THE BEER BEAT: Read about my “Beer Night” at Mesa next Wednesday (August 23) with Chef Ruben Freibert’s appetizers.


And they say it’s just a stage in life
But I know by now the problem is a stage
And they say just take your time and it’ll go away
But I know by now I’m never gonna change
— Daily Records, by The Who

As most readers know, I stepped away from NABC in 2015 after 25 years of full frontal immersion in beer.

(Know that the deal hasn’t yet closed, and as of this precise moment, I retain 1/3 ownership of both entities. However, we seem to be drawing closer to a settlement.)

While awaiting the outcome, I’ve been hovering around the periphery of the beer world, looking for loopholes and sniffing both hops and opportunities. The thing that impresses me most are the opportunities right here in New Albany, within easy walking distance of my house.

Consider Mesa: A Collaborative Kitchen, which opened earlier this year in a former retail space called — well, it doesn’t matter what it was called before, because you wouldn’t recognize it now.

MESA is a state-of-the-art collaborative kitchen-classroom, featuring demonstrations by Southern Indiana’s and Louisville established and aspiring chefs. The collaborative space offers cooking classes and demonstration and also houses a bookstore, to-go cooking dinners, and kitchen essential boutique. With the emerging and dynamic restaurant scene, MESA will become the culinary hub for Kentuckiana’s highly talented chef population to come and share their love for food with the public and each other.

I’ve mentioned Mesa two times previously in this space (soft opening media night and Chef Peng Looi), both of which were a kick. From the start, Mesa’s owners Bobby and Ysha Bass have been eager to offer a broad range of events, and in this vein, Mesa is offering …

Beer Night with Roger Baylor (that’s me) and Appetizers with Chef Ruben Freibert

 … on Wednesday, August 23.

First, meet Ruben. He’s from the “Seeds and Greens” Freiberts and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. Currently Ruben is employed at River House Restaurant and Raw Bar in Louisville, and had I known he was a sushi instructor … maybe next time. If you’ve ever accompanied a spicy roll with IPA, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Ruben’s appetizers will be paired with the middle two beers from this list. Big thanks go to Dauntless Distributing and Starlight Distribution for making these beers happen.

De la Senne Taras Boulba … 4.5% abv
“Taras Boulba” refers to a story by the 19th-century Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, but the brewery is located in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, and named for the Senne (or Zenne) River. The alcohol content is session-strength, and the hopping firm, not unlike a Saison (farmhouse ale). The drier palate aptly functions as an aperitif, stimulating the appetite.

First course (with Ruben’s appetizer)
Mönchshof Kellerbier … 5.4% abv
Kellerbier (“cellar” beer) typically is an unfiltered lager, as with this textbook example from the Bavarian city of Kulmbach. It is amber in hue and malt-forward, with just enough noble hop character for balance without yielding an overly bitter palate. Kellerbier is among the quintessential beer styles consumed as accompaniment to German cuisine.

Second course (with Ruben’s appetizer)
Evil Twin Falco IPA … 7% abv
India Pale Ale (IPA) originated in England 150 years ago as a strong, well-hopped tipple, and since has been adapted and enhanced by craft brewers the world over. For most of its existence, Evil Twin has been a “gypsy,” brewing small batches at existing breweries, but the company’s Danish owner now is building a permanent brewery in New York City. The Falco refers to Falconer’s Flight, a blend of hops from the Pacific Northwest that contribute tropical, citrus, floral, lemon and grapefruit notes.

Dessert/Parting Glass:
Big Bunny … 9% abv
Two American breweries (Stillwater Artisanal and Arizona Wilderness) collaborated on this “Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout.” It is an amalgam of tasty styles, with “imperial” indicating heightened alcoholic heft; brownish-black and creamy, using dark and roasted malts that convey flavors of chocolate and espresso.

Most of you know the drill. There’ll be 2-3 ounce samples, accompanied by my comments and polemics, and your questions. Chef Ruben will tell us about his appetizers, his work and himself.

The time frame is 6:30 – 7:45, a compact one hour and 15 minutes, which means that I have some editing and remixing to do, but the idea remains that this is a tasting, leaving participants free to have a meal afterward if desired at one of downtown New Albany’s eateries.

Tickets are $30 in advance, available here.

For me, this tasting feels like my first solo gig after leaving the band, and as such, it’s potentially liberating. NABC tastings eventually became necessarily restricted to our own beers, rather than the world’s, and while NABC’s house beers were good, it’s nice to contemplate events ranging a bit farther afield. If this one goes well, hopefully there’ll be more.

Them there’s the pub project in development; more on that in a separate posting.