24 Feb Gravity Head Opening Day – Pour By Pour, Chapter Two
So owner Kate Lewison of New Albanian Brewing stopped by my end of the bar to say hi. I’ll see her sister, Amy Baylor, later. She’s working the gift shop for the day.
10:00 am – Kate wants to know how many people from Indiana are coming down for Gravity Head Opening Day or might be here. Comment or tell Indiana On Tap’s Facebook page if you plan on driving down today.
10:10 am – Corey from New Albanian has been pouring beers non-stop, but he still took some time to break out a bottle from his personal stash and share it. It’s the Sour In The Rye, and it’s great.
10:15 am – The seats next to me have been filled with a couple of new guys, not new to beer, just new to the seats. John is from Louisville, while Julius is the Sun King rep for Louisville. John was the director for the KY brewer’s Guild and put it on a paying basis back in 2016.
10:15 am – There have been folks in party hats around for a while now. I’ll have to see if they are actually a party of some sort, or just feeling in a party mood and dressing to show it.
10:25 am – Someone just arrived. A whole lotta whoops, some applause, many hellos. I have no idea who it is, but he seems to know everyone and they all seem to know him. I shall investigate.
10:30 am – There seems to be a mid-morning lull. And by lull I mean that I can hear myself talk and there are a couple of spots on a couch that aren’t taken.
10:55 am – So I’m finishing the edit on a piece for Evil Czech Brewery which talks about their Stalin’s Darkside RIS release on March 3rd. I’m writing about what a despot Stalin was and how they release this beer each year on the anniversary of his death to celebrate the fact that he’s still dead. I look across the brewpub and in an alcove there is a bigger than life painting of a guy I swear is Vladimir Lenin. I start to second guess myself, but on the adjacent wall is a picture of Mae Tse Tung, so I’m going with my first impression. That’s just weird.
11:05 am – Now I’m drinking the 2012 Bigfoot Barley wine from Sierra Nevada. American barley wines just don’t age like English barley wines. The Americans don’t go to pot, it’s just that I keep thinking they will blossom like the English ones do and I end up disappointed.
11:15 am – I got to meet Eric, my contact from New Albanian Brewing. Nice guy, willing to talk during this busy time. He tells me that Gravity Head started off as a very small event, and has turned in to a monster. He has people he calls “Gravity Head regulars,” he might see them only once or twice a year, but come time for Gravity Head, they are here on Friday, Saturday, for the Founders feature weekend and more…… and then he won’t see them for a good long time. This is a festival like no other, and it instills intense loyalty.
11:25 am – Kate is pouring beer, talking up patrons, taking crap from the beer slingers…just another day at New Albanian.
11:40 am – A couple of couch seats are available and Julius and John had to go, so space has opened up at the bar next to me. Come on over if you’re considering it and happen to have an absentee boss. Who knows, maybe he/she is already here.
12:00 pm – I ordered the T.O.R.I.S from Hoppin’ Frog, a triple oatmeal imperial stout. It seems that most of the BORIS series have that licorice/anise sort of note, but this is tempered a bit by the oatmeal and bigger mouthfeel. Nice beer.
Several people have been ordering T.O.R.I.S and talking about the body and flavors, but one guy behind me only wants to talk about how much he loves Moosehead and how he doesn’t have to worry about skunking because they sell so much of it where he shops. To each his own.
12:10 pm – I count four tables playing cards over the lunch hour. These people are in it for the long haul.
12:15 pm – the first shout across the bow. One guy wants to know who has the biggest (loudest) mouth in the place. My vote goes to him.
12:45 pm – retired teacher (42 years) Brenda and her husband Richard sat down next to me at the bar. She is a stout fan and just loved eight of the dark beers on tap at Sun King downtown when they visited in December. More interesting, a former elementary student of hers, Robbie Davis, is now the in house artist for Against The Grain Brewing. I guess it’s Robbie we have to blame for the Brown Note labels. You just never know who you’re going to meet at the bar, especially during Gravity Head.
1:05 pm – The tables are still busy and so are the bar rails, but now we have people standing outside on the front walkways. There as has been a good amount of turnover, but I’m certainly not the only person who has been here since 7:00 am.
1:25 pm – I may have to call it quits; I have things that I need to be doing which don’t involve beer or New Albany. But the conclusion I can draw from the first six and a half hours of Gravity Head is that these people love their big beers, can for the most part handle their big beers, and that the next three weeks or so in New Albany are going to be a lot of fun.
1:40 pm – Behind the bar, Eric tells me that several of the ¼ barrels are ready to blow for the T.O.R.I.S and the Expresso oaked-aged Yeti, while a couple of Stone beers will go on. Eric said that it might be a little more calm between now and 4:00, and then the place will be hopping until close. Sounds like a party.
By the way, I never did investigate either mystery during my time at New Albanian. They might have been interesting stories, but I guess we’ll just never know.