New Albanian, Big Four Burgers team up to bring food back to Bank Street on Fridays

Well, that didn’t take long. Just two weeks after New Albanian Brewing Company announced there would no longer be food served at its Bank Street Brewhouse in downtown New Albany, NABC has announced it will team up with Jeffersonville’s Big Four Burgers + Beer to have food available every Friday night this summer as part of New Albany’s Bicentennial Park concert series.

Of course, Bank Street remains open as a tap room Tuesday-Sunday, and patrons are encouraged to bring carry-out from other restaurants, picnic baskets or brown-bag lunches from home. But this initiative, which begins this Friday, May 30,  brings food back at the source — and it’s darn good food too.

Here’s what Big Four‘s new burger trailer will serve up:

  • Big Four Burger
  • Cheeseburger
  • Bacon Burger
  • Fries
  • Cheese Fries
  • Pretzel Sticks and Beer Cheese

That’s a beer-worthy lineup, to be sure. The grub will be available 5-10 p.m., and you’re welcome to enjoy it at the tap room or make the short walk with it to Bicentennial Park, where NABC will be pouring Houndmouth, Black & Blue Grass, Naughty Girl and Community Dark all summer.

The NABC press release says if the Big Four team-up goes well, there may be some Saturday appearances by the burger trailer as well.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

New Albanian Old Lightning Rod Taps Sunday, Monday

louisville beer - NABC old lightning rodJust in time for the winter home stretch, Old Lightning Rod will make its return to New Albanian Brewing Company this Sunday (at Bank Street Brewhouse) and Monday (at the Public House). If this stuff can’t warm your chilly butt, nothing can. As with any small-batch release, get it while you can.

Here is NABC owner/carnival barker Roger Baylor’s press release:

The legendary Benjamin Franklin was a multi-talented, endlessly creative Colonial-era renaissance man who also brewed and drank beer. In his writings, Franklin referred to various types of ale, and concluded that its consumption was healthy in moderation – an observation with which modern medical science concurs.

What did these ales of old taste like?

In 2006, as part of a nationwide promotion on the occasion of the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, NABC’s brewers at the time tweaked a Colonial-era recipe provided to members of the Brewer Association, and the result was our first ever batch of Old Lightning Rod. Ever the diligent beery scientists, we’ve repeated the experiment every year since, and the ale keeps tasting better and better.

In 2014, NABC will observe Old Lightning Rod Day for the ninth time, beginning on Sunday, January 19 at Bank Street Brewhouse, and carrying over to the following day (Monday, January 20) at the Pizzeria & Public House. Franklin’s actual date of birth was January 17, 1706, making him 308 years young … and cheers to that.

These two days will mark the tapping of this year’s batch of Old Lightning Rod, which is a cult favorite but only a small batch, and served only on draft – so get your pints and growlers while it lasts.

Old Lightning Rod

Colonial Dark Ale

ABV: 7.5%

IBU: 26

Color: Dark brown to black.

Flavor: Medium- to full-bodied, sweetish and malt-heavy. Distinctive flavor comes from molasses and/or sorghum.

Compare to: No commercial examples, but OLR is in the same flavor range as darker, sweeter beers like Wee Heavy, Doppelbock and some higher-gravity Belgians.

Description: “Let thy discontents be thy secrets” with this annual January release commemorating the birthday of Benjamin Franklin. Old Lightning Rod is a throwback strong ale from Colonial American times, incorporating “triangular” molasses (or sorghum) as an adjunct, and encapsulating Franklin’s sly founder’s wisdom.

Recipe suggestion: Our good friend Steve Thomas of the Thomas Family Winery in Madison, Indiana, makes fine wine and delicious ciders and scrumpy, and still has time to periodically cater fine victuals in his guise as “His Lordship’s Beef.” With Old Lightning Rod (use earthenware or ceramic vessels to establish mood), Steve recommends an entrée of Steak and Ale, with Ben Franklin’s favorite side items: Clapshot (turnips and potatoes in butter) and Pease (peas in chicken stock and butter, topped with fresh mint).

Citra Ass-Clown Has Not Been Overhyped

louisville beer - new albanian citra ass clownThat David Pierce, head brewer at New Albanian Brewing Company, was willing to drive across the bridge and to the Highlands to deliver a howler of the newly released Citra Ass-Clown told me everything I needed to know: This one was going to be special.

(If you don’t already know the back story of the beer and its name, here it is.)

I was covering an event for Insider Louisville and still had another stop to make before going home to enjoy my first taste of the new brew, so my anticipation only heightened as the evening wore on.

When I got home, I grabbed my favorite pint glass, poured it full, and the first thing I noticed was that Citra Ass-Clown is a beautiful beer to look at: It’s cloudy amber-orange with a medium head, and just has the look of a truly quality beer.

But it’s the nose that sells this one. Wow. That familiar grapefruit-meets-floral burst comes out with a near-fury, and in such a way that I just sat there with my first pour for a moment, taking it in.

The hop quality plays bigger than the beer’s 50 IBU; it reminded me vaguely of Green Flash’s Green Bullet, which was hopped differently but appealed to me similarly. First of all, it’s big. Very big. It’s 7.5 percent ABV big.

It makes a hell of a first impression too — the flavor profile is spot on with the nose (I hate when you get a beer with a great nose, and the flavor just flat), and the body is right where you want it for a saison. It’s crisp and drinkable, but the hops and three malts (Weyermann BoHo Pils, Gambrinus Honey Malt, and White Wheat, according to the NABC website) challenge and create a distinctive, comfortable mouthfeel.

With these kinds of hops, you expect a citrus-y profile; the fun is in how the hop quantities and the way they are used in the brewing process can vary the flavors. I got an orange-meets-lime character here, but there’s plenty more going on behind the scenes, include an earthiness created by the aforementioned malts.

What I enjoyed most is that the distinctive flavor lingers. After a while, the bitterness builds in the background to a mild burn, but it never distracts you from the flavor itself. I was surprised to learn that a “special” ingredient was honey; it does have a hint of sweetness, but that honey was in the mix got past me. I think it may have been a case of not knowing what hit me.

There’s not much more to say other than this is just a great beer that hop lovers will “get.” It’s a big-time beer. Kudos to David and everyone over at NABC for making it happen.

Actually, instead of kudos, I should probably say “thanks.” Life is a little better now that there’s Citra Ass-Clown.

NABC Unveils the Secret Name: Citra Ass-Clown

louisville beer - new albanian citra ass clownWell, that didn’t remain a secret for long. But I, for one, am no less interested in trying what New Albanian Brewing Company will tap for the first time today: Citra Ass-Clown.

All we know for sure at this point is that, according to the new graphic, Citra Ass-Clown is a dry-hopped saison featuring citra hops. At 7.5 percent ABV and 50 IBU, I’m guessing this one is going to be a doozie.

NABC also released this teaser video. Man, they must REALLY like what they’ve brewed in this one. Like I said, I’m no less intrigued.

I’m generally freaked out by clowns, but I think I’m going to overlook that to give this one a try.

NABC Releases ‘Troika’ of Winter Beers

New Albanian Brewing Company just announced three new winter releases. Yes, we’ve had these before, but there’s a reason they are being released again this year: because they’re too damn good not to be released again this year. Here’s the press release:

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.

AVAILABLE NOW

louisville beer - nabc tunnel visionTunnel Vision

Royal Wallonian Ale

ABV: 9.5%

IBU: 20

Color: Orange/amber.

Flavor: Full bodied, with malt sweetness and fruity Belgian yeast character.

Compare to: La Chouffe and other strong ales from Wallonia.

 ***

louisville beer - nabc solidaritySolidarity

Baltic Porter

ABV: 8%

IBU: 30

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

 ***

AVAILABLE LATE JANUARY

louisville beer - nabc bonfireBonfire of the Valkyries

Imperial Smoked Black Lager

ABV: 8%

IBU: 10

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.

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’s Naughty Claus Makes the Wish List

NaughtyClaus-710x1065Ah, Christmas: Good tidings, sleigh bells, reckless consumer spending and seasonal beers. To the surprise of no one involved, many of us prefer the latter. For those folks, there is New Albanian Brewing Company‘s Naughty Claus, rolled out last week around Louisville.

I made the drive to NABC’s Public House to enjoy a pint and some breadsticks with my girlfriend this past weekend, and I have to say that Dave Pierce and his brewing team over at New Albanian did it up right.

To be bluntly honest, I’m actually not usually a fan of Christmas beers — I find that too often breweries overdo the spices in order to make the beer more … well, Christmasy, if you will. The same goes for a lot of the pumpkin beers I’ve had. When it stops tasting like beer that is made with pumpkin and starts tasting like liquid pumpkin pie, that’s when they’ve lost me.

louisville beer - naughty clausNaughty Claus is not one of those over-the-top brews; it is imminently drinkable, like a solid, mild pale ale that just happens to have that something extra to it. Even the tagline spells it out, calling the beer a “seasonal ale with spices.” So, while the medium body, slightly sweet malts and mild hop character (it’s only 12 IBU) take the lead here, you still get a sense of the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peel within.

I was fond of the interestingly sharp finish that comes from the spices, but for the most part this is, again, just a really solid, easy-drinking ale with a kick. I could easily see this one going well with your Christmas dinner. Or, hell, your Thanksgiving turkey in a couple of days. Or by itself. (Just be careful, because while it goes down like a session beer, it packes 8.0 percent ABV.)

Until next time, happy holidays and drink locally. Especially the beer.

FCHD Expected to Make PourGate Decision by Next Week

louisville beer - new albanian brewing companyI won’t keep repeating why I think the Floyd County Health Department is completely unjustified in this situation, but I will provide you the link to Roger Baylor’s rundown of yesterday’s hearing regarding PourGate (aka NABC vs. FCHD). He provides an overview, as well as links to both his case and the health department’s.

The short version is that the department has seven days to issue a decision following yesterday’s hearing. I hope Roger’s continued efforts to fight this will pay off in justice being done.

And I’m still chuckling over his phrase “elderly punk on dope” in link No. 2.

PourGate: NABC to Pour ‘Under Protest’ Tonight

louisville beer - new albanian brewing companyIf you go to Bicentennial Park in New Albany tonight and have a New Albanian Brewing Company beer, be sure to tip a little extra. Remember, NABC is paying an extra $20 in permit fees to pour that beer, as “PourGate” continues. Baylor says he and his staff will pour beer “under protest.”

A hearing date for NABC’s appeal of the Floyd County Health Department’s insistence that local vendors need a temporary food permit to sling suds has yet to be scheduled, according to NABC owner Roger Baylor, but he said the department is so far complying with his request for five years’ worth of temporary food service permit citations.

As annoying as bureaucrats can be, it could be semi-humorous to watch the health department squirm in the next few weeks, possibly in hopes this issue will simply go away. Baylor noted on his blog the other day that while day to day business has to continue at NABC, those interested in seeing how this dispute plays out should never fear that he’s going to let the issue fizzle out. I don’t doubt that for a minute.

Based on comments posted on this blog and Baylor’s, as well as what Baylor himself has said regarding the public’s response, the health department is alone in believing it is in the right by forcing vendors like NABC to pay for a temporary food permit just to sell beer at events.

“No other health department in the state is laying claim to what Dr. [Tom] Harris sees as is his department’s sudden obligation to control temporary draft beer pours,” Baylor wrote in his blog this morning. “It seems that the opinion of his fellow bureaucrats is against the FCHD, too. Shouldn’t that tell you something?”

The fun starts tonight at 6 p.m., with Nick Dittmeier, followed by Quiet Hollers. Hopefully, the health department won’t force the bands to buy temporary oxygen permits to dispense their vocals.

NABC vs. Floyd County Health Department

louisville beer - new albanian brewing companyRoger Baylor over at New Albanian Brewing Company has never been one to hold his opinion or measure his words, which is why I’m not at all surprised that he has come out swinging in the wake of the Floyd County Health Department abruptly, for lack of a better word, demanding that NABC purchase a temporary food permit last week at an event NABC was catering, via an apologetic foot soldier.

Baylor has argued that it is the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that regulates beer handling and sales, and has for years — not to mention that alcohol isn’t exactly the same as a hamburger. Which, you know, is why NABC and other beer vendors have apparently never needed a food permit for these types of events before.

My thought about this strange and sudden clamp-down is “why?” Baylor called it a “power grab” in a press statement and filed an appeal, standing up for the fact that this abrupt mandate has no precedent. Meanwhile, Floyd County Health Officer Dr. Tom Harris is calling it a “state regulation,” and that vendors pouring beer at any public event must indeed pony up the $20 for a food permit. Yet, Baylor, who has been doing business in Floyd County and the surrounding areas for years, has never experienced it or even gotten a whiff of it until now.

Obviously, it’s not that Baylor can’t find $20 in his budget for these events — it’s the principle. Harris claims his department has cited others similarly, and that NABC is not being singled out. Baylor, who probably knows the local beer and food scene as well as anyone, says he simply has never heard of such madness, and was blind-sided by the citation.

Jeff Gillenwater, quoting a Clark County Health Department worker, posted on Baylor’s New Albany Confidential website that, “I work at the Clark County Health Department. We do not make beer vendors get [temporary] food permits because beer is not considered a potentially hazardous food.”

The State of Indiana Food Handling Certification Rule (410 IAC 7-22) agrees with Baylor and the unnamed Clark County Health Department employee, specifically listing beer as a “non‐potentially hazardous beverage” that is exempt from its food handling policies. Apparently, Floyd County now sees it differently.

Again … why? More specifically, why now? If Harris’ department had sent someone to let NABC know that in the future they’d have to buy a permit, that would be one thing. Instead, it was a citation, no questions asked. This feels like the action of a department bent on control.

“Amid the tortuously Orwellian world of Dr. Tom Harris’s health department,” Baylor wrote on Facebook this morning, “it’s just another $20 slapped down to fund programs his county political bosses won’t.”

It will be interesting to see how the appeals process plays out. Baylor said he has no idea how long it will take or whether the appeal hearing will be public, and that he will, under protest, pay the $20 each time he and his associates pour beer into a plastic cup (including tonight at Bicentennial Park).

Heck, at this point Roger might as well start selling hot dogs and brats from his booth to go with the beer. If he’s got to pay for a food permit anyway, why not sell food to help pay for the permit? Can I have spicy mustard with mine, please?

I jokingly asked Baylor if his brewing machines kill local fascists as well (a nod to a phrase Woody Guthrie had painted on his guitar, and one which can be found on many NABC t-shirts). His response?

“I have a new phrase, not co-opted from Woody Guthrie: ‘These machines mock reactionaries.'”

UPDATE: Baylor has requested five years of food permit citations to learn how many citations have been issued previously to those vending food vs. alcohol. In addition, Harris told The News-Tribune that the NABC appeal will be heard at the next regular Floyd County Health Department board meeting.