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.

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

Roger-Baylor

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)

roger@newalbanian.com

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.

NABC vs. Floyd County Health Department Hearing is July 25

louisville beer - NABC vs health department

Anti-Floyd County Health Department poster, anyone?

Roger Baylor reports over at his blog that in the New Albanian Brewing vs. Floyd County Health Department saga, a hearing is set for the department to hear Baylor’s appeal of a temporary food permit citation forced on him and other vendors back in June.

Forcing beer vendors to obtain a temporary food permit, Baylor says, was unprecedented; in addition, alcohol is not governed by local departments of health in Indiana. (See: State of Indiana Food Handling Certification Rule.)

In the latest turn of events, the department of health set a hearing for Thursday, July 25, at 5:30 p.m., but did not alert Baylor by mail, as required. In his blog post, Baylor says he found out by way of his attorney.

This tactic flies in the face of the appeals process, according to the department’s own policies. Baylor posted these two passages from said appeals policy:

“Upon the Health Officer’s receipt of such request, the Hearing Board shall hear the matter in an open hearing after at least five-days’ written notice of the time, place and nature thereof.”

and

“The notice of the hearing date shall be served upon the operator requesting the review by delivering such notice to the address of the bed and breakfast establishment, retail food establishment or temporary food establishment listed on the permit application or by facsimile or to such other address (if within Floyd County), as the operator shall designate in the letter of request to the Health Officer. Such delivery may be made by leaving the notice at the required address or by regular U.S. Mail.”

You know, it’s pretty sickening to watch a government agency at any level pull this kind of crap. This has all the elements of a good old-fashioned pissing match, with one major problem: One party is clearly right, and the other is clearly wrong. So, what’s the health department’s motivation now? Is it the $20 they’ll get from Baylor for every food permit he is forced to obtain? Or is simply another strong-armed cover up?

Baylor also reports that his request for records of previous permit citations has not been fulfilled, which suggests the health department knows its sudden governance over beer-pouring is unprecedented and, in fact, flat-out unsupported by any sort of law. But god forbid they admit that in an open forum.

Assuming Baylor’s appeal will be unceremoniously denied, file this one under “You Can’t Fight City Hall.” It doesn’t matter if you’re right and they’re wrong.