Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cross-country city bicyclist stops at BSB, has beer.

Literally. That's what he did. Meet this utterly insane fellow who is crossing America by Bike Share (a NYC shared bicycle).




He dropped by Bank Street Brewhouse and lived to ride some more. Cheers to that ...
Spontaneous detour to@newalbanian. This cool logo wall lured me in. Great brews, food and outstanding staff. Feels right to be back in southern #Indiana, home of awesome people. 
#craftbeer#brewery #indianabeer #newalbany#iloveindiana #bikeadventures#crosscountry

Sunday, September 20, 2015

In metro Louisville, "Craft beer to expand with 2 breweries opening."

Crazy times, indeed. A man has only one liver. But damn it, I'll make to them all, and when I do, it's going to be about their neighborhoods as well as their beers. The project of a remaining lifetime sounds like it's just my speed.

Craft beer to expand with 2 breweries opening, by Bailey Loosemore (Courier-Journal)

Call it perfect timing or just dumb luck — either way, two craft breweries are set to open at the end of Louisville Craft Beer Week.

Floyd County Brewing in New Albany, which has run on a limited schedule since Sept. 8, will start its full-time hours Friday, while 3rd Turn Brewing in Jeffersontown will open its doors for the first time Thursday during the city's annual Gaslight Festival.

The breweries are two of six currently in the works, with at least two others — Akasha in Nulu and Monnick Beer Co. in Schnitzelburg — close to completion.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Here's the beer list at Smoke and Rye, the new eatery at Horseshoe Southern Indiana.

Recalling the many and varied layers of pain NABC was compelled to navigate in getting local beer into Horseshoe Casino, this turning out to be a somewhat brief experiment, it always interests me to see what the casino is doing in terms of better beer -- bearing in mind that I'm by no means the target customer.

Above: The beer list at Smoke & Rye

Below: The Smoke & Rye concept (full menu here)

You can be the judge. I'm not taking position, apart from gently suggesting for the umpety-teenth time that given the effort and expense of the restaurant refit, the beer could be done better than this. Still, it's an improvement.

If you visit Smoke & Rye, let me know how it is. I'll make it down there at some point.

Smoke & Rye tempts foodies to cross the river, by Bailey Loosemore (Courier-Journal)

Smoke & Rye — a new restaurant that pairs gourmet burgers and barbecue with a well-cultivated list of more than 160 bourbons and whiskies — is a concept that could likely hold its own on any busy street in Louisville.

But with its grand opening Friday, the restaurant doesn't plan to compete with the Feast BBQs and Down One Bourbon Bars of Market and Main streets. Instead, it hopes to draw foodies across the river to what the business' creators hope will become a new destination: Horseshoe Southern Indiana.

"The area needed something like this," said Lizzet Verdi, the casino's marketing manager. "... So we're not just about gaming. A lot of people say, 'I don't like to gamble.' Well, we have other things for you to do."

Smoke & Rye — a $2.5-million investment — is located in a 9,600-square-foot space previously occupied by Legends, a restaurant that Horseshoe Southern Indiana regional president and general manager John Smith said lacked a distinct personality.

Legends has been a part of the casino since shortly before it opened in the late 90s, and several general managers have made changes to it over the years without ever re-branding the restaurant completely, Smith said.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Been there, love it: "Cozy Bavarian pub room transports visitors to Europe."

The Bingham house was part of the New Albany Historic Home Tour in 2010 (when I took the photo here), and I was enamored of the Bavarian-style pub snug.

Needless to say, it is a vivid evocation of Central European interior design, and as such, is sure to make one crave Kellerbier and Brotzeit.

Cozy Bavarian pub room transports visitors to Europe, by Bethany Daily (Louisville Business First)

To step into this room in David Bingham's New Albany home is to step into an atmosphere reminiscent of a German beer garden, complete with ceramic drinking steins from Munich and Luxembourg and old watercolor paintings from Austria.

The wooden sign over the door reads, “Bingham Gasthaus.”

“This is really a fall and winter room,” said Bingham, who owns the 148-year-old house with his wife, Elee Bingham. “It’s small and warm. It just has that kind of autumn feel.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Falls City Common Beer and my introduction to Over the 9.

I finally made it to Over the 9, and had a wonderful time. The pretext was to have another beer or two with Cezary ... and the mission was accomplished.

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

The two top-selling Falls City beers are brewed under contract elsewhere, but Over the 9 has plenty of Dylan's beers brewed on site, with more to come. Many are at a human-friendly, sessionable alcohol content, and a few dip beneath the Bryson threshold. I was very pleased with this fact, and was able to have full pours of Cream Ale and Common, both in or around 4.5% abv.

The Falls City Common described below is delightful: Amber-brown in color, moderately hopped, and entirely poundable. There is a hint of adjunct, and no sourness. I can see many growlers of it in my future.

At RateBeer, an observer expresses confusion over the absence of sourness. While I support the notion of brewing Common (Komon) as a sour, as NABC has done, it does not appear likely that the style ever was intentionally sour in its heyday more than a century ago. This is explained in great detail here:

Kentucky Common – An Almost Forgotten Style, by Leah Dienes and Dibbs Harting

Whatever my future holds, it probably will not include regular commuting to Louisville for beer, insofar as the commute requires driving. I prefer walking or biking. To me, the fun thing about Falls City, Old 502 Winery and Over the 9 is that their 10th Street location in downtown Louisville is so close to New Albany. If the K and I Bridge ever becomes a pedway, as it  should, I'd be able to bike to 10th Street in 20-odd minutes.

Until then ... those growlers, and my complete satisfaction with being a Commoner.

Falls City's new beer is based on an old tradition, by David A. Mann (Louisville Business First)

Falls City Brewing Co. is making a push for its version of Kentucky Common beer — a brew that officials there believe has the potential to become a major new product for the company.

The brewery first debuted Kentucky Common during a Derby Eve brew festival earlier this year.

Falls City brewmaster Dylan Greenwood said he believes the company's Kentucky Common has the potential to become a flagship product for the brewery.

Kentucky common-style beer borrows a bit of inspiration from the state's distilling industry, in that it uses a grain bill (the grains used in brewing) that features corn and rye, Brewmaster Dylan Greenwood told me during a recent interview at Over the 9 restaurant on 10th Street.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Students in Zimbabwe use breakfast to make beer.

This may be the first time I've seen a reference to beer in Zimbabwe since the early 1990s, when the BBC aired a report on a hop-growing experiment there.

Surely these students should be rewarded for grasping the basics of  science?

Cereal banned from Zimbabwe schools after pupils use it to brew beer; Sorghum will be confiscated from three boarding schools due to pupils fermenting a ‘potent alcoholic mixture’, by David Smith (The Guardian)

The country’s Chronicle newspaper said at least three schools in the south of the country had warned parents that oats and cereal made of sorghum would be confiscated when term began on Tuesday.

“Pupils reportedly mix the cereals with brown sugar and yeast and leave the mixture to ferment in the sun, creating a potent alcoholic mixture which the pupils drink right under the noses of school authorities,” noted the paper.

This passage strikes me as curious.

Michael Dube, a chemist, told the Chronicle that the illicit brew could be harmful. “The danger of doing this is that there is no method to control the alcohol content,” he said. “Their beer might have high alcohol levels, which may be a threat to their health.”

Maybe the kids hid their stills somewhere.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 18 … Irish history with a musical chaser.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 18 … Irish history with a musical chaser.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Eighteenth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

As I sit at my desk in the year 2015, writing this account of travel in far-off 1985, roughly 4,000 compact discs surround me, arranged in shelving units of varying sizes and shapes. I’m told they’re obsolete, but then again, so were the LPs packed into my tiny bedroom back when Ronnie Raygun was President, and I was planning my first trip to Europe.

Nowadays vinyl once again is sought-after, although not cassette tapes, which also took up storage space in the cramped living quarters of my youth. At least I never bought into the ethos of the 8-track tape, a fact of which I’m inordinately proud.

At the age of 55, I’ve yet to learn how to play a musical instrument, and if I so much as tried to carry a tune across the street, the likeliest result would be two broken legs – or the wailing enmity of every dog in the neighborhood. Still, my earliest childhood memories are about music, and it is impossible to overstate the role music continues to play in my everyday world.

During the years prior to the summer of 1985, my musical consciousness was filled with the usual markers of a male in his early twenties, with rock, pop and MTV the dominant influences. Perhaps unusually, my parents had raised me on swing and jazz, and these were viable complements. Just after college, formal composition began to please me, and I was a regular listener of WUOL, the University of Louisville’s classical FM station.

As genres go, “world music” wasn’t on heavy rotation in metropolitan Louisville at the time, and this is where Don Barry’s tutelage re-enters the narrative.

My cousin always brought albums of Irish music with him whenever he’d drive back from Florida to visit his mother (my aunt). I’d copy these albums onto cassettes: The Dubliners, Wolfe Tones, Tommy Makem, Clancy Brothers and other Irish folk bands, mostly from original pressings Don had purchased during his previous journeys to Ireland.

Of course, music wasn’t the only cultural touchstone in my informal education about all things Irish. As a pedagogue in the finest of constructive senses, Don provided ample homework, with reading assignments that extended far past our summer interludes: James Joyce ("Ulysses" is one thing; "Finnegan's Wake" quite another), Seamus Heaney, John Synge, W.B. Yeats, and "The Green Flag," Robert Kee's masterful history of Ireland.

Irish music helped tell Irish history, and it all became interwoven. Don and I listened to bawdy tunes, weepy ballads and riotous calls to action. We also drank gallons of beer while doing so, and these were the best seminars ever.

My family background is almost entirely sharecropper German from the Pomeranian plains, with a smidgen of English tossed into the mix, but once I'd experienced Irish culture from these secondary sources, it always seemed there must have been at least one stray shot of Irish DNA somewhere -- a rogue, a wanderer, an outcast from the great Irish displacement, who’d contributed to the family tree and then disappeared into the mists.

Musically, Ireland felt very comfortable to me, even if discomfort was the source of so many of the more overtly political songs, given that in terms of history, Ireland hasn’t always been such a happy or peaceful place.


By 600 AD, the island’s original Celtic inhabitants had been converted to Catholicism. During the Dark Ages, Viking and Norman incursions were disruptive, but the visitors generally assimilated. A far more portentous invasion began in the 16th century, as launched by the bigger island to the east.

In 1534, King Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church, and established his own Church of England. In 1541, he added the Irish throne to his list of royal titles, and thus commenced more than 150 years of “plantation,” a policy wherein Protestants (primarily from England and Scotland) were settled in Ireland and afforded rights disproportionate to those of the indigenous Catholics, who steadily were disenfranchised.

The area of heaviest Protestant settlement was Ulster, a cluster of six counties to the north. Today, this is Northern Ireland, which remains joined to the United Kingdom. Ireland’s other 26 counties were subject to the same Protestant favoritism, but retained Catholic majorities. These make up the contemporary Republic of Ireland.

In the early 1800s, sectarian strife grew amid the institutionalized disparities, with seemingly endless patterns of revolt and subjugation, culminating with a wild card blithely tossed by Mother Nature: A potato blight in the late 1840s, which deprived huge numbers of impoverished Irish Catholics of their sole source of sustenance.

The tragic ensuing famine either killed or caused to emigrate more than 2,000,000 people, or one of four Irish men and women, and yet throughout the crisis, farms controlled by outsiders (most of them English) continued to export food, even though people nearby were starving.

Not for the last time, London’s inept performance during the famine reignited a slow, smoldering movement for greater Irish autonomy. Through the remainder of the 1800s, this movement for “Home Rule” grew stronger, but because of its Catholic orientation, Protestant-dominated Ulster threatened counter-measures of its own to remain under British sway, and little changed.

Just before the outbreak of WWI, it seemed as though Home Rule might at last come to pass, but the conflict intervened. It was broadly agreed that domestic considerations would be placed on hold for the duration. Spotting an opportunity to force the issue while the British were preoccupied with the war, radical Irish nationalists struck.

On April 24, 1916 (Easter Monday), rebels seized key buildings and installations of importance in Dublin, including the post office, and declared a free Ireland. It was called the Easter Rising; however, the Irish nation did not “rise up” as the rebels expected, and the revolt was mercilessly crushed by British troops.

Yet again, London completely misread the situation, responding with calculated harshness toward a populace that for the most part had not heeded the revolutionary call. All but a handful of the rebels were executed, and the brutality managed finally to turn Irish public opinion against British rule, at least among Catholics outside Ulster. The stage was set for ugliness, which dutifully followed.

From 1916 through 1923, the contemporary configuration of Ireland was determined through a series of parliamentary maneuvers accompanied first by a triumphant war of independence against the British, and then a divisive civil war among the Irish themselves. By the early 1920s, the exhausted island was divided, and a template of periodic violence established for the ensuing decades.

It has been almost a century since the Easter Rising, and just about everything else in Ireland has changed save for the division of the island into two entities. In theory only, “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland ended with a brokered settlement in 1998. Meanwhile, the Irish Republic has weathered a burst real estate bubble following its “Celtic Tiger” period of modernization, and a new chapter is being written as you read these previous ones.


My major point with respect to this upheaval-laden travel narrative is that when I first stepped onto Irish soil in 1985, quite a few of the elderly men and women seen reposing on park benches in Dublin had active memories of the tumultuous 20th century.

They had lived through the infancy of the Free Irish State, and at the time, as I prepared to board the train from Dublin to Sligo and a planned 5-day jaunt in the countryside, emigration remained the norm almost 150 years after the famine. Their country still was reckoned among the poorer relations of the European Union.

Perhaps their experiences, and those of their kinfolk abroad, explain the powerful longing for home that surfaces in so many of the classic Irish folk songs, as in my favorite, “Carrickfergus,” as performed by my favorite group, the Dubliners, with vocals by Jim McCann. Printed lyrics can't convey the melancholy of this incredible traditional song, but nonetheless, here are excerpted stanzas.

I wish I was in Carrickfergus
Only for nights in Ballygran
I would swim over the deepest ocean
Only for nights in Ballygran
But the sea is wide and I can not swim over
And neither have I the wings to fly
I wish I had a handsome boatman
To ferry me over, my love and I

My childhood days bring back sad reflections
Of happy times we spent so long ago
My boyhood friends and my own relations
Have all passed on like the melting snow
And I spent my days in ceaseless roving
Soft is the grass and my bed is free
Oh to be back now in Carrickfergus
On that long winding road down to the sea

Now in Kilkenny it is recorded
On marble stones there as black as ink
With gold and silver I would support her
But I'll sing no more now till I get a drink
'Cause I'm drunk today and I'm seldom sober
A handsome rover from town to town
Ah but I'm sick now, my days are numbered
Come all you young men and lay me down

Note that Carrickfergus is in Northern Ireland. In terms of the Irish diaspora, it isn’t at all clear whether this fact is ironic.



The PC: Euro '85, Part 17 ... A first glimpse of Ireland.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 16 … Lizard King in the City of Light.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 15 … The traveler at 55, and a strange interlude.

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

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

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, September 13, 2015

Bank Street Brewhouse today: Josh, Tony, football, beer and musical analogies.

I caught up with NABC's production brewer Josh Hill the other day. He's on duty at Bank Street Brewhouse -- excited, dialed-in, and ready to go forward now that David Pierce is back at BBC St. Matthews, where interesting things also will be happening, including the installation of a new brewhouse after 22 years.

It so happens that I'm a fan of the rock group Dee Purple. The band has been functioning since the late 1960s, and has continued to make new music and tour constantly through many personnel changes. These different lineups of musicians are referred to by Deep Purple fans as Mark I, II, and so on, up to the current Mark VIII, of which drummer Ian Paice is the only remaining member from Mark I.

The point is that Deep Purple has remained demonstrably Deep Purple. Having singer Ian Gillan (originally in Mark II) on hand certainly helps, but whatever musical quality defines Deep Purpleness, it's still there. The most recent album in 2013 was my favorite of the entire year.

Consequently, for better, worse, or anywhere in between, there's a aspect of "NABCness" that always remains, even when vital cogs come and go. Part of this has to do with me, another part with David (and so many other folks who've helped shape the company), but still only a part from each player.

Aristotle wrote, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." India Pale Ale didn't even exist then, and I think he was absolutely right.

Today at Bank Street Brewhouse, Josh and Tony "NABC Graphics Wizard" Beard will be on hand to watch their football teams play. As Tony put it on Facebook:

(Today) the world will be shattered as two titans of the industry duke it out as they sit on bar stools and yell at a television screen. It will be a glorifying 4 hours of witness, I hope you'll join us. If you're lucky I might be whiskey bent for the first kickoff!

There'll be dollar-off pints all day, and the usual Sunday growler fills, which as you know are exclusive to Indiana breweries, and the only Sunday carry-out beer anywhere in the state.

Stop in, chat with these guys and get to know the next generation. I've found beer to be the most effective way to smooth transitions.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Floyd County Brewing Company has opened for business in downtown New Albany.

Earlier in the week, Floyd County Brewing Company "softly" opened.

FCBC is located at 129 W. Main Street in New Albany. It's on the same side of Main as the YMCA, and across the street from The Exchange and Seeds and Greens.

According to the Facebook page, where you can get more information, FCBC's brewer is Jeff Coe. Beers include a Stout, IPA and Saison; I haven't had the opportunity to sample them yet, so my report will have to wait.

There is a full food menu, although as yet, only evening hours: Tuesday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to midnight. FCBC is hiring, and will commence lunchtime hours once staffing is complete.

A reminder: On Saturday, October 3, beers from all three New Albany brewing companies (NABC, Donum Dei and NABC) will be served at the New Albany Restaurant and Bar Association's inaugural Biers on Parade (with food and music) at the Farmers Market, downtown. The event coincides with the Harvest Homecoming Parade.

Read more about it here.

Friday, September 11, 2015

What, you couldn't find an actual beer writer to fetishize multinational beer companies?

Esquire helpfully informs us ...

Aaron Goldfarb is the author of How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide, The Guide for a Single Man, and The Guide for a Single Woman.​

How very compelling, considering the article he wrote is about beer, not sex. Qualifications, anyone? In "It Doesn't Matter Who Owns Your Favorite Brewery," Goldfarb celebrates the fact that beer is entering a golden age of multi-national stewardship.

In fact, I predict the beer industry will begin to resemble the liquor industry. You know, the industry where an Italian amaro-maker like Campari can also own an American, family-run bourbon distillery like Wild Turkey, as well as SKYY Vodka and about 20 other international brands. Where Diageo seems poised to own just about everything you can possibly pour down your face. Or where a Japanese company like Suntory somehow manages to own Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbon-wise, Laphroaig and Bowmore in the scotch realm, and even a brand that makes cupcake vodka. Have any of these brands grown worse? I doubt it.

Have you ever heard about the straw man fallacy?

It never, ever was about the fear that AB-InBev (with Goose Island and others Trojan crafts) or Heineken (Lagunitas) would destroy the quality of the "craft" brands they buy.

Rather, it's always been about following the money: About them using such brands to leverage shelf space, or conduct price wars, or use in many varied ways gleefully developed throughout their multinational corporate histories toward the objective of "winning," which in multinational terms, is about eliminating, weakening and neutralizing competition.

You see, Aaron -- you wouldn't know this, so let me help you -- this thing got started back in the day so as to save beer's soul, which had gotten sucked clean out of it by ... yes, by the same multinational companies you fetishize.

It's time we admit craft beer is a business, no better and no worse than any other multi-billion dollar business. Sure, its products can get you drunk and make you hug people more than normal, but in the end, it's still a business that needs to make a lot of people a lot of money. There's nothing wrong with that.

Go back to writing dating books. Please.

As noted yesterday: Now more than ever, what matters to me is supporting brewers who function as independent local business persons. I know from a quarter-century of experience that these are the folks keeping the ethos real, and the money local, where it recirculates and helps other local businesses. It's just a matter of personal taste. Multinationals like Heineken have enough money. I'd rather have more control over where mine is spent.

It's time to put the genuinely local and "micro" back into this thing we all love.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Lagunitas and Heineken: The bigger the price tag, the greater the irrelevance.

The Lagunitas/Heineken deal struck me no differently than when picking up a Wall Street Journal or Financial Times and reading the breathless report of a Chinese plumbing supplies manufacturer agreeing to pay 4.5 gazillion whatevers for a 50% stake in a French PVC pipe flange fabricator.

It's just money now. True, some day I might board a plane somewhere and have the choice of canned Lagunitas, as brewed by a Heineken subsidiary in Kenya, and then maybe I'll drink one. Then again, I might shoot a 50 ml of Seagram's Gin instead -- or just have straight apple juice.

Now more than ever, what matters to me is supporting brewers who function as independent local business persons. I know from a quarter-century of experience that these are the folks keeping the ethos real, and the money local, where it recirculates and helps other local businesses. It's just a matter of personal taste. Multinationals like Heineken have enough money. I'd rather have more control over where mine is spent.

It's time to put the genuinely local and "micro" back into this thing we all love. They're my bold italics in the wonderful passage below. Thanks, Jeff Alworth. It's where my head has been for a very long while.

WE NEED TO DIAL IT BACK A NOTCH, by Jeff Alworth (All About Beer Magazine)

... The world of American brewing is so hot right now that it’s hard to announce anything without lapsing into hyperbole. Everything’s the best thing ever, always. And, when a brewery sells itself to a larger brewery, it is the worst thing ever. Magee’s announcement is a spectacular Trump-like masterpiece of overstatement, and for me it was the moment Craft jumped the shark into over-seriousness. Going forward, I’m planning to focus less on the specific products and breweries of the commercial sphere—they will come and go, inevitably—and more on the act of sharing a beer with someone I enjoy. And I definitely won’t be thinking of any brewery as so important that it can change the trajectory of history. It’s time to dial everything back a notch.

Monday, September 07, 2015

The PC: Euro '85, Part 17 ... A first glimpse of Ireland.

The PC: Euro '85, Part 17 ... A first glimpse of Ireland.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Seventeenth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

In the summer of 1985, I was resting dockside in Le Havre, thinking about the meaning of life and craving draft Guinness, which I’d seldom had the chance to enjoy. This was about to change.

One night, long before this moment, in a drunken stupor of semi-religious ecstasy, my cousin Don had uttered an astute prophecy, foretelling of delicious and creamy Guinness pints, as served by impeccable barmen on the wonderful ships carrying budget travelers from France to Ireland.

Actually, we both were in our cups, and it was less of a bold vision than a recapitulation of his own previous travel experience. I was suitably enamored, and incorporated a line item for the inevitable splurge.

At 24, I was a beer neophyte, and Guinness was anything but ubiquitous in Louisville and Southern Indiana. The draft version was almost unheard of locally, and mythical in proportion to its rarity.

Then one of my pals returned home from college touting the bottled variety of Ireland’s national beverage, and seeing as Guinness Extra Stout could be found at better area package stores, it was a start. Even if this firmer recipe lacked the raw mystique of the elusive draft, it was a transformative introduction.

The heavily roasted flavor of Guinness Extra Stout was a bit much at first, so we began by mixing it “half and half” with any and all cheap lagers, from Red, White and Blue on up to Harp (somehow Irish-on-Irish seemed to make more conceptual sense). As time passed, I began weaning myself from the lager “filler,” and learned to drink the nectar straight.

Still, veteran travelers and the guidebooks agreed: Draft Guinness was best, and it never got any better than in Ireland. Why? Because it was fresh and unpasteurized, with a whole national culture revolving around it, uniting all classes in philosophy and knowledge over pints in classic pubs renowned as universities for poor men?

Perhaps. It also might have been the relative absence of draft Guinness closer to home, where we might have been able to compare, and soon become jaded by proximity.

As I am now, 30 years later.


As expected, my reticent shadow from the Le Havre train station walk was contemplating many of the same directional strategies. We converged at the ferry office, and exchanged pleasantries. It transpired that his name was Paul, from somewhere in New York. Paul had graduated from college and broken up with a girlfriend, and now he was using “Let’s Go: Europe” in order to find himself before returning stateside for graduate school.

For the next three days, we became bosom pals, and I’ve not seen him since. That’s just how it worked. Electronic networking had yet to be invented, and you took life on the road as it came, exchanging postal addresses and phone numbers, and then mostly forgetting about them.

Mine were recorded in a little blue (not black) book. It would be nice to go through it now, trying to associate names and details long submerged, except it was cruelly lost somewhere in Vienna in 1987.

As for the Irish ferry itself, the 1985 model of 1st Class Eurailpass came with three valuable seaborne options, with free deck passage on routes between Italy and Greece (I did it); Sweden and Finland (still ahead); and France and Ireland.

The Eurailpass was good for passage on the boat, offering nothing more than an overnight nesting place on the exposed upper deck, or in various out-of-the-way nooks inside. Either way, the night would be spent on the floor, and the importance of those pints of Guinness loomed even more critically.

There was a baggage check for storing my increasingly battered gym bag, and the quick dispatch of leftover bread and nibbles from Paris. The maritime Shamrock Bar didn’t open until the ship was a few miles out from the shore, in international waters. When the signal was given, we approached the bar and had the first of several pints.

They were better than I expected, and later, the floor wasn’t bad. I found a carpeted area to crash. Irish life looked to be okay, after all.


Coming into Rosslare Harbor late the following morning, the weather was spectacular. Paul lived near the ocean, but I was a Midwestern landlubber, albeit thankfully one without any propensity to sea sickness. I found something joyous and primeval about coming into harbor on a ship, producing a feeling of landfall that trumps planes routinely landing and rail cars coming to rest by their platforms. I enjoyed it immensely.

Walking from the ship, a scrubby, stubby bluff could be seen rising just behind the terminal buildings. Atop it was a billboard depicting pint glasses of Guinness, all in a line: “Welcome to Ireland.” It felt like patriotism.

At the time, the Rosslare port struck me as small and underdeveloped, and noteworthy primarily for the rail line to Dublin, where both of us had resolved to begin. Between my visits to Ireland in 1987 and 1989, Rosslare Harbor was dramatically upgraded, with a sleek ferry terminal built, and to be known henceforth as the Rosslare Europort.

Several hours later, Paul and I alighted in Dublin at Connolly Station. As we stood on the sidewalk plotting hostel strategies, we were approached by a middle-aged woman who asked us if we needed a room. The guidebooks noted the practice, and deemed it generally safe with the usual caveats, so we accepted.

It wasn’t just around the corner. We walked a bit, hopped a bus, and walked some more. All I can recall about it is that “Doreen” kept referring to my speaking voice as reminiscent of John Wayne, her greatest American hero (something about the Irish gift of gab, lady), but the arrangement was above board and a perfectly serviceable, and even included a fry-up for breakfast.

Another culinary first: Baked beans with coffee at 8:00 a.m.

Doreen’s house stood alone and unattached, though row houses were the norm in her neighborhood. She provided maps, showed us where amenities were located in the neighborhood, provided tips on public transportation and had bottles of Harp in the fridge – “just replace the ones you drink.” All the while, Irish history came spewing from her.

We’d neither slept for very long nor eaten much, and so a couple bottles of beer immeasurably enhanced the entertainment value of the lesson. It began with our gray-market innkeeper demanding to set one thing straight, immediately, using basketball as an example.


That’s right. Specifically, Doreen wanted to talk about the American professional basketball team located in Boston, Massachusetts, arguably the world capital of the Irish Diaspora.

“You mean the Celtics (SELL-tics),” said Paul.

Hook, meet fish: “Yes, I do, but it isn’t SELL-tics at all. It’s KELL-tics,” and so began a digression on the legacy of the Celts (properly pronounced “Kelts”), ancient tribal Europeans of the Iron Age, and ancestors of today’s Irish.

And how to remember the hard “k”? Doreen had a suggestion for this, too. Just fix an image of Bushmill’s or Jameson’s in your brain – “remember, it may be true that the Arabs invented distillation, but we Irish perfected it” – and always ask the bartender for a Belt of the Kelts … or even two.

True enough. Celtic cultures expanded into many European territories, but the advent of the Roman Empire gradually pushed them toward the continent’s western periphery, to remote islands and isolated coasts. In modern times, we think of the Celts as comprising Gaels (Irish, Scottish and Manx peoples), Welsh and Bretons.

It’s far more complicated than that, but for my purposes today, it’s enough to know that a few central elements of enjoyable living, including music, beer, conversation and food, are a stock in trade of the Celts, and that among Celts, the Irish stand out as visible and enthusiastic proponents of these virtues. Doreen was the first of many native examples, and I’m grateful for her giving nature in what otherwise was a business transaction.

Exhaustion had set in, and Paul and I had no desire to roam widely in an unfamiliar city, so we walked a couple of blocks to a diner of sorts, where I promptly devoured my first ever chicken curry. It had peas and carrots, and I didn’t know to be picky about authenticity. Replacement beers came from an off-license on the walk home.

Back at the house, I noticed Doreen had a sizeable collection of record albums. There was familiar pop music from the 1950s and 1960s, and also Irish folk music. Some of these names I recognized, because my own introduction to Irish history came through music, and as always, I had Doc Barry to thank.



The PC: Euro ’85, Part 16 … Lizard King in the City of Light.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 15 … The traveler at 55, and a strange interlude.

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

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

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, September 06, 2015

In a new quotation mark war, British "craft" brewers to take stab at "craft" definition.

The great questions of our age.

Is there free will?

Do supernatural beings exist?

What is meant by "craft"?

I still use the word if it suits me, primarily when it's easier to facilitate communication without delving into what might as well be theology.

However, at the current time it matters little to me. My basic tool for making determinations in "craft" as in other decisions about where my money goes remains this working definition of independent business, as offered by the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA):

  • (I) Private, worker, community or cooperative ownership. 
  • (II) At least 50% locally-owned. 
  • (III) Decision-making authority is vested in the local owners and not subject to conditions dictated remotely. 
  • (IV) The business has a limited number of outlets, which are limited to a 150 mile radius.

It isn't perfect, and at times I ignore it, because the point always has been shift. I try to patronize as few chains as possible, and while this isn't easy when it comes to buying groceries, it's not so hard to decide when looking for beer, and where to drink it.

Can craft beer really be defined? We're about to find out, by Tony Naylor (The Guardian)

Next month, possibly in a secret underground bunker, but more likely in a pub, the leading lights of new wave British brewing will meet to do something that, so far, beer geeks have found impossible. They will define what craft beer is in the UK.

This attempt by the new United Craft Brewers (UCB) to codify craft is essential in their mission to, “promote and protect the interests of British craft brewers, their beers and beer enthusiasts.” UCB has been established by the scene’s big guns – Brewdog, Beavertown, Magic Rock and Camden Town Brewery are among its founders ...

... Defining what is and isn’t craft beer is notoriously difficult. You cannot restrict it to a list of ingredients, like the historic German purity laws, because modern brewers want to use everything from coffee grounds to chillies in their beers. You cannot define craft beer in terms of how it is packaged, as Camra did with real ale, because it already comes in cask, keg, can, bottle and – who knows? – probably Tetrapak cartons and PET bottles soon, too. Nor is an ambitious company such as Brewdog (it is poised to hugely increase its brewing capacity and already owns 35 bars) likely to signup to something that restricts craft breweries to a certain size, be that in terms of volume production – as craft breweries are primarily regulated in the US – financial turnover or diversification of the company’s interests.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

The New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association presents Biers on Parade, at the Farmers Market on Saturday, October 3.

NEWS FROM: The New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association (NARBA)


CONTACT:   Roger A. Baylor
(502) 468-9710

On Saturday, October 3, 2015, NARBA Presents:

Biers on Parade

At the New Albany Farmers Market

Local beer, fine food and melodies at the Farmers Market (City Square), at the corner of Market and Bank in downtown New Albany, 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 3.

The New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association (NARBA) is partnering with New Albany’s Farmers Market to stage Biers on Parade, a family-friendly food and drink showcase at the newly remodeled Farmers Market pavilion at the corner of Market and Bank on Saturday, October 3.

Biers on Parade coincides with the Harvest Homecoming Parade through downtown New Albany, and also will conclude New Albany Independent Restaurant Week.

The Farmers Market will operate from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on October 3.

NARBA member businesses will be selling food, beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks from 1:00 p.m. through 6:00 p.m.

Biers on Parade will offer the first-ever opportunity for patrons to choose from a lineup that includes beers brewed by all three of our city’s breweries: New Albanian Brewing Company, Donum Dei Brewery and the newest, Floyd County Brewing Company.

There’ll also be food prepared by Feast BBQ , The Exchange and Bank Street Brewhouse, and wine from River City Winery. Other participants TBA.

Proceeds benefit NARBA and Harvest Homecoming’s selected charities. NARBA is applying for non-profit status as a 501(c)6 professional trade group:

The New Albany Restaurant & Bar Association (NARBA) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit trade organization serving the independent restaurant, bar and on-premise food and drink industry in New Albany, Indiana. NARBA serves as the unified voice of its members on government and public relations issues. It also provides programs that offer educational and operational benefits for members. NARBA represents New Albany’s best known and most vibrant local independent business segment, and is dedicated to the advancement and preservation of New Albany as an urban community.

NARBA’s Biers on Parade is the final event during a week devoted to independent local businesses in New Albany.

New Albany Indie Fest takes place on Sunday, September 27. It’s “a local arts festival including artist booths, amazing music, food, drink, children's area & more! Located at Main & Bank Street in front of the new Underground Station.

September 28 – October 3 is the inaugural New Albany Independent Restaurant Week. New Albany is Louisville’s most flavorful borough, and our locally-owned restaurant and bar operators will be running promotions and holding special events throughout the week. Visit NARBA’s page at Facebook for more:

Harvest Homecoming’s booth days in downtown New Albany begin on Thursday, October 8 and run through Sunday, October 11. For more information:

Sept. 27: New Albany Indie Fest
Sept. 28 – Oct. 3: New Albany Independent Restaurant Week
Oct. 3: Biers on Parade at the New Albany Farmers Market (City Square)
Oct. 3: Harvest Homecoming Parade
Oct. 8 – Oct. 11: Harvest Homecoming Booth Days


Friday, September 04, 2015

Sun King fans in the Hoosier hinterlands, be patient: The beer is slowly returning.

Someone just asked me about this ...

Short version: This article refers to distribution returning to north central Indiana. Floyd, Clark and other Southern Indiana counties still are not on the list, but it is the Brewery's goal to have the entire state in service by the spring of 2016.

So, almost there.

Sun King increases distribution in Indiana, by Amy Haneline (Indy Star)

After an eight-month hiatus, Indiana's second-largest microbrewery, Sun King, will distribute to areas outside the Indianapolis metro area and Bloomington.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

"Pub-goers call time on screaming children."

It's easy to be strident when you don't have kids of your own, and so I'd choose to echo these words from the article: "Get them something to do. If the children are happy, the parents are happy.”

It's probably true that amok children and bad parents are in the minority, although unfortunately they can leave a sizable bad taste in everyone's mouth.

As I've always delighted in pointing out, while bulging alcoholic beverage code books in places like Indiana delight in stipulating ways of maintaining a separation between arbitrarily defined age groups, virtually every beer garden I've ever seen in Bavaria has a playground.

Pub-goers call time on screaming children, by Haroon Siddique (The Guardian)

The ambience of the British boozer is being ruined by screaming babies and children whose parents allow them to run riot, according to disgruntled licensees and customers.

Badly behaved, unruly children was the number one bugbear cited in a survey by the compilers of The Good Pub Guide 2016.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Obscure beer styles like these interest me.

Over the years, I've been fortunate to taste examples of many of these styles. The one most interesting to me today is Kottbusser; I seem to remember Jerry Gnagy producing one at BBC St. Matthews seven or so years ago, but I may be wrong.

What intrigues me the most is that for all their obscurity now, most were everyday beers in their original incarnations. Naturally, I daydream about reviving them for everyday drinking in the current time, and not merely as one-offs or seasonals.

Don't tell me: Someone's already doing it, right?

Point the way, then. I'd plan a vacation around this sort of concept. The article is better than the norm when it comes to lists, as this list isn't totally arbitrary and useless. Thank you, Alex.

11 Obscure Beer Styles That Are Worth a Try, by Alex J. Berezowsky (Mental Floss)

Sure, stouts, India pale ales, and hefeweizens are tasty, but if you want to venture away from the beaten path for your next beer, give one of these styles a shot.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Sicilian vodka? I'd much rather have Icelandic gumbo.

The word "vodka" is Slavic. It is a diminutive form of the word for water ("voda"), or Little Water, which surely is a prime instance of history having fun with words: Little water, big drunk.

Historically -- and this should come as no surprise -- vodka was produced in the "vodka belt," an area comprising Russia, Poland (where the languages are Slavic), other bits of east-central Europe, and Scandinavia.

In the Soviet Union, chronic vodka misuse became an epidemic. Mikhail Gorbachev placed restrictions on its production and sale, moving the rotgut underground, and culminating with the dissolution of the country.

Like I've said before, prohibition just never works out like you'd hoped.

Breathless (and vapid) public relations copy makes me want to retch in the best of times, but here's one that caused me to curse aloud, because what the fuck is Sicilian about vodka in the first place, and who cares which "top-shelf" distributors get the contract?

Answers: Absolutely nothing, and no one.

BiVi Sicilian Vodka Unveils "Top-Shelf" Distributors

NEW YORK, Sept. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- BiVi Sicilian Vodka, a subsidiary of Iconic Brands (OTC PINK: ICNB) announced today its current list of "top-shelf" distributors. These companies represent some of the most prestigious wine and spirit distributors in the nation and will help to further increase brand awareness and rapid penetration for BiVi Sicilian Vodka in the U.S. With the end of its first business quarter, BiVi Sicilian Vodka unveils the following key regional distributors ...

(Embarrassingly fawning promotional drivel omitted)

About BiVi Sicilian Vodka

Launched in the summer of 2015, BiVi Sicilian Vodka is a subsidiary of Iconic Brands (OTC PINK: ICNB). Produced in an "old world" artisan distillery in Messina Sicily, BiVi Sicilian Vodka is hand-crafted with Sicily's local pristine waters and semolina wheat. It is fired using the finest Sicilian fruitwoods from Blood Orange and Lemon trees. The super-premium spirit is the first-of-its-kind 100% Sicilian vodka available state side. The brand's celebrity spokesperson, legendary actor Chazz Palminteri, have joined forces to raise awareness for the product as it becomes available across the U.S. Share an olive. Share the tradition. Drink BiVi.

Of course, it is "handcrafted," lest "top-shelf" becomes disillusioned. But seriously: It matters what sort of wood is used to fire the pot?

Partial credit is awarded for having a "celebrity spokesperson" who at least can boast a Sicilian family history.

Except that there's nothing Sicilian about vodka.

Now grappa ... that's another story.