Bank Street Brewhouse status report: Cross your fingers for February.


It has been a wee bit stressful these past few weeks, and some days I’m a wreck.

Beer, cigars and visits to the YMCA comprise useful therapies, and yet sometimes it seems that I’m getting way too old for this. However, it now appears that things are firmly back on track with respect to NABC’s new downtown location, the Bank Street Brewhouse.

Get ready for the world’s lengthiest soft opening. I’ll try to explain.

First and foremost, the financial game plan is far clearer than before, and we believe that these negotiations should be concluded by early January, at which time we can begin spending like drunken sailors.

In the interim, the final stages of the taproom build-out at 415 Bank Street will proceed: The bar, seating, HV-AC, restrooms and kitchen. There’ll be sufficient time for the requisite inspections.

There is a definitive Indiana ATC hearing date fore the retail Riverfront Development 3-way license during the first week of February, which means that barring the unexpected, the taproom can open immediately after the last rubber stamp falls silent.

In the beginning, the beer will continue to be brewed at the original Grant Line Road location, because the DME brewing system can’t be purchased until the money’s in the bank to make a down payment, after which approximately four months are required for construction, delivery, installation and the production cycle of the first few batches.

Once the Bank Street brewing system is operational, we’ll use it for the brewing of beers primarily designed for distribution in Kentucky and Indiana, with the smaller existing Grant Line Road kit slated to make small batch specialties and seasonal beers. Jesse Williams and Jared Williamson remain the brewers of record, with a third brewer to be hired in 2009.

John Campbell will be the brand manager and outside sales director. Louisville distribution is through River City, and we’ll retain self-distribution in New Albany itself. The wholesaler for the remainder of Indiana has yet to be determined, so stay tuned. There are no plans to distribute outside hese two states for at least the first year.

We have a chef on board, Josh Lehman, and very soon, we’ll be able to begin buying kitchen equipment for him. Josh is a culinary arts graduate of Sullivan University, and until recently was the sous chef at Louisville’s prestigious Le Relais. His menu at the Bank Street Brewhouse will incorporate as many local ingredients as possible in what might be called an adaptation of fare found in Belgian café and French brasserie settings.

There will also be a full-time bar manager for the front of the house. When the biographical details arrive, I’ll tell you more about her.

Note that the Bank Street Brewhouse will be serving neither the traditional pizza menu nor the guest beers as is the case at Grant Line, where things will remain as they are. The idea all along has been a different approach for growing NABC’s brewing operation in a downtown setting. We’re interested both in preserving old traditions and creating new ones.

Eventually there will be micro-canning capability at Bank Street (750 ml “oil cans”), as well as a sizeable outdoor beer garden and a green roof on the top of the building.

With the taproom interior largely finished by January 17, we’re planning a special one-day indoor event in honor of Benjamin Franklin’s birthday and our annual release of NABC Old Lightning Rod, a Colonial-style dark ale brewed with grain, corn and molasses. Look for more information on this event in early January.

I’m expecting that the next six weeks are going to be frenetic. I’m glad, because almost imperceptibly, we’ve been shedding ballast and achieving goals. There was a rough patch in September and October, but the cumulative effect has been to push ever closer toward fruition, even if we haven’t always been able to see the gains until the past few weeks. Happily, the hard work’s not been in vain.

The real heavy lifting is about to start. I’m confident that in spite of the stressors, it’s going to be much more fun.