Here’s a little update from our brethren from across the river…For NABC Events in January/February…see below (Sidenote: I’m tired of screwing with the Features image of the NABC logo…you guys get the drift)
From the Hills and Shores of There and Here, New Albanian Brewing Company Presents a Winter Troika of Beer Releases for 2014, Each With a Story of its Own
In the Russian language, the word “troika” means a set of three, and appropriately, three of NABC’s most popular and eagerly awaited seasonal beers are being released during January, 2014.
Royal Wallonian Ale
Flavor: Full bodied, with malt sweetness and fruity Belgian yeast character.
Compare to: La Chouffe and other strong ales from Wallonia.
Belgium begins at the sea with sandy beaches and mud flats bordering the English Channel, and ends in the hilly, scenic terrain of the Ardennes, where towns like Bastogne remind the visitor that war regrettably has been a regular feature of European history.
The country has been a hybrid from the start, carved out of former royal dominions by the “concert of Europe” less than two hundred years ago, given a king and some postage stamps, and intended as a buffer between French and German lands. King Leopold later became the famously corrupt “owner” of the Congo. Belgium’s mandated neutrality was violated twice by German militarism as a prelude to world wars.
Now renowned for its Flemish (Dutch) and Wallonian (French) cultural and linguistic dichotomy, Belgium’s politics are convoluted, but somehow it remains intact. Famous sons include Adolphe Saxe (inventor of the instrument named for him) and Jean Claude van Damme (The Muscles from Brussels). Coincidentally, the European Union’s considerable bureaucracy is centered in Brussels, and the Mannekin Pis statue is a metaphor for money passing from rich countries to poor ones – especially since the 2008 financial collapse.
Belgium is renowned among beer lovers for its eclectic and diverse stylistic legacy of ale making, one the Belgians themselves once were about to forget until reminded of it by exploring Brits and Americans. Portions of the local Belgian brewing heritage survived modernization and lager encroachment, and then later, brewers shrewdly exploited the same forces of modernization to their advantage, including the practice of vigorous exporting, electronic media visibility, and hitching to the country’s reputation for gastronomy and tourism.
American craft brewers have derived considerable inspiration from the saga of Belgian brewing, and the New Albanian brewing company is no exception. Each year just after the holidays, we release Tunnel Vision, dubbed a Royal Wallonian Ale, and intended to showcase New Albania’s equivalent of the Ardennes: Our stubby, mysterious Knobs of Floyd, which rise over our own riverside flood plain, and are inhabited by American landed gentry in their castle parapets.
Lots of NABC’s customers tell us Tunnel Vision is their favorite, and therein lies a story. It began in the 1990s as a homebrew recipe devised by NABC co-owner Amy Baylor. Amy’s recipe included barley, wheat, rye and honey, and was fermented with Belgian yeast. It was of mid-range gravity, and quite popular.
In 2003, NABC’s founding brewer Michael Borchers adapted Amy’s recipe for our start-up, low-mileage garage brewery at the Pizzeria & Public House. Gallons of honey were required, as delivered to the brewery in dozens of small jars by a frantically toiling Crawford County beekeeper. The first batch was good, but the formulation was complicated, and the logistics involved in shifting to larger scales of operation invariably resulted in changes and experimentation by his successors. Then the price of honey skyrocketed, followed by a time when we couldn’t get any at all.
When David Pierce became NABC’s director of brewing operations in 2009, he locked down the Tunnel Vision formula and made it sing: Five continental malts, Magnum hops, both sweet and curaçao orange peel, coriander seed and Wallonian yeast (brought to America from Belgium under stove pipe hats worn by gnomes seeking subterranean refuge beneath the McMansions of Floyds Knobs).
22-oz bombers of Tunnel Vision will be available in Indiana and metropolitan Louisville on the Kentucky side of the Ohio. A limited amount of draft will be allocated, and of course, it can be enjoyed in all forms at NABC’s two New Albanian locations.
Description: Those hardy immigrant gnomes who came from the venerable hills of the Ardennes to take up residence beneath the mysterious Knobs of Southern Indiana need a potion reminiscent of home, and one sufficiently versatile for consumption in all seasons. This is it.
Recipe Suggestion: Up beyond those Knobs, westward past Greenville, world-famous goat cheese is crafted by the Schad family. It’s called Capriole Farms, and it’s the ideal pairing with Tunnel Vision. Surface-ripened Piper’s Pyramid and Wabash Cannonball are fine choices, so cut up the cheeses, and gather some nuts and berries, and perhaps venison salami. Use a Belgian-style glass for Tunnel Vision, as dispensed from a growler or bomber bottle, and feel the power of the gnome’s table.
Color: Burnished mahogany.
Flavor: Medium- to full-bodied, with decided maltiness, no roasted malt flavor, and an elegant, clean character with very subtle hints of fruit.
Compare to: Okocim Porter, Zwiec Porter, Sinebrychoff Porter
A menacing queue forms before me.
It is comprised of well-intentioned nutritionists, crusading physicians, profiteering diet planners and congenital killjoys. In this nastiest of personal nightmares, they have gathered to demand that I eschew my expansive habits, to repent, convert and see the light … to eat and drink “right.”
Stubborn and unrepentant, I point defiantly to the thermometer. It’s cold in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Salade Nicoise, gazpacho, watermelon and corn on the cob, while theoretically possible in the context of the global economy, all seem inadequate amid the frigidity. Waxen imitation veggies need not apply.
Rather, what is needed is food to warm the bones, to arouse the slumbering genes of Northern European ancestors on the steppes and in the forest, those enduring and resourceful people who, during winter, reached for the pickled vegetables, delved into cellars for potatoes, beets and onions, and cracked open stocks of salted pork and fish.
For cooking in winter, I prefer hearty ingredients for soups, stews, goulash, cabbage rolls and casseroles. Furthermore, I want beer styles to complement them — beer that is cool, not cold; firm, not puny; and challenging, not simple. Winter provides the most suitable conditions for sampling the beefier classics that have come to us from various Old World brewing cultures, now embraced and sometimes redefined by American craft brewers.
Among these are familiar targets – Imperial Stout, Barley Wine, Old Ale and Doppelbock – as well as one with less notorious a reputation: Baltic Porter. These styles provide ample warming for bodies iced and chilled in the great outdoors, and also stick to the food that sticks to your bones when it matters most.
What’s more, they reflect personal origins in some elusive, yet cosmic fashion. My ancestry is as clear as mud – specifically, the wet dirt comprising flat and indefensible terrain formerly occupied by landowning Junkers in eastern Germany and the western half of what now is sovereign Poland. My people were the German grunt workers hoeing those endless rows, not the Bismarckian aristocrats over in the manor house.
Beer is written into my genetic code. Wine is a pleasant diversion, but my people toiled in Europe’s grain, not grape, belt. For this reason, Baltic Porter always has been intriguing.
Porters and Stouts come from the very same English family brewing tree, and rose to local popularity in the 18th century. England was the reigning sea power, and it was inevitable that these trendy beers would be shipped abroad; export markets soon were opened in Tsarist Russia and Hanseatic port cities astride the maritime route to St. Petersburg. In time, Porters and Stouts spawned numerous local imitators along the shores of the blustery Baltic.
Seems that economic localism was alive, even then.
At first, like other beers of the time, top-fermenting ale yeast was used to brew them. Later, as German bottom-fermenting (lager) brewing methods and technology spread throughout Europe, the same strong, dark beers continued to be produced, but mostly with malts, hops and bottom-fermenting yeasts deriving from the German, not British, brewing ethos.
Today, the Baltic Porter style is flexible, and can be made as an ale or a lager. NABC’s Solidarity is top-fermented, and brewed for greater unity.
22-oz bombers of Solidarity will be available in Indiana and metropolitan Louisville on the Kentucky side of the Ohio. A limited amount of draft will be allocated, and of course, it can be enjoyed in all forms at NABC’s two New Albanian locations.
Description: Baltic Porter is the surest way to tip your hat to the activists in the Solidarity independent trade union in Poland, and it is a robust reminder of Baltic foresight in activism and strong beer.
Recipe Suggestion: Pour Solidarity from growler or bomber bottle into a heavy glass mug. Slice a kosher dill pickle. Chop onions to garnish kippers that have been laid atop thick, dense rye bread. Consider topping the open face sandwich with slices of hardboiled egg. Eat, drink and explore the primeval.
AVAILABLE LATE JANUARY
Bonfire of the Valkyries
Imperial Smoked Black Lager
Color: Very brown to pre-black.
Flavor: Full bodied, with strong, clean dark lager malt character and ample smokiness.
Compare to: Bonfire is an utterly unique Imperial Smoked Black Lager, but it compares with Smoked Porters from Alaskan, Stone, etc.
Those of us still prone to reading books in a tactile sense, without electronic assistance, probably remember “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” a novel by Tom Wolfe. It first was serialized in Rolling Stone magazine, and then published in its entirety in 1987. The novel is set in raucous New York City during the 1980s, and when later released as a motion picture, bore a highly descriptive marketing tagline:
“An outrageous story about greed, lust and vanity in America.”
Bonfire of the Valkyries, a seasonal release from the New Albanian Brewing Company, is brewed far from the Big Apple’s cosmopolitan tumult, in the quaint Ohio River town called New Albany, which celebrated its bicentennial in 2013 by purposefully ignoring the bulk of its caterwauling civic history – to such an extent that the real 200-year birthday milestone doesn’t actually come around until 2017.
Accordingly, Bonfire of the Valkyries is a satisfying beer about mythology, pyromania and forgetfulness.
More importantly, Bonfire of the Valkyries is NABC’s annual and respectful winter’s nod to our brewing forbearers in New Albany. From the mid-1800s, these mostly were transplanted Germans with names like Reising, Buchheit and Nadorff, who brought with them from the old country a taste for then-revolutionary lager beers. Did some of them recall more archaic fermented delicacies, perhaps black, smoky and strong concoctions pulled from icy cellars deep in the Franconian countryside? We can only guess, but it seems entirely possible, and we’re eager and able to close the circle by making their beer dreams into reality.
According to NABC’s informal house style guidelines, Bonfire of the Valkyries is considered an Imperial Smoked Black Lager. At 8% abv, it is almost double the alcoholic potency of standard Black Lager, as codified by the “official” Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) playbook. Moreover, there is a healthy percentage of Weyermann Rauch (smoked) malt from Bamberg, Germany.
Bonfire of the Valkyries is full-bodied and clean, with medium but assertive smokiness. In the sovereign territory of New Albania, it’s the ideal accompaniment to smoked meats (especially when it’s been a good year for deer hunting), oysters, cabbage soup, kielbasa, sauerkraut and freshwater trout, although to be honest, we’re purely guessing about the trout. While there is no known instance of someone pairing Bonfire with river catfish or carp, we’re open to the possibility.
You roast them, and we’ll toast them.
Conversely, as we’ve been known to do in New Albania, you might just enjoy a few glasses of Bonfire of the Valkyries while burning away the long hours until Ragnarök, the forthcoming, epic struggle that will make Wolfe’s milieu look like a serene walk in New Albania’s famous Rent Boy Park.
22-oz bombers of Bonfire of the Valkyries will be available in Indiana and metropolitan Louisville on the Kentucky side of the Ohio. A limited amount of draft will be allocated, and of course, it can be enjoyed in all forms at NABC’s two New Albanian locations.
Description: We start with German-style Black Lager, brew it to a higher than normal strength, and use a proportion of beechwood-smoked barley malt. Bonfire demands: “Give me bacon.”
Recipe Suggestion: Begin by ordering carry-out from your favorite barbecue purveyor (ours is Feast BBQ on West Main Street in New Albany), remembering to keep the sauce on the side; what you need is a plate of delicious smoked meat. Decant Bonfire of the Valkyries from a growler or bomber bottle into whatever clean glass is available. Get down to business; we’ll come back later to check on your progress.
All three come to you in 22-oz Bomber bottles, ideal for sharing the goodness. Limited amounts of draft are available for off-premise distribution. Also coming in March 2014 is Eastern Front, NABC’s pioneering Russian Imperial Pilsner. Since we don’t know the Russian word for “set of four,” we’ll leave it at that.
NABC CALENDAR HIGHLIGHTS FOR JANUARY AND FEBRUARY 2014
NABC AT HOME: OUR BRICKS AND MORTAR
First-ever release of (censored) Ale
Join us at both NABC locations on Tuesday, January 14, when we’ll be releasing a limited edition ale so very unique and ridiculously special that we can’t even tell you about it yet. Just be at the Pizzeria & Public House or Bank Street Brewhouse at 5:00 p.m. on the 14th, and taste for yourself.
JANUARY 19 & 20
Old Lightning Rod Day 2014
At Bank Street Brewhouse (19th) and the Pizzeria & Public House (20th)
It’s the annual limited release of Old Lightning Rod, NABC’s cult favorite Colonial Dark Ale, honoring the legendary Benjamin Franklin’s birthday. On Monday, January 20, Old Lightning goes on tap at the Pizzeria & Public House. As always, it’s a small batch, so get your pints and growlers while you can.
Hoptimus Inception Reception 2014
At Bank Street Brewhouse only
Hoptimus is NABC’s biggest-selling beer in the metro Louisville market, and to celebrate its 8th birthday, we’re showcasing the everyday recipe with added shadings, courtesy of the boys in the brewhouse: Oaktimus (oak-aged), Chouffetimus (Belgian yeast) and two pins of differently dry-hopped Hoptimus (with Citra and Styrian Celeia).
Gravity Head 2014: Bullet Train to Blackout Town
At the Pizzeria & Public House only, through March
The 16th annual Gravity Head is NABC’s celebration of the brewing world’s biggest and best. Beginning on February 28, and lasting daily throughout March until all the kegs are gone, we’ll be devoting numerous taps to showcasing these rare and sought-after beers, as chosen to exhibit maximum diversity of flavors and stylistic inspiration.
NABC ON THE ROAD: SELECTED FEBRUARY EVENTS
We’ll be on the road for four February samples-only, winter-themed beer festivals. Brewers and sales staff are guaranteed to be present, so if you’re attending one or more of these festivals, come by and say hi.
Winterfest, by the Brewers of Indiana Guild, held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis
Winter Warmer, at Lafayette Brewing Company in Lafayette, Indiana
February 14 and 15
Cincinnati Winter Beer Fest, both nights at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, Ohio (with Cavalier Distributing Ohio)
Craft Writing: Beer, The Digital, and Craft Culture, a symposium at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. NABC’s Roger A. Baylor will appear along with other craft beer notables, including Garrett Oliver, Mitch Steele and Stan Hieronymus
Tailspin Ale Fest, at Bowman Field in Louisville, Kentucky, the city’s first ever winter craft beer showcase