Indie-Craft Interview #8: New Albanian’s Roger Baylor
I first learned of the New Albanian Brewing Company when they brewed a tasty collaboration with Missouri breweries Schlafly and O’Fallon a while back. Then, I saw their t-shirts touting various brewing equipment as machines for killing facists, a la Woody Guthrie. Finally, I discovered the outspoken NABC owner Roger Baylor on Twitter and knew the Coalition had found another unsuspecting member.
Roger’s stirred up some discussion on Twitter, especially over the expansion east of several larger craft brewers and Goose Island’s AB-InBev move. He never holds back and appears to stay true to the indie-craft ethos. This makes him an ideal subject for the series. Luckily, he agreed to contribute some thought-provoking answers to the interview. Check it…
1. Describe your craft(s).
This may come as a surprise, but actually there exists scant evidence to indicate that I practice any known craft. I’m surely unemployable outside the narrow job description created by me (and exclusively for me) as a restaurant/pub/brewery owner, although many years ago the late beer writer Michael Jackson referred to me as a polemicist, so there it is: Polemicist. Good beer is my preferred metaphor for all other human endeavors, and for advocating the revolution, while at the same time not
sparing the revolution from constructive criticism – and make no mistake, craft beer is in desperate need of self-criticism right about now.
2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
The craft beer business has long since entered the phase in which imagery is freely co-opted by conglomerates, and the odd part is that onlookers persist in ignoring the differences between authentic and corporate. The classic, textbook example is Goose Island, still adored by supposed indie-thinking fans, whose cognitive dissonance precludes them from grasping that they’re merely enriching AB-InBev’s coffers whenever they choose to buy Goose. Consequently, remaining indie is important precisely because by doing so, persons and entities remain connected to reality, retain integrity, and restrain the flight of money out of communities, both big and small.
3. How does your craft contribute to society?
There always needs to be a gadfly who reminds us that our sacred cows are mere lumps of clay, tastefully re-arranged to look fetching. Questions need to be asked, and people need to be made accountable and uncomfortable. Is it really good for society to subsidize exurban sprawl, to shop at Wal-Mart, and to tolerate Churchill Downs declaring Stella Artois the official beer of the Kentucky Derby? If someone really drove 1,000 miles for a Dorito Taco from Taco Bell, shouldn’t eugenics be making a comeback?
4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
The answer comes in the form of questions: What are you good at doing? What explains your ability to do it well? I enjoy listening to, and learning from, those who are good at something/anything, and even when the topic lies outside my immediate range of personal interest, there’s an aspect of one’s experience and abilities that illuminates my own: Orchestra musicians playing as one; Repairing the gears on a bicycle; Milking a goat and transforming the yield into cheese. I never tire of learning, especially when beer drinking can be squeezed into the tutorial.
5. What is your dream of success?
On a day to day basis, success is the ability to earn an honest living, while concurrently, neither compromising one’s ideals nor hurting other people. Long term, after you’re dead, success is when someone thinks about you and smiles at the memory.
Read more from the man’s own blog, The Potable Curmudgeon, and be sure to find New Albanian the next time you’re in Indiana or Kentucky. (Maybe Missouri will be added soon?) Also, read the previous seven interviews here.