Tuesday, February 09, 2016

NABC's Gravity Head 2016: The full lineup is here.

The 18th edition of NABC's annual bacchanal is the first without any involvement on my part, and no, the ballyhooed buyout's not yet final. As previously noted, I've turned my attention to Session.

However, I've never had any doubts that Eric, Aaron, Sarah, Ben (the honor roll goes on and on) are perfectly capable of rocking Gravity Head.

I do NOT know if there are plans to continue the Gravity Head Sunday event at Bank Street Brewhouse, or whether there'll be a fan vote, or if someone will count down the casualties as in the past.

Eric has properly exercised restraint in front-loading the list, as part of a long-term plan we discussed to cut down the number of listed kegs and not run into June any longer. He told me there might be some surprise releases along the way.

There is a Facebook event page with a complete list, but since not everyone does Facebook, I'm repeating it below. First, the introduction, then the list.


Our annual high gravity beer festival returns in 2016 with a myriad selection! Join us in the revelry as we cut a swath through some of the best beers availible.

Opening ceremonies and our tailgate breakfast start at 7am, Friday, Feb. 26th. Opening weekend's featured brewery is the venerable Stone Brewing! Beers can go quickly so plan accordingly.

Check this space for beer line-ups and updates as the great beast lumbers ever closer.

NABC always encourages our guests to be responible with their transportation to and from Gravity Head. Be smart and plan ahead!

Full 2016 Gravity Line-up by style:

14B. Scottish Heavy
Dark Horse Scotty Karate (2013) 9.75%

17B. Old Ale
Bell's Third Coast Old Ale (2014) 10.2%
Founders Curmudgeon 9.8%
North Coast Old Stock Ale (2013) 11.8%

20C. Imperial Stout
Dark Horse Plead the Fifth (2014) 11.0%
Founders Imperial Stout (2012) 10.5%
Smuttynose Imperial Stout (2014) 10.5%
Three Floyds Blot out the Sun (2014) 10.4%
Tin Man Csar 12.0%
Two Brothers Northwind (2014) 9.1%
Upland Teddy Bear Kisses (2014) 10.2%

21B. Specialty IPA
New Albanian Hard Core Gore (2015) 8.5%

22A. Double IPA
Bell's Hopslam 10.0%
Dogfish 120 Minute IPA 18.0%
Founders Devil Dancer 12.0%

22B. American Strong Ale
Stone Double Bastard (2014) 11.0%

22C. American Barleywine
Dogfish Olde School 15.4%
North Coast Class of '88 10.0%
Rogue XS Old Crustacean (2013) 11.5%
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (2011) 9.6%
Three Floyds/Mikkeller Majsgoop 10.00%

29A. Fruit Beer
Founders Blushing Monk 9.2%

30A. Spiced Beer
Founders Breakfast Stout (2013) 8.3%
Rivertown Death 11.7%

33A. Wood Aged Beer
Bloomington Brewing Barrel - Aged Ol' Floyd's (2014) 8.7%
Founders Backwoods Bastard 11.6%
Founders KBS 11.2%
Great Divide Chocolate Oak - Aged Yeti (2014) 9.5%
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale - (Calavados Cask) (2011) 11.5%
New Albanian Grape Expectations 9.5%
New Albanian Oaktimus 10.7%
New Albanian Oak King 9.3%
New Holland Dragon's Milk (2014) 10.0%
Sun King Barrel Aged Timmie 10.00%
Sun King Whip Fight 9.0%
Upland Barrel Chested Barleywine 9.5%

34C. Experimental Beer
Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break Natale - Pretty Please with a Cherry on Top 11.5%

00. Stone Brewing - Style Unto Itself
Stone 2013 IRS 10.6%
Stone 2013 Old Guardian 11.0%
Stone 2015 Farking Wheaton w00t Stout 13.0%
Stone Mutt Brown 9.0%
Stone 2013 Espresso IRS 11.0%
Stone 2015 Stone Xocovesa Nitro 8.1%
Stone Barrel Aged Brown Ale -
w/Balaton Sour Cherries 8.1%
Stone Stochasticity Project - Quadrotriticale Aged in Red Wine Barrels 9.8%


Sunday, February 07, 2016

The world's "first porn beer" is a Belgian Tripel.

Doppelbock somehow seems more appropriate ... but for once, I'm at a loss for words. The link is here. Thanks to loyal reader C for the tip.

Is this real?

Saturday, February 06, 2016

More on the former Pyynikki (Amiraali) brewery in Tampere, Finland.

Google's roving camera shows us Koulukatu 11 in Tampere, Finland. The image is from 2011. In a recent installment of my 1985 travelogue, I explained how the brewery formerly functioning at this address drew me to a city I hadn't ever planned on visiting.

THE PC: Euro ’85, Part 28 … A Finnish detour to Tampere for beer and sausages.

... Tampere originally was settled at the narrowest point of land separating two lakes, astride rapids that provided power for mills. By the 19th-century, Tampere was an industrial city (textiles and metallurgy) often compared to Manchester, England, and as we know, factory workers drank lots of beer in those times. In turn, their consumption was good for both brewers and prohibitionists.

The brewery was called Pyynikki, and was owned for six decades by the family of my cousin's Finnish friends. They sold Pyynikki to Sinebrychoff in 1985, and brewing ceased in Tampere in 1992. The buildings have been adaptively reused as apartments.

Bizarrely, a specific label of just one of Pyynikki's line of Amiraali beers still is being brewed -- in Japan. A photo at Goodreads proves it, and below is an older view, when it was being brewed in Finland. To learn more about the connection between Finnish beer and a Japanese admiral, refer back to the above "Euro '85" link.

Information about the long-departed Pyynikki is scarce on-line, but there are some good views for the repurposed buildings here, along with some of the brewery's history: Pyynikki Brewery, by Berlioz-II (Deviant Art).

Click through to see the photos and read the text. I snipped one of the images to show the "ghost sign" that was painted to the upper right above the brewhouse windows.


Friday, February 05, 2016

I've resigned from the Brewers of Indiana Guild's board. Now it's YOUR turn to grab an oar.

Fellows like these have made it worthwhile for me.

It's been real, and I'll miss it, but all guild things eventually must come to an end. In a roundabout way, this week's column at NAC explains my departure from the the Brewers of Indiana Guild's board

There are 120 breweries in Indiana, compared to less than 40 in 2009, when I began my first term as a director. I feel much, much pride in how far we've come during that time, and I remain bullish about Indiana beer in general terms.

At present, there are at least two vacancies on the board, and could be three.

Hoosier brewery owners, heed the call and get involved. Whatever your political perspective, it's impossible not to concede that there is strength in unity, and the guild has gotten things done. The Indiana Craft Brewers Conference is coming in a month, and the annual meeting takes place on Sunday, March 6.

Be there and be heard. That is all.

ON THE AVENUES: Hello, I must be going (at NA Confidential)

Almost every other month for the past seven years, I’ve attended a Wednesday meeting of the directors of the Brewers of Indiana Guild.


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Something was missing when the Austin chef recreated the gate-fold meal from ZZ Top's Tres Hombres.

It was a big deal for me to purchase ZZ Top's album Tres Hombres back in 1973. I was a 7th grader without liquidity, beer or cash, and the money probably came from putting up hay -- or shameless begging. Rock and roll wasn't popular in my house, but the little ol' band from Texas was seismic in my social circle.

The gate-fold photograph of heaping Tex-Mex platters and regional bric-a-brac is justifiably renowned, and from the vantage point of 2016, it is genuinely impossible to overstate how exotic this food appeared to us in 1973. It made you salivate just looking at it, and there was nothing available locally to compare. Hard shell tacos might have been served in the school cafeteria by then, but that's as far as it went in New Albany, at least until the Tumbleweed restaurant opened.

In January this year, the story of an Austin chef's recreation of the Tres Hombres gate-fold spread went viral, and justifiably so. Tom Micklethwait cooked, filmed and ate the same meal, but there was a difference that seems to have escaped the notice of many.

In the video recreation, Micklethwait's bottle of beer has no label. It isn't Southern Select, because Southern Select no longer exists. As aspiring under-aged beer guzzlers back in 1973, we definitely noticed the brand. Some day, we said, we'd go to Texas and find some. I doubt it ever happened.

For a bit about the history of Southern Select and the involvement of Howard Hughes in Texas brewing lore (yes, THAT Howard Hughes), the Bottlecaps blog has the story: THE BEER SERIES: Part Three | Good times on the Gulf.

The best account I've seen of of Micklethwait's feat is at Texas Monthly, because ZZ Top's guitarist tells the story of the original photo shoot.

An Austin Chef Recreated ZZ Top’s “Tres Hombres” Album ... And Billy Gibbons loves it, by Andy Langer (Texas Monthly)

The shot from the gatefold is the final frame Galen was able to snap. At some point, we took a fifteen-minute break. And when we returned we found his German Shepherd laying on his side gasping for breath. He’d jumped up on the table and consumed the entire lot. He got it all.

The video is there, and also at Rolling Stone.


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Come drink beer with me on Session Beer Day, April 7, 2016.

As noted in January, Lew Bryson has returned to beer and beer blogging. Happily, he's been beating the drum about Session Beer Day, 2016.

Specifically, Lew has issued a challenge to brewers.


... If you're a brewer interested in participating, it's simple. The "session IPA" has taken over the American session beer category, when it was supposed to be a meta-category, a category that would include many different types of beer at 4.5% and less. Session beer awareness is supposed to be about increasing choices for the beer drinker...and we largely got one extra choice out of it.

Snap out of it! Take this opportunity to show off your skills and make a session-strength beer, 4.5% or less (you can do it; you can go lower!), that doesn't rely on shouting hops for all its character. We get it, brewers know how to make a light, wildly hoppy beer: EVERY brewer's doing it.

Be different! On April 7th, show us some real innovation, or some real skills to make a beautiful example of a classic session-strength beer that stands apart from the herd of 'monkey-see, monkey-do' dialed-down IPAs.

I cannot "like" this sentiment often enough. This year's Session Beer Day takes place on Thursday, April 7, and I feel a scheme coming on.

Of course, for several years at NABC, I've tried to coordinate Session Beer Day as the de facto "close" of Gravity Head. Lew was in town once for the occasion. I'm no longer in a position to make NABC's observance happen, and cannot be sure if it will. In fact, I've been shrugging so often lately that I may be compelled to break with practice and visit a chiropractor.

But I've bounced the date off Rick Stidham at Akasha Brewing Company in Louisville, who thinks he might have as many as three session beers pouring. He'd like to do something to mark the occasion. There is no firm plan (yet) apart from holding a ceremony at Akasha later in the afternoon, and yet this should be sufficient to keep the tradition alive.

As for me, I'm toying with the idea of starting before lunch and traversing downtown Louisville on foot, much like Leopold Bloom in James Joyce's Ulysses -- walking from brewery to brewery, and having a session beer at each. Most usually have at least once 4.5% choice available on draft.

I'm doing pints, and won't be driving. If I could manage this without a single "Session IPA," it would suit me just fine.

The brewery list, traveling roughly west to east, would be Falls City, Gordon Biersch, BBC 3rd Street, Against the Grain, Goodwood and Akasha. Others might be too far away to walk, but perhaps they could sell kegs to Akasha for duty on the guest taps.

I know: It's a work day, and so is Friday. However, if you're interested in joining me, let me know. I just may see you on Session Beer Day, 2016.