Sunday, May 31, 2015

From 2010: "Weights, measures, short pours, long odds and Little Big Pints."


Before PourGate, and prior to Bank Street Brewhouse's Indiana Statutory Compliance Restaurant Menu, there was the Great Short Pour Scandal of 2010. 

To be honest, I'd forgotten about it, and I cannot recall hearing of any follow-ups in the years since. In retrospect, it seems particularly ludicrous -- but aren't most bureaucratic hair-splitting contests?

From August 25, 2010, as originally published as a "Wednesday Weekly" column ...

---

Weights, measures, short pours, long odds and Little Big Pints.

NABC’s Pizzeria & Public House was twice visited last week by Floyd County’s recently installed local weights and measures inspector. His stated reason for knocking on our door was a complaint he had received to the effect that we were not offering full pours of beer.

Consequently, in order to comply with the letter of the law in a place that seldom enforces any of them, we shall continue pouring draft beer as we always have, while recalibrating the way we’ve spoken about our draft business for 18 complaint-free years, as we learn new ways to describe what we're pouring by speaking in vague shades of linguistic, liquid content.

Perhaps a bit of history is in order.

18 years ago, when Rich O’s Public House became the first-ever Floyd County bar business to boast of serving draft Guinness, we decided to make Imperial pints our default pour size, because they’re the proper glass to use for Guinness and other ales in the traditions of the British Isles.

We’ve purchased hundreds off cases of them since then. The glass itself contains approximately 20 ounces if it is filled all the way to the top. Some say it is closer to 19.2 ounces, reflecting differences in measurement between Queen and Colonies. Of course, we’ve seldom filled them all the way to the top, allowing for a proper head of foam.

Some years later, after numerous Gravity Head fests, the gradual expansion of the number of taps, a steady stockpiling of glasses and an evolution in our thinking, we added half-sized Imperials to the glassware mix. They hold approximately 10 ounces if filled all the way to the top.

Most of the signature German and Belgian glasses we use are designed to accommodate the head floating above an etched pour line, usually denoting a half-liter (16.9 oz) for German glasses, and roughly 10 ounces (circa 33 cl) for Belgians. We’ve often joked about how almost all German and Belgian pours end up over the line, thus providing the consumer with an ounce or two more beer.

Ironically, as I now understand it since the weights and measures pow wow, it is acceptable to over-pour, not under-pour, although I can envision the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission objecting to over-pouring as an invitation to inebriation, while the weights and measure department eyeballs us for deceptive under-pouring. I wonder which regulatory agency has primary jurisdiction with such matters – not that I really want to know.

Anyway, according to the weights and measures inspector, the issue is what we say we’re pouring, and what actually is poured. In the beginning, we billed our Imperial pints as … “Imperial pints”. Later, in an effort to be clear about the amount, we began describing them as “20-oz pints”. Still later, they became “20-oz pours”, as described in the menus and on the chalkboards.

The half-sized glasses are 10 ounces, and underwent a similar descriptive trajectory. In none of this did we ever seek to do more than provide approximate information to the consumer; the idea was to let people know that they’d be getting certain size glasses for certain beers. First and foremost, the important consideration to me is that regular customers are satisfied that they receive value for their pours, and are not being cheated (see “18 complaint-free years” above). My conscience is clean on this count.

However, as became evident last week, it seems that a few 8-ounce glasses sneaked into the glassware mix, and someone apparently objected. Was this really necessary? I think not. I haven’t regularly tended bar in quite some time, but surely nothing has changed since the days when I’d regularly offer patrons a top-off if the pour amount seemed too low, and so if the customer in question had inquired, I’m sure he or she would have received an ounce or two of beer as fair compensation.

Furthermore, it strikes me as profoundly strange that the complaint was directed not to the ATC, seemingly the first port of call for any tavern-related issue, but to an obscure inspector with the local weights and measures department, an office that few people even know exists.

So, what tasks does an Indiana weights and measures inspector normally performs? They come down to two primary functions in today’s world: Checking the accuracy of gasoline pumps, and seeing that scales in places like delicatessens and supermarkets are correct. An inspector can, indeed, measure virtually anything, although the law is purposefully vague about it.

When not otherwise provided by law, the county or city inspector of weights and measures shall have the power within the county or city to inspect, test, try and ascertain if they are correct, all weights, scales, beams, measures of every kind, instruments or mechanical devices for measurement and the tools, appliances or accessories, connected with any or all such instruments or measurements used or employed within the county or city by any proprietor, agent, lessee or employee in determining the size, quantity, extent or measurement of quantities, things, produce, articles for distribution or consumption offered or submitted by such person or persons for sale, for hire or award.

Beware, coal and ice dealers – don’t think you can slide past!

The division of weights and measures, the division's agents, deputies, or inspectors, and the county and city inspectors of weights and measures may go into or upon without formal warrant any stand, place, building or premises, or may stop any vender, peddler, junk dealer, coal wagon, ice wagon, or any dealer, for the purpose of making the proper test and for the purpose of ascertaining the proper weights and measures of all commodities found therein or thereon.

Our weights and measures inspector, seemingly a nice man, confided that his predecessor evidently had not set foot in a bar or restaurant for 23 years, a precedent now shattered, as I believe he’ll want to visit all such establishments to avoid giving the impression that we’re being singled out for scrutiny.

Be that as it may, the verdict was delivered: We must not try to offer approximate consumer information, only scientifically precise consumer information. In the absence of exact certainty, we must resort to the shifting sand of semantics. If we cannot pour exactly 20 ounces of liquid, we cannot make reference to it being a 20-ounce glass, or an Imperial pint, which implies a 20-ounce glass.

However, we can continue to pour the same amount of beer into the same glassware, referring to the larger one as “large,” “big,” “grande,” or simply pint. Why pint? As the inspector explained, “pint” in America is understood to mean a 16-ounce measure, and because we’d be using larger Imperial glasses, and pouring the same way as we always have, there’d always be a bit more than 16 ounces. The same reasoning goes for “small,” “little,” “pequeño,” or simply “half-pint.” It’s okay to pour more – not less.

Somewhere, another Publican shrugs.

Note that in all of this, we are being offered the admittedly attractive option of continuing to pour beers exactly as we have for the past 18 complaint-free years, only with the slightly unattractive caveat of adjusting the language used to describe the glassware so that it is less descriptive than before.

In other words, our rebuke at the hands of the weights and measures inspector has the result of compelling us to offer less accurate consumer information, rather than more.

If that’s the government’s goal, I surrender. Cue the full-throated chorus of the entire population of New Albany, and hear this rousing response: “WHATEVER.”

If the government wishes us to be creative with words, we’ll happily be creative with words. It’s really fine by me, because I’m a big advocate of words in their infinite varieties. Employee re-education surely can be transformed into an entertaining and expansive experience, in that how many different languages (and alphabets!) can we find words for “large” and “small”?

If we post these mandated words in Russian, Japanese or Chinese, we’ll be complying with the law, as there is no mention in the Indiana statute of the default language used to signify these particular content concepts. We might elect to use pictograms. Would Braille suffice for non-visually impaired patrons?

Suggestions?

Move to the metric system?

Consult the Klingon dictionary?

Send comments and tips to me at the usual location. If I am to be annoyed and harassed by such occurrences, I intend to get a hearty laugh out of it.

And I am. I'll still be laughing when the next bureaucrat comes to visit.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Another legislative win: Effective July 1, revised food requirements for Indiana brewery taprooms.


Previously, we took a look at the resolution of one long-running annoyance ...

May 20, 2015: PourGate 2013: took two years, but this new law silences Dr. Tom Harris and the Floyd County Health Department.

 ... and now, on to another. The background is here.

September 10, 2014: ON THE AVENUES: Law-abiding by weenie was never this viral.

With all due credit to Rep. Ed Clere and the lobbying effort put forth by the Brewers of Indiana Guild, there'll be a common-sense change to the law requiring Indiana brewery taprooms to furnish food -- those dreaded frozen weenie sandwiches. It takes effect on July 1.

Here is the exact wording.

HOUSE ENROLLED ACT No. 1311

AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning alcohol and tobacco.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana:

SECTION 1. IC 7.1-3-2-7, AS AMENDED BY SEA 297-2015, SECTION 2, IS AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2015]: Sec. 7. The holder of a brewer's permit or an out-of-state brewer holding either a primary source of supply permit or an out-of-state brewer's permit may do the following …

… (5)(G) Sell the brewery's beer by the glass for consumption on the premises. Brewers permitted to sell beer by the glass under this clause must furnish the minimum food requirements prescribed by the commission. make food available for consumption on the premises. A brewer may comply with the requirements of this clause by doing any of the following:

(i) Allowing a vehicle of transportation that is a food establishment (as defined in IC 16-18-2-137) to serve food near the brewer's licensed premises.

(ii) Placing menus in the brewer's premises of restaurants that will deliver food to the brewery.

(iii) Providing food prepared at the brewery.

Food trucks and delivery menus. That's fair, isn't it? Now that Earth Friends Cafe is housed at Bank Street Brewhouse, the point is moot for NABC -- but I didn't urge a solution for us alone. It's about the collective.

Also, there always was a fundamental difference between these two issues.

Ironically, the food requirement is about the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, an Indiana brewer's central governing authority. I respect the ATC and its role, and have tried to organize my professional life accordingly.

Meanwhile, the health department's insolent insistence that it could conjure administratively what couldn't be found in statute was something that needed to be fought hard, and was.

The health department wants beer to be under its domain as food?

Then change the law, but don't wave the magic revenue enhancement wand and expect me to buy it.

Tiring fighting these battles ... but necessary.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Donum Dei Brewery and free-range, homebrewer-sourced Porter.

There are few genuinely new ideas, just new generations not previously exposed to them, which is to say that the homebrewing community always has had a level of input into the brewing revolution.

And a town can't have too many Porters, so I'll have to try Rick's when there's the chance.

NABC first brewed a Porter in late 2002. It was called The Black Hand, and was David and Beth Howard’s winning Robust Porter recipe at the 10th annual FOSSILS homebrewed porter competition, held earlier in the year.

In 2003, we did it again. Bob Capshew’s recipe won the competition, and permanently altered the course of NABC’s subsequent Porter production, serving henceforth as the everyday basis for Bob's Old 15-B.

Craft brewers seek public input for new brews, by Bailey Loosemore (Courier-Journal)

New Albany's newest head brewer doesn't share his community's affinity for porters.

But with so many people requesting one be added to Donum Dei Brewing's menu, owner Richard Otey said he couldn't let down the steady base of regulars he's built in the past two months. So he made a decision that's becoming more common in the craft brewing and distilling industries: He used a local homebrewer's recipe.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Diary: Huh? How many years?

I pay almost no attention to LinkedIn, and yet have more than 500 contacts.

Today, I received three notices of congratulation from LinkedIn contacts. I scratched my head. For what? Well, somewhere on my profile it says that May is my business anniversary, and upon reflection, it is ... and isn't.

June of 1992 is more accurate, but of course it's 23 years any way you cut it. Memorial Day weekend of '92 was the impetus for me to join the business now known as New Albanian Brewing Company, which itself dates to 1987. There it is.

Now more than ever, it all seems a bit mystifying. Still, throwing myself into the spirit of an anniversary that had eluded my gaze, tonight I celebrated with a growler of Beak's Best, a big sloppy plate of homemade nachos, and lots of throwback music from The Jam and Style Council.

Thanks to everyone for supporting my weird journey. How's the reinvention coming, anyway?

Wait -- wrong teleprompter.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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

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

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Sixth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

Woody Allen’s 2012 film, “To Rome with Love,” received middling reviews, but as with so many other cinematic excursions coming before and since, it is impossible to fault the director’s choice of inspired locales.

Forget the plot and cast. They’re disposable, because the Eternal City is sumptuously depicted. Food is ubiquitous, and wine pours freely in almost every scene. We all can be forgiven for wanting to pack our bags, chuck the daily grind and go frolic by the steps and fountains.

Rome was an essential destination for me in 1985. Indeed, it was intended quite consciously as a “greatest hits” urban tour, with periodic interludes in smaller cities, though largely without countryside idylls. These happened later. In fact, I came from a countryside, and in many respects, the whole point of the trip was to test the emerging theory that at heart, I belonged in populated areas.

Already I’d visited Athens and Istanbul, now Rome. Mine were revelatory days in the Italian capital, one after the next, with neither cable news nor the far-off Internet to so much as dare suggest a direct connection between my daily experiences in Rome with the larger world outside, although I confess to sneaking an occasional peak at headlines from the newspaper kiosks. I was becoming adept at thumbing through the papers just long enough to get the stories I wanted, before being chased by annoyed proprietors.

There was a long walk along the Appian Way, nimbly dodging screaming sports, motorcycles and picnicking families while examining the formless remains of the tombs of important, and forgotten, Roman patricians, politicians and magnates.

There was laundry fluttering in the breeze from the windows of post-WW II housing blocks, a descent into the catacombs, and roast pork sandwiches from the little closet-sized eatery down the block, which roasted a whole pig out back every single day.

There were odd 2/3 liter bottles of bland beer for roughly 50 cents, a subway ride to Benito Mussolini’s EUR (a 1930s-era planned suburban and business area south of the city). There was bready, delicious pizza brushed with oil and baked with herbs. There were more architectural styles, churches and domes than anyone could remember, and in short, there was a sensory overload unlike anything for which the life and times of Southern Indiana might provide remotely adequate preparation.

I was wary and mostly sober, but enamored. As in Greece, and during the remainder of the journey to come, the bulk of my days in Rome were spent wandering the streets, profoundly dazed, desperately trying to absorb as much as possible on a trip viewed from the outset as surely my only chance to see Europe before returning home and acquiring some form of a productive life – and, of course, not until much later realizing that such an acquisition was purely optional, and lives could be framed in the manner suited to the individual.

Happily, with some effort and forethought, my budget did not preclude a decent quality of life in Rome. Even better, many high points were absolutely free, as when I wandered into a church one Sunday, and a city fairly swooned.

Trust me: It was completely accidental. But before all of that, I had to get there.

---

While my Eurail Pass covered the cost of getting from Greece to Italy, it was a time-consuming effort. The ferry trip itself took the better part of a day, and was noteworthy for landfall on Corfu and my first glimpse of the mysterious Albanian shoreline opposite the Greek island.

On ship, I was intrigued by a 60-something, intrepid, backpacking American couple from Chicago named Butz, a name I recall solely because it also belonged to an ill-fated secretary of agriculture who resigned in disgrace in 1976 after inopportunely uttering racial humor.

Mr. and Mrs. Butz debarked at Corfu, and when progress continued toward Italy, so did the on-board festivities, because these long, sun-baked hours were being shared with thirsty backpacking Aussies and Germans, all of us cross-legged in the ocean breeze on the ferry’s peanut gallery of a deck.

With little to offer in any advanced cultural sense, I instead taught them how to play the familiar Hoosier drinking game called Drachma Bounce, using a metal camp cup and alternating portions of Retsina and Ouzo either as penalty for winning, or reward for losing.

Late that afternoon, slightly altered, we arrived at the Italian port of Brindisi. Exiting the boat, a dockside café provided the convenient pretext to commence a lifelong love affair with garlic-laden clam sauce over pasta, as accompanied by passable draft beer.

Then, walking to the train station, I passed a doorway guarded by an improbably tall black man, who took stock of my appearance and addressed me in perfect American.

Disorientation must have been evident, although he just laughed heartily and offered the back story: College basketball back in the States (Oklahoma State? Tulsa?), before accepting an offer to join Brindisi’s team in the Italian league. His name is lost to me now, though at the time, I recognized it and subsequently confirmed his story.

No couchettes were available on the overnight train to Rome, and so “sleep” was napping upright in a seat, sardine-like, amid fellow travelers. Such was my level of fatigue that I actually slept a bit, awakening at dawn just in time to glimpse Montecassino Abbey, as rebuilt on its mountaintop after being completely destroyed in the famous World War II battle of attrition.

---

Arriving early at Rome’s Termini station, I hit the ground running toward one of the $25-A-Day book’s suggested budget pensions – not low rent retirement stipends, but small family-run hotels, usually located upstairs in urban residential blocks. The first one was booked, but the second had a vacancy. It was four flights up on a Thursday morning, and I settled in for a five-day stay. By Friday, I was a sidewalk café veteran, nursing Nastro Azurro lagers and watching the girls go by.

At some point, a question arose: What’s an underfunded atheist to do on a Sunday morning in Rome, when so many tourist attractions are closed? The lightbulb fired on Saturday morning during my Appian Way stroll. On Sunday, people go to church -- right?

What’s more, being in Rome meant not having to settle for a lowly chapel somewhere in the suburbs, because the Yankee Stadium of organized religion was right there in the middle of the venerable city: St. Peters Basilica. Sunday morning would entail a pilgrimage to the Vatican, and mass at St. Peters.

Quite literally, it was time to don my cleanest dirty shirt.

---

I tiptoed away from my pension before the rolls, jam, butter and coffee came out to the communal table. It was a pleasant, albeit weirdly quiet walk to Termini, where I stopped for espresso and a pastry and boarded the subway, eventually hopping off a few blocks away from the Vatican.

There were plenty of people moving in ragged columns down the sidewalks, passing the occasional loose-footed vendor of souvenirs, novelties and artifacts. I merely followed the crowd into the vast expanse of St. Peter’s Square, feeling overwhelmed to see for the first time the mountainous grandeur of the cathedral and numerous other historic structures ringing the piazza.

Then it hit me: It wasn’t so much the architecture as the throng. There must have been a couple of thousand visitors milling around, and most of them were queuing into a series of crowd control stanchions intended to impose some degree of order on the situation. It looked as though everyone in Rome intended to attend mass at St. Peter’s.

Would an earnest young unbeliever like me even be permitted inside? Would they be able to tell that I was pagan? Would there be a litmus test?

Striking what I imagined as a pious pose, I readily observed that at least the lines were moving steadily forward. It was a huge building, after all, one meant to accommodate Catholics from all over the world, many of whom were about to experience the very highlight of their lives. As a matter of principle, I shuffled headlong into the scrum, because there was no reason why I couldn’t pretend to be one of them.

The attendants were patient and friendly. At regular intervals deep within the labyrinth, someone would greet me in a variety of languages, from Croat to Tagalong, and ask whether I had a ticket. I’d specify English, smile, apologize for my negligence, and be told that it was okay, just go this or that way, and follow the next worker’s directions.

These diversions routed me inexorably toward the right, followed by a big left turn into an immense doorway on the side of St. Peters, and when the dust settled I was told to take a seat in the club-level pews behind the altar. Evidently my disguise had worked, and I relished my role as faux pilgrim for a day.

Meanwhile, it was standing room only inside St. Peter’s, and the atmosphere didn’t seem very sacred at all. The expectant, edgy vibe was not unlike a football stadium just prior to kickoff, with nervous energy and mounting excitement. Having had little experience with religious ecstasy, I surmised that perhaps a dosage of peyote would have helped to properly align my consciousness

I’d brought along the trusty workhorse camera, a fully manual Pentax, but left the flash apparatus back in the room. I didn’t want to be disrespectful to the solemn premise of the church service, and so it shocked me when suddenly, hundreds of flashbulbs started popping. Heads tilted and turned, and I saw a nun clambering onto the shoulders of another nun, hugging a stone column and snapping photos with a snazzy automatic. Inexplicably, Sunday mass at St. Peter’s had morphed into a rock and roll show.

Finally, I saw the precise reason for the bedlam.

Advancing slowly down the aisle, no more than 20 feet away from my assigned seat, walked the Pope himself -- John Paul II, the former Karol Wojtyła – amid universal clamor and unrestrained adoration, throughout which perhaps the sole prim and proper person in the whole holy joint was me … the Hoosier heretic!

And so it was that I went to mass in Rome with the Pope, and he wasn’t to be found in Guido Sarducci’s renowned pizza pie -- or, for that matter, Woody Allen’s.

---

Previously:

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.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Diary: On EFC and leaves of absence.


You win some, you lose some... and then there's that little-known third category.
-- Al Gore

It is a curious limbo I'm occupying at present.

On February 26, my leave of absence from NABC began. As my right knee informs me this morning, I am in fact running for mayor (actually, standing for seven hours yesterday, in campaign mode).

These three months away from the hyperbolic "craft" beer scrum seems to be providing much needed perspective, which can't be usefully applied to anything at work because I'm not working.

Meanwhile, I spend mornings reading about TIF zones and sewer utility edicts. They're where my head is, and where my heart is following. As my musician pal Roz always said, "a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do."

As I contemplate what all of this means, it occurs to me that several NABC customers have gone out of their way lately to let me know how much they appreciate the Earth Friends concept as inserted into Bank Street Brewhouse. Thanks for that.

I'm the first to admit that in the very beginning, I didn't grasp it -- but seriously, why not something different when it comes to food and beer? I've enjoyed the food I've had at EFC, and of course David Pierce's beers are exemplary. It's a different crowd, and that's the point. Some day, there'll be money to complete the beer garden and make improvements. Until then, NABC excels at survival, often in spite of ourselves (and this assessment includes me).

That's all.

Insider Louisville's business briefing

Earth Friends Cafe re-emerges in New Albany: The team here at IL HQ had a rough go of things after Earth Friends Cafe closed its super-convenient-to-us East Market location last year. Now, the restaurant has re-emerged as the in-houser at Bank Street Brewhouse in New Albany (formerly the exclusive environs of Taco Punk). EFC, as it’s known, is running a lunch menu and Saturday/Sunday brunch, and is about to launch dinner wares, including black bean burgers, falafel burgers and flatbreads. Nom nom.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Diary: Thinking about philosophizing, good beer and chances to combine them.

Back in April, I told you about my excellent day in Lexington, Kentucky.

Visits to West Sixth and Blue Stallion while philosophizing in Lexington, Kentucky.

Multiple kudos to Peter Fosl, Professor of Philosophy at Transylvania University, who came up with a first-rate idea for me to come to Lexington on a brilliant spring Thursday and speak with philosophy majors over lunch at the school cafeteria. That's because I'm a Bachelor of Arts degree holder with a major in philosophy (IU Southeast, 1982).

It was a valuable opportunity for me to reconnect with my academic background, which always has played more of a role in my day-to-day existence than I cared to acknowledge. In many ways, my chosen method of doing "business" has been compensation for an unrequited desire to be a teacher.

I wrote about it here, at my other blog:

ON THE AVENUES: Until philosophers become kings.

... In 1982, I became the first IU Southeast philosophy graduate to amass all the necessary course credits while attending the New Albany campus, compiling a cumulative GPA in the vicinity of 3.0, thus handily proving the Professor McCarthy axiom’s innate wisdom. I promptly set about answering the question, “What does a philosophy degree get you?”

For me, it was the opportunity to be a bartender, work in a package store, substitute teach and work numerous other less enriching part-time jobs in route to my eventual way station in the restaurant and brewing business.

What does it all mean?

Beats me, but as I embark upon a quest for elected office -- one that many will view as quixotic at best -- I suspect there'll be more efforts to connect these dots. It's never too late to start all over again.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Diary: Those slender green bottles.

It was a cool May morning. I'd gone for walk, felt a breeze, and suddenly had an overwhelming sense of deja vu ... in my taste buds.

It's funny how memories work.

Suddenly it felt like another day and time, albeit it autumn, not spring. The first chill in autumn is different; it's heralding coldness, not warmth. It's about impending icy death, not a springtime sense of renewal, but nonetheless, it felt like autumn during my May walk just the other day.

In my fleeting daydream, I recalled walking to a field party, or maybe a bonfire behind someone's house. There would have been burned hot dogs or burgers, youthful college-aged lust, accompanying futility in pursuit, and naturally, beer.

As the futility mounted, so did the beer, and that's the beauty of libation therapy.

What did I taste, the flavor still familiar after all these decades, amid a throwback soundtrack of The Who, Cars and Pretenders?

Little Kings Cream Ale, of course.

Then, like a whiff of smoke from a Hav-A-Tampa ... it was gone.

Friday, May 22, 2015

"Brewer Memo: Meet the Brewers of Indiana Guild team."


I've omitted phone numbers from the original release, but if you need to contact any of these folks, let me know and I'll pass along the number privately. Especially if you're in the Indiana brewing business, this is important information. Let me know what you need, and I'll provide the signposts. 

---

There is a lot happening at the Guild, so this month I’m introducing you to the home team!

We are one of very few guilds in the country with three full-time employees. Our festivals make that—and all of our programs—possible. You might only see us at fests and regional meetings, but rest assured that your team is on the job throughout the year to ensure that Indiana remains a fertile environment for industry growth and the elevation of our craft.

This month, we moved from our small, one-person office to a large suite of offices in the heart of Indianapolis. We hope you’ll take note of our new address:

1010 Central Avenue
Suite B (for beer!)
Indianapolis, IN 46202

We hope to see you here at a future committee meeting or regional gathering!

I hope you’re all enjoying the return of summer, and look forward to seeing you on July 18 at Indiana Microbrewers Festival or sooner.

Best,

Lee

Tristan, Iris and Lee.

Meet your staff…

Lee Smith
Executive Director

I became the Guild’s first full-time employee in January, 2012. Indiana had 39 breweries at the time. We have 105 today (with more in the wings), so part of my challenge has simply been to keep up with growth. Whew!

I grew up in Bloomington and graduated from IU. I distinguished myself in college by winning the all-campus sorority chugging championship. I refuse to tell you what kind of beer I was chugging.

After college, I spent 17 years as a flight attendant for American Airlines, flying throughout North America, the UK and Europe. My career has taken several interesting paths as I’ve followed my heart and done things that sparked my interest. While working as a flight attendant, I attended law school, worked in real estate and as a public defender. In 1998 I served as counsel to the Democratic caucus at the Indiana House of Representatives before being elected Principal Clerk of the House, where I served for four years. I was Donor Relations Officer at Indiana Landmarks before coming to the Guild.

I live in a 105 year old house in a cool urban neighborhood with my husband, Mark Webb (counsel and lobbyist to the Guild), our sons Tyler and Jimmy, two dogs and an emotionally disturbed cat.

Quirky fact: Kicked out of Girl Scouts!

Contact me: lee@drinkIN.beer

Tristan Schmid
Communications Director

Since joining our staff almost one year ago, Tristan has professionalized and bumped-up the Guild’s visual image and electronic presence. “Communications” really means that Tristan oversees all marketing, public relations, merchandise, branding, social media and community outreach. He is a busy man!

Tristan grew up in Greenwood and graduated from Indiana University where he holds a Masters Degree in Media Arts & Science. Prior to joining the Guild staff in 2014, he was Communications and Marketing Director for the Humane Society of Indianapolis, a not-for-profit that cares for 10,000 homeless animals annually. Tristan founded Lead the Pack, a communications consulting firm, where he helped elevate the public profiles of many businesses, including breweries.

Tristan is passionate about craft beer and brewing culture. His taste is wide-ranging and he drinks Indiana beer exclusively when it is available. He’s a self-proclaimed tree-hugger who loves skiing, hiking with his dogs in the State forests, or almost anything active and outdoors.

Tristan enjoys talking with brewers and learning more about the unique characteristics of their businesses and communities.

Quirky fact: Once quoted in Cat Fancy magazine!

Contact Tristan: tristan@drinkIN.beer

Iris Dillon
Events Coordinator

Iris is brand-new to our team, and she brings us a wealth of leadership experience as an event manager. In fact, we’ve engaged her in the past to help with fest logistics. We are thrilled to have Iris on board.

Over the past 21 years, Iris has served as Event Director at the Madame Walker Theatre Center, Indianapolis Art Center, and most recently, the Carmel Center for the Performing Arts. The many events she has overseen include the Broad Ripple Art Fair (25,000 attendees, 4 music stages and 225 artist booths).

Iris is a life-long Indianapolis resident. She has two children, JaNae and Larry, and a granddaughter, Jaice.

In her spare time, Iris enjoys listening to music of all kinds, spending time outside, and running (although she’s quick to point out that it’s just for fun, not competitive).

New to the beer world, Iris enjoys trying new beers and looks forward to working with brewers at the Indiana Microbrewers Festival in July.

Quirky fact: Crazy for roller coasters!

Contact Iris: iris@drinkIN.beer

and your brewery representatives…

Greg Emig
President

Greg represents Lafayette Brewing Company (a brewpub) on the Board of Directors. He has served on the board for many years and was elected president earlier this year.

Contact Greg: greg@drinkIN.beer

Justin Miller
Secretary

Justin represents Black Acre Brewing Company (an Indianapolis brewpub) on the Board of Directors. He was elected to the board in 2013.

Contact Justin: Justin@blackacrebrewing.com

D.J. McCallister
Treasurer

D.J. represents Black Swan Brewpub (Plainfield) on the board of directors. He was elected to the board in 2013.

Contact D.J.: dj@blackswanbrewpub.com

Roger Baylor
Director

Roger represents New Albanian Brewing Company (a brewpub and a production brewery in New Albany). He has served on the board for many years.

Contact Roger: roger@newalbanian.com

Nick Davidson
Director

Nick represents Tin Man Brewing Company (an Evansville brewpub) and was elected to the board in 2013.

Contact Nick: 812-457-3099 or nick@tinmanbrewing.com

Jeff Eaton
Director

Jeff represents Barley Island (Noblesville brewpub) and has served on the board for many years. He formerly served as Secretary.

Contact Jeff: jeff_eaton@att.net

John Hill
President’s Council & Honorary Director

John is the founding president of the Guild who retired from many years of active service in 2014. John owns the Broad Ripple Brewpub (Indianapolis), Indiana’s oldest brewery.

Contact John: jhill5644@gmail.com

Jon Lang
Director

Jon represents Triton Brewing Company (Indianapolis production brewery with tasting room) and has served on the board since 2013.

Contact Jon: jon@tritonbrewing.com

Steve Llewellyn
Director

Steve represents Function Brewing Company (a Bloomington brewpub) as a new member of the board. He was elected at this year’s Annual Meeting.

Contact Steve: steve@functionbrewing.com

Jeff Mease
Director

Jeff represents Bloomington Brewing Company (with brewpub and production brewery in Bloomington). Jeff was elected to the board in 2014.

Contact Jeff: jm@bloomington.com

Ted Miller
Director

Ted represents Brugge Brasserie (an Indianapolis brewpub) and Outliers Brewing Company (a production brewery in Indianapolis). A former Guild president, Ted was elected to the current term in 2015.

Contact Ted: ted@bruggebrasserie.com

Shane Pearson
Director

Shane represents Daredevil Brewing Company (a production-only brewery in Shelbyville, with a brewpub coming soon to Speedway). He was elected to the board in 2015.

Contact Shane: shane@daredevilbeer.com

Clay Robinson
Director

Clay represents Sun King Brewing Company (a production brewery with tasting room in Indianapolis). He is the immediate past president of the board and has served for many years.

Contact Clay: clay@drinkIN.beer

Blaine Stuckey
Director

Blaine represents the Mad Anthony Brewing Company (a Fort Wayne brewpub). Blaine is a former Guild president and has served on the board for many years.

Contact Blaine: madstuckey@hotmail.com

Brett VanderPlaats
Director

Brett represents People’s Brewing Company (production brewery with tasting room in Lafayette) and has served on the board since 2012.

Contact Brett: brett@peoplesbrew.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

PourGate 2013: It took two damn years, but this new law silences Dr. Tom Harris and the Floyd County Health Department.


We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
-- Winston Churchill


Since June of 2013, when the Floyd County Health Department blithely usurped its statutory authority by demanding that NABC obtain temporary food serving permits to pour pints of beer into plastic cups, we have proven it wrong three times.

First, with the Indiana Court of Appeals ruling Ft. Wayne v Kotsopoulus, then with an advisory opinion from the Indiana Attorney General's office, and finally with an actual state law providing even more excruciating detail as to why Dr. Tom Harris should lose his job.

Major thanks go to Rep. Ed Clere for authoring "SECTION 6. IC 16-42-5-30," of House Enrolled Act No. 1311, and shepherding the bill. It is what might be called an omnibus beer-related collection of seemingly minor directives, including the modification of the food service requirement for taprooms (more on that later), but allow me just this one observation.

Most of the media attention during this year's legislative session was centered on Senate Bill 297 and small brewer barrel limits. As time goes by, these limits will become increasingly relevant for our bigger industry players. But right now, with the vast majority of Indiana brewers still quite small, it's the smaller things that matter most.

Rep. Clere understands this, and is to be commended for it.

I've posted the complete tome at my NA Confidential blog. Included is the narrative, text of the new law, and links to the back story.

PourGate 2013: It took two years, but this new law silences Dr. Tom Harris and the Floyd County Health Department.

On June 14, 2013, the New Albanian Brewing Company was peaceably vending beer at Bicentennial Park, by means of a supplemental catering permit issued by the company's governing agency, the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

The Floyd County Health Department arrived and said that NABC also needed a temporary food serving permit.

I said no, that's incorrect.

They persisted, and a two-year-long struggle commenced.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"I won’t miss the systemic food waste in the restaurant industry."

This doesn't really apply to brewing -- or does it?

There are homebrewers who'd surely agree that the only way to do it right (and creatively) is at home.

There's possibly a topic about sustainability and beer to be found herein, one that might possibly be tied to the reasons for California's drought-induced water shortage (hint: think agriculture).

However, in the main, what's being addressed by the soon-to-be former reviewer is burn-out, and a desire to strip away the extravagance and get back down to the heart of the matter. This is something I can relate to, quite vividly.

Restaurant Industry's Dirty Secret: Why I'm Mostly Going to Stop Eating Out, by Ari LeVaux (AlterNet)

In a few weeks I will write my final restaurant review for Weekly Alibi in Albuquerque and head home to Montana. I’ll miss restaurant criticism, but I will also feel some relief to leave it behind ...

 ... Because the bottom line is, if you’re going to be a high-maintenance food snob on a mediocre income, cooking at home is the only sustainable option. You can pay more for pastured meat; local, organic vegetables; eggs from pastured chickens; pesticide-free produce; and seafood harvested by non-slaves, and still pay less than you would even at a cheap restaurant, while sending positive ripples down the food chain.

I will miss the ethnic restaurants, the fancy restaurants and my favorite guilty pleasure, the sushi restaurants. But I won’t miss the systemic food waste in the restaurant industry.

Monday, May 18, 2015

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

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

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Fifth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

Planes, trains, boats, buses, taxis and my own two aching feet had brought me to crowded, confusing and utterly beguiling Istanbul. Twelve days prior, I’d never even been outside the United States except for the passage north to Canada. Now my bunk was in Turkey, and like most Americans of my generation, too numerous viewings of “Midnight Express” regurgitated in my subconscious, reminding me this wasn’t Kansas – or Floyds Knobs.

In 2015, tourists plot their routes on mobile devices or various other electronic gadgets. In 1985, we pulled out dog-eared copies of “Europe on $25 a Day” or “Let’s Go: Europe” and tried not to look too conspicuous while trying to determine where we were. Train stations and tourist shops sold city maps, but why purchase one unless you were sure it would be needed?

After all, a couple thousand Turkish lira saved might well be two or more Efes Pilsners earned.

The Sultan Tourist Hostel was fairly easy to find, and upon checking in and agreeing to occupy a three-bedded room with two complete strangers for the absurdly cheap price of $2.50 a night, I was introduced to my roomies.

They were engaging and intrepid Japanese architectural students, whose broken but priceless English-language commentaries on the construction techniques and design features of the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia, three historical attractions lying mere blocks away from the hostel, immeasurably enlivened our daily visits to these shrines.

While in the former Byzantium, one gloriously sunny afternoon was spent on the local ferryboat, zigzagging back and forth through the straits from Europe to Asia, and halting finally at a hillside town with the adjacent Black Sea as an eastern horizon, cheap skewers of grilled lamb and peppers, stuffed tomatoes, and a chaotic bazaar where finally, after nearly two weeks on the road, I paused long enough to take a cue from Hassan and half-heartedly bargain with a merchant over the price of a gaudy yellow bath towel.

The time allotted for Istanbul passed too quickly. Having learned my lesson during the inbound segment of the Turkish excursion, I now trusted the posted train schedules, and the rail trip back to Athens proved idiotically simple, with two memorable stopovers along the way.

---

The first was Kalambaka, itself a nondescript modern town, but the functional gateway to the spectacular, otherworldly monasteries of Meteora, which are man-made complexes of Orthodox holiness and isolation perched like Technicolor mushrooms atop tall shafts of sheer volcanic rock – accessible by local bus thanks to the wonders of 20th-century roadway engineering, but previously reached exclusively by rope and basket conveyances, pulleys and profuse prayers.

Next came mountaintop Delphi and earnest considerations of the famous hallucinogenic oracle, whose cryptic riddles were puzzling highlights of antiquity.

From Delphi, the serene view southwest over the Gulf of Corinth closed each evening, alongside beers, moussaka and a group of entertaining Kiwis, all crowded together on the veranda of a small taverna, enraptured by the intensity of the sunset. I wasn’t the only one who’d perused Henry Miller’s seminal “The Colossus of Maroussi” before arriving in Greece, and the book came to life as we discussed Miller’s late-thirties experiences and compared them with our own.

On the day I’d chosen to leave Delphi, an uneventful local bus ride to a nearby town, where the railhead was located, provided no advance warning of the scene at the station. Swarms of excited people were streaming aboard the train bound for Athens.

I’d completely forgotten that it was Election Day. It was fast becoming post-election afternoon, and the celebration was beginning in earnest. Andreas Papandreou’s green-coded Socialists, scourge of the Reagan administration, were about to triumph over the conservative, blue-colored New Democrats and the ominous, red-cloaked Communists.

Previously, in Patras and Kalambaka, I’d experienced late-night campaign rallies for both major parties, but nothing like this. Bottles of wine and Ouzo were everywhere. Trays of food were passed up and down the slowly moving train cars. Tickets were not being checked, which hardly mattered, as train seats were non-existent, even in first class, and rail workers partied just as unreservedly as the passengers.

The festive atmosphere more than made up for the discomfort, and I enjoyed hearing the observations of a few Greek passengers who spoke English, as well as the dryly humorous comments of my fellow traveler for the day, a Swiss woman my age who I’d met while at staying at the hostel in Delphi.

Once in Athens, she intended to take a boat from Piraeus to the Greek Islands, while my plan was to move south onto the Peloponnese region. Belatedly arriving in Athens, I accepted her invitation to share a bottle of wine, and we passed time at her hotel during the afternoon hours.

---

Later that night, I caught the last southbound train, eventually catching a few hours of sleep atop a bench in the providentially warm Argos train station before hopping the first morning bus to the scenic town of Nafplion on the Aegean coast.

Nafpion’s craggy, sprawling 16th-century hilltop Venetian fortress merited a full day’s exploration, powered by fresh raisin bread from the bakery around the corner from my inexpensive guesthouse. One day each was devoted to the museums and archeological sites of Epidavros and Mycenae, both reached by bus from Nafplion’s depot, where chalkboards chronicled departures and arrivals.

Epidavros, home to one of the best-preserved ancient amphitheaters in Greece, and Mycenae, replete with Trojan War imagery and a much-noted tomb, finally sated a desire dating from childhood for insight into the lives of the ancient Greeks.

The visits to Epidavros and Mycenae, coupled with two Athenian afternoons exploring the Acropolis and the time with the oracle in Delphi, brought these adolescent dreams to life, and provided ample opportunities to muse on the differences between our often romanticized views of the past and the helter-skelter reality of modern Greece.

My epiphanies largely complete, Greek time began to run out. Much to my consternation, I’ve not returned there since.

Italy awaited, and to get there, it was time again to board the boat.

---

Previously:

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, May 17, 2015

Leg Spreader's notoriety spreads all the way to Great Britain.

A quantum leap in tasteful positioning?

The second generation Leg Spreader label (the Feds can be astutely discerning) has traveled the electronic superhighway all the way to Great Britain, where a contributor to The Telegraph takes issue with it and other "Neanderthal beer adverts," thus using one of our own Indiana "craft" beers as an example.

It has even made an international "cringeworthy" list.


Fancy a pint of 'leg spreader'? Neanderthal beer adverts leave me frothing, by Claire Cohen

 ... British beer expert Melissa Cole agrees that the industry has a woman problem.

She recently told the Telegraph: “There are still too many people in the beer community who seem totally fine with either appalling sexism or flat-out offensiveness.

“We don’t much like being metaphorically patted on the a--- by the marketers.”


Frequent readers will be feeling a sense of Yogi Berra's déjà vu all over again, but before listing the links to my various rants, permit this acknowledgement of complicity.

Speaking for myself, I'm still troubled by my own brewery's continued use of the word "naughty" (girl) as part of a beer name, though not by the image of a mermaid that we use. I'd like to think that since we first began using the name a few years back, consciousness has expanded overall, and we've all learned more about sexism and diversity.

I'd like to see us change the name, though at this precise juncture, with me taking a leave of absence to run for mayor, I have precious little to do with my own business (and am being remunerated accordingly, alas). In this as with so many other matters, we do what we can, as we are able. I will, when I can.

In the interim, I'm serious about learning more about these issues, and presenting the findings to the Brewers of Indiana Guild. But I'm going to be blunt: It's really hard to put a positive spin on Leg Spreader, and it's really not something for Indiana beer to be proud of -- is it?

January 9

"Craft Brewers Are Running Out Of Names," clever or otherwise.


January 19:

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


January 27

Brewers of Indiana Guild: "We obviously don’t condone sexism or racism."


Feb 16

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


March 24

"Does craft beer have a sexism problem?"


May 5

Rants, bar fights and strip clubs. Maybe it's time to become a wine drinker.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Drinkswell installs taps, and then pours from them at the Butchertown Market.


Has it been only 10 years since Ed activated Drinkswell?

It seems like far longer.

As for the delightful eccentricity of a tap room located at a draft line installation company, don't forget that the Butchertown Market is a draw onto itself. The 135-year-old building has been a tannery (as befits a neighborhood that -- duh -- once was filled with butchers), soap factory, paint plant and seed storage facility.

Currently the structure houses 20 tenants pursing varied business interests, and as we now, all that work can make a person thirsty.

Congratulations to Ed and the gang for branching out with a brand extension.

Drinkswell now serving up craft beer at the Butchertown Market, by Sara Havens (Insider Louisville)

Drinkswell is now more than just a service company tucked away in the Butchertown Market. Starting this week, the beer tap installation company will now be serving up what they help others perfect — cold, crisp craft beer from eight taps. It’ll be a tap room of sorts, open Wednesday through Friday from 4-10 p.m.

Edward Bullen started Drinkswell in 2005 because he saw a void in the market. As the craft beer boom hit a few years back, many bars and restaurants needed help expanding their offerings and putting more emphasis in the proper dispensing of draught beer.

With Bullen’s 30-year background as a brewer and his love of quality-served beer, it’s been a growing success. In fact, his company is up 40 percent from last year.

Friday, May 15, 2015

On tasting Cincinnati and the stalking Budweiser attorney.

Brew Professor looks to be a good place to keep up with Cincinnati beer news, which has exploded so rapidly in recent years that a casual observer is hard-pressed to keep tabs.

When I caught the headline below, a song came to mind.



The problem is, I've heard it so many times before.

Taste of Cincinnati, yes. Drinks of Cincinnati, no, by Mike Stuart

One of city’s largest summer festivals, Taste of Cincinnati, is intended to showcase local culinary talent and unique local flavors. Most would agree they succeed on this front but their selection of Cincinnati beers have some room for improvement.

For a food festival there are certainly a large number of beer options (warning, some of these “beers” are Bud Light’s mixed drinks). However, for a locally focused festival, it’s sorely lacking an accurate representation of what is produced locally.

Of the 68 beers, only 15 are local from four of the more than 20 locally operating breweries. Yep, about 20% of the beers offered are made here in our community. The rest range from Cleveland to Kalamazoo to St. Louis to Portland.

Paying to play in whatever convoluted fashion serves only to remind us that American capitalism never has been pure or pristine, and when we hear a politician suggest such, our first reflex should be to reach for the rotten fruit and begin mimicking big league fastballs down the (wind) pipe.

In turn, this reminds me of a tangentially related story at Facebook, as relayed by Tom "Orange Blossom Brewery" Moench, who once saved my life in Orlando by providing alcoholic diversions as we were stranded for an afternoon during a family reunion. I've never thanked you enough, Tom, and your words here are sheer poetry.

What are the chances
I walk into a bar downtown and step up to order a couple craft beers for my crew
The fellow next to me barks out
"I'm a Budweiser attorney, explain to me the big deal this craft beer shit"
I tried to engage him, telling him that Bud is fast food and craft is fine dining
"where do you get off selling 3pks for $9" he says
I then tell him I don't want to talk to him anymore
He wouldn't shut up
We walked 25 feet away and he got up and came over to continue berating craft beer
I say "don't come at me like that"
He then insists on buying us Buds
We walk outside to get away from the fool but here he comes, beers in hand
I refuse them, and he tells me he knows the cops and will wipe the street with me
I hold my own hoping he will take a swing, but he was trying to incite me to swing also
I even called him "little fellow" (he was 6'3', I'm 6'4")
Stay Classy Bud

Bud's always classy, Tom.

Like Joe Stalin.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Long live Mild. Let it be.


It's worth noting that for all of NABC's ups and downs over the years, Community Dark has remained the best-selling house beer in our own two New Albany locations.

Granted, the ingredients are North American, but the outcome is session-strength, traditional, English-style Mild. I've had Milds in the UK, and ours matches well, without toning down the color or adapting with Citra, as suggested (perhaps impishly) in the otherwise excellent overview here. Mild hits the spot with pizza, too, and at the 3.7% abv of Community Dark, it puts the lie to frequent assertions that flavor and strength must cohabit.

You can have a few. To me, that remains important.

CAN MILD ALE MAKE IT IN AMERICA?, by Jeff Alworth (All About Beer Magazine)

Alistair Reece is a peripatetic Scot currently living in Virginia, and a bit of a contrarian. “My dad used to tell me as a kid that ‘if it’s easy, it’s not worth it,’ and anyone can advocate for super hoppy strong ales when they are 10 a penny.” So of course he’s championing mild ale, a style so obscure many Americans have never encountered it in the wild. Each year, the United Kingdom’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) promotes mild ale in May, and Reece decided to launch American Mild Month to run concurrently on this side of the Atlantic. “Mild is such a rare beast that I wanted to give it it’s own moment in the spotlight.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pete Brown on "starved, neurotic, Stella-drunk piranhas."

File under: Wish I'd written this.

I am so fucking bored by the beer discourse of 2015, by Pete Brown at his blog

 ... When I write stuff for the consumer press about beer, I stick to the line - which I believe on good days, when the medication is working - that there's never been a better time to be a beer drinker. More brewers, more styles, more experimentation and inventiveness ...

Seems the medication isn't working. It's been happening a lot to me lately.

Everything was awesome.

But of course, it wasn't really. Just like in the film.

Success makes people uneasy. Remove the easily identifiable enemy, and people become unsure what they're fighting for, or against.

And so as soon as 2014's Christmas hangover wore off, we turned on each other like a pack of starved, neurotic, Stella-drunk piranhas.


Monday, May 11, 2015

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

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

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Fourth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

“Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

Somewhere beyond fatigue’s dull perimeter, compounded by sweat and grit, pleased by the delectable salami and goat cheese sandwiches washed down with surprisingly cold Amstel lager in bottles, there was a voice, but whose?

Was it still 1985, and was I really in Greece?

“Bitte – Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

Sleeping atop a wooden bench in a stuffy hotbox misidentified as the train station waiting room, gym bag as pillow, the station itself hardly more than a two-room afterthought containing a buffet counter and one solitary ticket window – both closed – with flies buzzing in lazy acceptance of the languid pace of life in Pithion, only a few miles from Turkey across a perpetually tense border … so exactly why was someone haranguing me in German?

“Bitte, Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

---

Consciousness gradually returned, and I could see it was a middle-aged, olive-skinned man with neatly trimmed, pencil-thin mustache, outfitted in stereotypical Middle-Eastern green khaki, desert-style suit, his brow furrowed, and absolutely determined to communicate in a language I could not speak.

“No,” I replied. “Do you speak English?”

The man was delighted. “English?” He smiled broadly, showing rows of metallic teeth. “You are American, yes? I am Hassan.”

A one-sided dialogue commenced. My new friend had no pressing questions to ask, but simply wished to talk to any available human being, settling on me after observing two Greek women napping listlessly nearby, heads resting against each other, their feet atop oversized cardboard boxes bound with twine.

As I was about to learn, there were valuable lessons to be learned from conversing with a Syrian traveling salesman during the hot morning hours of an aimless day in a tiny border town with more rail sidings and dogs than humans, where an unshaven man in raggedy pajamas soon emerged bleary-eyed from a nearby house, grabbed a Greek state railways cap from a metal gatepost, and stumbled down a dirt path to throw a switch that heralded the passage of a freight train.

Thus, the primary lesson: Freight trains were the only ones moving until eight-thirty that evening, when the regular Athens-Istanbul “express” would leave at its usual nightly time for the 10-hour overnight trip to the former Constantinople.

Most people on that train would have boarded the previous evening in the Greek capital, where I’d spent three days and nights, seated each evening at a modest tavern at the foot of the Acropolis, supping on tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, crusty bread and whatever main course of the day I’d pointed to with bewilderment, gazing in twilight at this sublime symbol of Western civilization perched up on the hilltop, then ordering another cheap bottle of Carlsberg (like the Amstel, brewed under license in Athens).

They’d have boarded the previous evening, not the previous morning, when I’d concluded with amateurish certainty that the official schedules at the station in Athens couldn’t possibly be correct. Surely in Europe there’d be more than one train a day traveling the Istanbul route, and if not, I’d debark at Thessalonika and switch to a more conveniently timed through train to Turkey.

It wasn’t true. In fact, I was completely and comprehensively wrong. Around midnight, the national Greek train network came to a shuddering halt in a port called Alexandropoulis in easternmost Thrace, where I dozed pitifully atop a waterfront stone wall for a few hours before hopping the first milk run of the day to Pithion. There, it became obvious that I'd hurried just to wait.

Now it was siesta time, and a chance to capture lost winks, but my invasive Syrian ruled out sleep. The buffet was closed, and there was no more beer. It was time to go with the flow. Hassan’s English was variable, and occasionally he lapsed back into German, yet as the stories of his life and times accumulated, I began to grasp the cadence of his multinational delivery.

He spoke emotionally of places he’d been or lived, places I’ll probably never visit: Aleppo, Cairo, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Beirut. He described magnificent lamb dishes, thriving marketplaces, the Koran’s beauty, and his wife and children in Damascus.

Soon, I reconsidered: Stuck inside of Pithion, with the Turkish blues again, I’d accidentally stumbled upon the very best way to pass the hours. At lunch, the tiny buffet reopened, and we joined the older Greek men sipping demitasses of terribly sweet espresso-style coffee between shots of Ouzo. Hassan refrained from alcohol, and I drank beer. He grabbed a paper napkin and began sketching a map of Istanbul.

“Where will you stay? Hotel? You need reservation?”

“No,” I said. “I’ll find something.”

He began scribbling furiously. “No problem with hotel! Galata bridge … hotel, hotel, hotel.”

Each “hotel” was punctuated with a stab into the napkin and a blotch of ink, as Hassan rendered it into a multi-layered tic-tac-toe sheet.

“Sultan Ahmet … hotel, hotel, hotel. You must ask for price, but then pay less. This is our custom. Understand?”

Yes -- the art of haggling, which terrified me.

---

After lunch, mass napping began anew, and I awoke from mine to find Hassan had disappeared. On a siding, passenger rail cars bound for Istanbul had been pushed into place for eventual linking to the “express” from Athens. Suddenly Hassan’s voice boomed out. He was leaning out the window of one of them and waving.

“Come visit me!”

In his first class seating compartment, Hassan was using sterno to heat a tin of water for tea. He offered a drink -- it was sweet, fragrant and citrusy – then reviewed marching orders, adding a few more squiggles to the tattered napkin. My second-class seat was elsewhere, and when I went to look for it, we parted with affection. The train left roughly on time, stopped for two hours of rigorous border formalities, and entered Turkey before midnight.

At morning’s light, Istanbul’s outer suburbs yielded to the predictable urban railway tableau of factory back lots and limp laundry on the crooked balconies of old, gritty housing blocks. At last, the train halted inside Sirkeci station, undoubtedly the grandest I’d yet seen.

Alighting, I saw nattily uniformed porters and smelled tobacco, coffee and perfume; weary, I imagined the Orient Express, a vision that dissolved into reality when I heard the familiar voice of Radio Damascus hail me for a final time.

“You okay? Good sleep?”

Yes … and no.

“You have map?” Hassan asked, and without waiting for an answer, made a sweeping gesture with his arms: “Many hotels. No problems here. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye, Hassan.”

Out the door and into a crowded street, I floated toward Sultan Ahmet, and an overdue appointment with the Hagia Sofia.

---

Previously:

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, May 10, 2015

Sexism and beer and money all around. And more money.

I held back this link in the hope that there'd be something coherent for me to say amid the jaundice, but alas, this seems increasingly improbable.

It's a reasonable and restrained piece about the "friction that inevitably happens during social change," which also might be referred to as a "revolution of rising expectations."

In either instance, what plagues me is the suspicion that in the "craft" beer business, most of the friction, and the major impetus for these expectations, is mercantile.

Social justice and change? Come now. This is capitalism, son -- and it's immune to introspection. Doesn't Bud Light as "The Perfect Beer for Whatever Happens" prove this point.


SEXISM, BEER AND THE GROWING PAINS OF SOCIAL CHANGE, by Jeff Alworth (All About Beer Magazine)

Tuesday was one of those days of convergence when the universe seemed to be telling us something. In Baltimore, anger bubbled over from protest to riot following the death of yet another black man at the hands of police. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court listened to a case that could potentially legalize gay marriage across the U.S. For those of us who take solace in frivolities like beer, there was no relief: Anheuser-Busch (AB) dominated the news with an incredibly boneheaded new slogan slapped on Bud Light bottles (AB released bottles with this tagline, not realizing the inadvertent pro-rape sentiment it endorsed, “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night”).

All of these incidents have something in common—they represent the friction that inevitably happens during social change. The disruption comes when the status quo is exposed for what it is. For decades, black Americans have been harassed by city police, but until the ubiquity of cell phones exposed it to white America, the status quo could carry on. In much the same way, for—well, forever—gays and lesbians were forced to live under a different set of rules than straight Americans. Until it began to dawn on us that our friends and relatives were gay, straight Americans never stopped to consider their plight (as recently as 1986, Supreme Court justices could claim with apparent sincerity that they’d never encountered a gay person).

It is a much, much smaller deal, but the beer world is confronting something similar as it makes the transition from a mid-century bro culture to something approaching equity. And while it may be a smaller fight, it nevertheless mirrors the contours of other social changes.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

I profile the Crescent Hill Craft House in the new issue of Food & Dining Magazine.


The current issue of Food & Dining Magazine (Louisville Edition) has hit the streets, and is available at hundreds of locations throughout metropolitan Louisville. It's the Summer 2015 issue (Vol. 48; May/June/July).

Food & Dining is a Louisville-based lifestyle publication focused on food & cooking, the enjoyment of wine & spirits, and the experience of dining out in one of the nation’s top restaurant cities.
We have all the sensibilities of a local magazine, but with the design and photography of a national magazine.

We pack the magazine and with gorgeous photography, engaging feature stories, entertaining articles, unique recipes and a restaurant guide that details over 1,000 restaurants.

Trends come and they go, and yet I've been writing a column about beer in Food & Dining almost since the magazine's inception. It's been a great opportunity, and I'm grateful. For the current edition, my "Hip Hops" column about the Crescent Hill Craft House was expanded with added text and photos.

You can read it here: A True Local Approach.

At the Crescent Hill Craft House, 40 taps pour locally brewed beers to the exclusion of all others, and as much kitchen fare as possible is sourced from regional farms and suppliers. For good measure, there is a list of 40-plus bourbons.

Co-owner Pat Hagan explains: “We’re going with all Kentucky beers, including Southern Indiana. That’s the way economies should be going, and are. Customers want to support the local area and they want local products, so offering them beer and food from the area makes sense.”

Below are additional links to the new issue of Food & Dining.

Entire issue

COMINGS & GOINGS

$10 CHALLENGE - El Taco Luchador

HUMOR

COPPER & KINGS

CHEF Q&A – Dustin Staggers

URBAN BOURBON TRAIL - Dish on Market

ANOOSH BISTRO

COOKING WITH RON – Tomatoes

RESTAURANT GUIDE

RESTAURANT MAPS

Friday, May 08, 2015

Indiana craft beer lineup and beer events for the RiverRoots Music & Folk Arts Festival in Madison, May 15 & 16.


Yesterday's post detailing NABC's lineup is here.

And so it's time again for RiverRoots, the annual music and folk arts festival held on the banks of the Ohio in Madison. In 2015, the tenth edition of RiverRoots takes place on Friday and Saturday nights, May 15 and 16.

NABC (and Upland) have been selling beer at RiverRoots since the beginning, and in reent years, we've been joined by various of our Hoosier brewing colleagues. For the second year in 2015, the RiverRoots craft beer tent is being sponsored in part by the Brewers of Indiana Guild.

American Craft Beer Week coincides with RiverRoots week, and so on May 12, 13 and 14, three Madison restaurants are staging special pre-RiverRoots beer tasting with participating Indiana craft brewers. See the illustration above for details.

It’s a wonderful tradition to have Hoosier-brewed beers paired with equally great music, and each year, RiverRoots offers a pleasing festival ethos of localism. It’s a testament to the vision of the fest’s founder, the late John Walburn.

Here's the beer list for RiverRoots, 2015.

Bloomington Brewing Company
10-Speed Hoppy Wheat
Big Stone Stout

Great Crescent Brewery
Aurora Dortmunder Lager
Coconut Porter

New Albanian Brewing Company (beer descriptions here)
Black & Blue Grass
Community Dark
Eastern Front ( Imperial Pilsner)
Hoptimus
(Special timed tapping of Action! APA ... TBA)

Power House Brewing Company
Ceraline Cream Ale
RiverRoots Hoppy Porter

Quaff On Brewing Company (Big Woods)
Hare Trigger IPA
Six Foot Blonde

Tin Man Brewing Company
Damascene Apricot Sour
Rivet Irish Red Ale
Circuit Bohemian Pilsner

Upland Brewing Company
Campside Session IPA
Schwarz Black Lager
Wheat Ale

Thursday, May 07, 2015

NABC's lineup for the RiverRoots Music & Folk Arts Festival in Madison, May 15 & 16.


Madison, Indiana, population roughly 12,000, is a split personality kind of place. Downtown is built horizontally on flatlands by the Ohio River, completely surrounded by hills. Although you can see newer homes atop some of these hills, the effect is that of a hidden gem.

It feels like an open air museum, and in fact, it largely is.

In 2006, the majority of Madison's downtown area was designated the largest contiguous National Historic Landmark in the United States—133 blocks of the downtown area is known as the Madison Historic Landmark District.

And so it's time again for RiverRoots, the annual music and folk arts festival held on the banks of the Ohio in Madison.

In 2015, RiverRoots takes place on Friday and Saturday nights, May 15 and 16.

For the tenth year running (actually, since the fest’s inception), NABC will be on hand to share beer vending duties with craft-brewing Hoosier friends, including Upland Brewing Company (Bloomington IN), who’ve been there with us from the beginning; Great Crescent Brewing from Aurora; Evansville's Tin Man; Power House out of Columbus; Quaff On (Brown County) and Bloomington Brewing Company.

As in 2014, the craft beer tent is being sponsored in part by the Brewers of Indiana Guild.

It’s a wonderful tradition to have great beers like these with equally stimulating music, and a pleasing festival ethos of localism. It’s a testament to the vision of the fest’s founder, the late John Walburn.

NABC’s beer lineup for RiverRoots is as follows.

For the comprehensive RiverRoots beer list and preview of American Craft Beer Week events in Madison, go here.

Black & Blue Grass
Belgian-style Spiced Ale
Whether ground cover or ear candy, the consensus is that “bluegrass” is an adaptive concept, deriving from more than one source, and reflecting the authenticity of America’s traditional melting pot. NABC brews Black & Blue Grass in Indiana, but the inspiration and raw materials come from many locales outside our own immediate neighborhood. The ingredient list for Black & Blue Grass includes North American barley malt, wheat, German hops and Wallonian yeast. Blue agave nectar from south of the border is used as a fermentable sugar, and black pepper and lemongrass (as opposed to blue) are added for spicing.
6.5% abv
18 IBUs

Community Dark
English-style Mild
Let’s shake on it. NABC’s best-selling beer in its own two New Albany premises isn’t Elector, Hoptimus or Black & Blue Grass. It’s Community Dark, a dark-hued, session-strength traditional English Mild, the style that fueled the factory workers who made the Industrial Revolution. Easy to drink, yet exuding integrity, Community Dark also is NABC’s most awarded ale.
3.7% abv
12.5 IBUs

Eastern Front
Post-War Imperial Pilsner
It's the place on the map where German and Slavic cultures overlap, and our homage to Lyudmila Pavlichenko, the Red Army's most famous female sniper during WWII. Such was her fame that in far-off America, folk singer Woody Guthrie immortalized her in song. NABC's Eastern Front is full-bodied and deceptively drinkable, with all the attributes of a crisp, clean, hoppy Pilsner – just more of everything.
8% abv
80 IBUs

Hoptimus
Imperial India Pale Ale
Living vicariously through others is a sad compromise meant only for rank amateurs and subpar international lagers. Rather, we all might profit from the principled example of Hoptimus, which lives vivaciously, audaciously and capriciously through itself. With a snarky hop character that is blatantly unrepentant, Hoptimus ensures that meek palates surely will not inherit the earth.
10.7% abv
100 IBUs

Special keg pour (TBA on Saturday):

Action! APA
American Pale Ale
Everybody wants a piece of the Action! ... and David Pierce has brainstormed classic American Pale Ale formulations and settled on a British Pale Ale malt bill, with uniquely American Galena and Mosaic hops, the latter a Simcoe/Nugget hybrid. Super San Diego yeast does the heavy lifting, and the end result is timeless, fruity ale with earthy, tropical notes.
6.3% abv
50 IBUs

We have a marvelous time pouring at RiverRoots each year, so plan on attending and supporting the soothing idea that handcrafted music and handcrafted beer belong together. Hit the links above and below to learn more.

RiverRoots on Facebook

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Thumbs up as we welcome the BJCP's long-anticipated bee style guideline revisions.

The BJCP's completely updated beer style guidelines are on the street, and Draft Magazine offers a few take-aways:

Every few years, the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) issues its Bible: a collection of beer style guidelines that inform homebrew competitions. They’re also sometimes used to judge professional brewing competitions, and to generally set a framework for a style. Like the Bible, these guidelines are taken as honest truth by some, while others choose to interpret them as they see fit. Without wading too far into that debate, we can say that the issuing of revised guidelines always reflects the beer world at its current time. The last revision came in 2008; seven years later, the BJCP officers have released a guide with notable additions and changes.

It will take a while to absorb the contents of this truly major overhaul, although these three additions are eye-catching:


  • 21B Specialty IPA, by color (black, red and white) and nationality (Belgian).
  • 27 Historical Beer, ranging from Kentucky Common to Sahti.
  • 28 American Wild Ale, in three verses.


In recent years, I've organized the Gravity Head program by style. My practiced routine probably has gone flying out the window with the introduction of these guidelines -- so it looks like I'll be hitting the books earlier than usual in preparation for Gravity Head 2016.

BEER JUDGE CERTIFICATION PROGRAM: 2015 STYLE GUIDELINES