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
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