My friend and fellow journalist Kevin Gibson drops his latest book today. Well, he didn’t drop it really, it comes out today. Well, it didn’t come out of the closet or anything like that; it shows up on bookshelves today. Moving on. His book is historical in nature but will appeal to most people reading this blog. It’s called “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft.”
Most people associate Louisville with bourbon, but Kevin found that the River City once had a thriving brewery scene before and after Prohibition. The three main players back in the day were Falls City, Fehr’s and Oertel’s, and he talks to the folks behind those breweries, as well as all of today’s local industry leaders like BBC, Cumberland Brews, NABC, Apocalypse, etc.
You’d think as a close, personal friend I would have my own copy by now, but he’s making me attend his first reading/signing tonight at BBC in St. Matthews at 6 p.m. Here’s a link to all his other readings and signings — mostly at bars and beer fests around town. You’re no friend of beer if this book isn’t behind your bar.
I caught up with Kevin and annoyed him with a few questions about “Louisville Beer.”
Bar Belle: What drew you to this project, besides your obvious love of beer?
Kevin Gibson: I’ve had this book in mind for at least three years now, actually. I wanted to put myself in a position to write it and break myself out of corporate hell at the same time. My friend Fred Minnick, who is a noted bourbon writer and author, connected me with (publisher) History Press, who loved the concept. It sort of forced my hand, timing-wise, but I have zero regrets.
In general, though, beer has always been there for me. It was always present, and always in a positive way. I guess I was lucky that all the males in my family liked to drink beer, but none abused it. I had noticed over the years that anti-alcohol sentiment slowly turned beer into something negative, so I wanted to write a book that was an overview of Louisville’s history with beer as well as a closer look at the sociological and cultural significance of it. In short, beer is something that should bring us together. I still think that is true, in spite of the beer snobbery I see happening everywhere, including Louisville. There is no shame in drinking a Miller High Life.
BB: How many beers were sacrificed in the writing of this book?
KG: Hmmm. That would be tough to estimate. Let me put it the way I put it in the acknowledgements section: I won’t say I was ever inebriated during the process, but I will say I am thankful for editors.
BB: What’s the most interesting thing you learned?
KG: That’s a tough one, because I learned a lot. One big one was that while I knew Kentucky Common was invented here in Louisville, I did not know it was one of only three beers that are indigenous to America. Very few people in Louisville know this, it seems. I would love to see the style make a full-fledged comeback, because it is sessionable and delicious. I recommend Apocalypse Brew Works’ version, which is called Oertel’s 1912.
BB: Is your mom proud?
KG: My mom is always proud. It’s just not usually related to me.
BB: Will you sign my book?
KG: Do you have a Sharpie handy? I think I left mine in my sock drawer.