Forty-one years into this journey of beer and brewing betterment, and I’m still fascinated by the American obsession with “ice cold” beer.

If beer actually tastes good, does it really need to be served “ice cold”?

And, if beer actually tastes good, doesn’t serving it “ice cold” numb the taste buds and render the potential sensory enjoyment absolutely meaningless?

I suppose “ice cold beer” is a reflex action traced to traumatic ancestral memories of Blatz or Wiedemann, similar to saying “Gesundheit” when someone sneezes, although it’s likely that few readers under the age of 50 know what this means.

Gesundheit was borrowed from German, where it literally means “health”; it was formed by a combination of gesund (“healthy”) and -heit (“-hood”). Wishing a person good health when they sneezed was traditionally believed to forestall the illness that a sneeze often portends.

All of which reminds me that Halloween is coming soon.

We’ve long since grasped that two separate groupings of Americans are fascinated by “pumpkin spice.”

One group has reverted to their primitive tribal origins, anointing pumpkin spice as an annual rite of autumnal passage (similar to a conceptual aphrodisiac). The other applies relentless post-modern criticism to the whole pumpkin-clad genre and creates memes terrorizing the spicers.

A few wags stuck in the middle are as yet capable of deriving a degree of humor from the mass-marketed morass, as with the sign I once saw: “Pumpkin Spice Real Estate Tips.”

Ouch, but that’s actually funny.

As for me, I just want to know why pumpkin-spiced kitty litter is an item I must confront each year in late July, long prior to the arrival of colored leaves on trees. The same goes for Oktoberfest beers, a phenomenon I’ve referenced quite often in this space: Hip Hops: Like I was saying, Oktoberfest in July, Halloween in … January?

During the past decade it has become obvious that the metropolitan Louisville area has reached a sort of cumulative tipping point with respect to Oktoberfest-themed events. Every barber shop, quick oil change, church choir and county jail caterer is doing an Oktoberfest celebration, the sum total of which suggests a new norm: Oktoberfest is just another occasion for adults to dress-up like it’s Halloween.

Yes, I know; it’s not an altogether bad trend, even if I’m prone to satirical exaggeration. While America remains a place where originality invariably crawls off to die a slow and painful death, these ubiquitous Oktoberfests are harmless, and on occasion educational.

And who’d turn down an ice-cold Samuel Adams Octoberfest in a plastic cup while queuing at the post office?

If a chronic swallower of mass-market beer — perpetually flaccid Lite springs to mind — is inspired to drink better lager by pounding a Festbier, then it’s all for the best (beer).

Of course, I’m also a congenital contrarian, as ever watchful lest too many people begin agreeing with me. Whenever it feels like I’m in any semblance of a majority, it’s time to facilitate an Irish (as opposed to Deutsch) exit and find a nice, underpopulated niche for me to continue tormenting both the aforementioned herds.

As a final reminder, be aware that if you are contemplating attendance at your neighborhood savings and loan association’s Oktoberfest celebration, complete with non-alcoholic cider and pumpkin-spiced bratwurst, you’ll risk insulting the sartorial heritage of the fest if choosing to willfully don the wrong shoes.

Rather, you’ll need the traditional Bavarian Haferlschuhe, which I’m guessing can’t be found at Wal-Fart.

Knowing the power in the legacy of Lederhosen, you can’t just put on a casual pair of flip-flops with it and call it a day. The leather breeches must shine bright as you wear them, so attention to detail is a must.

But not for me. I don’t own Lederhosen, and have you ever priced Haferlschuhe in size 16? Besides, I’m busy with my Frankenstein monster of a German-heritage fest, one configured to defy stereotypes and establish new norms: Starkbierzeit (late winter strong Bock celebration in Munich), combined with techno music (Love Parade in Berlin) and a pickled herring feast (from Germany’s Baltic Sea shoreline).

You know, something different for once. In the interim, here’s a three-pack of local beer and brewing news items.

Trellis Brewing has received the necessary permits to begin construction in Smoketown, according to Louisville Ale Trail.

The 10-barrel brewhouse will focus on grain-forward, clean lagers to highlight the unique flavor of Kentucky-grown barley, rye, and wheat through a partnership with South Fork Malthouse (Cynthiana, KY), along with other modern IPAs and stouts. Trellis also plans to begin a barrel program for fermenting and aging a variety of mixed fermentation styles.

The expansion of Goodwood proceeds apace with site plans in far-off Missouri.

Goodwood Brewing and Spirits is Coming to O’Fallon

And, one impetus for TEN20 Craft Brewery’s recent “cutting edge” can design is a corresponding national trend away from 16-ounce tallboys to stackable, supermarket ready 12-ounce cans, as explained at VinePair.

Photo credit: Brewbound.

After years of waging liquid warfare against the multinational lager makers, four cans at a time, craft breweries are realizing that 12 might be the magic number for moving more lager.

The price point for 12-ounce cans looks better, too, and then there’s the eternal lament about tallboys; drink them too slowly, and the last drops become scandalously warm, threatening the dreaded buzz kill.


You people and your weird obession with “ice cold” beer.

Cover photo: Steckerlfisch, a seldom-mentioned meal at Oktoberfest in Munich. From my collection (2004).

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).