The Symposium: The New Albanian Brewing Company

Craft Writing: A One Day Symposium at The University of Kentucky Showcasing Writing in Craft Beer, has teamed up with TheBrewerMagazine.com. Leading up to the event on February 15th, featuring Stan Hieronymus, Julie Johnson, Teri Fahrendorf, Roger Baylor, Jeremy Cowan, Mitch Steele and Garret Oliver, TheBrewerMagazine.com will release profiles concerning each of the individuals and what they bring to the table. Please register for this great event at http://craftwriting.as.uky.edu

Roger Baylor (right). Courtesy of The New Albanian Brewing Company

Roger Baylor (right). Courtesy of The New Albanian Brewing Company

Roger Baylor didn’t discover craft brewing and immediately begin homebrewing or open up his first small brewery. Instead, he found himself purchasing a pizza parlor in New Albany, Ind., a small city on the Ohio River, and studying the vast assortment of beers from around the world.

In 1992 Baylor and his then wife/business partner turned the pizza parlor into more of a beer bar bringing in an assortment of craft beers from around the U.S. “There wasn’t a lot of that around at that point, especially in New Albany,” said Baylor. “In about 2002 the brewery started. We had a pizza parlor, a beer bar and then a brewery tacked on. That was 11 years ago and now we are the 14th oldest brewery in Indiana, which has had a lot of breweries start up in just the past few years.”

In 2009 The New Albanian Brewing Company opened its second location in the heart of downtown New Albany. “We wanted to make it different from the original,” said Baylor. “In that one we have a kitchen with bistro cuisine, we have more production now and two front-house locations.”

From a larger perspective, Baylor translates his love of beer to doing a lot of traveling, especially in Europe, and becoming involved in “FOSSILS” the homebrewing club in New Albany, although the homebrewing addiction didn’t quite grab him like it does many others. “I brewed a few batches, but it was never an obsession with me,” explained Baylor. “What interested me was the overall proponent of beer appreciation. Tying that into what I like to anyway, which is write, I sort of became the general secretary of [the club], but never extremely into the brewing. If I could drink it and write about it, I was fine.”

Courtesy of The New Albanian Brewing Company

Courtesy of The New Albanian Brewing Company

Baylor has combined his love of writing and beer, both through FOSSILS and a monthly blog, “The Potable Curmudgeon,” which he writes for LouisvilleBeer.com, a beer blog devoted to the growth of craft beer in the Louisville, Ky. area, across a bridge from New Albany.

“By the middle 90s we have a local brewery in Louisville, ‘Bluegrass Brewing Company (BBC),’ what began to interest me was how we were bringing this back in America,” said Baylor. “We aren’t brining it back where it left off before prohibition, all these new breweries aren’t making German beers for the most part, because they were trying new things. And once you begin to get that local experience, having someone like David Pierce over at Bluegrass Brewing Company, in 1995 or 1996, making some new more American influenced, then it really starts to sink in.

“It never made sense to me, if we wanted to have a brewery, and we were going to have a brewery, which is the ultimate, not just emulating someone else, but creating your own thing, not just emulating someone else, reselling someone else’s product.”

Baylor spent time trying to discover what those twists and turns would be that would allow him to create a unique beer. With Louisville developing its own beer culture, Baylor saw the opportunity and received the insight into what classified new beers.

However, even for Baylor, he continues to pontificate on what the true American beer flavor is. “At one point we all probably would have said the American Pale Ale, with a company like Sierra Nevada, and I still sort of believe that,” he said. “It’s something that’s very different, a revolutionary step. Now, this notion of the double IPA is among us and it’s really sort of really out of wack with the history of brewing. Brewing is known for its subtleties, and a lot of people alive in the world with that amount of hops in it, is something [Americans] developed ourselves I believe. That’s the obsession that this can engender.”

Courtesy of The New Albanian Brewing Company

Courtesy of The New Albanian Brewing Company

As The Albanian Brewing Company grew and developed, Baylor found himself expressing his knowledge in the form of writing once again. The Potable Curmudgeon touches on new ideas Baylor sees in brewing, the growing beer culture and his love of propaganda. You can find everything from his travels around the world to his experiences living in southern Indiana.

In February Baylor will bring his Potable Curmudgeon to a live audience that the symposium at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. You can register to hear Baylor and many others speak by going to http://craftwriting.as.uky.edu.

Beer photo courtesy: dmonroe@killgorack.com

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