market. Cheers!

Strange timing, indeed. FCBC has not even opened. Ironically, I learned of Josh's departure while concluding a wonderful chat with Rob Caputo, whose position at Flat12 these past months is ... shall we say, complicated?

Of course, I'm on leave of absence from NABC, and my position in my own company is ... shall we repeat, complicated?

Forks in the road seem to be numerous, and given the recent rains in Indiana, often flooded, so as everyone consults their maps, permit me to with the very best to Josh and Rob. There are many untested entities in the "craft" beer world, but these two have a great track record.


I'll settle for being mayor.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Essential reading: "The Best Gin to Buy on a Budget."

In addition to performing a valuable public service by locating the most cost-effective gins, the author agrees with one of my recent assessments: Why drink Tanqueray when Beefeater's always a few bucks cheaper?

Previously at the PC: "From Gin Lane to the height of sophistication," now with interaction.

The Best Gin to Buy on a Budget, by Michael Dietsch (Serious Eats)

 ... Perhaps it's about making appearances. Cheap gin calls to mind images of disheveled, broken folks shambling to the flophouse. People grimace at the idea of 'bathtub gin' that wasn't poured from a beveled-glass bottle with a shiny label. So while we can happily find a good bottle of bourbon for twelve bucks or ten or even eight on sale, it's startlingly difficult to find good gin for less than $20. I know—this month, I scoured and I searched and I hunted, and I tried 15 of 'em.

Here are the best gins that'll run you less than an Andrew Jackson.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A look back at NABC's "Excellent Beer Gardening Adventure" at Hidden Hill Nursery in 2010.

Five years ago around this time, we were planning a beer tasting and mobile kitchen at the Hidden Hill Nursery in Utica.

June 14, 2010

Coming July 10: Bob's and Roger's Excellent "Nursery Beer" Adventure.

Hidden Hill's still there, even if we haven't had a follow-up event since this one. Actually, "Nursery Beer" was fairly well attended given extreme heat (sound familiar?), and I remember it as whimsical, serendipitous and fun to plan and execute.

There was a brochure.

July 9, 2010

The brochure for Saturday's epochal "Excellent Beer Gardening Adventure" at the Hidden Hill Nursery.

The recap is here:

July 11, 2010

Recap: "Excellent Beer Gardening Adventure" at Hidden Hill on July 10.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 13 … Tears of overdue joy at Salzburg's Augustiner.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 13 … Tears of overdue joy at Salzburg's Augustiner.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Thirteenth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

It should be clear at this juncture that a fascination with history brought me to Europe in 1985. It might have been about bicycling, but I wasn’t quite there yet. It certainly wasn’t about hooking up (too shy) or drunken mayhem (too cautious).

Rather, it was the familiar syllabus of Western Civilization & Culture 101. Copious quantities of classicism were absorbed through daily doses of architecture, art and museum visits. I saw pottery, paintings and panes of stained glass, and remained the wide-eyed student throughout.

In most places, it was very easy to be a tourist and to submit to the efficiently maintained infrastructure of long ago, which obviously was calculated to benefit local economies in the here and now, because when one emerged from the tidily categorized past – usually stooping, given that few medieval buildings were constructed with 6-foot, 4-inch Americans in mind – a panorama of contemporary Europe always immediately reappeared.

Modernity had much to recommend, too, and history kept being placed into context by the same questions.

How had they gotten from there to here?

Why was America so different?

What was there to be learned?

Europe was old, but as I learned quickly, it was relentlessly topical, too. In Istanbul, soldiers with machine guns were watching street corners near the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, and at the youth hostel in Basel, I chanced upon an environmental activist concerned about pollution in the Rhine. I’d been in Greece for a spirited election, and spent time with travelers my age who wanted to discuss Palestinian liberation, nuclear free zones, refugee rights and organic farming.

English-speaking Europeans invariably circled around to current events in the political sphere. After all, the continent was divided into armed camps, and a sizeable chunk of it remained Communist. In 1985, Europe was four decades removed from its uneasy post-WWII settlement, but the various “-isms” still mattered.

As an American, I was expected to answer criticisms of President Ronald Reagan, which I tended to do by agreeing with the arguments of my interlocutors in their entirety.

As the days passed, I could feel the balance of my consciousness shifting. There was a realization that “now” always is no more than a snapshot, and history a continuum, not a postcard. Mozart morphed into Madonna, whose music could be heard daily by the same Viennese who had been alive when Freud still kept office hours near the Ring.

I started thinking less about how things used to be, and more about how they were now, and yet there was a prominent exception: Beer.

In 1985, I did not want European beer to be “modern” and barely drinkable, the way it was back home. It needed to be old-fashioned, and Vienna offered just a hint of the throwback Central European beer culture I was about to enter following a rail journey to Salzburg.

My beer drinking still would be limited by available funds. However, I was ready to indulge and make up for lost time.


Coming of age in the Ohio Valley in the 1960’s and ‘70’s meant witnessing on a depressing, first-hand basis the very nadir of beer culture in America.

In Colonial times, American beer making and drinking customs reflected English origins. Later, when Germans began coming to the United States in large numbers, their traditions traveled with them and remained intact.

All big American cities and most of the smaller ones had breweries that took procedural, technical and atmospheric cues from the time-tested Central European playbook. It was a lovely thing, while it lasted.

Xenophobic sentiments in World War I did not help matters, and the idiocy of Prohibition sealed the deal, obliterating American beer culture for decades afterward.

Following WWII, the imperial-era American preference for bland, manufactured uniformity forcibly wrenched beer from its fresh, local foundation, rendering it into watery oblivion, and subjecting beer to the multitudinous regulatory irrationalities of Bible Belt superstition.

Nonetheless, during my youth, there remained a dusty patina of vaguely recognizable German character to local legacies and customs of beer and beer drinking.

After all, Oertel’s, Fehr’s and Wiedemann were not names traceable to Guatemala or Japan. Family trees connected them to Germany in a larger sense, and often specifically to Bavaria, the southern region of Germany, where lager brewing and its social vocabulary were first developed.

In 1985, these faint murmurs were as good as it got in the Louisville metropolitan area. I knew almost nothing of the English ale-making tradition, which was being surreptitiously reinvented by a nascent “micro” movement out West.

Belgium was a place for waffles, not Trappists, the latter as yet unknown outside their monasteries of origin.

Fortunately, I worked in a package store, stocked a few imports, and read the early words of the late Michael “The Beer Hunter” Jackson. These and other educational nuances eventually were supplemented by frequent samplings, accumulating steadily over the years until beer became my life’s work.

However, in 1985, all this was yet to come. Rather, there was the train from Vienna to Salzburg, in Austria’s mountainous Alpine region, located just over the frontier from Munich, otherwise known as Beer Mecca.


Salzburg has fully earned its reputation as a clean, efficient and scenic center of art and culture, especially music. Mozart was born there, and the composer’s image is synonymous with marzipan sold all over town. The “Sound of Music” was filmed in the region. There’s a thousand-year-old castle overlooking the fairy tale facades of the Old Town, and ancient salt mines nearby (“salz” is salt in German).

I toured the castle and was oblivious to most of the rest, having set my sights on the history of just one attraction, the Augustiner Bräustübel, a venerable tavern and beer garden where beer now called Müllner Bräu has been brewed and served for four centuries – or, well before the United States was founded.

On my first day in town, safely ensconced in a friendly Salzburg youth hotel, I embarked by foot upon the search for my chosen beer garden. My course was plotted on an English-language map, because I was still learning to make sense of street signs and other navigational clues in German, even if it was as comprehensible as any language I’d yet experienced.

Eventually the Augustiner acreage came into view. The religious complex inched up onto gently sloping terrain at the foot of a ridge, with the brewery and beer garden … where, exactly?

In a state of excitement and youthful muddle, my first choice of entry doors was utterly mistaken. I stepped across a threshold, and through a partly ajar door, a choir could be seen and heard practicing. Finally one of them saw me, and gestured: Out, to the left.

The adjacent entrance took me inside, down a wide flight of stairs to a long corridor that contained various kiosks vending foodstuffs. Indoor drinking rooms were located off to the side, sumptuously appointed in wood, with tile stoves and stained glass windows.

But it was out in the leafy beer garden that I fell in love with a way of life, one experienced for the very first time. At midday, hundreds of beer lovers were seated at tables, shaded by towering chestnut trees, surrounded by stone walls and stucco, virtually all of them drinking malty Marzen-style lager brewed and aged only yards away.

It was entirely self-service, or so I remember. You went back inside for sausages, salads and loaves of crusty bread, and then joined the line for beer. A cashier took Austrian schillings, as plastic was not negotiable and Euros didn’t exist, and handed back a receipt.

Upon choosing a liter (33.8 ounces) ceramic mug from the freshly washed public stack, you ritualistically rinsed it in a fountain of cold water, handed it and the receipt over to aproned men who were pouring the deep golden beer from a tap embedded in a wooden barrel, and prepared for nirvana.

Teens drank alongside elderly men. There were playing cards, songs for singing, chicken bones and carts filled with emptied mugs. Strangers shared tables and bought rounds. Worldwide languages were spoken. I ate, drank, used the WC, drank some more, and returned the following two nights to do it again, each time walking 25 minutes back to my lodging, feeling perfectly safe and wishing we could do the same back home.

In the decades since, I’ve visited dozens of similar beer gardens in Central Europe. Some proved superior to the Augustiner, but it’s the first time you always remember, isn’t it?

Next was Munich, where there were dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of places just like Salzburg’s Augustiner.

Would I survive?



The PC: Euro ’85, Part 12 … Stefan Zweig and his world of yesterday.

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

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.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Yes, "Craft Brewing Has a Sexism Problem."

I've been on this tangent before, and have only one thing to add.

Given the fact that I no longer have much in the way of clout even in my own building (see Girl, Naughty), it strikes me that if (a) I have a any future in the "craft" beer business at all, and (b) it's something I genuinely want to pursue in the years to come, depending on how the mayoral campaign turns out this fall, then it may well be the case that only by being outside the "craft" beer biz entirely will it be possible to address such issues with any degree of truthfulness.

Why do I say this? Because it isn't always possible to tell the truth when you're selling your own product, or standing too close to something you love dearly. Sometimes, you just have to go to the mattresses instead -- and this is NOT a sexual reference.

But for the moment, once more with feeling ...

Craft Brewing Has a Sexism Problem, by Will Gordon (Slate)

There are gross puns and derogatory illustrations on far too many beer labels. The misogyny needs to stop.

1978 was the worst year for beer diversity in post-Prohibition America, with only 89 breweries operating in the entire country. Most of those breweries sucked, so a nation addled by other drugs might not have realized that things were starting to look up. President Carter decriminalized home-brewing that year, empowering a generation of garage-based drinkers and dreamers to develop their own recipes and techniques. A lot of these hobbyists eventually went pro, leading to the well-chronicled rise of craft beer.

Now the U.S. is home to more than 3,500 breweries, half of which have opened since 2010. There are currently thousands of companies making beer that’s better than pretty much anything that was available up through the mid-1990s. The new-wave brewers have distinguished themselves from their predecessors by employing better ingredients in innovative ways. But there’s one area in which they’re stuck in 1978: A lot of craft beer marketing is astonishingly sexist.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The press release: "New Albany Officially Has an Independent in Mayor's Race."

Here's the formal Baylor for Mayor candidacy announcement, as conveyed to area news outlets. On Monday morning at 8:00 a.m., we'll meet on the sidewalk in front of the Carnegie Center and shatter the purely symbolic bottle of champagne. You are cordially invited to attend.

Also be aware of these two events:

Baylor for Mayor Street Issues Conversation, at Ritter Park, 6:00 p.m., July 15

Roger Baylor's $21 at 55 Birthday Party Fundraiser, at NABC's Pizzeria & Public House, 6:00 p.m., August 3



New Albany Officially Has an Independent in Mayor's Race

NEW ALBANY, Ind. - After meeting Indiana's petition requirements for all independent candidates, businessman Roger Baylor has qualified to be placed on the ballot in this fall's mayoral contest.

Baylor will meet with supporters on Monday (July 13) at 8 a.m. in front of The Carnegie Center for Art & History (201 E. Spring St) to officially kick off his campaign. Interested media are invited to cover the event and the candidate will be available for questions during and after the event.

"I have always been uncomfortable saying 'I' because this campaign is all about 'we,'" said Baylor, "but I want to offer my sincere personal thanks to all of those who signed our petition to gain ballot access and to all the volunteers who helped gather those signatures."

Baylor, who is on leave from the New Albanian Brewing Company during the campaign, is the only independent candidate in the mayor's race. He'll face incumbent Democrat Jeff Gahan and Republican Kevin Zurschmiede, who currently serves on the New Albany city council.

Former New Albany City Clerk Marcey Wisman-Bennett serves as treasurer of Shift to Baylor, the official campaign committee.

CONTACT Roger Baylor by email at or by phone at 502.468.9710 or 812.944.3617


Thursday, July 09, 2015

Diary: Accepting serenity where I find it.

I haven't been drinking very much beer lately.

There have been the occasional gin and tonics, and a glass of red wine here and there when the mood strikes. Last summer, I found myself reaching for a dry white wine often, but this year, there has been almost none.

Brown spirits are rare with me, so bourbon hasn't been a factor.

Of course, there have been beer-capades. Lately my sweet spot seems to have returned to fundamentals, as with NABC's classic Action! Pale Ale formulation, or the times that Pilsner Urquell has returned to the taps at the Public House. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen apparently has returned for the first time in months, so I need to get over there and have a few.

During the period of my leave of absence, during which I'm campaigning for mayor of New Albany, I've dialed back the amount of time spent observing the beer "scene." I've kept up with Indiana tidings as much as possible, because the director position at the Brewers of Indiana Guild is something I highly value.

It seems to me that an absence from narcissism, cheerleading and beer porn has been quite good for my soul. I'm drinking less beer, and enjoying it more.

Irrespective of the outcome of the election in November, I believe a corner has been turned. Maybe while I wasn't paying attention, the unthinkable happened ... and I grew up a bit. The big 55th approaches on August 3, and with it new horizons?

Who knows? It's hard to imagine me in a 100% state of Zen-like serenity, but divesting my back of a few monkeys doesn't hurt. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Learn why "social influence bias" affects crowd-sourced ratings sites.

And when you do, please don't insist to me that somehow the same science does not apply to RateAdvocate.

Because it does. I'm a liberal arts kind of guy, but even I can appreciate science on widely scattered occasions.

How Yelp Is Giving You Bad Advice, by Jessica Leigh Hester (City Lab)

 ... It’s no secret that many of us turn to crowdsourced sites to gather information and weigh options. Quantcast estimates that Yelp’s traffic—combining desktop and mobile visitors—is in the realm of 5,270,925 unique monthly users. We’re trying to find the experience that gels with our specific cravings, however niche. But are we actually learning anything from this “collective intelligence?”

Turns out, we’re suckers. In a study published in Science, researchers found that reviewers are easily manipulated by “social influence bias,” a feedback loop in which positive reviews beget more positive reviews. Another study, this one by Harvard Business School professor Michael Luca, corroborated these findings, concluding that restaurant reviews are influenced by ones preceding them—sometimes bumping up Yelp-style evaluations by as much as half a star.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

"Pennsylvania’s governor doesn’t understand economics," so he vetoes a bill ending the state's wine and liquor monopoly.

Before he became my friend, Frank Thackeray was my history professor at Indiana University Southeast. I was 19 years old in 1979 the first time I took one of Frank's classes, and was hooked. Much of the impetus for my fascination with European history can be traced directly to his influence, along with my cousin Don's (he's also a history professor).

All that came later. First, there was Frank, a smack-talking native of Pittsburgh, guiding a room filled mostly with native Hoosiers through European History 101. At some juncture, he accented a description by adding this:

"The fix is in."

With blank looks all around, Frank then had to explain what it meant -- as the article below does, too, a full 36 years later.

The Volokh Conspiracy: Pennsylvania’s governor doesn’t understand economics (or won’t admit the real reasons he vetoed ending state liquor monopoly), by Jonathan H. Adler (Washington Post)

In Pennsylvania, you can only buy wine and liquor from state-run liquor stores, run by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. As you might expect, consumers often face higher prices and less selection as a result. Restaurants — particularly those that seek to maintain high-end wine cellars — can face their own set of problems (unless they’re willing to skirt the law, as many do). Growing up in Philadelphia, I knew many folks who would buy their wine and liquor elsewhere, such as in Delaware or New Jersey. Many folks living in southeast Pennsylvania would load up on booze (in addition to fresh Jersey tomatoes) when coming back from the Jersey Shore in the summer.

This week both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature passed a bill to end Pennsylvania’s state liquor monopoly — but it was not to be. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoed the legislation, claiming allowing private wine and liquor sales would lead to “higher prices and less selection” for consumers. No, really. That was the explanation. Read it for yourself.

Monday, July 06, 2015

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 12 … Stefan Zweig and his world of yesterday.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 12 … Stefan Zweig and his world of yesterday.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Twelfth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

Three decades have passed since my first visit to Vienna, and in many respects that “first time” feeling still lingers. I think about it regularly, and perhaps the aura owes to the ultimate success of the Viennese in reinventing their city (and country) for success in the modern world following a string of catastrophes that began when Franz Ferdinand’s death in 1914 was seized upon as an excuse to go to war.

Bad, bad idea.

Today’s world seems far more complicated than the pre-internet Reagan era, and yet by all accounts the Austrian capital still ladles out pre-World War I history as a staple of the tourist trade. Nostalgia usually sells fairly well anywhere, but arguably Vienna has an advantage in the person of Stefan Zweig, an otherwise forgotten historical figure who has enjoyed an amazing renaissance 70 years after his death.

As a case in point, director Wes Anderson’s 2014 film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was inspired by Zweig’s life and writings. The movie depicts an imaginary version of a pre-WWI epoch previously articulated by Zweig, who felt a distinctively Viennese nostalgic yearning for something that may or may not have existed, and wrote about it only a few years after the period in question.

Before I leave Vienna in 1985, trundling onto a train at Westbahnhof bound for Salzburg, it’s worth a brief survey of Zweig. Three decades ago, I was barely aware he existed. Now, in spite of a few misgivings about his writing style, it’s hard to make sense of it all without his first-hand testimony.


Stefan Zweig’s name seldom appears in lists of important 20th-century writers, and yet between the two world wars, he was prolific, and a veritable monolith of the written word. He wrote poetry, plays, fiction, biographies and newspaper commentaries, which were translated into numerous languages and sold all across the planet.

Today Zweig is remembered primarily for his strange end. Displaced and disoriented by the conflagration of anti-Semitism unleashed by Nazi Germany, he fled Europe and wandered from place to place, eventually settling in Brazil. There, in 1942, in a famously documented final act, Zweig and his wife committed suicide together.

Among Zweig’s final achievements was to complete his autobiography, which he originally intended to call “Three Lives,” in reference to the three distinct periods in his life: Birth and youth to the commencement of World War I; from war’s end through the advent of the Anschluss (Austria’s forced absorption into Nazi Germany); and finally, exile.

The proposed title is chilling in light of Zweig’s sad demise, for apparently he was not able to envision a fourth life. Given the eventual choice of “The World of Yesterday” as the book’s title, one might reasonably inquire: Yesterday according to which of Zweig’s lives?

The “yesterday” of most relevance to me is the one prior to World War I. How did a continent seemingly so progressive and at peace with itself erupt into such a bloodletting?

Zweig is right there on the scene at 33 years of age in the summer of 1914. His explanation of the events leading to war isn’t unusual: Societal dynamism constrained by top-heavy monarchies, leading to what can only be described as boredom on the part of those ignorant of war’s true costs.

When pent-up demand for action (any sort of action would work) was released by inbred dunderheads scheming at the top of the societal pyramid, disaster was the result.

There is an undoubtedly elegiac tone to Zweig’s pre-war ruminations. He lovingly documents the seemingly settled, hierarchical, perennially ordered nature of Viennese society (though easier to enjoy nearer its top than its bottom), exalting the abundant theatrical and musical scenes, which fascinated ordinary citizens then much as sports do now.

Zweig dwells on favorite cafés, newspapers and stage luminaries. Life passes. Change seems unlikely.

The writer’s own background is conspicuously missing the usual rise from hardscrabble poverty by sheer force of will. In fact, it emerges that he is fairly well off from the very start, and a pattern is established: The world is a rosy place for bright young men, and bright young men are far too busy reaping their effortless opportunities to be very much concerned with messy everyday disagreements. Zweig’s is a halcyon life, and this wouldn’t necessarily be noteworthy if not for one small point.

He is Jewish.

Jewish -- though not ardently so in any duty-bound sense of religious ritual; nonetheless, identifiably Jewish in pre-war Vienna, and pre-war Vienna is famed as the place where modern anti-Semitism gets its (non)-intellectual bearings. Two decades hence, this will lead to the gates of Auschwitz.

In fact, none other than Adolf Hitler, who spends his Vienna period as an underemployed, angry and starving artist, lives in a miserable flophouse not far from Zweig’s cultured block, and takes his formative ideological cues from the stridently anti-Semitic Viennese mayor, Karl Lueger.

What’s more, while the multi-ethnic and polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire functions with charm and aplomb at the heap’s top, working class Vienna is by most contemporary accounts a seething reflection of the empire’s considerable intramural tensions.

Zweig apparently notices little of it. Rather, in his view the citizenry is united in respect for the elderly emperor Franz Joseph, and even Lueger isn’t always such a bad chap, after all. Vienna’s relative smallness means that pastoral picnics or woodland strolls await at the end of the tram line.

Is everyone happy in his or her place? It seems so to Zweig, who emerges as the effortless prodigy, forever insulated from the unseemly. School is a lark, and everything he touches turns to gold. He churns out flawless copy, and everyone wants some of it. He writes plays and coyly hints at their presumed existence, and immediately there come offers to stage them come from directors at renowned theaters.

Thus, Zweig embarks upon a lifetime of happenstance brushes with the famous and powerful. Zweig eerily presages “Zelig”, title character of Woody Allen’s 1983 mockumentary, by means of always being where someone famous is about to stumble past and ask for a cigarette, or directions to the loo.

In 1914, all is well. Then, all of it crumbles.


The onset of World War I provides a wrenching transition in Stefan Zweig’s comfortable, predictable Viennese world. One lifetime passes, and another begins.

It starts calmly enough. Zweig observes that the death of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo barely causes a stir in his own social milieu, and why would it? After all, the heir was the objectionable sort, cranky and scowling, and nowhere near as trustworthy and seemly as the ancient whiskered Emperor and other reliable royal court figures like Karl, the new and far more youthful figurehead in waiting.

Significantly, Zweig’s summer holiday in 1914 occurs in the vicinity of the Low Countries. He is right there, watching, as troop trains roll forward near the beach. Mobilization of the European armies is in full swing, according to secret plans written to the rhythm of railway timetables. The writer barely makes it back to Österreich before the national borders slam shut, ending the blissful era of peace and passport-free travel.

Back home in Vienna, Zweig finds himself too old to enlist and too young to die. He nabs a sinecure in the library of a military branch, all the while continuing to write, to be published and to get paid as the world around him falls to pieces.

Zweig’s eyes finally are opened (or so he reports) during a public relations junket to the Eastern Front, during which he nominally performs his official duties by subcontracting them to local Jewish “factors”, later sharing a filthy hospital train with the dying flower of Austro-Hungarian manhood in route from the hellish trenches to lovely Budapest, where the juxtaposition of death’s gritty squalor and the Hungarian capital’s seemingly unchanged quaint urban ambience moves him.

Reckoning that he’s seen enough, and despairing of the increasingly impoverished atmosphere in Vienna, Zweig elects to wait out the conflict in neutral Zurich, Switzerland, from which VI Lenin travels to return home for the revolution.

The writer continues to ruminate, addressing his own work, as well as the nature of art and culture in wartime, and how the international fraternity of writers comes to be as conflicted by patriotism as the workers abandoning the socialist international. Zweig expresses pain and disappointment … and he watches the clock.

With the war over and the Central Powers in degraded shambles, Zweig heads for Salzburg in the now emasculated Austria, pausing at the border to observe ex-emperor Karl heading for exile in the other direction. The first few post-war months are hard. They’d get easier for a while, but across the valley from Salzburg, up atop Berchtesgaden, is the man who’ll soon be taking it all away from Zweig.

It’s that same former resident of Vienna, Hitler.



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

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.