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May 19, 2010

Mug Shots: Beer fests abound

It reminds me of my infuriated basketball coach from yesteryear who said, “No pain, no gain,” even as I plotted an escape from practice to sacred refuge with friends and a cooler of long, cool ones.

That’s because May is the time of year when my oversized feet and underachieving liver both start squealing in harmony. As the weather becomes warm and sunny, local and regional craft beer event calendars begin proliferating like proverbial rabbits.

With each passing year, we’re witnessing deepening recognition of craft beer’s proper place at local happenings that go beyond good beer itself and involve music, food, art, sports and like-minded pursuits. Put elements of them all together, and it makes for a genuine movement, perhaps a revolution.

The Brewers Association is the official trade group of American craft beer makers, and its nationwide American Craft Beer Week promotion (May 17-23) is the “Mother of All Beer Weeks.” Breweries across the country have scheduled tastings, fests, dinners, brew-ins and numerous other local happenings to recognize a burgeoning phenomenon. For more info, check individual local brewery websites and go here: www.americancraftbeerweek.org.

On Friday, May 21, the Ogle Center at Indiana University Southeast will hold a fundraiser called Bier Prost 2010. The event takes place at the Horseshoe Casino and involves food and beer pairing stations, with ethnic-themed foods served alongside microbrews and imports chosen to match. Visit oglecenter.ius.edu for details.

Also on the 21st is the Louisville Loves Mountains Festival, a Longest Avenue street party sponsored by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Heine Brothers and Carmichael’s Bookstore (see Staffpicks). The event is designed to “celebrate the unique natural beauty and ecological importance of Kentucky’s Appalachian mountains,” and there’ll be art, music, food and craft beer from BBC and NABC.

The fifth Ohio River Valley Folk Festival gets under way in pleasant, park-like surroundings along the north bank of the Ohio River in historic downtown Madison, Ind., on the 21st, running through Sunday, May 23. What makes the folk festival unique is a commitment to overtly linking the concept and context of “handcrafted” folk music to the raison d’etre of food and drink vendors on site. Madison-area wineries will be present, along with local purveyors of barbecue, burgers and schnitzel. As before, Upland Brewing Company (Bloomington, Ind.) and NABC will be selling beer. Check: www.ohiorivervalleyfolkfestival.com.

Back in Louisville, the Louisville Bats open an eight-game homestand on Saturday, May 22. During the team’s most recent slate of games, a visit to Louisville Slugger Field revealed expanded local craft draft options at the concession stand located at Section 115 on the main concourse, behind home plate.

On Sunday, May 23, the place to be is the Buy Local First Fair at the Louisville Water Tower (3500 River Road). Beer from all of Louisville’s craft breweries will be on hand, along with a mighty plethora of grassroots Louisville businesses, musicians, artists and craftsmen, coffee houses, chefs, community organizers and farmers, totaling more than 140 booths. (Again, check Staffpicks for more info.)

Boredom has been declared illegal on Saturday, June 5, when three regional events will be decanting craft beer and consciousness:

The fifth annual Keg Liquors Fest of Ale in Clarksville, Ind.: www.kegliquors.com.

RadFest at Upland in Bloomington, Ind.: www.uplandbeer.com/radfest.

Art on the Parish Green at St. Paul’s Church in midtown New Albany, Ind. (June 5 & 6): www.artontheparishgreen.com.

As you enjoy locally brewed craft beer at these fine events, don’t forget the patriotic imperatives of the Declaration of Beer Independence:

“The beer I drink furthers our culture and teaches us geography and helps to nurture a sense of community, and helps to make the world a better place, and I declare to practice the concept of ‘Informed Consumption,’ which has me deserving to know if my beer comes from a small and independent brewer or if it is owned by a mass production brewing company.”

 

Roger Baylor is co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany. Visit potablecurmudgeon.blogspot.com for more beer.