HopCat is a beer bar like the Rolling Stones are a rock band and LeBron James is a basketball player. Simple descriptions don’t always tell the whole story.
In fact, HopCat is a craft beer conundrum. It’s a growing Midwestern company boasting 12 regional locations, with more to come, and yet each one generally has more locally brewed beers on tap than nearby “indie” craft beer bars.
Uniquely tailored to their chosen neighborhoods, HopCat locations consciously seek to be as much a part of their community as the mom-and-pop joint right down the street.
HopCat garners national praise, but it soft-pedals superlatives, modestly describing itself as “a home for craft beer lovers,” as well as promoting recycling and sustainability, engaging with local breweries and beer geeks, and serving food “like mom would make if she loved craft beer.” That is, if your mom had room for an eye-popping 132 draft beers, which is HopCat’s signature.
Continue reading HopCat is the Craft Beer Lover’s Meow
You’ll hear one sort of pitch at a sales meeting, and see another thrown during a baseball game, but brewer’s pitch is completely different. Brewer’s pitch is a resinous substance used to line wooden barrels so liquid doesn’t come into contact with the wood. That’s because exposure to a wooden barrel affects the flavor of its contents, and generally over the centuries, brewers have preferred their wooden vessels to be neutral. Brewer’s pitch remains a handy means to this end, and anyway, stainless steel long ago supplanted wood for beer’s storage and serving. Continue reading Hip Hops— Bourbon-barrel-aged Imperial Stouts
It is a deceptively simple notion to modify the flavor of beer by aging it in Bourbon barrels. Just as char and time transform simpler corn-based spirits into a sipper’s elixir, so a barrel’s second use with beer can create a characterful hybrid, balancing the chosen base beer with notes of vanilla and spices.
This principle holds true when using barrels previously filled with other liquors or wine, and to a more subtle extent, by exposing beer to various types of wood (most often oak) through chips or spirals. Continue reading HIP HOPS— Goodwood Brewing Co.
In 1906, thirsty residents of New Albany had the choice of three local breweries to visit when it came time to refill pails gone dry.
Paul Reising’s plant was the granddaddy of them all, taking up a whole West End city block, where Bavarian-style beers had been brewed on-site since just after the Civil War. Continue reading HIP HOPS: A look at two new New Albany Breweries
Originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of Food & Dining Magazine.
When Food & Dining Magazine published its inaugural edition in 2003, there hadn’t yet been an American Craft Beer Week. It came along three years later. Continue reading Who are you going to believe, me or your own two eyes?
[Originally published in the F&D Fall 2015 issue]
Märzen, known as Oktoberfest in its autumnal guise, is an Old World style of lager beer originating in the German state of Bavaria.
Talk is cheap, so let’s have a sip — strictly for research purposes.
This Märzen is orange-tinged amber, with a rich, Continue reading Hip Hops — Gordon Biersch: Still Leading with Lager
It remains a golden age for craft beer in America, but while artisanal brewing continues to grow and prosper on Kentucky soil, another satisfying libation retains the bulk of bragging rights in the Commonwealth.
It’s Bourbon, and Bourbon is ascendant.
With considerable justification, Kentuckians view their native spirit not merely as intoxicating, but as representative of a local art form belonging uniquely to them. Strictly speaking, Bourbon is a process and not an appellation, and can be produced anywhere in America. However, don’t expect a Kentuckian to accept this fact without an argument. Continue reading Crescent Hill Craft House
In 1976, the birth of New Albion Brewing Company in California presaged a revolution in beer. Four decades later, under the nom de plume of “craft beer,” the revolution seems permanently embedded in American culture, although the attendant hysteria about its growth may be obscuring a fundamental question: What is craft beer, anyway?
When it comes to epistemology, former President Bill Clinton is my choice for getting to the heart of the matter: It depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is. Keeping Clinton’s Theorem in mind, let’s take a quick look back at Craft Beer Nation’s year in 2014, as viewed by the numbers. Continue reading Craft Beer: Where it has been, and where it is going
“Anyone who has groped among the dark beer dungeons which lie for a number of deep streets under Phoenix Hill, would scarcely imagine while in those dark, chilly caves, that far above him the place would grow into such an efflorescence of beauty, fashion and brightness.”
From 1865 until 1919, Phoenix Hill Park was Louisville’s foremost beer garden, except that beer and sausages weren’t the only attractions. The park was a multi-tasking entertainment Mecca (or Munich), boasting a bandstand, bowling alley, dance hall, skating rink and velodrome, and even the fabled Hofbrauhaus itself never managed so many thirst-inducing brand extensions atop its lagering cellars. For a half century prior to the advent of Prohibition, Louisville was a town of brewing renown, and beer kept pace with bourbon in the popular imagination. It’s true that Prohibition smashed the tablets, but even without the villainy of legislated abstention, beer’s place in local culture would have changed with passing years, as norms brought to the area by German immigrants became exposed to the diffusion of the American melting pot. Continue reading Hip Hops: Louisville Beer Then and Now