THE BEER BEAT: It’s a cornucopia of ephemera, from Quaff On to Lazlo Toth.


When Flat12’s taproom debuted in Jeffersonville in December of 2014, with the promise of brewing on site to follow (spoiler alert: it never did), I felt slightly vindicated.

It long had been my stance that for certain breweries of size and ambition in the central and northern sectors of Indiana, it would be a viable strategy to establish a toehold in the Louisville market by leveraging a few select advantages afforded taprooms in our state.

Part of me still wants to make a deal with someone like Daredevil — great beers, better people — and mimic the Flat12 setup right here in New Albany. In the absence of such, wouldn’t it be wonderful if bars and eateries on the “sunny side” would feature the wares of otherwise lesser known Indiana breweries? Think outside the revolving kaleidoscopic box and become a destination?

But I digress. 

What I didn’t anticipate in 2014 was (first) that Big Woods/Quaff On would be the next brewery to fulfill my prediction, or (second) that it would do so not on the Indiana side, but in the vacated Doc’s Cantina space in Louisville.

The Quaffers are good folks, too, and I wish them the best, assuming the waterfront deal goes through. If it doesn’t, maybe they can take over the former Bank Street Brewhouse facility, increasing the prospect of my miserly current/former business partners cutting a damned check without involving SCOTUS in the process.

For me, hops are added bitterness.

Could a brewery be coming to the Doc’s Cantina site on the waterfront?, by Sheldon S. Shafer (Courier-Journal)

A Hoosier restaurant group that owns a chain of breweries and restaurants across Southern Indiana is seriously weighing the reopening of the long-closed dining spot at Waterfront Park most recently operated as Doc’s Cantina.

Ed Ryan, the CEO of the Big Woods company that also produces Quaff On Brewing Company, said in an interview Thursday that “we are definitely interested” in the Waterfront Park site.

Ryan set the odds of having a waterfront restaurant in Louisville at 50-50 or better.

My Southern Indiana Sun King fantasy involves the leading Indianapolis brewery taking up residence amid the South Clarksville development project — centered in the old Colgate building, underneath the massive clock and looking out on the Louisville skyline, with a German-style beer garden and even salumi in the shade.

And yes, salumi is a real word.

Sun King Brewery Refreshes Tap Room with New Oca Restaurant, Dining Space and More Fresh Beer on Tap (Indiana On Tap)

Sun King Brewery, one of the leaders of the independent craft beer movement in Indiana, is excited to announce the opening of Oca in its refurbished Indianapolis Tap Room. Oca is a sausage-centric restaurant and cheese and salumi counter developed by Chris Eley, named one of America’s top 20 food artisans by Food & Wine and owner of Indianapolis’ Goose the Market and Smoking Goose.

The boy is dreaming a bit too much, so let’s take a look at Stan’s “best of” for 2017. I might do one of these, too.

Critic’s List: Stan Hieronymus’s Best of 2017 (Craft Beer & Brewing)

The prolific author of critically acclaimed beer books and noted hop expert, took a few minutes to reflect on the past year and the breweries, beers, trends, and more that stood out from his travels.

Favorite Beer Trend
Lager beers that taste of lager malt with lager fermentation character.

Least Favorite Beer Trend
Lager beers without lager malt or fermentation flavor.

Has the trend of megabrewery imperialism slowed in 2017? Perhaps. Here’s a handy guide to knowing where your money lands.

The Definitive Timeline Of Craft Beer Acquisitions (VinePair)

Who owns what is a hot topic in craft beer. Independence is such a hallmark of industry identity that the Brewers Association, the largest representative body for craft beer, recently created a seal to designate which breweries are and are not independently owned.

Buyouts from big breweries get the most attention, but sales amongst independent breweries are also endemic.

VinePair analyzed brewery sales and acquisitions to create the most comprehensive timeline of craft brewery acquisitions available today.

We define craft using the Brewers Association’s guidelines: The brewery produces 6 million barrels or less, is less than 25 percent owned or controlled by a large alcohol beverage company, and uses traditional brewing ingredients and methods.

In like fashion as captive zombie brewers becoming shelf-space drones, we always need to be aware that in the realm of “free” markets, golden moments usually are mere seconds away from usurpation at the behest of an entrenched economic interest.

Wines Are No Longer Free to Travel Across State Lines, by Eric Asimov (New York Times)

For a golden moment, motivated wine lovers could rely on high-speed internet as a sort of national wine shop. A consumer in Little Rock, Ark., for example, unable to find particular bottles locally, could order them from a shop in New York. It required only a willingness to pay shipping costs.

Those days are no more. In the last year or so, carriers like United Parcel Service and FedEx have told retailers that they will no longer accept out-of-state shipments of alcoholic beverages unless they are bound for one of 14 states (along with Washington, D.C.) that explicitly permit such interstate commerce …

 … (other) states — urged on by wine and spirits wholesalers who oppose any sort of interstate alcohol commerce that bypasses them — have stepped up enforcement efforts. Retailers say that the carriers began sending out letters to them a year ago saying they would no longer handle their shipments.

Where Buying Wine From Out of State Is Still Permitted
New Hampshire
New Mexico
North Dakota
Washington, D.C.
West Virginia

And, to depress you even further, a bourbon lover tells a story quite familiar to many “craft” beer lovers. From the first flush of young love …


Remember when you were a new bourbon consumer?

Ah, the good old days. You walked into a store, chatted with the liquor store owner and grabbed a bottle in the perfect price point for your wallet.

 … to the point when things get complicated.

And therein lies the final stage of bourbon geekdom: complaining.

We, bourbon fans, start out so enthusiastic, eager to learn and taste, always wanting to give back and make new friends. But eventually, we hit a breaking point, crushed by something (often marketing hype) and get settled into our own ways and what we like. I’m guilty of being a curmudgeon for little things like Wild Turkey changing its packaging. What was wrong with the old bottle?

Flavored whiskey, sourced whiskey, lawsuits, age statement dropping and unwarranted back stories are all reasons some people get irate toward distillers. But there was a time, as a new consumer, we just enjoyed the whiskey and didn’t involve ourselves in the whiskey drama.

Ignorance is bliss.

In closing, we desperately need humor. Here’s a loosely beer-related 1980s throwback courtesy of Don Novello.

Many old-timers will recall Novello in the role of his Saturday Night Live character, Father Guido Sarducci.

Fewer remember how Novello first came to be known as a writer and comedian.

In the 1970s, Novello started to write letters to famous people under the pen name of Lazlo Toth (after Laszlo Toth, a deranged man who vandalized Michelangelo’s Pietà in Rome). The letters, written to suggest a serious but misinformed and obtuse correspondent, were designed to tweak the noses of politicians and corporations. Many of them received serious responses; Novello sometimes continued the charade correspondence at length, with humorous results. The letters and responses were published in the books The Lazlo Letters, Citizen Lazlo!, and From Bush to Bush: The Lazlo Toth Letters.

The Lazlo Letters, Novello’s first book of stilted letters to celebrities, caught the attention of Lorne Michaels, producer of Saturday Night Live. Novello was hired as a writer for the show’s third season in 1977-1978 where he remained through the fifth season, and returned as a writer in the eleventh season. He also appeared numerous times on the show in the Father Guido Sarducci character.

George H.W. Bush had just been elected president when Novello/Toth wrote this letter. Note that misspellings were part of the shtick.

From: Lazlo Toth …… November, 1988
To: President, Anheiser – Bush Company

Dear Mr. President: 

I used to occasionally drink your BUDWEISER Brand, that’s how I know the name of your company, and all the fine products you make, light as well as Dark. I have a marketing idea that goes with your name since you have the same name as our new President, George Bush. Since he wants a “kinder, gentler nation”, I thought up the idea for you to sell a new beer, — BUSH BEER — A KINDER, GENTLER BEER. Maybe it should be BUSH LIGHT, I’ll leave that up to you, you’re the beer experts, I just come up with the ideas. I’ll settle for half a cent a bottle or can — or 2½ cents for a six pack (a half cent discount on my side) and I’ll donate half of what I make to President Bush to help pay off the deficit. I think it’s a great marketing gimmick to let people know that everytime they’re drinking a BUSH BEER they’re helping to pay off the nation’s deficit. And here’s another line I just came up with to show you I have more than one:

Don’t drink and drive —
Drink and pay off the deficit!
A kinder, gentler beer!
And take a cab.

I know it’s not much time, but it sure would be nice to have this stuff on the shelves by Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 1989. Don’t give me this “we can’t do it that fast” excuse, — we’ve got more than two months, plenty of time! Don’t forget, the advertising line is already done, we’ve just got to get the lawyers going with the contracts on your end. Should I fly there to sign the papers or do you just want to mail them to me? My social security number is available upon request, but I hope I’m not going to have to pay taxes on this.

Did MacDonough know the letter was bogus? Some of Novello’s victims got the joke, others not.

To: Lazlo Toth …… December 9, 1988
From: Jack MacDonough, VP, Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

Dear Mr. Toth: 

Thank you for contacting us regarding your idea. As you are probably aware, Anheuser-Busch retains the services of many creative sources. These sources provide us with many ideas and concepts. Some are used; some put on the shelf for future consideration; and there are many that are never used at all. In addition to these agency sources, Anheuser-Busch receives thousands of ideas from people like yourself each year. As I’m sure you can appreciate, the likelihood is very small that such an unsolicited idea would be accepted. In keeping with company policy, we cannot accept unsolicited ideas on a confidential basis. Before considering an idea submitted by an individual outside the company, we ask that person to sign one copy of the enclosed agreement, keep one for his or her records, and return a copy to the undersigned, along with a description of the concept/idea. Once this is done, the appropriate department will evaluate the proposal and determine our interest in it. Because each of the ideas we receive is given individual consideration, we anticipate that it will be approximately four to five weeks from the date we receive your release before we are able to reply to your proposal. Accordingly, we ask that you be patient during this period. 


Jack MacDonough

My favorite beer last week? It’s in the photo at the top of the page: Gordon Biersch’s Festbier, prior to Buckingham-McVie at The Louisville Palace.