THE BEER BEAT: Saying goodbye to 2017 with an assortment of links.


In the leadoff slot today, December 30, is this reminder to Hoosiers from Amy Haneline of the Indy Star:

Liquor stores will be closed on New Year’s Eve, because Indiana.

You know what to do, and when to do it.

Looking ahead, the fifth anniversary presentation of Tailspin Ale Fest 2018 on February 17 draws ever nearer. We’ll be in Portugal, crawling from one port lodge to the next in Vila Nova de Gaia (be still, my throbbing heart), but if you’ll be around for Tailspin and want to attend, it’s time to start planning.

I’m guessing that NABC’s Gravity Head will follow on Friday, February 23, but as Liam Gallagher once sang, it’s nothing to do with me.

It may surprise you to learn that as 2018 dawns, I remain a one-third shareholder in the NABC businesses, albeit excluded from participation them since 2015 (welcome to my daily existence of “all risk, no reward”) — none of this being my exact idea when I decided to divorce — although recently my lawyer has been informed by their lawyer that the long-awaited financial settlement might be concluded by February.

If so, I might even drop by for Gravity Head this year and bask in the warmth of an institution I created.

Life goes on, and businesses come and go; goodbye, BBC St. Matthews. With the death of Steinert’s a few years back, my guess is that Vic’s Cafe is the oldest licensee in New Albany, even if the tavern isn’t located in its original building.

Am I right?

Paul Revere drank here: A quest to find Boston’s oldest tavern, by Brian MacQuarrie (Boston Globe)

Boston has been a drinking town through nearly 400 years of Puritan brewers, ale-quaffing patriots, drunken sailors, and picky millennials in search of the latest craft beer infused with grapefruit.

But in a city meticulous about its past, finding the oldest tavern can be a Byzantine quest. Prepare to burrow past dubious marketing pitches bolstered by obligatory knockoffs of Paul Revere portraits hung under rough-hewn beams and low, dark ceilings.

It’s enough to make the curious reach for a pint, and then another, to bring order — or not — to the competing claims and counterclaims of three popular finalists for the bragging rights …

Assuming Pints&Union opens this year (cross your fingers), the establishment will for a time be the newest pub in New Albany. Because each swing of the pendulum leaves a segment of the market undervalued, our plan is to turn back the clock to the notion of daily excellence, and maintain a small, largely fixed selection of very good draft beers.

There will be very good bottles and cans, as well; my original thought was to have a few of the quality imports in bottles, the American craft selection in cans, and for these to be from breweries I’d personally visited, whether here or abroad.

However, this article is so thought provoking that the plan might be modified.


… Consumer perception aside, another reason cans have yet to catch on throughout Europe is that most countries there have strong returnable bottle markets, wherein consumers can return glass bottles for a deposit.

While slow to move in their native countries, breweries have begun exporting canned offerings to the States, where there’s no such stigma against putting a premium product in cans. And though cans are en vogue across America, breweries across Europe are not always going lightly into the package.

It’s been so long since this article was written (in March) that a whole new trend probably has supplanted NEIPA — perhaps sour IPA, which I was reading about recently.

However, for the record …

The beer world’s next big trend? Look out for NEIPAs, also known as hazy IPAs, by John Verive (LA Times)

IPA is the undisputed king of the craft beer world. The aromatic, often intensely bitter style stands in sharp relief to the bland brews that defined American beer for decades. And the ever-increasing demand for IPA drives the growing craft brewing industry. It’s a style that’s evolved along with beer drinkers’ tastes, and the latest evolution shows off the softer, less bitter side of IPA.

An East Coast import, and alternately dubbed the “North Eastern IPA” or “New England IPA” (NEIPA in either case) this new breed of IPA is all about showing off fruity hop flavors without the bitter hop bite. As brewers have developed new techniques for squeezing more hops into a beer, they’ve also discovered that many common brewing processes strip out some hop character. While not all craft beers are filtered, most are clarified to some degree to remove particles and increase the brew’s clarity. Not NEIPAs — they range from opaque to downright sludgy as a complex soup of proteins, suspended yeast and hop compounds form the haze that defines the style. Which, alongside the vibrant fruit flavors from modern hop varieties and a higher perceived sweetness led to another nickname: the juicy IPA.

You may have missed this essay from October, which briefly inspired much debate. The discussion might have been even more entertaining had the author actually talked about the elephant and named some names. He didn’t, and while he has a valid point, I find the argumentation muddled.

No more free passes: Not every new craft brewery is good and we need to admit it, by Jonathan Wells (Charlotte Five)

We need to talk about an elephant in the room: newly-opened craft breweries putting out subpar beer.

Finally, in 2017 there were 124 posts at NAC tagged with THE BEER BEAT, and the two with the most page views were “The Bechdel Test, and what 1980s lesbians can teach us about beer” (with 636) and “It’s a cornucopia of ephemera, from Quaff On to Lazlo Toth” (1,021).

I have only one beer resolution for 2018: End the self-imposed exile, and get back in the saddle.

Wish me luck, and thanks for reading.