THE BEER BEAT: I guess if NABC isn’t celebrating its 30th birthday, then I will, with a look back at the 25th.

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Photo by John Wurth.

Yesterday (July 22) was the 5th anniversary of the New Albanian Brewing Company’s 25th anniversary, which means the business entity variously known as Sportstime Pizza, Rich O’s Public House, the New Albanian Brewing Company (later, adding Bank Street Brewhouse, now dubbed NABC Cafe & Brewhouse) has celebrated its 30th birthday.

Ladies and gentlemen, the inimitable Tony Beard.

The exact date of inception is lost, but some time in June, 1987 is my best guess. My own involvement lasted from from 1990 through 2015, and as Mayor Jeff Gahan pointed out at a mayoral debate in 2015, my career as a double naught capitalist provoked unprecedented misery for the city of New Albany.

“(Roger’s) never done anything in a positive manner to help the city of New Albany.”

Actually, during the opening phases of Rich O’s Public House during the early- to mid-1990s, with Oasis and Nirvana playing deafeningly in the background, we often pointed to Kentucky license plates in the parking lot as proof of things working out just as we had hoped. Gahan probably didn’t notice, given the pressing and frenetic weight of adulation that customarily accompanies a career in veneer sales.

This morning I scrolled back through recent Facebook posts at the Pizzeria & Public House and Cafe & Brewhouse to see if mention had been made of the anniversary.

I saw none, but then again, details like this always were my “area” during the period of my immersion, perhaps because I’ve always been aware we were constructing a narrative, and I’d be the guy writing the history.

The scribe departs and history ends; Fukuyama would be proud. Ironically, the past week may finally prove to be a watershed in our efforts to come to a monetary agreement about the professional divorce, absent the rigors of litigation. I remain hopeful. For those readers unfamiliar with the saga, I catalogued my consciousness in March.

By early 2015, themes and threads gestating for several years had combined into something approximating a personal resolve to do something different with my life, and I decided to sell my share of both NABC corporations to my two longtime business partners. Why, exactly?

Enough of that. There always was a dollop of Fleetwood Mac amid the pizza and beer, and today’s objective is to celebrate the curiously neglected anniversary.

To begin, a few resurrected Potable Curmudgeon blog links from 2012, helping to provide background on the bacchanal of the 25th observance.

July 23, 2012
“New independent businesses are coming in and that’s what’s moving New Albany forward. We’ve all grown together and it’s great” … There was a nice description of our 25th anniversary celebration in the Monday morning C-J.

July 21, 2012
Sarah models the NABC 25th anniversary t-shirt.

July 19, 2012
Beers, pours and pricing for “25 Years of Beer & Loathing.”

July 17, 2012
NABC beer lineup for 25 Years of Beer & Loathing … Here is the NABC beer lineup for 25 Years of Beer & Loathing, this Sunday at the Riverfront Amphitheater in New Albany. All the following will be ready to drink at 10:00 a.m., when the day kicks off.

July 16, 2012
Sara Havens in LEO: “A salute to NABC” … All this week there’ll be reminders of our anniversary posted here, leading up to the 25 Years of Beer and Loathing bash on the riverfront next Sunday. First up is my old pal Sara “Bar Belle” Havens of the Louisville Eccentric Observer, who interviewed me last week.

July 15, 2012
New “Baylor on Beer” at LouisvilleBeer.com … I reworked an older column from 2010 into this “Baylor on Beer” submission to LouisvilleBeer.com, proving that it’s always okay to sample oneself, especially when the schedule is too busy to be original. Seeing as this is NABC’s 25th anniversary week, the following helps to explain a few motivations of my own.

Then, in closing, my ON THE AVENUES column of June 21, 2012: “25 years of Beer & Loathing.” While it’s true that the five years since then have been tumultuous and filled with nuggets of history, the 25th anniversary party it itself worthy of remembrance, in addition to being an apt summary of the first quarter-century.

But first, allow me to repeat something previously written.

In a space this brief, it would be impossible to recount the many life lessons I learned while at NABC, though one springs to mind: When business life is good, the employees get the credit, and when there are problems, it’s all on the owners.

The rank and file, and the workers on the shop floor – cooks, servers, dishwashers and staff members – do the heavy lifting and define the atmosphere. They’re the face of the business, and its esprit de corps. The job of the owner is to organize and manage them so they can thrive, and in turn, so the entity can succeed.

Yes, naturally there are exceptions. Firing someone isn’t fun, though occasionally it must be done. Employees make mistakes, and so on. The point to me is that so many of them, the vast majority, have been top-flight individuals, both before and after working for NABC.

We’ve had our share of teachers, media professionals, artists and musicians working as part-timers, supplementing their income with shifts. With IU Southeast just down the street from the original Pizzeria & Public House locations, there have been hundreds of students receiving W2s as they worked their way through school.


Just think of the local multiplier effect in human terms, for more than 25 years.

What’s more, so many of them have gone on to solid careers. If we had an NABC Alumni Association, it would include doctors, writers, sailors, lawyers, real estate moguls, gardeners, bar and restaurant owners, chefs, entrepreneurs, brewers, entertainers and distillers.

I see many of them on social media, raising their families and living their dreams. I’m pleased as punch to have played a part, however brief, in their formative lives. Cheers to them. I’m serene and looking forward to a new challenge, which I hope will be gathering steam quite soon.

ON THE AVENUES: 25 Years of Beer & Loathing (June 21, 2012)

My pal TR called for a catch-up chat. It had been a week since my return from four months in Europe, and I was woefully depleted of gossip, so TR suggested lunch at a joint called Sportstime Pizza, apparently recently established somewhere near Grant Line Road. I couldn’t really form a mental picture of the place until he resorted to a past-tense directional comparison: “It’s where the Noble Roman’s used to be.”

It was 1987, and now, as thousands of years of human history pass by, I join the chorus of individuals always asking, “Where did the time go?”

I couldn’t tell you the answer, except to mischievously recall another friend’s longtime assertion that his eventual autobiography would bear the title, “What I Remember.” Not mine, which is slated to be called “Beer, Bile and Bolsheviks: A Fermentable Life,” but there’s little time to write the book because the business I inadvertently stumbled into two decades ago still keeps me ridiculously busy amid a career of selling the idea of beer, a course that somehow took shape during gaps between bouts of drinking lots and lots of it.

Naturally, none of this could have taken place without the work, contributions and input of so many people, from co-owners Amy and Kate through all our employees, customers and folks far too numerous to count – past, present and future. At the risk of sounding trite, I’ll consciously echo Queen, who said it best.

I’ve taken my bows
And my curtain calls
You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it
I thank you all

But it’s been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race
And I ain’t gonna lose

Unfortunately, as I’m channeling the late and lamented Freddie Mercury, the missus is assuming the voice of barrister’s mate Hilda Rumpole to remind me that any mention of “fortune” is utterly misplaced in my professional context. It’s true, although the value of enjoying one’s work and being paid to drink beer whilst performing it … that’s truly priceless.

The New Albanian Brewing Company will mark its first quarter-century of existence with a day-long picnic and concert at New Albany’s Riverfront Amphitheater on Sunday, July 22, 2012.

As most readers probably know, nowadays the original location near Grant Line Road is known as the NABC Pizzeria & Public House, incorporating Sportstime, Rich O’s Public House (1992) and the 2002 addition of craft brewing on site. NABC’s most recent progeny (2009) is NABC Bank Street Brewhouse, located in New Albany’s historic business district downtown.

“25 Years of Beer & Loathing” is what we’re calling the fete, and NABC’s 25th anniversary celebration will be a day-long musical, family-friendly event with food, activities and refreshments suitable for all ages. The venue is New Albany’s Riverfront Amphitheater, from 10:00 a.m. to sundown on Sunday, July 22. The Amphitheater is located by the Ohio River in downtown New Albany, with ample parking available by the levee at the foot of Pearl Street.

There is no cover charge for this event, and it’ll be cash ‘n’ carry for food, drinks and vending. Proceeds after expenses will be disbursed in the form of grants to Rauch Inc., the Isabel Jade Pickhardt Fund and New Albany First.

So that all of our current employees can participate in recalling 25 Years of Beer & Loathing, NABC’s Bank Street Brewhouse will be closed on Sunday, July 22, although the Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar will be operating at the Riverfront Amphitheater from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (see below). Following in alphabetical order are details about what to expect.

Beer
NABC’s draft truck (Rosa L. Stumblebus) will be on hand with old favorites and special releases. We’ll be pouring all four of NABC’s 10th brewery anniversary beers: Bourbondaddy, Stumblebus, Turbo Hog and Scotch de Ainslie. There’ll also be a special 10th anniversary session ale called Get Off My Lawn. In addition, limited quantities of cask-conditioned Naughty Girl (double dry-hopped) and Oaked Choufftimus will be served while they last.

Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar
A Bank Street Brewhouse staple at Sunday brunch, the bar will move to the waterfront, with Miss Sarah on hand to guide visitors through garnishes, sauces and fresh embellishments.

Charitable donations
Net monies after expenses will be used for grants to be given to Rauch Inc, the Isabel Jade Pickhardt Fund and NA1st. Our longtime friends at Rauch support people with disabilities through services designed to promote individual choices, growth and well being, while encouraging a community environment that acknowledges the value and contribution of all people. They’ll be helping NABC with the children’s area and site clean-up. The Isabel Jade Pickhardt Fund was set up to assist the daughter of the late Ryan Pickhardt, a local musician and keyboard player for the band Sativo Gumbo, with whom NABC has longstanding ties. NA1st is New Albany’s only grassroots independent business alliance, seeking to support and promote independent business owners and to educate community members about the importance of buying locally. On the 22nd, volunteers from NA1st will assist NABC in monitoring entrances and exits, and policing the grounds.

Children’s Area Activities
A duck pond, face painting, temporary tattoos, an art area and perhaps other activities will be available for the kids.

Food
Feast BBQ (116 W Main St) is roasting a pig, and will be offering these items: Pork sliders with pickles and onions; pork tacos with cilantro, lime, cotija, and crema; and smoked corn on the cob … Shawn, TJ and Charlestown Pizza Company will be preparing chicken salad croissants, Asian slaw, pasta salad, fruit cups and other fare … NABC is brewing root beer for the event, and of course there’ll be water and soft drinks.

Music schedule

10:00 a.m.: (house music)
12 Noon: Roz Tate
1:00 p.m.: Ben Traughber
2:00 p.m.: Five Foot Fish
3:00 p.m.: Beeler Attic
4:00 p.m.: Jed and the NoiseMakers
5:00 p.m.: Porch Possums
6:00 p.m.: Dust Radio
7:00 p.m.: Whiskey Riders
8:00 p.m.: Toledo Bend

Wine
River City Winery will be on hand to sell wines and Sangria.

We hope you’ll be able to stop by and help us remember what we remember.

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