Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"Tomlinson Tap Room to feature Indiana's Great American Beer Festival winners."

Straight reprint -- a press release from The Guild. If you're in or near Indianapolis, get some.


Tomlinson Tap Room to feature Indiana's Great American Beer Festival winners 

Medal-winning Indiana beers on draught beginning October 28

Tomlinson Tap Room, the craft beer bar run in partnership between Brewers of Indiana Guild and Indianapolis City Market, will serve a number of Hoosier-brewed beers that won medals at Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver last month.

Tomlinson Tap Room's menu exclusively features Indiana beer. Beginning Wednesday, October 28, the following GABF medal-winners will be available during Tomlinson Tap Room's regular hours (Monday - Thursday: 2:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.; Friday - Saturday: 12:00 noon - 9:00 p.m.):
Several winning beers were brewed in limited batches and are no longer available, but their breweries will be sending these in their place:
  • Bier Brewery - 2014 Barrel-Aged Sanitarium 
  • Sun King - Gin Barrel-Aged Grapefruit Jungle (IPA)
  • Sun King - Tinytanic Rum Barrel-Aged Sunlight
"We're proud of the strong showing by Indiana brewers at GABF, one of the world's biggest beer festivals and most well-known competitions," said Rob Caputo, Interim Executive Director for Brewers of Indiana Guild. "Breweries in our state brought home nearly twice as many medals as expected, highlighting the variety and quality of beer produced in Indiana."

The winning beers will be available for a limited time. Menus are updated and posted daily on Tomlinson Tap Room's Twitter (@TomTapRoom) and Facebook accounts.

Award-winning breweries will also be pouring at Brewers of Indiana Guild's next beer festival, Winterfest, on Saturday, January 30, 2016 at Indiana State Fairgrounds. The event is one of three annual fundraisers for the Guild, the non-profit trade association that represents the state's craft brewing industry.
About Brewers of Indiana Guild: Brewers of Indiana Guild was organized in 2000 to provide a unifying voice for the craft breweries and brewpubs of Indiana. We promote public awareness and appreciation for the award-winning quality and variety of beer produced in Indiana, advocate for favorable regulatory treatment from state and federal agencies, provide support to brewers throughout the state, and, along with the City of Indianapolis, co-own Tomlinson Tap Room, where you’ll find only Indiana beers all the time. For more information, visit drinkIN.beer.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

November 7 is Bluegrass Brewing Company's 22nd anniversary party.

David Pierce and BBC in the beginning (early Clinton Administration).
I've been busy trying to decide what I'm going to do when I grow up, and consequently, I still haven't found time to go visit David Pierce at Bluegrass Brewing Company's original location in St. Matthews.

No offense to the previous brewer, but I thought it wise to wait a bit until David has things back into his customarily impeccable order. His tenure began with a complete brew house reconditioning and overhaul, and my sights are set on this upcoming event on Saturday, November 7.

22nd Anniversary Fundraiser and Half Way to Derby Party

The election will be over, and I'll know half of my future. It could be a very good day to get away from it all, and reminisce about the early days of BBC. Outside of my own brewing workplace, I've almost certainly spent more time at BBC St. Matthews than any other brewery -- though not recently.

Perhaps a corrective is in order.

Come celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the original Louisville brewpub with a fundraiser for My Dog Eats First in the daytime and 3 bands in the evening. BBC will have retro beers for our 22nd anniversary. Try the beers that launched craft beer in Louisville.

Mark your calendars! It's also our Half Way to Derby City Brewfest. Three bands will be playing for 6pm to closing. Whiskey Bent Valley Boys at 6pm. Uncommon Houseflies plays 8:30-9:30pm.Audio Addiction is playing 10pm to closing.

Games, Comfy Cow ice cream with BBC root beer and bouncy for kids. Dog supplies and adoption booths. There will be silent auction items to benefit My Dog Eats First. Arrow Fund, Tyson's Chance Animal Foundation, Hand in Paw, Derby City Dog Rescue, Derby City Mobile Vet, Louisville Metro Services, Cali Choo Pet Furniture and many others will have booths. They are bringing many dogs ready for adoption. If you are looking for a new furbaby, this will be a great opportunity.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Anstich keg time again! Franconian lager at the Public House, this afternoon.

This weekend marks the annual return to the Public House of Anstich kegs from Germany.

These are 20-liter, gravity-feed kegs with no CO2 used to push the beer. They're filled at small breweries in Franconia, and shipped by Shelton Brothers to Starlight Distribution in as timely a fashion as possible. We've always found the beer to be remarkably fresh.

Just as in Franconia, we set an Anstich keg on the counter behind the bar, punch a hole in the top, and use a rubber mallet to insert a tap at the bottom. Once tapped, the 40 half-liter glasses of beer therein must be consumed forthwith, or the remainder will go flat.

There are six Anstich kegs to be tapped between Today (October 16) and Halloween, with tappings taking place at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Friday, October 16th: Weissenohe Altfränkisch Klosterbier

Saturday October 17th: Bayer Landbier

Thursday, October 15, 2015

There actually was an IPA shipwreck, after all.

From Cornell's article. If click bait interested me, I'd have flashed a photo of a hard-to-find hoarder's IPA, but then you'd just be disappointed at having to read. 

Martyn Cornell surely has done more to de-mythologize Indian Pale Ale (IPA) than any other writer, although I concede to knowingly deploying selected bits of these myths periodically while storytelling at tastings.

However, I always try to return to the point, because at the risk of oversimplification, Cornell's longstanding mission is to illustrate the advent of more aggressively hopped ales in the UK as an evolutionary process over decades, rather than the result of one or the other light bulbs suddenly flaring.

Even he seems mildly surprised that the "IPA shipwreck" is true, strictly speaking, though the details remain highly contextualized. In short, it now can be proved that there was such an event, but it cannot be proved that certain trends started as a result. These already were developing, over a long period of time, and a lone shipwreck did not serve as flash point, although the stormy origins of casks salvaged from the ship probably made for wonderful, albeit temporary, marketing at a handful of pubs.

It's a great story. At the end, there are links to other pieces written by Cornell on the topic of IPA.

The IPA shipwreck and the Night of the Big Wind, by Martyn Cornell (Zythophile)

The “IPA shipwreck” is one of many long-lasting myths in the history of India Pale Ale. The story says that IPA became popular in Britain after a ship on its way to India in the 1820s was wrecked in the Irish Sea, and some hogsheads of beer it was carrying out east were salvaged and sold to publicans in Liverpool, after which the city’s drinkers demanded lots more of the same. Colin Owen, author of a history of Bass’s brewery, called the tale “unsubstantiated” more than 20 years ago, and others, including me, being unable to find any reports of any such wreck, nor of any indication that IPA was a big seller in the UK until the 1840s, have dismissed it as completely untrue. Except that it turns out casks of IPA did go on sale in Liverpool after a wreck off the Lancashire coast involving a ship carrying hogsheads of beer to India that, literally, became a landmark – though not in the 1820s – and the true story is a cracker, involving one of the worst storms to hit the British Isles in centuries, which brought huge destruction and hundreds of deaths from one side of the UK to the other.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Pour Fool: "AB/InBev Buys SABMiller: Corporate Cluelessness as Fine Art."

AB/InBev Buys SABMiller: Corporate Cluelessness as Fine Art, by Steve Foolbody (The Pour Fool)

There are times when I stare into the sky with humble earnestness and ask the biggest, most important question of all.

The Pour Fool and I -- were we separated at birth?

I went to the "Bluegrass Beer Geek" page at Facebook and posted the link to this amazing essay, prefacing it with this:

"The Pour Fool is a living, breathing deity."

Alas, only one reply was offered amid the hundreds of "see my latest big haul" photos.

"By 'living, breathing deity', do you mean 'child with too much free time and a keyboard, but poor Google skills'?"

No. I mean this.

This final point is the one I want everyone to remember: it is very possible, even likely, that we current American beer lovers - those who honor the ideals of "Drink Local", independent ownership, small business growth, individual achievement, choices, and better beer - can and should(!) be the generation of drinkers who drive AB/InBev into its eventual niche as a quaint remnant of the infancy of American brewing and a small curiosity section at the end of your supermarket beer aisle. Beers like Bud, Bud Light, Miller, Coors, Pabst, etc., will never disappear entirely because there will always be people who prefer them and that's as it should be. But the relative quality and economic consequences of those beers do not merit their being perennial Top Dog in the American beer marketplace. I'm asking, flat out, that people who truly love and care about craft brewing NOT, ever again, create a stylistic exception which says that a cold Bud Light on a hot afternoon or on your beach weekend in Cabo is allowable. I'm requesting, plainly, that you not reward those brands which sell out to AB with your dollars and your implied approval of their puppet status. I'm asking that you actively seek out locally or domestically-made substitutes for those "summer beers", those insipid Pilsners that are the mega-brewers' only working offering, from the rosters of your local brewers...and they're out there. The majority of American brewers, these days, offer at least a couple of hot-weather beers and many of those actually are Pilsners, but Pilsners done right, with flavor and body and hops and craftsmanship showing with every sip. I'm asking you to simply remove all the corporate beers, the mass-produced, cynical, watery pablum beers from foreign conglomerates, from your worldview. Ignore the entire end of your grocery store cooler that's devoted to the idea that we're all the same and that we value repetition and sameness over Choices and variety.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Akasha Brewing Company is open, so go there and check it out.

Photo courtesy of Akasha.

I've been stuck in my own New Albany transitional campaign/repurposing bubble, but important news needs to be transmitted, because Akasha Brewing Company is open at 909 E. Market Street in Louisville.

Tue-Thu: 5:00 pm-10:00 pm
Fri: 5:00 pm-11:00 pm
Sat: 1:00 pm-11:00 pm

The brewery describes itself: "Akasha Brewing Company is a small-batch craft brewery in Louisville, Kentucky."

Kevin Gibson was there a couple weeks ago during a "soft" test run, and was impressed. Over the years, I've sampled several of co-owner Rick Stidham's homebrews, and I have no doubt whatsoever as to the potential for Akasha (Matt Meurer and Jerry Nawrocki are the other two owners).

It's worth noting that the second location of Feast BBQ is right there in NuLu with Akasha. It's so close that Feast and Akasha share an address.

If Rick and his cohorts are reading: I'll know something certain about my future prospects on November 3. After that, I'll be over to see you -- win, lose or hanging chad.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 20 … War stories, from neutral Ireland to Omaha Beach.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 20 … War stories, from neutral Ireland to Omaha Beach.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Twentieth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

The “craic” in Sligo had been excellent, but European time was running out.

(For the uninitiated, the Gaelic word “craic” means the quality of conviviality, discourse and entertainment on hand – often, though by no means exclusively, as applicable to pub culture.)

I’d covered a ridiculous amount of ground up to this point – Luxembourg through Italy and Greece to Istanbul, then back through Italy, Austria, Germany and France to Ireland. It’s what you do when you’re young, and you think it might be your only chance.

It’s what you do when the Eurailpass keeps paying for trains, and occasionally boats.

For the remaining three weeks I’d be pushing myself ever greater distances in order to touch a few scattered Scandinavian urban high points prior to the single most anticipated weekend of the trip: August 1 – 4 in Leningrad, USSR.

But first things first. There’d be a train ride back to Rosslare, a ferry boat to France, and a pilgrimage to the D-Day beaches in Normandy.

I wanted to pay my respects.

As noted throughout this narrative, World War II was a constant presence during my childhood, and it remained quite the active memory for people of my father’s age, whether they were living in Georgetown, Indiana or Gessopalena, Italy.

My dad, a Marine Corps veteran of the Pacific Theater, was only 60 years old in 1985 (he died in 2001). Newsman Tom Brokaw had yet to coin the phrase “Greatest Generation,” but during the 1980s, the ubiquity of Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on a hill” certainly set the stage for later celebrations of American patriotism with regard to remembrances of the war, and the generation that fought it.

Even then, I knew this was overly simplistic, and yet it exercised a strong hold. My dad didn’t like talking about “his” war, and probably sublimated these experiences into a fascination with the Nazis, Soviets and "their" war. He never made it to Europe, and regretted it. I took seriously my responsibility to provide reports to the home front.

Ironically, after a week spent in Ireland, there seemed to have been very little in Dublin or Sligo to suggest a war had ever been fought at all, and in fact, that’s because it had not – at least insofar as “official” Irish history regarded it.


'Twas in the year of 'thirty-nine when the sky was full of lead, when Hitler was heading for Poland, and Paddy for Holyhead

Holyhead is the Welsh ferry port directly across the Irish Sea from Dublin. “Paddy” is longstanding slang for an Irishman, and the song refers to the curious fact that with nary an interruption, the Irish diaspora originally prompted by the 19th-century potato famine continued, according to its traditionally sad cadence, throughout the horrendous international conflict officially known within the fledgling Irish Republic not as a “war,” but as the “emergency.”

These semantics point to the anomaly that the Republic of Ireland, minus its Ulster flashpoint (then as now tied to the Brits), maintained a strict neutrality throughout World War II. The resulting situation was surreal at best, and for some, it symbolized a typically Irish response to calamity.

Now forgotten by Americans, the controversies engendered were extreme matters of life and death, especially for Britain during the Blitz. Irish independence was new, untested and in all respects a work in progress, and ties with the mother country still were painfully palpable.

I've worked till the sweat it has had me beat
With Russian, Czech, and Pole
On shuttering jams up in the hydro-dams
Or underneath the Thames in a hole
I've grafted hard and I've got my cards
And many a ganger's fist across my ears
If you pride your life don't join, by Christ!
With McAlpine's fusiliers

The song is called “McAlpine's Fusiliers,” written by Dominic Behan, multi-talented brother of the more boisterous and notorious writer Brendan. The lyrics, arguably Dominic’s most famous, considers the experience of migrant Irish laborers in Britain during the war.

The chief unintended consequence of neutrality’s chosen isolation was the near complete collapse of an already weak economy, as vast numbers of male citizens migrated to an active belligerent (Britain), either by choice or circumstance, and became de facto combatants through war-related work or military service.

Back in Ireland, diplomatic representatives of all warring nations were posted to Dublin in close proximity, Irish newspapers were censored to achieve fairness and balance for all warring nations, and life became even tougher for the long suffering rural poor, who were enlisted into make-work schemes like a bizarre program calling for escalating quotas of peat to be cut (it was customarily burned for fuel).

All the while, Ireland’s hotels and resorts remained packed, catering to a wealthy British clientele traveling to an otherwise impoverished country to eat and drink extravagantly, avoiding the inconvenience of dinnertime bombing at a time when rationing and austerity were norms back home.

Meanwhile, Catholic priests railed against the depravity of Europe, holding out a mystical vision of an autonomous, corporatist Ireland, one making good on the model of Salazar in neutral Portugal. The church feared the immoral contagion of condom-carrying American GI’s temporarily billeted in Northern Ireland prior to the climactic Normandy invasion.

Rigorous censorship was damaging to Ireland's writers and artists, who were cut off from previously fecund streams of continental inspiration.

Even stranger, Ireland even had its own hardscrabble fascist cadres, although comparisons with the Marx Brothers in "Duck Soup" are more appropriate than the actual dimensions of the threat posed to civil order by these confused and disorganized elements.

When the war was over, the questions arose: Had Ireland's leader, Eamon de Valera, heroically preserved its shaky independence by adhering to neutrality, or had his hedging retarded the country's standing in the post-war community of nations?

Were the Irish being traitorous to their acquired Anglo heritage by embracing neutrality, or were they as yet crafty Gaels, taking the only truly sane position in an utterly insane world?


The return path was familiar, from Sligo to Dublin by rail, a change of trains to Rosslare, and from the sleepy port overnight by boat to France.

Looking back, I’m continually fascinated by how very little I remember. There was a full Sunday in Sligo to recover from Saturday’s Live Aid concert-watching in the pubs. What did I do? What did I eat and drink? The memory is lost.

Much of Monday was taken up in transit. What was I thinking? It’s a blur, or more accurately, a blank, although Guinness may have been involved.

There is a faint recollection of boarding the ferry and putting my name on the waiting list for a room. Perhaps I’d grown fond of beds rather than floors. My name was called, and fortunately, the Irish Continental Line took plastic, though the debit card came another $25 closer to evaporating.

The return ferry debarked at Cherbourg instead of Le Havre, and I stepped onto French soil on Tuesday, July 16, 1985. From Cherbourg, it’s an hour by rail to the town of Bayeux, which is mildly famous for a tapestry depicting the Norman conquest of England in 1066, and boasts a beautiful cathedral called Notre-Dame de Bayeux.

Bayeux lies a few miles south of the English Channel coast, and the beaches chosen by the Allies for the D-Day landing. The beaches face northward, toward England.

For the invasion, from west to east, they were given the names Utah and Omaha (American troops) and Gold, Juno and Sword (British, Canadian, Commonwealth and Free French). The nearby towns of Sainte-Mère-Église and Caen were heavily damaged during the fighting, but Bayeux largely spared.

During the short train ride, I talked with a sharply outfitted American backpacker from Los Angeles, who said he was 50-something years old and had only recently quit his job in the film industry (or perhaps it had quit him), cleaned out his savings account and booked a flight to Europe.

We both got off the train at Bayeux. He was planning on staying at a hotel most backpackers couldn’t afford, and I was looking for a much cheaper hostel called the Family Home.

The woman at the Family Home said there was no available space – unless maybe there was, so could I wait?

At least she spoke English. After earnest consultations with co-workers and negotiations with another tourist who’d entered the building at the same time as me, it became clear that a room formerly dubbed as a dorm for four persons was being filled with mattresses, and henceforth would house six. We were the lucky two.

Unfortunately, no one told the original quartet, who came back from their grocery foraging expedition just after the newcomers had claimed their mattresses. The most vocally annoyed was Fred, a garrulous Floridian. However, a Canadian named Bruce quietly calmed Fred, and an adult conversation ensued.

The following morning, we hopped a bus together to Omaha Beach, the six of us, and another round of temporary friendships began.



The PC: Euro ’85, Part 19 … Sligo, Knocknarea, Guinness and Freddie.

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

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, October 11, 2015

Arabs and distillation: Liquor “as hot between the ribs as a firebrand.”

This one's an ancient link, but it's a story worth repeating, with a fair warning: Reading the essay will make you thirsty AND hungry.

My first trip to Ireland was in 1985, and I distinctly recall the man in the pub in Sligo telling me "the Arabs invented distillation, but the Irish perfected it!"

As the following shows, the Arabs invented alcohol and knew good and well how to use it. The complicating factors are more recent themes in the interpretation of Islam, which The Economist explains in this piece: Tipsy taboo -- Alcohol is a reality in Muslim lands, but discussing it remains off limits.

Liquid fire: The Arabs discovered how to distil alcohol. They still do it best, say some (The Economist)

WHAT is Islam's greatest gift to the world? The faith of the Koran, Muslims will promptly say—along, some would add, with the Arabic language. Yet it may be that the single most pervasive legacy of Islamic civilisation is not holy scripture, but the rather unholy art of distilling alcohol. Not only were Arabs the first to make spirits. The great trading civilisation of Islam spread the skill across the globe, and in its lands some of the world's finest alcoholic concoctions are still made to this day.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

"Just please don’t insult my intelligence by telling me it’s all for my own good."

A couple weeks back, I drove over to Cumberland Brewery for a morning chat with Mark Allgeier. We both remarked about the difficulty in espousing the virtues of localism in brewing, particularly as it pertains to wholesale distribution.

Lagunitas came up, and I observed that I couldn't even remember the last time I'd had one. No offense, but it means next to nothing to me. It's just another beer from somewhere else, and my beery libido is more regional these days.

I was walking back to my car, and there was the Lagunitas truck in front of Old Town Liquors. The Heineken deal was announced the following day, I believe.

The point is that Stephen Beaumont hits the center of the target. Maybe you'll take HIS word for it.

Dear Brewery with the ‘SOLD’ Sign: Cut the Crap!, by Stephen Beaumont

 ... Look, I get it that when you build a small business into a larger one you have a corresponding rise in responsibilities. I understand that there are employees to consider, investors to pay out, maybe bank loans to finance. I know personally about the sacrifice and strife involved in being an entrepreneur for 25 or more years, grinding away and hoping that others will share your vision sufficiently that your business might turn into a success. And I appreciate that many long-time brewery owners may not have a succession plan in place.

Hell, I even understand pure avarice of the “they backed up a dump truck full of money” variety.

But when your company’s entire marketing strategy has for years been based upon the premise of “small is good, big is evil,” do you honestly think it reasonable to suddenly turn on a dime and tell us otherwise? After imploring us to “buy local” for decades, does it really make sense to expect us to abruptly opt for “international” instead? Do you really believe that the joining of a small brewery – and let’s face it, everything in craft brewing is tiny relative to the big international brewers! – with a multi-billion dollar company can ever be anything even approaching a “meeting of equals”? Do you truly think that the massive corporate structure to which you have just made your sale really “shares the passion” that led you into craft brewing in the first place?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

"Upland Wheat, and an End to Pretension."

Damn it, Indiana on Tap -- stop using all caps in your headers. You're guilty of annoying the curmudgeon's style manual. You and SmartTowns.org ...

Apart from that, here's a much needed corrective to the prevailing hoarders' narcissism. There's nothing at all wrong with dependable daily treats, whether Upland's Wheat Ale or a Bell's Two Hearted.

Great article.

This Week on Tap: Upland Wheat, and an End to Pretension, by Adam T. Schick (Indiana On Tap)

Being a craft beer fan can be exhaustive. It can be a pain in the ass constantly searching for the next big thing, or spending Thanksgiving camping out in front of a liquor store waiting for an annual bottle release, or scouring the internet looking for someone who can rush ship you a can of an IPA released once every blood moon in the unmapped woods of Vermont. Personally, it often weighs on me that I can’t just drink a beer without first having to inspect its aroma, inquire about its hop profile, and chew it around in my mouth. It’s so stressful being a snob!

Monday, October 05, 2015

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 19 … Sligo, Knocknarea, Guinness and Freddie.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 19 … Sligo, Knocknarea, Guinness and Freddie.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Nineteenth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

It has been firmly established that in July of 1985, I arrived in Ireland for a week off the continental grid, with a song in my heart as well as a heartfelt desire to consume draft Guinness with a vengeance.

This alone would have sufficed for a good time, as pursued in a pub format I was experiencing for the first time, and now recall with fondness: Fiddles and tin whistles, guitars and banjos, jigs and reels, and pints of stout all around, with everyone in the room seemingly capable of singing better than the actual performers.

Guinness-powered conversation was even better. In the barrooms, there was a deep reverence for the collective Irish historical experience, desperate and impoverished as it often had been. The former British colonial overlord seemed to inspire amusement, annoyance and even periodic affection; while those olden times were a significant portion of the national narrative, they were gone, come what may.

Nor would Ireland be returning to its Gaelic-speaking past, even when the often ham-fisted theocratic government insisted it try. There was a misty Euro-future somewhere beyond the foggy dew, though honestly, it couldn’t yet be seen with clarity. The Celtic Tiger had not roared, and property neither boomed nor burst.

There was plenty of gallows humor, mordant and defeatist, yet playful and vibrantly patriotic, looking always to a different and better life ahead in spite of the horrendous pratfalls of the past. There was much good-humored bawdiness about drinking and whoring and the nobility of true love, as in this anecdote.

In the Irish love triangle there are three parties involved: A man, and a woman – and drink.

And so the girl gives an ultimatum to her boyfriend: It's either the drink, or me.

And he chooses the drink.

But afterwards, he relents. They get married and live happily ever after … the three of them.

This valuable cultural education really began only after I departed Dublin. No offense to the capital city, which probably ranks second only to London in terms of literary prowess in the English language – Ireland’s second tongue, mind you.

Rather, it was a manifestation of intent … and a bit of exhaustion.


Pecetto had been my last port of call situated anywhere near the countryside, and this northern Italian interlude had come more than a month previous to landfall in Eire. I may have been developing into an urbanite, but the metamorphosis wouldn’t come without growing pains.

Consequently, what I most wanted to do in Ireland in the summer of 1985 was find somewhere pleasingly rural, although not so isolated that more than five or six days would be required to find my way back to Rosslare and the ferry to France.

An Irish stereotype was urgently needed, perhaps a regular provincial town, one with open spaces for rambling and scenery for reflection. Pubs were a requirement (as though one could locate a square inch of Ireland without three or more of them in stumbling distance), and cheap eats.

The town needed to be accessible by train, because that way, tickets back and forth already were paid via the Eurailpass. Looking at a map, there were obvious candidates. The Irish national railways could be seen radiating from Dublin like spokes from a wheel’s center.

One might easily travel by rail south to Cork or west to Galway, but not to both on the same trip without first returning to Dublin. Buses, not passenger railroads, connected the spokes to each other.

The town of Sligo seemed the ideal destination. It is a natural harbor dating to ancient times, situated to the northwest of Dublin on Ireland’s western side, with the Atlantic Ocean stretching over the horizon to infinity. The word “Sligo” itself was utterly alien to me, but sounded estimably Irish, and while there wouldn’t be time enough to explore rugged Donegal, where the original Gaelic still could be heard, there was at least an element of bucolic isolation.

I chose Sligo, and never regretted it.

Exiting the small, silent train station on a sunny day, I strolled into a settlement of perhaps 10,000 inhabitants. It has since doubled in population, and looking at the ever handy satellite view on Google Map, I see almost nothing familiar about the town, with sleek malls and department stores stacked near the station. Three decades is a long time, after all.

What I remember about Sligo at this late date is an impression of orderly and clean but languid, and a bit “down at the heels.” As always, job one was locating a place to sleep, which presumably meant the youth hostel someone had recommended back in Dublin. I found it, though not before my attention was caught by a hand-lettered sign on jagged cardboard, posted in the window of a typical row house:

“Bed and Breakfast.”

Well, informality had worked out fine in Dublin, hadn’t it?

Just because the tourist bureau didn’t endorse a room wasn’t any reason not to try it. Retracing my steps, I knocked and was introduced to the delightful O’Donnells, Mary and Gerry, school teachers in their fifties on summer break, trying to earn a few punts by renting their spare bed to a bedraggled wanderer just like me.

Perfect. The price was right, and before I ran back out to find a bank and grocery store, Mary reminded me that afternoon tea was included as an option. This being Ireland, perhaps it should come as no surprise that my hosts weren’t standoffish about my presence. They had grown children my age, and I felt like a house guest, not a paying customer. For the next five days, we got along famously.

It was time enough to develop a routine. Evenings in Sligo were for pub visits, listening to music and nursing pints. The regular Irish summer rain held off, and so days were for walking.

One afternoon was spent roaming the streets and taking pictures with a roll of black and white film I’d stashed in the lead-lined pouch for the purpose of exercising photographic artistry, assuming I possessed any.

Another entire day involved a long walk to the east, following the Garavogue River inland past rows of old mill buildings to Lough Gill, with Benbulbin, a plateau-like rock formation, hovering over the skyline to the north. It occurred to me to hike to the top, but a different plan, at a different hill, already was taking shape for Saturday.


At one of the pubs, I’d overheard a conversation about a big concert on Saturday, July 13. At first I thought they meant a show in Sligo itself, but then it became clear it was to be televised from Wembley Stadium in London – and finally I made the connection with the magazine spotted at the hostel in Paris.

It was Live Aid, Bob Geldof’s epochal day-long, worldwide gig to raise funds for Ethiopian famine relief. I was about to learn the importance of being Irish; Geldof was born and raised near Dublin, and as the guiding force behind the punk-era Boomtown Rats, he doubled as curmudgeonly social critic, a quality Irish conservatives found disconcerting – until the hometown boy made good on a larger stage.

Never discount the power of national pride. Live Aid was the project of an Irishman, and Ireland was preparing to be quite enamored of this fact, whether or not any of them liked the Boomtown Rats.

On Saturday morning, I asked Gerry which bus went to Strandhill, a settlement by ocean at the foot of Knocknarea (nock-na-ray), a 1,000-foot tall limestone hill overlooking the Bay of Sligo. My plan was a morning hike to the top, where a Neolithic burial cairn is located, and then a return to Sligo to watch Live Aid.

As it turned out, Gerry was preparing to drive to the golf course, and so he deposited me at the trail head near Strandhill. It was hazy, muggy and fly-infested, and the path well-traveled. The view from Knocknarea was worth the effort, with majestic vistas of green fields, rocky hedgerows, shimmering sea and the ever-present Benbulbin.

I caught a bus back to Sligo before lunch, showered, and found a seat at a nearby pub. Live Aid was showing on a projection TV. The Irish national television channel had preempted all other programming, and between acts, there were cuts from the live feed to the studio, where an older presenter and Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy’s singer and bassist, provided what amounted to color commentary.

It struck me that when a set ended, and the two began talking, voices in the pub would be lowered, and the drinkers would pause to listen. Then again, it was still relatively early in the day.

Live Aid was the most ambitious international satellite television production of its time, and Geldof’s creation was subject to rightful criticism: Wasn’t it the very same group of pious pop stars, pumping up their own album sales by means of a charitable “cover,” with little of the money raised ever actually making it to the intended beneficiaries in Ethiopia?

More pointedly for Live Aid’s connection with Africa, why were the acts almost entirely white? Stevie Wonder is said to have refused a slot at the American venue because he had no intention of being the token black.

Ironically, Lynott was a black Irishman, born in London, and he was in the television studio precisely because his band hadn’t been invited to play. How could Bob do that to Phil? They were mates. Still, as Live Aid unfolded, my fellow pub goers were united in praise for the idea – after all, it was Geldof, an Irishman, who’d organized it. Unfortunately, illness and heroin addiction killed Lynott barely six months later.

Did he and Sir Bob ever make up?

At some point later in the afternoon, I walked back to my room to get more money. I heard familiar sounds coming from the kitchen, where Mary sat watching U2 begin its star-making Live Aid set.

“It’s U2,” I said. “I love this band. Are you a U2 fan, too?”

“I’ve no idea,” she replied. “But they’re our lads, aren’t they?”

We watched together.

Just as I re-entered the pub, Queen started playing. Like much of the rest of the planet, I was spellbound as Freddie Mercury worked the crowd of 75,000. I’d been only a casual follower of the group, and had not witnessed it on stage. Queen’s 20-minute set at Live Aid is routinely rated among the most memorable live performances in rock history, and while it may have not been the music I came to Ireland to hear, it’s a personal memory I’ll always cherish.

It gets hazy after that. Back in my room, I listened to the some of the Philadelphia portion of Live Aid on a small radio I’d brought along. I fell asleep, and it would be many years, well into the Internet era, before I ever saw video of what I'd missed.

European time was running out. Three weeks remained. It was time to head back to France, and north to Scandinavia, because I had a big date in Helsinki at the beginning of August.



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

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.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Lunch at Brownie's The Shed in New Albany.

Last week I had lunch at the New Albany location of Brownie's The Shed and met Jason Brown. It was a fine lunch, venue and chat.

The new location is at the former site of JR's and Fieldhaus, which is on Main Street to the west of State Street, perhaps better known as the route to Horseshoe Casino.

For those of a religious inclination, say a silent prayer for Jason, who's about to experience the surreal chaos of Harvest Homecoming for the first time.

Note: You may not be able to read the linked article. Paywalls -- such a First World problem.

Here’s the plan: First New Albany, then the world, by David A. Mann (Louisville Business First)

The owners of Brownie's The Shed have big plans for growth.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Listen to the Louisville Beer Dot Com podcast with David Pierce.

It's been a very strange vocational year for me.

I went on leave of absence to run for mayor, an ongoing activity that will yield a verdict in one month's time.

Then we began talking about transitions, and I decided to sell my share of NABC to my business partners. Alas, it hasn't been as easy as I'd hoped. I suppose divorces of any sort fall into that category.

Josh Hill left NABC to brew at Floyd County Brewing Company, and then he returned to be a sales person. Shortly thereafter, he took over the brewery at Bank Street Brewhouse when David Pierce returned to BBC St. Matthews roughly 13 years after he moved to the BBC production facility, now Goodwood.

As David makes clear in the podcast, little if any of this has been connected. Correlation, not causation. It was time for change, and change happened.

After listening to the podcast, I remarked to my wife that one phrase jumped out me: Recipe fatigue, or the process of brewers slightly modifying recipes until they've drifted from where they began. David plans on restoring the classic BBC formulations, and this is one of the most exciting things I've heard in a while.

Depending on how political overture turns out, I know where many future growlers will be purchased. Pendulums swing, and back I go to BBC St. Matthews for wings and APA.

Episode 108: David Pierce

We finally talked David Pierce into coming on our little podcast thingy. He talks about his legacy in Louisville’s beer scene, and what to expect now that he’s back home at BBC St. Matthews.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Top Five posts at Potable Curmudgeon for August and September, 2015.

In honor of the fact that I forgot to post an August list, and September proved to be too busy for me to accomplish very much outside of campaigning for mayor, these two months are combined into one Top Five list, as always determined by numbers of unique hits, as reported by Blogger.

The list begins with No. 5, and ends with No. 1. Thanks for reading.


Kentucky State Fair homebrewing competition winners for 2015.


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


Top Five posts at Potable Curmudgeon for July, 2015.


Stephen "Taco Steve" Powell, his taco cart, and downtown New Albany.


My column in the latest Food & Dining Magazine is about Gordon Biersch.