Meeting The Invisible Man
Charlie Navillus doesn’t exist, but yet I found myself sitting across from him the other night in Rivertown’s Barrel House after he had just completed he latest recipe, and was winding down his latest brew day. To most people this might seem odd…or impossible maybe, but I’m pretty familiar with living a life inside a character pseudonym, and the odd side of it felt familiar and actually extremely comfortable. If you ask me to describe who any one of our local breweries are I easily can. They have pretty specific personalities to each and every one of them…the very fact that Nowhere In Particular doesn’t have a defining personality is exactly what has become the brewery’s personality.
Beer, especially the beer of Nowhere In Particular is bigger than any one person could ever be, and it’s in this fact that Charlie thrives.
Charlie is a gypsy brewer… a wandering hobo of brewing talent. I could try to explain that…but I think reading the words of the man himself from the Nowhere In Particular website can do a more elegant job that I most likely could:
Once a proud and fierce people, hobos gained power throughout the Great Depression, threatening the United States government itself. FDR subdued the hobo clan, driving them underground. Like cast-off tennis shoes and missing socks, they were forgotten. Out of sight, the hobo culture struggled to survive until the 1980s, when recessions hit once again and the destitute were again celebrated. It is no coincidence that the return of the hobo coincided with the rise of craft beer. One needs only to look at a gathering of craft brewers, with their scraggly beards, their worn, weathered faces and their hodgepodge wardrobe to see the vestigial remnants of hobo culture.
For more than 30 years, craft beer provided safe haven to the hobos. They worked in small breweries, scrubbing kettles, cleaning kegs and watching, always watching. Eventually, they learned the trade and began to brew. Hobo brewmasters gathered in places like Denver, California, the Pacific Northwest, and all along the East Coast. Yet, the hobos yearned for a leader.
During this time, Charles Navillus incubated his talents. Living the true life of an itinerant, Navillus scaled mountains, ran great distances, pirated ships, and rarely bathed. His beard grew long, his hair longer. His unshorn appearance gave him power and strength. Leading the charge at a Midwestern brewery, Navillus was struck with an idea. He would brew just as he lived, traveling from kettle to kettle to produce his hobo brew. Unbeknownst to Navillus, this was the sign the hobo masses had been waiting for. At a secret conclave deep in the heart of the woods, the hobos elected a new king. Sir Charles Navillus now rules them all.
Defining Nowhere In Particular
The ability of “Charlie” to let the beer define who he is at any given moment is exactly what makes a gyspy brewery tick… especially with Nowhere In Particular. This is a brewer who defines himself by change, experimentation and doing things differently. In a craft beer world that often strives on consistency and repetition of core styles, it’s refreshing to talk to a brewer who will tell you that he has no desire to brew a recipe more than once. He doesn’t even necessarily need to brew on the same brew system each time he brews. He’s a wanderer.
Moving around the state of Ohio, and even the country, he brews on all types of systems, in all different types of breweries, choosing to explore instead of stay put. Although he likes to usually brew beers that clock in at over 8% ABV, it’s hard to say that this is “What he does”. He threw out some ideas that clearly deviate from everything else that he’s released so far. The one thing you can always count on with a Nowhere In Particular beer is that you never really know where his beers will pop up, and what they’ll look like. A keg here… a keg there… a tap hand at this brewery or one at this taproom over here. It’s pretty clear that this is a guy who likes to buck trends and keep his fans on their toes. You might have a Russian Imperial Stout one time, and a Belgian Blonde another.
So… Where Can I Get It?
Although it would be incredibly fun to say that I don’t know… that you just have to see the beer when you see it, that might be pushing the whole idea a tiny bit too far… luckily it’s much easier to find it than that follow the brewery on Facebook, or head over to the website. He’s great about letting people know where the latest beers can be found, and he might have let slip that packaging was coming down the pike in the next year as well, which will make it even easier to get and pass his beer along. Keep your eyes on untappd, you’ll see something being checked in, cluing you in that you can find his beer. Otherwise… locally you can keep your eyes on the tap handles at Rivertown. Mr. Navillus makes sure that when he brews at a brewery they have some of the beer that they are able to put on tap in their own taproom before he sends the rest of it out to his distributor… and since he was brewing something today – that means there will be some coming in the near future.
Stay tuned here… and to Cincy Brewcast. You’re going to be hearing a bit more about Mr. Navillus and his gypsy ways in the future… I like this guy, and I really like what he is doing.