Fest of Ale Moving to New Albany

NA Amphitheater

Thanks to this post by Roger Baylor, I found out that Fest of Ale will move to the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater beginning this year. Here’s a press release with the details:

New Albany, Ind. (February 2016) – After 10 successful years in Clarksville, the Keg Liquors Fest of Ale is changing venues. The 11th Annual Fest of Ale will be held on June 4th, 2016 at the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater.

“Moving the event was a tough decision, but we felt that we had outgrown the space we were using at St. Anthony’s,” said Todd Antz, owner of Keg Liquors. “St. Anthony’s has been very generous with their facilities and support over the years, and we could not have grown the event to the size it is today without their help.

“We felt that the event was becoming a bit too taxing for their neighbors and parishioners, and that it was best for both parties if we moved on. We’ve always had a great relationship with St. Anthony’s and look forward to working with them in any future opportunities that may come up. I can’t thank everyone at St. Anthony’s enough for their support over the last 7 years of hosting our charity event. We could not have done this without them.”

The New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater, located below East Main Street at the foot of Pearl Street, is home each spring and summer to numerous free concerts, productions, festivals and other events.

The move to the Riverfront Amphitheater will allow the Fest of Ale to expand in size, provide more parking, as well as having access to all of the great restaurants and businesses in downtown New Albany.

“The Fest of Ale has always been a grassroots festival that promotes independent breweries and businesses, so moving the event to an area that has reinvigorated itself with all of the great shops and restaurants made perfect sense to us,” continued Antz. “The City of New Albany was very excited to help us with the event, and we look forward to working with them to make this the best Fest of Ale ever.”

Big Four Burgers owner planning to open craft cidery in 2016

Downtown New Albany already has a pair of breweries and a winery to go with its many restaurants. Sometime in early 2016, the Southern Indiana city will add a craft cidery to that mix.

Matt McMahan, owner of Big Four Burgers + Beer, says the project is only just under way, but he hopes that by spring, the 9,000-square-foot space at 432 Pearl St. will be a place where people can come in for a good meal paired with cider.

A popular alcoholic beverage from Colonial times until Prohibition, cider has begun to regain widespread recognition in recent years, with the largest beer companies releasing ciders to catch up to the growth. In fact, cider is now the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage, up more than 75.4 percent last year, according to market research firm IRI.

Cidery

This building is going to become a craft cidery in 2016.

“It started with cider,” McMahan says. “It’s crazy it has taken this long to become this mainstream.”

While the cidery is still in the early stages of build-out and planning — a crew was working on wiring early Wednesday afternoon — McMahan has purchased the building and already added a garage door and a third storefront window to the space that once housed offices and cubicle farms. He will consult with Rick Otey of Donum Dei Brewery, also located in New Albany, for the brewing end of the business, while chef Charlie Starcher, who designed the menus at Big Four and McMahan’s other restaurant, Charlie Noble’s Eatery & Draft House, will create the food offerings.

The future cidery doesn’t even have a name yet, and McMahan says he is researching what kinds of permits will be needed to make cider in New Albany, given that cider is somewhere between beer and wine in the eyes of the law.

He believes the business will be a complement to the existing winery and breweries, saying he sees success “if we can be in the middle — and, obviously, with cider being so popular now.”

Since there is no kitchen in the space, that concept will be created once the type of food to be served — “Something that pairs well with cider,” McMahan says — is decided upon.

The cidery and restaurant also will serve wine and craft beer, with a focus on guest ciders and, obviously, the ciders made on-site. The dining area will be along the perimeter of the building, while the brewing equipment will be in the back; the space will be designed so that the brewhouse is visible from the dining room.

The future, McMahan hopes, will include canning and distribution once the business is established and the core ciders are developed. From there, he says, it depends on how well the products are received and how much cider’s general popularity grows.

“The ultimate goal is to make this a production cidery,” he says.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Floyd County Brewing brings Medieval food and fun

FCBC1Walking into Floyd County Brewing Company in downtown New Albany is a bit like walking into one of those faux taverns at a Renaissance Festival — there are coats of arms decorating one wall, a giant battle helmet in one corner, a bow with arrows on a side wall, and arched doorways that allow visitors to peek into the brewhouse. (Heck, the men’s room even pays tribute to “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”)

The only thing missing is a tightly cinched beer wench and a weekend minstrel whose voice carries just a little too far.

But what one finds after settling in for a few minutes is that the playful presentation is all part of a warm and inviting atmosphere where the servers and bartenders are friendly, the food is comforting and the Medieval-themed beer is fresh.

The brewery features six house brews and four rotating guest taps, liquor (in case someone in your party doesn’t like beer) and a menu that pays homage to British pubs. In fact, I was thrilled to find that one of the requisite side dishes with the fish and chips at Floyd County Brewing is a dish called “mushy pea.” When I’ve been to Liverpool, England, I’ve found mushy pea pretty much comes with everything you order — and it isn’t even on the menu.

But I decided to take my time and start with an order of the house chips and beer cheese to go with a flight of four, which was served to me in a small wooden box.

The chips were thick cut and would be a fine snack or side on their own, while the beer cheese was a thick, creamy concoction with an interesting flavor. The dark orange dip had the cheesy tang one expects, and just enough spice to let your palate know it’s there, but there is something else. And then I tried the amber ale — with which the cheese dip is made — and it all came clear.

The beer — or “Froth,” as the menu dubs it — at Floyd County Brewing tends to take on its own personality, with a Belgian bent and some interesting flavor choices. The ArrowSmith Amber Ale (is that a nod to the band Aerosmith? It almost has to be, doesn’t it?) features “hints of orange and coriander,” according to the menu. It’s actually quite an interesting and drinkable beer, but it tripped me up in the beer cheese.

FCBC4Meanwhile, the Dungeon Deeds Irish Stout is mostly typical to the style, with a deep dark black color but a surprisingly light body with a bit of a bite to the finish and possibly even a hint of fruit. The Belchin Serf Saison veers away from lighter versions of the style to a lightly acidic profile with plenty of fruit derived from Belgian yeast. It’s almost a little funky, like beers brewed with wild yeast, so if you like esters in your beer, you’ll like this one.

The Hoppy Jester IPA is nicely balanced with a citrusy, floral nose, with less bitterness than its 100 IBU suggests. And the Brewess Blonde Ale is a hazy, golden beer with a big Belgian flavor (more Belgian yeast). And the BarBEARian Belgian Brown is exactly what you think it is. Head brewer Jeff Coe isn’t afraid to utilize Belgian styles.

While I was drawn to the fish and chips (with mushy pea!), the Renn Faire feel finally got to me, so I ordered King Louie’s Drumstick for dinner — it’s a giant turkey leg served with rice and a vegetable medley, presumably to help balance the meat onslaught of a piece of bird that huge.

Seriously, it was gigantic, and I got through about half the meal before asking for a to-go box. The turkey leg, which was tender and almost dripping but with a tight, almost crunchy skin rubbed with spices, nearly didn’t fit inside. The rice was tender and delicious, and the vegetables were fresh, flavorful and maintained a bit of crispness.

Other interesting-looking entrees include Bangers and Mash, Nimwit’s Pot of Gold (a pork and seafood steam pot), and ArrowSmith Chicken Skewers. Some tempting appetizers included Nutty Knights Pork Hammers (pork ribs) and Able Archers Pretzel and Cheese. You can also get salads, soup, sandwiches and burgers, and there’s a kids menu for family-friendliness.

Appetizers range from $7 to $12, while entrees top out at $13, and most sandwiches are $10. My only real complaint was the price of the beer, which rang in a $6 per 16-ounce pint for Floyd County Brewing beers and $7 per pint for guest taps. Six bucks a pint is well above pretty much every other brewery in town, and what I found strange was that a growler fill, which basically includes four 16-ounce beers, is only $10. The discount for taking it home is so great, it very well might deter people from hanging out in the bar.

Overall, though, it’s a fun premise and is situated in a rising part of downtown New Albany that caters to people coming to and from Horseshoe Casino. The prime location and attentive service will only help. There is also live music sometimes (maybe that’s when the minstrel shows up). And, hey, they have mushy pea.

Floyd County Brewing Company is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. It is located at 129 W. Main St. in New Albany.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

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.