December 21, 2007

Mug Shots: The Year in Beer

    During my most recent Year in Beer, there were things I didn’t do.    I forgot to try Miller Chill, neglected to spend money at any plasticized “chain” pub, eschewed watching the mountains turn blue on a Coors Light can and did not set foot inside Wal-Mart.    Idiocy avoided and purity intact, I had a wonderful year with beer around here.    Top 5 Style Components: Black (oily, roasted, bitter-chocolate-tinged Imperial Stouts); Sour (infected with noble intent, tart, renewing of palate); Archaic (funk, spontaneously fermented Belgian lambics are history in bottles); Smoked (carnivorous smoked amber lager screams out for pork dishes, Bavarian-style); and Bitter (“extreme” craft beers notwithstanding, you simply can’t cram enough hops into an American double IPA).      Top Beer Dinners and/or Food Pairings: Extreme Belgian at the late, lamented Bistro New Albany, and Culinary Costume of American Artisan Ales, a catered event at NABC’s Prost banquet room. Other memorable themed evenings were enjoyed at Caffe Classico, Stratto’s, L&N Bistro and Wine Bar, and Connor’s Place.    Local Brewery of the Year: Browning’s. Brewer Brian Reymiller’s She-Devil IPA and Bourbon Barrel Stout have Metro Louisville beer geeks gossiping. But remember this: All five of Louisville’s breweries are top-rate.      American Brewery of the Year: Jolly Pumpkin (Dexter, Mich.) — Belgo-French styles, sour and wood-aged, with Hawaiian label imagery, and not a pumpkin in sight. What’s not to love?    Best Beer Festival: Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, Wis. It’s a consumer- and brewer-friendly one-day bacchanalia held in the progressive capital city of a blue state. Sir, I’ll have another.    In Memoriam: The world of beer lost its greatest writer and foremost advocate when British journalist Michael Jackson passed away in August. Raise a glass to his memory; truly, he was the father of us all.Roger Baylor is co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany. Visit www.potablecurmudgeon.com for more beer.