BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: My Year in Beer, 2019.


This is me drinking Pilsner Urquell, which is always on tap at Pints&union. In 2019 it’s probably what I drank most often while haunting the pub.

Loving the world’s classic pilsner beer as much today as I did 35 or more years ago is an undisputed highlight of my year in beer. I believe the hash tag is #winning.

Following are nine other mile markers for 2019, some stateside and others abroad, united by being situational — of the moment, at a place, with good people, in a special time.

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Getting behind the bar at P&u and pouring 18 liters and 24 half-liters of Weihenstephaner Festbier in a little more than an hour as we celebrated Oktoberfest.

Visiting the Union brewery in Ljubljana, Slovenia. I walked past it in 1987, and 32 years later went inside. It engendered a strong sense of accomplishment.

Discovering the existence of an Italian beer brand called Theresianer Antica Birreria di Trieste 1766, and drinking the Vienna lager with pizza in Trieste. We see so few Vienna styles; it was quite good, and I toasted the late, lamented Michael “Beer Hunter” Jackson, who I’m sure would have approved.

Enjoying a perfect pint of Guinness, albeit in a plastic cup, at a pint-sized Irish pub called Spike Milligan’s by the Lake Erie shore in Dunkirk, New York on the 4th of July.

Having the great pleasure of dining on regional pork specialties at the Gostilna Pri Planincu (“Mountaineer’s Restaurant”) in Bled, Slovenia, and drinking Komunajzer Broz, and unfiltered draft lager named after Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavia’s longtime head of state.

Visiting Diana’s niece and family in July, which provided the opportunity for a field trip to Northampton’s (Massachusetts) namesake brewery and a pint of its wonderful Daniel Shays Best Bitter.

Being allowed by Food & Dining Magazine’s publisher John Carlos White to write about myself and the idea behind the “retro” beer program at Pints&union.

Resuming diplomatic relations in April with L.C. Nadorff & Son, wholesaler of AB-InBev brands in Floyd County, but also a family-owned business in New Albany for 148 years, including a lengthy period prior to Prohibition as an active brewery. While it’s probably impossible for an AB-InBev wholesaler to be a true underdog, local family ownership qualifies Nadorff as a dying breed in corporate franchise-happy America, and it’s scrambling like all the rest of us to find a place in the crazy patchwork quilt of the Post-Craft Beer Era.

My year in beer wouldn’t be complete without the bittersweet reality of NABC’s Bank Street Brewhouse closing in May. I drank hundreds of gallons of beer in that building prior to my departure from the company I helped found, and have the pleasure of knowing we left this little corner of New Albany better off than we found it.

Here’s what I’ve been drinking while compiling this list: Schlenkerla Eiche (oak-smoked) Doppelbock from Brauerei Heller-Trum in beautiful Bamberg, Germany.

Helluva way to get my 2020 year in beer off, up, and rolling.