The Story of Naughty Claus.

By Roger A. Baylor

As Chico Marx once presciently observed, there ain’t no sanity clause, and that’s why restricting one’s choices to either naughty or nice in the sense of holiday largesse is to commit the fallacy of the excluded middle.

In our view, chimneys and voyeurism go together much like Chico’s great uncle Karl and Charles Dickens, author of “A Christmas Carol,” because what is this most materialist of capitalist shopping seasons if not the pretext for a much overdue dialectic?

And then there is the man of the hour himself, Mr. Claus, and he needs his daze off, too, just like the rest of us. NABC’s annual ale in his honor debuted in 2006, and since 2011, the recipe has held fast, as formulated by our director of brewing operations, David Pierce, whose first batch of Christmas ale at the Silo brewpub in 1992 predates the birth of today’s Naughty Claus drinkers of a certain, youthful legal age.

Naughty Claus is NABC’s signature Fall/Winter seasonal release, available on draft and in 22-oz bombers from NABC’s wholesalers in Indiana and metropolitan Louisville. It also can be enjoyed in all forms at NABC’s two New Albanian locations beginning on Wednesday, November 26.

Naughty Claus

X-mas Spiced Ale

ABV: 8%

IBU: 12

Color: Orange to amber/brown.

Flavor: Medium- to full-bodied. Malty/fruity backdrop, classic Christmas spiced character (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel).

Compare to: Great Lakes Christmas Ale, Old Fezziwig.

Description: Quintessential X-mas. Malts include Rahr pale, Castle aromatic and Crisp medium crystal, with Hosey autumn gold and midsummer day honeys. Hops are German Hallertauer Magnum. Sweet and bitter orange peel, fresh ground ginger, Vietnamese cinnamon and West Indies nutmeg are the spices (with dry-gingering in the Brite tanks). NABC’s house Chouffe yeast completes the scene. 

Recipe suggestion: Seeing as Naughty Claus shadows the Wassail bowl, it isn’t an easy call, but since turkey and ham with all the trimmings are common Christmas meals, why not start there?

Updated November 2014

Naughty Claus

The Story of ThunderFoot … now with requisite statistical overviews

The ThunderFoot release is Saturday, November 1. Details about the release and Halloween Hangover are here, but first, let’s consider the ThunderFoot story.


The Story of ThunderFoot.

By Roger A. Baylor

Honestly, I remember very little about it. Perhaps that’s the whole point.


Oak Aged Cherry Imperial Stout

ABV: 12%

IBU: 77

Color: Black.

Flavor: Full-bodied.

Compare to: Stone, Founders and many other commercially-brewed Imperial Stouts.

Brewery Notes: Malts used in ThunderFoot are Pale, Chocolate, Roast, Special B, CaraMunich and Flaked Oats (also, sucrose is added). Hops are US Galena and Styrian Celeia. ThunderFoot is aged on medium toast American oak with mass quantities of Bing and Tart cherries, and fermented with NABC’s house yeast (OG 25 degrees Plato).

Description: There can be no doubt. ThunderFoot actively renounces the gentle tweak, the mild revision, and the imperceptible hint. ThunderFoot neither seeks to make a plausible case for adaptive reuse, nor can it be bothered with the nuances of historical preservation. ThunderFoot puts its elongated foot squarely down, advocating your palate’s restructuring the old-fashioned way – whole cloth, entire, complete, irresistible, certain and inevitable.

History & Release: ThunderFoot was first brewed in 2005 at the Research & Development Brewery by Jesse Williams and Jared Williamson. The most recent batch was brewed at Bank Street Brewhouse, and is being released in November 2014 in kegs and 22-oz bombers, all of which have been pre-sold to NABC’s wholesalers in Indiana and metropolitan Louisville. ThunderFoot will appear periodically at NABC’s two New Albanian locations.

Recipe suggestion: Borrow a page from the Port wine playbook: Cheese, nuts, and maybe a smear of chutney on the side. Or maybe Nutella and bacon.

Updated October 2014


The Story of Black & Blue Grass

What is bluegrass, anyway? It can mean different things to different people.

The late, great Bill Monroe once offered his definition of bluegrass music, for which he did so much to foster worldwide appreciation:

“Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin’. It’s Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It’s blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound.”

At the same time, the historical record shows that Poa pratensis predated “Precious Memories.” In other words, the actual grass came first, but interestingly, according to Richard L. Duble of the Texas Cooperative Extension, Kentucky bluegrass was not born in the Bluegrass State, even if the music later evolved there.

“Kentucky bluegrass is native to practically all of Europe, northern Asia and the mountains of Algeria and Morocco. Although the species is spread over all of the cool, humid parts of the U.S., it is not native to North America. Apparently the early colonists brought seed of Kentucky bluegrass to this country in mixtures with other grasses.”

So, whether the topic is ground cover or ear candy, the consensus is that “bluegrass” is an adaptive concept, deriving from more than one source, and reflecting the authenticity of America’s traditional melting pot.

NABC’s Black & Blue Grass follows this model. We brew Black & Blue Grass in Indiana, just a few miles away from one of our favorite Kentucky breweries, Bluegrass Brewing Company in Louisville, but the inspiration and raw materials come from many locales outside our own immediate neighborhood.

The ingredient list for Black & Blue Grass includes North American barley malt, wheat, German hops and Wallonian yeast. Blue agave nectar from south of the border is used as a fermentable sugar, and black pepper and lemongrass (as opposed to blue) are added for spicing.

We refer to the finished package as a Belgian-style spiced ale, and it’s a great bet alongside any food you have on the table, or just by itself. It also has a way with music of all sorts, from Union Station to Interstellar Space.

Black & Blue Grass is available year round on draft and in 22-oz bombers from NABC’s wholesalers in Indiana and metropolitan Louisville. It also can be enjoyed in all forms at NABC’s two New Albanian locations.

Black & Blue Grass

Spiced Belgian Ale

ABV: 6.5%

IBU: 18

Color: Orange-brown.

Flavor: Medium-bodied, fruity and spicy.

Compare to: Quite unique, but Belgian-style Saison ales are close.

Description: An homage to the eclectic, independent, can-do roots of food, drink and music. It is brewed with black pepper, blue agave nectar and lemongrass, hence the name.

Recipe suggestion: Black & Blue Grass stridently and effectively pleads the cause of locally-based internationalism: Babaganoush, chicken enchiladas and Vietnamese-style clay pot catfish are among the flavorful ethnic foods we’ve paired with Black & Blue Grass.

Updated in May, 2014