Thursday, February 16, 2017

THE BEER BEAT: A compendium of local and regional craft beer headlines.

Once upon a time the pace of change in regional brewing circles was fast, but not so rapid as to defy the efforts of an intrepid observer or two to consistently document the phenomenon.

These days, forget about it. As indicated in this collection of headlines, my friend Kevin Gibson is striving mightily to record the local annals of beer and brewing, but I'm sure even he would concede the impossibility of covering all the angles short of being paid full-time money to follow the stories -- and this hasn't happened, at least yet.

Let's play catch-up, beginning in downtown Louisville, where the difficult-to-say-it-three-times-in-a-row Beards and Beers is seeking a package license, according to Caitlin Bowling at Insider LouisvilleBeer-serving barbershop looks to add beers to go.

Beards and Beers’ customers are a mix of downtown residents, workers and out-of-town visitors. Many have expressed an interest in being able to bring a few of the craft beers back to their hotel room or home.

Of course, the arrogant bastard of a satisfied Beards and Beers customer pictured at top left is none other than Matthew Belden, known to New Albanians as bartender extraordinaire at Vic's Cafe. Bob and Ben -- if you're reading, we need to get back over there to Vic's for lunch some day.

Staying on the Louisville side for the moment, Gibson (LEO) toasts the departed BBC St. Matthews and offers other news items about Falls City and Cumberland Brews.

Falls City is sharing its homegrown beers around town in other forms, one of those being the recently-launched Neighborhood Series. During 2017, the brewery will release, every two months, a beer inspired by a specific Louisville neighborhood.

The localist in me absolutely adores the idea of the Falls City Neighborhood Series. A few years ago at NABC, I was mulling a similar idea for New Albany (Silver Hills Sour, Cedar Grove Gose) but never got around to fleshing it out. Falls City did, and kudos to them for doing so.

Gibson returns at IL with news of yet another new Louisville brewing startup.

Gravely Brewing Co., set to open in 2017, will be on hallowed ground

When Gravely Brewing Co. opens later this year — owners Nathaniel Gravely and Corey Buenning are shooting for early May — it will mark the end of a long brewing drought in the Phoenix Hill neighborhood. The new brewery-meets-music-venue is situated in a spot that previously was part of Phoenix Brewery, a nationally revered brewery and beer garden that once was a cornerstone of Louisville as not just a brewery but also an event space.

Gibson writes that Gravely Brewing will begin with a 15-barrel system, hot and cold side (with five fermenters), with the distribution effort focusing on draft and 22-ounce bombers. I hope they have better luck with this outside strategy than we did at NABC. Perhaps the ghosts of Phoenix Kentucky Komon will bring good fortune.

In fact, fortune seems to be favoring Kentucky brewers, and here's Gibson yet again with a fine survey of the ongoing boom.

Projections look bright for Kentucky breweries in 2017 and beyond

... “We never had the idea to be a big brewery,” says co-owner Brandon Floan (of Ethereal Brewing). “We always wanted to stay small. We don’t picture ourselves even pushing past the border cities that exist outside of Lexington — it’s not a battle we plan to spend any time on.”

The “battle” he refers to is the limited number of tap handles and limited amount of retail shelf space. With much of this being dictated by distributors, it’s difficult for smaller breweries to fight their way through. This is part of why many won’t bother investing in retail distribution.

My advice, gained from hard personal experience: Make the act crowd-pleasing at home before taking it on the road. Yes, it's old-fashioned, and doesn't lead to quick riches ... but quality simply must come first, or else the riches never will.

It looks like good weather for Tailspin Ale Fest at Bowman Field on Saturday. A sell-out is predicted, and there is a preview by Jenna Esarey in the News and Tribune.

Beer festival takes flight: Nationally known Tailspin Ale Fest has Southern Indiana roots

The event is billed as Louisville’s Winter Warmer Beer Festival, with most beers having an alcohol content of 8 percent or higher. In addition, 75 of the breweries will have brewers on hand.

Speaking of high gravity, the 19th edition of NABC's Gravity Head kicks off at the usual time of 7:00 a.m. on Friday, February 24. I'll probably devote a stand-alone post to this, but for now the beer list is at the Facebook site. The starting lineup was revealed on Wednesday evening, and seems scant at 11 choices -- but it's nothing to do with me, is it?


Cascade The Vine (2015) 9.73%
Dark Horse Barrel Aged Plead the Fifth 12.00%
Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Scotty Karate 9.75%
Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree (2016) 12.00% * JUST ADDED*
Dark Horse Plead the Fifth (2015) 11.00%
Dark Horse Sapient Trip Ale (2016) 9.50%
Dark Horse Scotty Karate (2014) 9.75%
Dogfish Head Fort 18.00%
North Coast XIX Barrel Aged Old Rasputin 11.20%
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (2011) 9.60%
Stone Xocoveza 8.10%

Finally, Charlestown Pizza Company's ten-year anniversary celebration takes place on Tuesday, March 7. It so happens that we met friends at CPC just three weeks ago, and it was a stellar evening.

A decade ago, Shawn and Tajana saw the potential for quality pizza and beer in an under-served local market, and they've been rocking it ever since. Now their neck of the (former) woods is experiencing some of the most explosive growth in the state of Indiana. The next ten years are going to be interesting, indeed.

Three cheers for CPC!

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