Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"New Public Awareness Campaign Launches to Promote Indiana Brewing Industry."

The Drink Indiana Beer campaign and the Brewers of Indiana Guild's new website have launched.


If you work at a brewery or own a brewery, and information or contact info needs to be updated at the new site, send anything and everything Tristan Schmid: tristan.schmid(at)brewersofindiana(dot)com and he'll get to work on it.

Here's the press release.


New Public Awareness Campaign Launches to Promote Indiana Brewing Industry

"Drink Indiana Beer" aims to support local options, tourism and legislative efforts

INDIANAPOLIS (September 30, 2014) – The Brewers of Indiana Guild, a non-profit trade association that represents Indiana's nearly 100 craft breweries, has launched a public awareness campaign and a new website dedicated to promoting the Indiana brewing industry.

The campaign, called "Drink Indiana Beer," will encourage people to purchase local beer instead of national or global brands; promote Indiana as a beer tourism destination; and urge those who already purchase Indiana beer to support the industry further by backing legislative efforts.

"We're excited about this new effort to get the word out about the importance of the 96 craft breweries in Indiana," said Tristan Schmid, communications director for the Brewers of Indiana Guild. "Our breweries aren't just places to get beer: They're small businesses whose owners invest in their communities, and every time someone chooses to purchase a pint or a six-pack locally, that money helps support the surrounding area."

The Guild's new website, drinkin.beer, launches as the Guild heads to Denver to represent Indiana beer at Great American Beer Festival, one of the largest beer events in the country. The website features a geolocation option allowing visitors to search for nearby breweries on their mobile devices. It also includes information about beer festivals--the Guild hosts the state's largest, Indiana Microbrewers Festival--and other ways to become involved.

The craft brewing industry in the state is growing quickly. According to the national Brewers Association, 6,139 full-time employees contributed to an economic impact of $609,240,000 in Indiana in 2012 (the latest year for which numbers are available); these numbers will increase as Indiana quickly approaches 100 craft breweries and brewpubs toward the end of 2014.


About Brewers of Indiana Guild: The Brewers of Indiana Guild provides a unifying voice for the nearly 100 craft breweries and brewpubs of Indiana. The Guild promotes public awareness and appreciation for the quality and variety of beer produced in Indiana, advocates for favorable regulatory treatment from state and federal agencies, and provides support to brewers throughout the state. For more information, visit drinkin.beer​.​

Monday, September 29, 2014

THE PC: Getting in tune with the straight and narrow.

THE PC: Getting in tune with the straight and narrow.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

“You can feel that there’s something coming,” said Johannes Heidenpeter, who opened one of Berlin’s newest craft breweries, Heidenpeters, in the gritty-but-hip central neighborhood of Kreuzberg last December. “I think the time is good to change the taste of beer.”

Mr. Heidenpeter may represent the most iconoclastic and cosmopolitan take on Berlin’s newly developing beer culture: instead of traditional German lager yeast, he praises the aromas from the Belgian and English ale yeasts, and he eschews his own country’s favorite pale lager style of pilsner, or pils. Instead, as he explained when we met up the next day, his brewery offers an American-style pale ale as its standard pint, which uses non-German hops such as Cascade and Amarillo.

Yeah, well – I missed it.

In fact, while visiting the German capital for two enlightening days in September, I missed all the rest of the varied outposts of the Berliner New Beer Wave, too.

However, to be perfectly honest, my neglectful attitude toward this rebellion-in-progress was not intended as an overt political statement of any sort. It’s just that there was no time, this time.

My last visit to Berlin came way back in 1999, and an alarming quarter-century has elapsed since I spent a whole month in the then-divided city, just prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. With only two days on the ground in 2014, what my soul (?) needed most of all was a refresher – a worldview booster, an agitprop refresher, and perhaps a final contextual putting to rest of those ghosts inhabiting my beer cultures passed … except that some of them still flourish.

And so it was, quite successfully.


My 34th in a series of European vacations served both as reunion and greatest hits tour. Little new music was performed, apart from selective embellishments to arrangements tried and true – a new breakfast room at Brauerei Spezial, Schlenkerla’s youthful heir to the crown, and a Belgian-hopped beer and food pairing on the Grote Market in Poperinge.

The rich history of my connections with these beers, places and persons dates back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. In terms of impact on the course of my own beer business career, they were to me what the Ramones and the Clash were to U2 – and like the latter’s new album, it's all about these and other formative influences, invaluable and impossible to overstate:

Berliner Weisse … long before sour was cool, with the many choices of syrup entirely optional.

Those sublime smoked beers in Bamberg, the centuries of diligent craftsmanship they represent, and the local thirsts they slake.

Crisp, subtle Kölsch on a gorgeous autumn day, in the shadow of Cologne’s mountainous cathedral.

The amazing, unchanging Daisy Claeys and her life’s work of art, the seemingly eternal Brugs Beertje café in Brugge.

The stolid crossroads town of Poperinge, observing its hoppy heritage every third year with one of the most genuine and honest fests known to the world of beer.

Food and drink, too, in abundance: Escargot and beefsteak with De Dolle Oerbier; Leberkäse and Spezial Rauchbier; East Prussian meatballs with white caper sauce, beetroot and Berliner Pilsner … pork shoulder and mussels, Mahrs Ungespundet and Rochefort 10, espressos and currywurst, tartare and Hommel Bier, and a Doner Kebab for good measure.


It seems to me we’re all guilty at times of espousing a false dichotomy, in which there is mass-market corporate swill on one side and exuberant, innovative craft beer on the other, but the problem with hegemonic Cold Beer War dualism like this is that it utterly excludes a beer like Schlenkerla Marzen. Maybe it fits rather comfortably in the same metaphor with non-aligned nations of the 1970s.

Schlenkerla obviously isn’t swill, and it’s hardly innovative in the newspeakable sense of a hyacinth-infused, dry-meringued Triple India Pale Ale. Schlenkerla is as craft-based and traditional as tradition possibly can be, fully guaranteed to offend any oblivious beer drinker who believes that Bud Light represents brewing nobility (tell it to the AB-InBev global shareholders, dumbass), and yet is often ignored by today's hoarding narcissists precisely because excellence on purely traditional grounds isn’t sexy enough for selfies.

Yes, I’m slightly exaggerating, although I believe it to be the immutable case that both here in America and elsewhere, an informed grounding in certain eternal beer truths helps provide perspective when gauging flavors-of-the-moment in an understandably changing world. It’s what I’ve tended to forget, and what the September journey helped me to recall.

It was off the grid. I didn’t carry a phone, and there were no books available to consult. The object was to survey classic European beer styles, in their ancient, preferred public settings (with one exception, an amazing bottled Trois Monts from Northern France, supplied by my friend Jeff), and to go with my gut.

My gut turns out to have remarkably good taste, not that there were many doubts in my other mind.

Don’t get the wrong idea. Naturally, I support the continued innovative advance of “craft” beer. At the same time, it strikes me that the very last thing I want to see happen is every beer drinker in Bamberg waking one morning to the conclusion that India Pale Ale is the only beer for them. It’s a nightmare scenario.

Let there be an artisan working his or her side of the marketplace, providing alternatives for contrast and comparison, but don’t sacrifice those elements of tradition which still function as fundamental cultural markers, especially when they're doing a better job of defining "craft" than the majority of "craft" brewers everywhere.

A damned fine Pilsner still is, and it pulls the Baltic right out of the Matjes herring. If I return to Berlin 25 years from now, I hope the pairing still works, and maybe I’ll have time to visit Heidenpeter’s newer tradition, too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Can't we stay just a little bit longer?

It's hard to leave scenes like this one, on Mechelen's main square. Going across the pond never gets old. Returning home never gets any easier.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Various reasons to love Mechelen.

I've never, ever, had an espresso machine in my hotel room. The Martin's Patershof Hotel bar's few taps included Gouden Carolus and Ename Tripel. The stained glass wasn't bad, either.

How it came to pass is detailed here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Poperinge's parade of hops.

The history of the hop. Friends and enemies of the hop. Monks, itinerant hop pickers and bagpipers. Beetles, mites and birds. It's a broad cross-section of life, nature and mankind, all coming past our table at the Pousse Cafe on Ieperstraat.

More photos are here. We also visited the hops museum.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: An evening at Cafe de la Paix.

These hop cones have nothing do to with my meal at the Cafe de la Paix, apart from our being in proximity to the cafe's kitchen during the hop fest in Poperinge.

That's because I had no camera with which to take photos, and would not have used one if it were present, because a religious experience should not be subject to crass selfies.

Opener: Succulent escargot with Rodenbach Grand Cru.

Main Course: Steak (medium rare) with Béarnaise sauce and frites, and De Dolle Oerbier.

Closer: Rochfort 10.



Friday, September 19, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Tinkling under the stars.

On Friday evening, we investigated Poperinge's temporary fest version of a Bavarian beer hall, one capable of holding hundreds of people atop wooden tables and benches, and with oom-pah bands performing full tilt, singing and sausages.

Granted, the only beer available was half-liters of Stella Artois, sponsorship money from which enables the tent's setup. It's a First World problem for all of us, and about the only multinational incursion pertaining to Poperinge's hop party, but while golden lager has quite little to do with Belgium's ale-making heritage, it's the town's show, and I played along with it just like the gamer I am. The "marque" is great fun in spite of it.

Among the innovations witnessed at this pop-up beer hall was the notion of charging a one-time fee for using temporary port-a-loos (Euro 1.20 with a hand stamp), and open-air pissoirs outside for the gents.

The one pictured above was festooned with a campaign poster for one of three competing hop queen triads. One of the triads was declared victorious after a vote the following night; one of the girls becomes the queen, and the others her maids of honor. Here they're shown reclining semi-clad amid piles and piles of hops -- tastefully, of course, seeing as hops taste good ... naturally.

Verily, seeing slyly positioned teenage hop queen candidates advertising with their posters on outdoor urinating stations at a Bavarian beer hall in Belgium is precisely the sort of thing to remind one that he's no longer in New Albany.