For those who are not yet aware, the arrival of house-brewed beers at Rich
O's Public House and Sportstime Pizza signals the departure of American
mass-market lagers and low-calorie "light" beers from Sportstime, and the
completion of a crusade that began almost a decade ago.
There isn't a beer snob among us who hasn't experienced the dissonance that
arises spontaneously when a brewpub patron is spotted drinking Budweiser or
Miller Lite, usually straight from the bottle, while all around people are
enjoying craft beers.
While it is lamentable that so many beer drinkers routinely settle for the
lowest common denominator and choose to define themselves by reference to a
mass-market product, and a generic one at that, it isn't only a case of
people consciously or unconsciously bowing to the incessant and pervasive
nature of modern mass marketing. It must be remembered that they are allowed
to do so by the management of the brewpub in question.
Explanations for this incongruity on the part of management are many and
seemingly varied, but quite frankly, most have at their foundation an
implicit admission of cowardice on the part of ownership, further implying a
lamentable unwillingness to trust the veracity of the beer being brewed on
By doing so, the establishment's reason for being is fundamentally
Speaking philosophically and conceptually, a bottle of Miller Lite is the
antithesis of a pint of house-brewed ale. The very existence of the
house-brewed ale, and by extension of the brewpub that produces it, is
predicated as a necessary reaction to the bottle of Miller Lite.
The bottle of Miller Lite symbolizes the mass-market "McWorld," in which the
individual is subordinated to the system. Conversely, the pint of
house-brewed ale celebrates the uniqueness to be found in every person and
the joy of the differences to be discerned in pre-industrial commodities.
At this juncture, there will be readers who are unable to fathom the
preceding. Some are irrevocably loyal to a certain brand, and no amount of
persuasion will budge them from the certainty that McBeer, and McBeer alone,
is the only beer in this huge and diverse world that can be allowed to touch
their lips. While most of us find comfort in the idea that human beings are
rational animals; others embrace irrationality as a non-negotiable article of
faith, and there is nothing that can be said, and no alternative to be
offered, that will alter their perceptions.
A far better argument on behalf of Miller Lite goes something like this: A
licensed establishment enters into business in order to make a profit, and
the light, mainstream beers are the biggest selling brands in the world.
Furthermore, if the establishment is a restaurant and not just a bar,
customers want to drink their favorite brands when they come in for their
I reiterate: What were these management people thinking when they made the
decision to become a brewpub? To brew one's own beer and serve it on the
premises is to stake out specific and specialized territory; one is proposing
to jump far past Miller Lite in the same manner as a steak house is a more
specific, specialized version of a hamburger joint. Besides, isn't it
possible (and in fact, usually always the case) that the on-premise brewhouse
can produce a mild, yellow-colored liquid for the flavor impaired?
I will concede that it takes patience and fortitude to navigate America's
insipid sea of swill, and I know that neither Rome nor the Lite Free Zone was
built in a day. Now that Sportstime Pizza and Rich O's Public House have
added a brewing arm, the time has come to take the next logical step and
provide New Albany with its first venue in which to enjoy the city's, the
country's and the world's finest beers without the taint of Anheuser-Busch
On January 1, 1994, American low-calorie "light" lagers were banned from Rich
O's Public House, and the prices of dubiously "full-flavored" mainstream
lagers (Budweiser prime among them) were raised. The advent of the Lite Free
Zone was momentous, but as most Rich O's patrons always grasped, it was a
"zone" only, a foothold from which to wage war against the prevailingly
"lightweight" mentality of Kentuckiana until such a time as it would be
possible to extend the "good beer" mandate to the remainder of the building.
Consequently, we pursued a pragmatic strategy at Sportstime Pizza and
continued to offer mainstream golden lagers and American low-calorie lagers.
At the same time, we used Rich O's Public House and its Lite Free Zone as the
rallying point for the revolution. The results of this gradualist approach
became increasingly evident as the millennium arrived: Steadily declining
sales of mainstream lagers and light beers at Sportstime Pizza accompanied by
concurrently increasing sales of good beer.
With the new brewery approved for operation and the first batches of beer
already brewed on premise, it's finally time to complete the process of
transformation at Sportstime Pizza, which in its original incarnation (circa
1988) was the leading draft Budweiser account in all Floyd County. Now it
will be the taproom and pizzeria fronting a brewpub dedicated to the
revolution of good beer over mass-market swill.
When current stocks of Budweiser, Bud Light and Miller Lite are depleted, no
more will be ordered. The New Albanian Brewing Company has brewed an
authentic English Mild, a dark-colored, light-bodied and lightly hopped ale,
to serve as the house "dark light" beer. For those customers demanding the
familiar golden hue, we will offer Spaten Premium Lager, certainly the
easiest drinking of German beers, at a reduced price of $3.25 a 20-oz. pint.
We have introduced Flying Dog Old Scratch Lager and Oaken Barrel Meridian
Street Lager in 12-oz. Bottles at $2.50, and lowered Samuel Adams Boston
Lager to $2.50. Lighter imports like Red Stripe and Warsteiner still are
available, albeit at regular prices.
To drinkers of light beer, I say this: Try to remember what it was like when
you were a baby (of course I do), and a quivering spoonful of Gerber's goo
was lovingly offered in the vicinity of your mouth. Sure, it tasted good. It
was easy going down, and it served the purpose - but c'mon, you knew even
then that it was a passing stage, because you really were thinking about
growing up someday and being big, and when you were big, you certainly
wouldn't have to eat Gerber's any longer; there'd be steak! Chicken! Lasagna!
Bacon! Even falafel (for the veggie crowd)!
It's the same with beer. Now it's time to grow up, to wean your
long-suffering palate from the spoon-fed swill, and to become an adult beer
drinker. Sugarcoating no longer is necessary: If you can't drink Spaten
Premium Lager, you have no business drinking beer, here or elsewhere. It's as
simple as that, and as a business, we'll sink or swim with that dictum in
mind. Thank you for your support.