Sunday, December 17, 2017

THE BEER BEAT: Sunday sermonizing about the arduous path to pints, and union.

“Roger, get a life.”

The electronic notification arrived intact, but before I could reply to the tweet, my critic already had scurried away and deleted it. That’s too bad, because Noel Gallagher’s lyrical retort was ready and waiting, as taken from “The Importance of Being Idle,” a song he wrote and performed with Oasis.

“Give me a minute; a man’s got a limit. I can’t get a life if my heart’s not in it.”

In keeping with Noel's intent, it’s a facetious comment on my part. I have a rich assortment of lives, and my heart’s invested in each one of them. To be sure, the past sixteen months have been emotionally rough, as they’d be for anyone fellow losing his mom, a close friend and too damned many others. Mortality has been tangible, and the many ghosts that haunt me quite demanding.

There have been too many scripts filled with elegies, but memories remain, and at some point the mourning must end. So it will. All in all, the two of us have plenty enough, and I try not to lose sight of so many others who don’t.

I’m looking forward to a fresh start in 2018. I've proven myself adept at going away, and so the time has arrived to come back.

During my previous career in beer, now stirring again after the chosen hibernation, I attended so many (and varied) beer dinners that it’s necessary to loosen the belt two notches just to make room for the cumulative mental reckoning.

Some beer dinners took on the aura of a nobleman’s table-sagging banquets, during which I shared the dais with Falstaff (the model trencherman, not the inferior old-school adjunct lager).

We smashed together immense tankards of ale as platters of roasted beasts circulated through the vast hall, and tuneless karaoke broke out somewhere in the vicinity of the hallway to the urinals.

In short, the “fill ‘em up and send ‘em off approach.”

Other beer dinners were of a more modest and intimate nature, calibrated and careful, with judicious portions of both food and beer, served in the right way, on the right dishes and in the right glass, with attendees enjoying detailed conversation against a backdrop of acoustic folk, chamber music or maybe just the busy crickets during a midsummer’s night.

Or, the extended pinkie stratagem, also completely to my taste.

Most beer dinners I’ve attended probably fell somewhere between these two extremes, and of course, there is no definitive answer as to which format is the best. Whatever the size and scale, I’ve always sought to clean my plate of whichever edibles were being featured, and to drain those drams.

Last Monday evening, several of us attended a beer dinner at La Chasse in Louisville. As I feel compelled to constantly remind readers, La Chasse is owned and managed by Isaac Fox, who cut his teeth in the New Albany ten years ago at the late, lamented Bistro New Albany – among other establishments.

(As an aside, BNA’s Dave Clancy currently runs the kitchen at H. M. Franks, the O’Shea’s pub on Spring Street in Jeffersonville, but that’s a different story for another day.)

Monday evening’s beers came from the extensive list maintained by Dauntless Distributing, the Louisville specialty wholesaler, which employs NABC alumni Richard Atnip and Kevin Lowber. Food and drink were excellent, and a beautiful evening was had by all.

This beer dinner was another reminder of what I miss about the beer business, although in fairness there is an accompanying tally of items I'd prefer to avoid experiencing ever again. In future endeavors, hopefully the high points will outnumber the headaches, although the devil resides in these details. It's all about having a design for life.

Toe, meet water.

It's time to limber up.

If there is any single recurring theme to my life, it's the certainty that the contrarian in me always comes around. Just give it a bit of time, a few books and a well-crafted traditional German lager beer.

During my time as a beer revolutionary, I often asked myself what would happen when the revolution began devouring itself -- and if this isn't a perfect analogy, the question might better be stated this way: What's to be done when the beer world gets crazy, and I can't make sense of it any longer?

Obviously, this is the juncture when one goes back to the mattresses and the basics ... the simple pleasures, the timeless virtues, and the bedrock foundations.

Consequently, having recently spotted a Kroger recipe for Beef Stroganoff in which the grocery chain excitedly advised Hefeweizen as the ideal accompaniment, my first of many New Year's resolutions has arrived.

No, nay, never -- no, nay, never no more -- will I say the words "pair(s) with" -- no never, no more.

Rather, the comment will be "tastes good with," which strikes me as far less pretentious.

This isn't intended as a tease, because there's a staggering amount of work yet to be done, and it isn't clear what my precise role will be apart from assembling a progressively old-school beer program, but you can follow Pints & Union on Facebook and observe the narrative as the pieces of a downtown New Albany pub come together.

In the coming weeks and months, there'll be more to say. Right now, it's a bit premature; I'm a cog in the machine, and grateful to have the opportunity to help a friend achieve his dream. We share a vision of simple beer pleasures, and now comes the implementation. Wish us luck, and stay tuned.


LW said...

roger, you have a way with words

The New Albanian said...

Thank you ...