Brewer David Pierce leaves NABC to return to BBC

David Pierce. Photo by Rick Evans.

David Pierce. Photo by Rick Evans.

Sometimes you can go home again.

David Pierce, Louisville’s senior commercial brewer, confirmed he has returned to Bluegrass Brewing Company, the brewery where he worked from 1993-2009, after six-plus years at New Albanian Brewing Company in Southern Indiana.

During those six years, Pierce worked with New Albanian co-owner Roger Baylor, another mainstay in the Louisville beer scene; recently, Baylor announced he was selling his stake in the Indiana brewery.

Meanwhile, Pierce started back to work at BBC this week, but he will continue to help New Albanian owners Kate Lewison and Amy Baylor during the transition as they continue to learn about brewing and distribution. He said his reason for returning to the brewery where he helped to make Louisville a brewing city again has less to do with Roger Baylor leaving and more to do with timing and simply wanting to come back home.

“I live 2 miles that way,” said the Clifton resident, pointing down Shelbyville Road toward Frankfort Avenue.

He said when the group that owned the BBC production brewery re-branded that brewery to become Goodwood Brewing Company, he began talking to BBC owner Pat Hagan about possible collaborations as a way to help boost interest in BBC. Since the re-branding took place, Hagan and Chef Sean Haggerty have launched a line of retail food products.

Pierce said he and Hagan discussed bringing back some of the original beer recipes Pierce had brewed at BBC in the 1990s when the brewery was still young as a way to re-ignite interest. That led to them talking about a reunion, and he agreed to make the change.

BBC St Matt“It’s a homecoming kind of thing,” he said.

Pierce had worked as the original brewer at the short-lived Silo Brewpub before teaming up with Hagan to open BBC in 1993. He helped brand the business and worked there as head brewer until 2009, when he joined New Albanian. During his time at BBC, he brewed staples such as the Dark Star Porter, Altbier, American Pale Ale, Nut Brown Ale and others, and variations of many of his beers remain on the menu today.

In a prepared statement, Hagan said, “I am very pleased to have David back. He put Bluegrass Brewing Company on the map back in ’93 and will help us move forward with our expansion plans.”

Roger Baylor noted that his opportunity to work with Pierce at New Albanian was somewhat of a bucket list fulfillment.

“Back in the ’90s, a few of us pioneers used to drink beer at BBC and NABC, and talk about working together some day,” Baylor wrote in a Facebook post. “For a while, a few of us did, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Meanwhile, Josh Hill will take over brewing duties at New Albanian, where he previously worked; Hill left NABC to take a job with the yet-to-open Floyd County Brewing Company, and then returned after that venture didn’t pan out.

The future of New Albanian brewing, at this point, will depend on what Lewison and Amy Baylor decide to do in terms of how much they want to focus on brewing versus the restaurant businesses. They previously had said the plan is to keep both the Bank Street Brewhouse brewing operation and the brewhouse at the New Albanian pizzeria.

The New Albanian owners released this statement: “[We] wish David all of the happiness at his BBC St. Matthews home brewery. He has taught all of us so much about this craft of making beer. We are equally as excited about our future, as Josh Hill and Ben Minton get to spread their New Albanian wings.”

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

After a quarter century, Roger Baylor will move on from New Albanian Brewing Company


Roger Baylor.

Twenty-five years ago, Roger Baylor got a long-haul job selling beer; he and wife Amy, along with her sister Kate Lewison, took over a business that had belonged to the former’s father, Richard O’Connell. This is how Sportstime Pizza and Rich O’s Public House, which would later become New Albanian Brewing Company, were born.

Today, however, the principal owners are putting the finishing touches on a move that would place full ownership into the hands of Lewison and Amy Baylor (the Baylors divorced in the early 2000s but continued to be business partners).

Roger Baylor, well known for his long career in beer and brewing, is now running for mayor of New Albany. If he wins, that will be his new focus. If not, well, he’ll look for another path to follow. Either way, his position as the public face of New Albanian has come to an end. He already had announced he would step away if he won the election — instead, he’s moving on ahead of the decision. It was simply time, he says.

Regarding his growing involvement in local politics over the last few years, Baylor tells Insider, “It seems to be what I’ve been interested in for a while now and seems to be what I spend a lot of time on. That might actually tell me something about where my head is.”

And while he still enjoys beer and brewing, it’s become more of a hobby-level interest, in part because of the popularity of what is now termed “craft beer.”

When he started working at a liquor store back in the late 1980s, he was one of only a few in the area seeking out imported beer for sale. He wanted to spread the word, which would later lead to Rich O’s becoming a regional beer destination. But the growth in craft brewing has changed the hobby into an industry.

“We’re entering this phase where it’s all about money,” Baylor says, “and that’s never why I wanted to do it. I wanted to do it because it meant something; it stood for something. It was all the intangibles. Now it’s about who’s going to sell out to whom. It’s sickening. That doesn’t do anything for me.”

Meanwhile, Lewison and Amy Baylor simply want to keep their life’s work going forward. When New Albanian expanded in 2009, adding a production brewery with a taproom and restaurant in downtown New Albany in the form of Bank Street Brewhouse, things were looking up. However, sales didn’t flow as hoped. Last year, the restaurant portion of the business was suspended.

While the original pizzeria and public house continue to succeed, the failure of Bank Street to stand on its own has placed the business in deep debt. Lewison and Amy Baylor hope to take over and slowly but surely pay down the debt while also finding a way to make Bank Street succeed. Part of that, however, means learning the beer business while also working long days to keep the pizzeria running.

Amy and Kate“We’d like to keep the brewery, even though it’s done not so well,” Amy Baylor says. “It’s not so much that it doesn’t have potential or that I’ve given up the dream.”

“We’re taking Bank Street to where it is now, where it just evolved naturally,” Lewison adds.

And by that she means that their friend Stacie Bale from Earth Friends Café has taken over the kitchen after a few pop-up experiments and a failed partnership with Taco Punk. While Bank Street began with a focus on French-inspired fare, it now offers a fairly basic menu primarily made up of beer-infused appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and flatbread pizzas. Baylor and Lewison also promise a special fall menu that Bale is especially excited to roll out.

While the sale isn’t complete, Amy Baylor says “it’s basically a done deal.” It’s just a matter of finalizing terms and taking care of all the details.

“It’s like any other divorce or selling a business or anything else,” Roger Baylor says. “It’s going to take a while to connect the dots and to do the paperwork. There’s a zillion legalisms.”

There was also the option to sell his portion to a third party, but the sides worked toward an in-house agreement. “It keeps it in the family that way,” Roger Baylor says.

He adds that he knows Lewison and Amy have a different vision from his own for the business, which is another reason he has decided to move on. He says they “have ideas where they want it to go; I think that’s fine. They are really interested in being a 100 percent female-owned brewery. It was their business anyway — they were already there when I showed up. To me, it has always been this big collective. I’m just part of it.”

So far, so good. “The last six months have been great,” Lewison says.

The plan for the sisters now is to continue to re-invest in the original business and to also make Bank Street profitable. David Pierce remains as head brewer, and Josh Hill, who had departed briefly earlier this year to become brewer at the forthcoming Floyd County Brewing Company, has returned. The next couple of years will be about paying down debt and figuring out some consistency in the bottle beer releases and what the brewery’s distribution future holds.

And Roger will move forward as a mayoral hopeful.

“Beer has moved more into the hobby realm for him,” Amy Baylor says. “Now he’s grown up and he wants to see if his voice can make a change in something other than beer. Can it do something for the whole town?”

“The mayoral thing just tells me my head is in some other place,” Roger Baylor adds, “and that it would be best for everyone (to move on).”

And if he doesn’t win, what will he do?

“Something different,” he says. “Not necessarily in or out of beer. In some way, shape or form, I’ve been selling beer for 32 or 33 years now. That’s a career.”

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Roger A. Baylor will take a leave of absence from NABC to run for mayor of New Albany

Let's see if this guy can kill some fascists. (Photo by Cassie Bays.)

Let’s see if this guy can kill some fascists. (Photo by Cassie Bays.)

Well, that crazy sumbitch is really going to do it. Roger Baylor, our favorite curmudgeon and beer lover, is going to take a leave of absence to run for freaking mayor. What a concept: a politician who actually says what he thinks. This ought to be interesting.

Here’s Baylor’s announcement:

Two months ago, I utilized the bully pulpit afforded me by my weekly blog column to announce that in 2015, I’d be running for mayor of New Albany as an independent: ON THE AVENUES: To the third floor — but first, we throw the rascals out.

My rationale isn’t overly complicated. I’m running for mayor because a city in transition like New Albany desperately needs progressive ideas like those espoused by people like me, from all walks of life, who routinely have been marginalized or ignored by the same old game, played the same old way, by the same old, tired political suspects.

It’s a big undertaking for any candidate. One must complete various forms and gather the necessary signatures, and then organize a whole campaign from scratch. All along, it has been my intention to begin the campaign in earnest come March 2 … and we’re right on schedule.

Consequently, the first of many transitions on along the path to come begins today. Effective immediately, I’m taking a leave of absence from the New Albanian Brewing Company (NABC), so as to devote my full attention to the campaign for mayor.

Of course, I’ll honor all previous commitments, but from this point the day-to-day is in the capable hands of my business partners, Kate Lewison and Amy Baylor, and our fine staff.

As many readers may already know, I own 33% of NABC’s two incorporations. When the November election is over and I’ve been elected to the office of mayor, I’ll act immediately to sell my shares to my two business partners, according to the terms of our buy-sell agreement.

Which is to say, I’m all in. I’m very serious about running for mayor — and winning. Let the fun begin.

Questions? Just ask.

502-468-9710 (mobile)

Bank Street Brewhouse unveils new food menu … sort of

Photo by Robyn Lee.

Photo by Robyn Lee.

Apparently, Bank Street Brewhouse, New Albanian Brewing Company’s downtown New Albany tap room, once again has a food menu.

But before you start to salivate while thinking about pommes frites in a Pavlovian frenzy, know that the “menu” is, shall we say, somewhat limited. Posts by and other sites revealed this new food offering this week, which is in response to Indiana state law requirements.

Per IC 7.1-2-3-7 and 905 IAC 1-20-1 (or something like that), establishments that serve alcohol by the drink in Indiana absolutely, positively must have food service available at all times that can serve a minimum of 25 people. That law, which is nearly 70 years old, also pertains to Bank Street Brewhouse, which ceased food service in May.

And so, to avoid having the law dogs descend upon the small brewery and tap room with citations and decrees and axes, Bank Street management has added a food menu that adheres to these state requirements. Food is once again available at the tap room.

There are actually several options spelled out as the mandatory minimum food offering at an establishment such as Bank Street Brewhouse, according to this sacred law: hot soups, hot sandwiches, coffee, milk and soft drinks. (Your tax dollars at work, Hoosiers.)

As such, here is the new Bank Street menu:

Our Famous Hot Dog Sandwich: Microwaved to perfection, including both weenie and bun, sans condiments. $10.

Chef Campbell’s Soup of the Day: Served in a bowl. Your choice of whichever can is on top of the stack. $10.

Instant Coffee: Caffeinated only. Available black, or black. $5.

Powdered Milk: With or without water. $5.

Sprecher Craft Soft Drinks: Different flavors … market pricing.

If you are scoring at home, that’s Bank Street Brewhouse 1, Big Government 0.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

People’s Brewing and NABC to team up

nabc-peoplesHere it is, straight from the horse’s mouth:

People’s Brewing Company of Lafayette and New Albanian Brewing Company in New Albany are pleased to announce a revolutionary Hoosier brewing collaboration, an exercise calculated in accordance with the interests of the vast majority of Indiana’s craft beer drinkers.

The People’s Republic of New Albania.

These two artisanal breweries at opposite ends of the state are longtime friends, and comprise a mutual admiration society. They’ve always shared a fraternal interest in craft beer for the people. It seems entirely fitting that they combine their brewing expertise and sloganeering into one unified vision, according to the beer style known as Zwickelbier, which gets its name from the sampling valve on a lagering tank.

On July 16, NABC’s brewers will venture northward to brew People’s Republic of New Albania with People’s Brewing Company in Lafayette. The collaboration beer will debut during Lafayette Craft Beer Week (beginning August 17) and also be prominently featured at the Beers Across the Wabash festival in Lafayette on August 23.

In addition, People’s Republic of New Albania kegs will be tapped at NABC’s two locations in late August, and will be available in very limited quantity statewide through Cavalier Distributing.

If you feel so inclined, you can get the rest of the details over at NABC’s website.

Beer roundup: Three brews to honor World Cup; live music at Great Flood

New Albanian Brewing Company has a lot going on in June. The busy month is highlighted by the release of three new beers honoring the three national football squads facing the USA in Group G of the opening round: Ghana, Portugal and Germany.

new-albanianNABC’s World Cup Trilogy series will be rolled out one by one over the course of 10 days at both Bank Street Brewhouse and the Pizzeria & Public House, beginning Monday, June 16, with Citra Passion Ale for the USA vs. Ghana match.

“Super Bock” will be tapped Sunday, June 22, at the Brewhouse when USA takes on Portugal. It will be available the following day at the other location.

For the USA vs. Germany contest on Thursday, June 26, Sticke Alt will be on tap at both locations. Get them while you can, because when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Great Flood Brewing‘s Sunday Soundwaves music series is off and running, and this Sunday’s entertainment is Drew Miller and His Internet Friends, starting at 6 p.m. On Father’s Day,  June 15, the J Band will perform.

The tap list beginning on Thursday, June 5, includes four Great Flood brews — Citra IPA, Brown Ale, Wit and Oatmeal Stout — with several guest taps as well, including Cumberland Red. Coming soon (possibly this weekend) are Great Flood APA, 2IPA and Amber .

Gordon-Biersch1• Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant at Fourth Street Live welcomes summer on Wednesday, June 4, with SommerBrau, a Kölsch beer made with authentic yeast imported from Cologne, as well as a special pairing menu.

SommerBrau, a golden and slightly fruity thirst quencher, will be on tap through July 13. The limited-time menu includes a Coconut Shrimp (shrimp dipped in tempura batter, rolled in coconut and served with fresh grilled pineapple salsa) starter and three steak entrées: Tenderloin Salad, Tenderloin Filet & Coconut Shrimp, and New York Strip & Coconut Shrimp.

There will be a tapping party for SommerBrau Thursday, June 5, with beer and food samples.

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.


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



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.