Each year at Thanksgiving, I give a listen to William DeVaughn’s 1974 hit “Be Thankful for What You Got,” and spend a few minutes contemplating the stodgy durability of my 2009 Ford Fusion.

Verily, I don’t drive a great big Cadillac, but I’m thankful for all the people and things that make life worthwhile, not excluding those truly memorable beers from past months.

From my personal perspective, 2023 was not the best year ever. Not even close. Friends and jobs were lost to death, indifference and sheer serendipity; local political outcomes were profoundly disappointing; and worst of all, my favorite baseball team since 1971 seeks to relocate to Las Vegas, a city that in my opinion symbolizes the nation’s least excusable character traits.

But at the same time, we visited Madison and New Glarus in Wisconsin, Arnhem and Haarlem in the Netherlands, and Copenhagen in Denmark: reconnecting with old friends, drinking beer, eating well and recharging internal batteries. We’re healthy. I’ve managed to retain one of my three jobs, and for the most part our cats are sparing the new furniture.

The Fusion still runs fine with fewer than 90,000 miles. I barely drive it, and for that my gratitude runneth over. You people can keep your idiotic car and driving crankcase culture. Give me a tram and a magazine to read while riding it to the next pub.

Speaking of which, there’ll come a time this week when you will have ten minutes to step away from the festivities and exercise your mind, and toward this end I suggest reading two essays, neither of them particularly pleasant, but indicative of where we find ourselves in the beer biz as a new year approaches.

First, an essay by Jim Vorel at Paste Magazine: For Many Craft Breweries, the Apocalypse Is Now.

The tragic breaking point for major brewery closures is no longer “coming soon.” It’s a macabre event that has been framed as something perpetually on the horizon for years, but there’s no use in denying it anymore–the great die-off is here. It’s now. The culling of the herd is underway in 2023, and simply making great beer is no guarantee of survival. We are losing companies that don’t deserve to go under, not just poorly run or subpar brewers that one can shrug off and say “Well, they were never going to last anyway.”

Then, by John Holl at Wine Enthusiast: Does Your Favorite Beer Taste Different? The Brewer Might Have Changed the Recipe.

But does rejiggering a recipe always translate to success? For Boston Lager, the results are promising: As of October, the beer is the healthiest profit-wise it’s been in five years. But Fat Tire is still looking to make an impression, down 18 to 20% nationally and even worse in its home region. “It’s not clear that it’s bringing in those new drinkers and those that were loyal to it [as an amber ale] are leaving it more and more,” (analyst Christopher) Shepard notes.

In whatever way you honor Thanksgiving, or not at all, have a good one. Here are three local beer and brewing news items meriting a post-it note on the fridge.

The 11th edition of Tailspin Ale Fest takes place on March 2, 2024 at Bowman Field, and ticket pre-sale events are already lining up at Cox’s Spirit Shoppe and Evergreen Liquors. For all the dates, visit Tailspin’s web site.

Mile Wide Beer Co. celebrates its seventh birthday on December 9 with a silent disco, although I’m sure they’ll have beer, too. In the interim, Mile Wide is open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 23; headphones optional).

Against The Grain’s 2023 Bo and Luke release party takes place this Friday (November 24) at AtG’s flagship location downtown at Slugger Field. This year’s Bo and Luke variants are Chocolate Pecan Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, and Coconut Cream Pie. As M*A*S*H’s Father Mulcahy once observed, “jocularity, jocularity.”

Today’s cover photo: Kim W., Barrie, Kim A., Allan and Roger; Bryggeri Skovlyst in Værløse, Denmark, October 2023.

Roger Baylor is an entrepreneur, educator, and innovator with 41 years of beer business experience in metropolitan Louisville as a bartender, package store clerk, brewery owner, restaurateur, writer, traveler, polemicist, homebrewing club founder, tour operator and all-purpose contrarian.
As a co-owner (1990 – 2018) of New Albanian Brewing Company Pizzeria & Public House in New Albany, Indiana – founded in 1987, 1992, 2002 and 2009 – Baylor played a seminal role in metro Louisville’s contemporary beer renaissance. He currently is beer director at Pints&union in New Albany.
Baylor’s “Hip Hops” columns on beer-related subjects have been a fixture in Food & Dining Magazine since 2005, where he currently serves as digital editor and print contributor. He is a former columnist at both the New Albany Tribune and LEO Weekly, and founder of the NA Confidential blog (2004 – 2020).