Monday, September 15, 2014

THE PC: Law-abiding by weenie was never this viral.

THE PC: Law-abiding by weenie was never this viral

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

This week's column is a reprint of last week's ON THE AVENUES ay NA Confidential. Next week I'm taking a vacation day. 

Those of you who are reading locally, or are familiar with the recent history of the New Albanian Brewing Company, already know that in May we suspended the kitchen at Bank Street Brewhouse for purely financial reasons. We couldn't figure out a way to make money from a menu we all loved, and so we stopped to consider other possibilities.

It wasn't easy, but of course good things seldom are. We're trying to reboot BSB as a brewery taproom, freely borrowing ideas from other places near and far, and it will take time for the new concept to take shape. One of the central pillars of this evolving plan is to determine ways to encourage our customers to continue eating -- just not food we're preparing on site (with occasional exception, like the two pop-up dinners to date).

The possibilities are endless, and they reflect the multitude of options within minutes of our building:

Carry-in from nearby eateries
Takeout Taxi (see below)
Delivery from those who do so
Vendors cooking in the beer garden
Picnic baskets
Food trucks, at least as they begin arriving in New Albany

But here's the rub: Even with all of these options, it is impossible for us to continue serving alcoholic beverages by the glass without complying with an Indiana state law dating from the time before color television that defines bars as restaurants serving drinks.

From the moment the kitchen change at BSB was announced, I was well aware of this fact; after all, the law is 13 years older than me. I spoke with the regional Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and made sure we had the materials necessary to comply with the rule (note that this is not uncommon): Frozen weenies, buns, cans of soup, instant coffee, powdered milk and soft drinks enough to serve 25 persons.

To make a long and annoying story shorter, we failed our first test of this new "menu," and so I went back to the drawing board. In order to keep ourselves aware of the responsibility not just to store these foodstuffs, but to serve them, I decided to incorporate them in a real, tactile menu and to price them based on the surreal nature of the law itself, which does not stipulate mark-ups. Moreover, we needed to collate the carry-in and delivery information in one place. Perhaps one well aimed stone would do the trick.

Hence, the menu reprinted below. Much to my surprise, it landed on the front page of Reddit on Tuesday, generating more than 1,700 often amusing comments, and since then it has been picked up by a dozen other internet sites.


Knock me over with the proverbial feather.

There's an undeniable element of Chicken Little (nuggets?) to all this. For once, I've not sought the notoriety, and I have absolutely no beef (teriyaki, perhaps) with the ATC. They're the police, and the police enforce laws; end of story.

However, in perfect sincerity, I feel as though we're doing our level best to honor the obvious intent of the 1947 statute by offering ways for our customers to eat while they drink. Dragon King's Daughter keeps longer hours than BSB, and its kitchen is closer to the BSB front door than many service bars are to their patio seats.

Isn't the law somewhat archaic? It doesn't mention pizza, and both the sandwiches and the soup must be "hot," ruling out chicken salad on rye and gazpacho. Is a taco a sandwich? We now know that coffee plays no sobering role, and perhaps the Dairy Council inserted the milk provision as a sop to Indiana milk cows. Today's service industry realities are light years removed from a shots 'n' beer roadhouse in 1947, and the law does not take these realities into account.

The BSB kitchen remains licensed, and we continue to sift through ideas to restore a cost-effective food service to the limited space we have to utilize. The options are countless, and as they are considered, it is my hope that the following "compliance" menu suffices as proper statutory observance, as we've always prided ourselves on adhering to the rules defining our daily business.

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Yes, There Is Food at Bank Street Brewhouse, and Here Is the Menu.
Updated August 10, 2014

As of May, 2014, Bank Street Brewhouse is a brewery taproom dedicated to providing creative edible options to our patrons, ranging from carry-in to delivery every day, to periodic pop-up dinners, special catering and mobile “food truck” appearances as the latter become available. Menus for local eateries are kept at the bar. Please note: Outside alcoholic beverages cannot be brought into Bank Street Brewhouse.

Our Top Choices of Eateries … Close By for Carry Out or Delivery
WICK’S PIZZA
225 State Street
Pizza, Sandwiches, Pasta
Delivery:  812-945-9425
Wick’s takes 20% off deliveries to Bank Street Brewhouse

MANDARIN CAFÉ
 2602 Charlestown Road
Traditional Chinese
Delivery: 812-945-6789

DRAGON KING’S DAUGHTER
Japanese-Mexican Fusion
Bank Street
Carry-out: 812-725-8600
DKD is 75 yds from BSB

Pair the city's best food with the city's best beer. Multi-Restaurant Meal Delivery & Drop Off Catering Service Serving Southern Indiana
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TAKEOUT TAXI
Food from local restaurants, delivered
http://www.takeouttaxiindiana.com/
Call (502) 895-8808
Takeout Taxi brings restaurant meals directly to you at your office, home or More Variety and Choices than anyone while giving you more time to take care of family, friends or business.
Delivery is $5.99 plus 5% of the order.

ALADDIN'S CAFE
Mediterranean/Greek
111 W. MARKET STREET

BELLA ROMA
ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Italian
134 EAST MARKET STREET

HABANA BLUES
Cuban/Spanish
148 EAST MARKET STREET

LOUIS LE FRANCAIS
French
133 EAST MARKET STREET

MIMO'S
NEW YORK STYLE PIZZERIA
Italian, Pizza, Pasta, Subs
2708 PAOLI PIKE

MUSCLE MONKEY GRILL
Smoothies, Wraps & Coffee
147 EAST MARKET STREET

PRIMO’S DELICATESSEN
Sandwiches, Salads & Soups
155 EAST MAIN STREET

SHAWN'S SOUTHERN BBQ
Barbecue
822 STATE STREET

More local eateries - call them to order carry-out.

CAFÉ 27 (Modern American) … 149 E. Main … 812-948-9999
COMFY COW (Ice Cream Parlor) … 109 E. Market … 812-924-7197
EXCHANGE PUB + KITCHEN (Gastropub)  … 118 W. Main … 812-948-6501
FEAST BBQ (Barbecue) … 116 W. Main … 812-920-0454
JR’S PUB (Pub Grub/Fish Sandwiches) … 826 W. Main … 812-920-0030
RIVER CITY WINERY (Bistro/Pizza) … 321 Pearl Street … 812-945-9463
TUCKER’S (Sports Bar) … 2441 State Street … 812-944-9999

NABC’S Pizzeria & Public House is located 3.5 miles away from Bank Street Brewhouse at 3312 Plaza Drive, phone 812-944-2577

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Bank Street Brewhouse's Indiana Statutory Compliance Restaurant Menu.

Statutory Overview:

Permit premises where alcoholic beverages are consumed by the "drink" are required to have food service available, at all times, for at least 25 persons. Minimum food service required consists of hot soups, hot sandwiches, coffee, milk, and soft drinks (see attached rule). (IC 7.1-3-20-9 & 905 IAC 1-20-1) see complete and unexpurgated statutory language on page 4 of this menu.

Our Famous Hotdog Sandwich
Microwaved to perfection, including both weenie and bun, sans condiments.
$10.00

Chef Campbell’s Soup of the Day
Served in a bowl. Your choice of whichever can is on top of the stack.
$10.00

Instant Coffee
Caffeinated only. Available black, or black.
$5.00

Powdered Milk
With or without water.
$5.00

Sprecher Craft Soft Drinks
Different flavors … market pricing

This menu is available all of the time.

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The Fine Print: Indiana State Law.

In order to possess an Indiana retail alcoholic beverage sales permit, Bank Street Brewhouse must comply with a 67-year-old state law that compels us to maintain a restaurant located on the premises. 

Rule 20. Food Requirements
905 IAC 1-20-1 Minimum menu requirements
Authority: IC 7.1-2-3-7; IC 7.1-3-24-1
Affected: IC 7.1-3-20-9

Sec. 1. Under the qualification requiring that a retail permittee to sell alcoholic beverages by the drink for consumption on the premises must be the proprietor of a restaurant located, and being operated, on the premises described in the application of the permittee; and under the definition of a "restaurant" as "any establishment provided with special space and accommodations where, in consideration of payment, food without lodging is habitually furnished to travelers,"–and "wherein at least twenty-five (25) persons may be served at one time;" the Commission will, hereafter, require that the retail permittee be prepared to serve a food menu to consist of not less than the following:

Hot soups.
Hot sandwiches.
Coffee and milk.
Soft drinks.

Hereafter, retail permittees will be equipped and prepared to serve the foregoing foods or more in a sanitary manner as required by law.


(Alcohol and Tobacco Commission; Reg 36; filed Jun 27, 1947, 3:00 pm: Rules and Regs. 1948, p. 58; readopted filed Oct 4, 2001, 3:15 p.m.: 25 IR 941; readopted filed Sep 18, 2007, 3:42 p.m.: 20071010-IR-905070191RFA; readopted filed Oct 29, 2013, 3:39 p.m.: 20131127-IR-905130360RFA)

Monday, September 08, 2014

The PC: The steamy sweetness of watery boats.

THE PC: The steamy sweetness of watery boats.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Lately my Twitter feed has been invaded on a daily basis by sponsored tweets touting the city of Louisville’s Centennial Festival of Riverboats in October.

Obviously, the prominent player in this celebration is the birthday girl herself, the 100-year-old Belle of Louisville, a steamboat locally owned and operated by none other than the city of Louisville itself.

Before I return to this historic event, it’s useful to recall that earlier this summer, Mayor Greg Fischer commissioned a study group of local beer industry people, of whom I was one, to meet and discuss ways the city of Louisville might help promote locally brewed “craft” beer.

(As a side note, I was (and remain) genuinely flattered to be included in the group. Owing to the state line, NABC both is and isn’t a part of Louisville, depending on the definition used to determine such judgments. We’re here, and then we aren’t. It’s just the way it’s always been, and I appreciate Fischer’s team being broad-minded about it)

After three substantive meetings, the study group emerged with a document containing five points, with recommendations:

1. Develop an official beer trail/beer map/website/video combination
2. Change ABC laws to be more beer friendly
3. Represent local breweries in more city events, functions and venues
4. Create a bourbon-barrel event that will be recognized nationally or internationally
5. Reconnect Louisville with its brewing heritage

My committee assignment was Number Three, and here is our recommendation. You might even be able to tell who wrote it.

Louisville Metro Breweries in local city owned venues

The mayors work group recommends that more local breweries be included in city-sponsored events and on city owned property. Louisville Metro breweries would like the opportunity to sell beer at such events like Waterfront Wednesday, Slugger Field, Iroquois Park, Yum! Center. Also noted, Louisville Metro breweries like to be included in city sponsored events or festivals such as Hike, Bike, and Paddle, Worldfest, and Blues, Brews, and BBQ.

Details for Recommendations

It is widely understood and accepted that Metro Louisville government is an equal opportunity employer, one that seeks to utilize minority, female and handicapped employees, whether when hired directly, or indirectly through contractors, suppliers and vendors. The importance of these precepts extends far beyond beer and brewing, to government’s fundamental aim of providing conditions for the improvement of daily life.

In like fashion, metro Louisville government understands the critical importance of the local economy in a sustainable future, as well as the key position that locally generated food and drink businesses occupy in the city’s outreach, whether within the community itself, or directed toward visitors from elsewhere. Alongside urban bourbon heritage and an explosion in innovative dining, Louisville’s breweries serve as exemplars of this new economy.

Aspects of pre-existing “older” economic systems sometimes must be modified to fit new and evolving realities. As an example, it has remained the case that customary concessions practices in venues for sports and music have evolved from the three-tier alcoholic beverage distribution system at state and federal levels, and to a certain degree, reflect private commercial matters between concessionaires and wholesalers.

And yet, there is nothing fundamentally ‘Louisville” about concessions choices emanating solely from contractual arrangements that the general public never sees. For native and tourist alike, viewing a baseball game at a venue such as Louisville Slugger Field should present the opportunity to inform and offer choices that pertain to the community which laid for the venue’s construction – that speak to Louisville itself.

Reflecting the reality that private for-profit businesses entities and drinks vendors utilize publicly financed venues and facilities, Metro Louisville government seeks to be a positive force in encouraging these entities and vendors to provide equal opportunities for local brewers, precisely because public financing of these venues implies acceptance of the merits of equal opportunity, as well as providing the ideal forum to educate attendees as to the merits of local, sustainable economies.

Metro Louisville government supports the creation of branded, destination concessions areas unique to the venues its taxpayers have financed. It works to educate concessionaires as to the benefits of a contemporary local economy as it pertains to beer and brewing, safe in the knowledge that profit margins for handcrafted beers can be equal to or greater than those for products supplied by multinational breweries.

In short, Metro Louisville government enthusiastically greets the chance to expand local brewing consciousness by use of the landlord’s bully pulpit in venues/events that include, but are not limited to, Slugger Field; Waterfront Wednesday; Iroquois Amphitheater; YUM! Center and Hike, Bike and Paddle.

It figures, doesn’t it? The one city-owned venue/property/object we forgot the mention was the Belle of Louisville, and this morning’s sponsored tweet reveals the reason why the omission rankles.


That’s right. For a once-in-a-lifetime event purporting to exalt all things metaphorically Louisvillian, there’ll be a special Belle of Louisville cruise featuring beers from … Atlanta, and yes, of course I understand that Sweetwater and River City Distributing are helping to sponsor the shindig by paying for whatever expedient combination of program ads and titles were up for grabs, but you see, it’s just that the idea itself sounds so very much like something emanating from the brain of a small-time marketer (“Georgia, Schmorgia – the beer’s got WATER in the name, and it’s a BOAT!) that my gag factor is heightened another notch or two.

I’ve got nothing against Sweetwater, and in fact, if I were to be marooned in Atlanta any time soon, I’d seek out the beers – you know, localism and all that.

It’s just to me, and I’m probably in the minority like always, there is no substantive difference between AB InBev’s ability to alter the marketplace with cash from very far away, and Sweetwater’s.

Look, I’m sure the sweetsteamwaterboat event was planned long before the advent of the study committee and its recommendations. At the same time, the study committee’s recommendations specifically pertain to a situation like this, even if we didn’t think to refer to it by name. And so, I will, because someone’s got to do it.

Perhaps by the time the Belle of Louisville’s bicentennial hits the Ohio River in 2114, there’ll be firm and abiding localist beer principles in place, although it’s far more likely that by then, we’ll have reverted to the brewery population distribution of 1980, and will require a “craft” brewing revolution all over again.

Too bad I’ll miss it. They’re fun, at least until they aren’t.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Diary: From platinum to unplugged in a six-pack or less.

My diaries are intended to be extemporaneous utterings of ideas, without gloss or sheen. Sometimes I come back to them and polish, other times not.

In the music business, it used to be that a band toured relentlessly with low remuneration to build a market for its album releases, and if albums and songs hit it big, the returns were huge. Notice how every member of any band that had a 10-million selling album in the 1980s owns one or more castles?

Nowadays, and album is huge if it sells a couple hundred thousand copies in tactile format. Bands give away their music to build interest in touring, or perhaps songs are marketed on television commercials and on-line apps.

The point is that business model has changed completely. I suspect that in coming years, analogous considerations will pertain to the "craft" beer business as it becomes saturated. There'll be the top tier of players -- New Belgium and Bell's and Whomever Else playing the roles of the Stones, Springsteen and other major touring acts. Then there'll be the remainder, finding that the daily production undertow required to get by increasingly resembles those CD sales figures.

There'll have to be other ways of making bank. Probably those on a brewpub/on-premise scale will find it easier. Those on a production scale, with declining outlets, will need to determine how they become the equivalent of touring bands. In short, I think the business model is changing in my world, too.

The question is, how to survive? Not sticking with what are about to become outmoded strategies is an obvious first move.

The analogies aren't exact ... but they're intriguing.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Kevin Gibson will perform selections from his new book at these fine venues in September.

As noted previously, Kevin Gibson’s new book is wonderful, and you need to get one. It’s called Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft.

My review: THE PC: Kevin, meet Tony. I’ll just take notes and drink beer.

Kevin writes chronologically, beginning with Louisville’s earliest Anglo-Scottish ale traditions and concluding with today’s local craft beer boom. He detours briefly to consider the brewing process and beer styles, including our indigenous Kentucky Common and the Bock beers that once proliferated in springtime.

Wisely, he does not detour from the beer tale at hand to attempt a detailed examination of the alpha acid content of bittering hops used in pre-Prohibition Pilsner. Rather, he describes the experience of Louisville beer in everyday life, and documents how it has changed over time.

Kevin is mounting a considerable personal appearance campaign to promote the book. Here is a listing, with more information available at Facebook.

Events
Here is a list of events where you can purchase a book and/or meet the author:
Sept. 5 – Buffalo Wild Wings, Highlands, 6-9 p.m.
Sept. 6 – WAVE-3 Sunrise, 6:30 a.m.
Sept. 10 – Against the Grain, 401 E. Main St., 8 p.m.
Sept. 13 – Karen’s Book Barn, 127 E Main St, La Grange, Ky. , 2-4 p.m.
Sept. 13 – Apocalypse Brew Works, 1612 Mellwood Ave., 6-9 p.m.
Sept. 17 – BBC Taproom, 636 E. Main Street. 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 – WHAS Great Day Live, WHAS-11 TV, Time TBD
Sept. 18 – Salsarita’s, St. Matthews, 4-5:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 – Great Flood Brewing, 2120 Bardstown Rd, 6:30 p.m. (as part of Gus Bus Trivia)
Sept. 20 – Seven Sense Festival, 11-2 p.m.
Sept. 20 – Lock Stock and Smoking Barrels, Copper & Kings Distillery, 4-7 p.m.
Sept. 25 – New Albanian Brewing Company (Public House), 3312 Plaza Drive, 6-7:30 p.m.
Sept. 26 – Trolley Hop at A Reader’s Corner, 2044 Frankfort Ave., 7-9 p.m.
Sept. 27 – Nulu Fest, East Market Street (time TBD)
Oct. 9 – Beer Garden on Main (details TBA)
Oct. 11 – Costco, 12-2 (pending)

Oct. 17 – Louisville Brewfest, Slugger Field (time TBD)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Every state in the USA, ranked by its beer narcissism quotient. How very unexciting.

Hey look: It's a state by state ranking of "craft" beer, based entirely on highly-rated beers desired by beer narcissists.

How incredibly useful.

Not.

It would make better sense, and be far more relevant, to rank states based on an aggregate index seeking to gauge the prevalence of good beer on a daily basis. Establishing rankings based on beers that aren't always available means little. Rather, it's the daily reality: Are good beers available? Where? How far away are they?

I'd take the time to compile such a list ... if I had the time.

Every State in the USA, Ranked by its Beer, by Ben Robinson, Andy Kryza and Matt Lynch

Monday, September 01, 2014

THE PC: Kevin, meet Tony. I’ll just take notes and drink beer.

THE PC: Kevin, meet Tony. I’ll just take notes and drink beer.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Like so many other local beer people, I’ve been reading Kevin Gibson’s new book. It’s called Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft, and I picked it up just as I was finishing another, arguably weightier tome: Thinking the Twentieth Century, by the late Tony Judt, with Timothy Snyder.

One is a specific account of beer’s rise, fall and resurgence in Louisville, and the other a series of far-ranging conversations about 20th-century intellectual history. These may seem unrelated, and in many respects they are. However, there are points of convergence; more about that in a moment.

The last book to be written about Louisville beer was Louisville Breweries: A History of the Brewing Industry in Louisville, by Conrad Selle and Peter Guetig. It was published in 1997 and printed only once (I understand Peter is contemplating a revised edition). Obviously, much has changed since then, with breweries coming and going, and Kevin’s Louisville Beer provides ample coverage of our contemporary period.

I haven’t yet gotten to this second, more recent half of Kevin’s story. Rather, it is the first sections of his book that I find compelling, as he seeks to depict what beer really meant, day in and day out, in a place like Louisville prior to the era of Prohibition.

Broadly speaking to post-Colonial times and the early 1800s, beer arguably was of secondary consideration to cider and whisky – until substantial numbers of Germans began coming to this area following the disruptive revolutions of 1848.

Germans brought with them the technological underpinnings of lager brewing, which was about to explode into a worldwide phenomenon. More importantly to daily life in Louisville, they came equipped with cultural proclivities, which included beer as an integral part of social life. Because these immigrants enjoyed their tankards, it was a natural next step for “Know Nothing” nativists to conflate beer with immigration, and to incorporate xenophobia into what evolved as the temperance movement.

In short, there was Carrie Nation-building: God says drinking is bad, but forget that; just look at those non-English speaking, beer-drinking immigrants taking our jobs … and what’s more, we’d all work harder and be more efficient cogs of capitalism if we were sober. Hatchets fly, and nutrition becomes a crime. Rinse and repeat in the here and now.

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And so we see that in the late 19th-century, some Louisville neighborhoods closely resembled the Fatherland, and these areas would have reminded me very much of those German milieus I was so eager to experience a century later during the 1980s.

It should suffice to note that beer was consumed voluminously at work and play, while bowling and playing baseball, during weddings and funerals, and in morning and nighttime. There were dozens of breweries, and rushing the growler meant dispatching one’s 10-year-old to the corner saloon, laden with a metal bucket. Some people succumbed to alcohol-induced diseases, while others sweated out the beer and lived to ripe old ages. Life went on, as it tends to do.

Prohibition came very close to wiping the slate clean. There were surviving breweries after Repeal, and some (Falls City, Oertel’s, Fehr’s) did quite well for a long time, but by the time of the Reagan administration, none remained in operation. Around 1990, David Pierce fortuitously brewed a batch at Charley’s Restaurant on Main Street in Louisville, and then he opened the Silo in 1992. Times began changing.

Since then, we’ve spent countless hours and brain cells debating whether this new “craft” beer era represents a restoration of the past, or a revolution. This consideration brings me back to Tony Judt, the historian.

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During the course of his reflections, Judt asks a question: “What is the purpose or nature of history?” He follows it with another statement, “You cannot invent or exploit the past for present purposes.”

As I think about Kevin’s depiction of pre-1900 Louisville beer as an all-pervasive cultural norm, it seems to me that quite often I’ve done precisely as Judt admonishes. In fact, we all have. We’ve exploited the previous history of local beer to explain our present purposes, and to claim cultural (and mercantile) territory for ourselves. The problem is that by doing so, we consistently fail to account for how pervasively craft- and locally-driven 19th-century beer and beer culture really were.

Yes, beer came from elsewhere in America, floating down the river on boats and later in railway cars. Occasionally, beer came from very far away (see below). But the bulk of the beer produced in the neighborhood breweries of old were consumed nearby, within the neighborhood. Brewpubs of the current era generally have remained true to this model, production breweries of any size, less so.

In the end, it would be fascinating to know more about the business motivations of these 19th-century brewers. Were they content with being small and local, with limited range, or were they open to the idea of acquiring capital through hook or crook, and expanding to ship beer longer distances according to the capitalist export-driven ideal? We probably can’t know, although speculation’s worth a beer or three.

Judt also makes this observation:

“A history book – assuming its facts are correct – stands or falls by the conviction with which it tells its story. If it rings true to an intelligent, informed reader, then it is a good history book. If it rings false, then it is not good history, even if it’s well written by a great historian on the basis of sound scholarship.”

Louisville Beer passes this test. We can quibble over details, and yet it matters less what we know now about brewing methods and stylistic categorization, and more that in olden times, people were not aware of these details. Being a beer drinker in Louisville in the year 1890 was not about checking-in, chasing and hoarding. Rather, it likely involved a healthy dollop of German-ness; came accompanied with a good deal of child-like mystery as to the process; and resulted in prodigious intake in the relative absence of plasticized tap water, smoothies and teeth-corroding “soft” drinks.

In a future column, I’ll survey the “contemporary” section of Kevin’s book. Until then, we close with something posted to the Louisville Restaurants Forum many years ago. It’s a restaurant menu, with wine list and libations, from the Louisville Hotel, circa 1857.


All the essentials are in place, with a purely French approach to cooking, ample quantities of meats, purely dispensable veggies, abundant wine from around the world, and the requisite “correct” imported beer list; none of that new-fangled German beer, and heaven forbid the inclusion of locally-made “Porter and Ale.” Instead, the beer stars are Guinness (then as now, imported from Dublin) and Allsop’s India Pale Ale from the United Kingdom.

Amazing. This still would have been the best beer list in Louisville in 1957, and as recently as the 1070s. We’ve come a long way, baby … and sometimes, not at all.

Photo credits: