Falls City celebrates summer with release of German tradition Berliner Weisse

Falls City Berliner Weiss promo

It was Conrad Selle, local brewer and beer historian, who stopped by Over the 9 one day to show the Falls City Brewing Co. team a vintage bottle opener from his collection.

The opener dated back to around 1915 and had the names of four different Falls City beer styles that were being brewed at the time. One of them was Berliner Weisse, a traditional German sour beer made with wheat that dates back to the 16th century.

“We were shocked,” said Dylan Greenwood, master brewer at Falls City. “We had no idea Falls City was making a Berliner Weisse 100 years ago. It makes sense, though, because our head brewer (Otto Doerr) was from Germany.”

So, last year, Greenwood decided to brew a version of the beer with unfermented grape juice, partially aged in Old 502 Winery red wine barrels. But with Falls City’s shift in focus to seasonals, new bottled releases and what the brewery calls its “Seven-Barrel Series,” Greeenwood went back to the basics and created a traditional, unflavored Berliner Weisse that was released this August.

He’s not the only brewer to dig into the past for fresh brewing ideas — Berliner Weisse is a rising throwback style for many craft breweries around the United States.

Brewed with half wheat and half pale malts, the new Berliner Weisse at Falls City is fermented with Lactobacillus for souring. However, it isn’t exactly sour as much as it is tart. With just 4.0 percent alcohol by volume and virtually zero bitterness, it’s a hot-summer pleaser that is actually more like champagne than what many consider beer to be.

Dylan

Dylan Greenwood.

“It’s not super-sour; it’s not mouth-puckering sour,” Greenwood said. “Like any German wheat beer, it’s meant to be refreshing.”

Enjoyed straight, it possesses a light body with plenty of carbonation and a tart finish, with only minor sweetness and a touch of acidity. Imagine drinking an extremely bubbly piece of SweeTart candy, and you’re getting close.

Traditionally, if one orders a Berliner Weisse, the syrup is poured into a glass or bowl first, and then the beer is poured over it. At Falls City, it is served already mixed.

Add woodruff syrup, and the beer takes on a green tint. It suddenly becomes complex, with an aroma and flavor Greenwood described, for lack of any better term, as “botanical.” Indeed, woodruff, a classic German additive to this style of beer, creates a unique flavor, one that evoked lavender on my palate. It begins slightly sweet, then swirls into the familiar tart finish. Imagine an Ale-8 on steroids.

“It’s tough to make an accurate description and still make it sound good,” said Greenwood. “And it’s really good.”

Falls City berliner 2 vert slantThe other syrup Over the 9 is using, yet another German tradition, is raspberry, which is more straightforward and might be the best choice for the uninitiated. The raspberry flavor is one most palates understand instinctively, and in this beer, it takes on just the right presence to make the now-pinkish beverage not only refreshing but fruity and familiar.

Of course, these two classic syrups are just the beginning of what can become a flavoring for the agreeable Berliner Weisse. Greenwood noted that blackberry and watermelon also work well. Bartenders can actually play around with any number of flavors on hand.

The foray into this classic style has Greenwood looking into other such historical styles brewed by Falls City back before beer began its unfortunate evolution into the light American lager it became by the 1960s. Another style that appeared on Selle’s keychain was a “strong lager,” which is identified in the book “Germans in Louisville” by C. Robert Ullrich and Victoria A. Ullrich.

The book pays passing attention to Falls City’s history, noting, “The brewery produced many interesting products in its early years, including Salvator (a strong lager), Extra Pale, Cream Beer and Berliner Weisse.”

Falls City currently produces a British-style pale ale as its flagship beer, and its spring rollout Kentucky Common is a classic dark cream ale that was invented in Louisville in the mid-1800s. Old records also show beers with names like Peerless and Life Saver, and Falls City also brewed bock — a dark, German beer — for many years.

Berliner Weisse will be available through September, and probably into October, at the Over the 9 taproom, 120 S. 10th St., as well as a few other select locations around Louisville, including Hilltop Tavern and RecBar.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Video contest at Against the Grain

Video Contest Assest

So, Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse are sponsoring a video contest. What kind of videos do they want? Well, that’s left up to interpretation. The press announcement e-mail read like this:

“Wiggity, woo! We’ve got a contest for you! We’ve got the best prize package in all the craft beer land, but to win you’ll have to be extraordinary! It’s a video contest plain and simple. One winner will be selected and receive a pair of tickets to the Shelton Brothers’, The Festival, coming to Louisville this October, as well as, a two-night stay, swag package, dinner and tour of Against the Grain Brewery. Rules are rules, so here is how it works!”

Wiggity woo? Anyway, I went to the rules page, and the description of what they want read this way:

“This ain’t no big willy contest. We want to see your creative juices flowing! We know, we know, our beer inspires you. It inspires us too, but we want you to take your inspiration and put it through a lens. Capture the essence and culture of our brews however you see it. This isn’t an infomercial. We’re looking for and encouraging individuality on this one. We’ve already got our swanky infomercial, so you do you.  We want a video that is unique, unabashed, and excellent, just like us.”

So, I guess you make a video about whatever you want. I assume Against the Grain beer should be involved — I suspect it would at least help. Hey, that ain’t a bad grand prize, so now’s the time to be unique. I might make a video of my dog not drinking some Citra Ass Down. (It’s OK, I won’t let it go to waste.)

HopCat Grand Opening

0729162035bThe beer behemoth HopCat has opened in the Highlands, and I managed to get into the VIP “soft” opening. All I’ll say is this: That’s a lot of damn beer. Inside, the place feels exactly as it should, with just the right kind of shtick, from vinyl albums on the ceiling to velvet paintings to a wall adorned with 1980s album art.

In addition, there are three bars, including a massive bar in the middle of the first floor with beer taps as far as the eye can see. The feel of the place is somewhere between a New Orleans hotel and a riverboat, if that makes any sense. Lots of wood, brass and classic adornment make HopCat a fabulous place to have a beer with your friends. Or five beers, whatever.

While HopCat does have 132 taps bubbling over with craft brews and ciders, it was the Local 20 that took center stage at the VIP party – that being 20 local and regional beers that are the unchanging staples of the HopCat beer list. From Against the Grain’s imminently drinkable Sho’ Nuff to Monnik’s mysterious His Dark Materials, there’s a bit of everything. In fact, that’s kind of the point – if you walk into HopCat and aren’t sure what you want (an understandable problem), the bar and wait staff will do their best to help you find what quenches you on the Local 20 list. Serving up good beer while also promoting local breweries? Not a bad combo.

Yes, parking was a pain in the pants, and that has been the outcry for the non-believers since the HopCat concept was proposed. This is a warranted complaint, as my buddy and I had to park a good four blocks away. Of course, that area of town – HopCat is located at 1064 Bardstown Road, at the corner of Grinstead – is always crazy busy on Friday and Saturday nights. Just plan on walking four blocks instead of two, and you’ll be fine. (Better yet, take Uber. Because, as I said, there’s a lot of beer to be had at HopCat.)

This post was originally published by Men’s Best Guide.

Rise of the super bars: Will HopCat affect the craft-beer scene?

HopCat logoThe popularity of craft beer is a trend that continues to skyrocket. At the end of 2015, Kentucky ranked only 38th in the U.S. in number of breweries, but the economic impact of craft beer in the state was $495 million, good for 27th nationwide, according to the Brewers Association.

Louisville has more than a dozen breweries, with more set to open. We also have World of Beer with 50 taps and some 500 bottles, two Craft House locations focusing on regional craft beer, and the well-established Sergio’s World Beers, which carries in the neighborhood of 1,500 bottled and draft beers at any given time.

Craft beer is big business, and big business brings big competition.

Enter HopCat, the growing, Michigan-based chain set to open its latest location, at 1064 Bardstown Road  in The Highlands, this Saturday. The restaurant-bar will pour from 132 different taps, with a focus on American craft beer and a few ciders and imports. It advertises itself as having “the state’s largest selection of craft beers on tap.”

But lest anyone worry that Louisville’s breweries might be muscled out by this out-of-state super bar, HopCat is quick to show its good faith as a neighbor wherever it lands, it seems.

To that end, the small, but growing, chain will allot many of its taps to local beers. It will feature a “Local 20” that will be offered to visitors who might be new to craft beer, or who aren’t sure what they want to try. Those beers will be on tap permanently, and they will be the first products offered up as samples.

Chris Knape, vice president of marketing and communications for BarFly Ventures, which is HopCat’s parent company, said it won’t stop at 20 local taps, however, as seasonal and special brews will be added whenever available. The bar and restaurant — which is well known for its Crack Fries, as well as its beer selection — even has an on-site, two-and-a-half barrel brewing system it will use, in part, to do collaboration brews with local breweries.

What’s more, bartenders at HopCat locations are taught to encourage people to visit the places where the beers are brewed. Many of them, such as Great Flood, Akasha, Apocalypse, Cumberland and (soon enough) Mile Wide, will be just down the street.

“We want people to go out and experience those breweries,” Knape said. “That’s the cool thing about HopCat, for those people trying to get an overview of the scene. We want to be a hub. We also want to be the best customer for all those breweries.”

John King is executive director of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers and has spent time exploring HopCat’s business model, as well as its Lexington location. He believes HopCat will be a positive addition to the craft beer scene here because of this local focus.

“HopCat is very local-centric,” King said. “A good portion of their taps will be Kentucky-made beer. That’s great, because brewers are getting taps in more places. It’s good, especially in The Highlands, to have one large place to get Kentucky-made beer.”

Meanwhile, HopCat will offer Kentucky brewery tap takeovers and beer dinners to further promote the breweries. They will work with brewers to select appropriate glassware for serving their beer, and they will make sure glasses are rinsed before serving. HopCat staff — the bar and restaurant said it would create roughly 200 jobs — also is well trained in beer styles, brands and other details that craft beer enthusiasts might throw at them.

“We take a lot of care,” Knape said. “We treat beer like a really good wine-bar would treat wine. We want it to be approachable, but want to respect the brewers that made it.”

Leah Dienes, co-owner and head brewer at Apocalypse Brew Works, said HopCat is not just committed to local breweries. “They are very committed to quality. And they are very committed to their servers having extensive beer knowledge,” she said.

If there is a concern, King said, it might be the difficulty of managing so many lines, making sure they stay clean and that the beer is fresh. If someone orders a local beer, and it has off flavors, it could sour that person on that brewery and its products. That’s where the commitment to quality becomes crucial, and Knape said HopCat has a beer manager, Chase Myers, whose full-time job essentially is to make sure the beer stays fresh and the lines stay clean.

HopCat has King convinced, assuming the area can handle the influx of people.

“I think it will do well,” King said. “This is not HopCat’s first rodeo; they know what they’re doing. I think HopCat is going to be awesome.”

This post was originally published by LEO Weekly.

Harvest to play host to pre-Forecastle Sierra Nevada beer dinner

sierra nevada beer dinner july 11Sierra NevadaSierra Nevada makes great beer. I’m particularly fond of Hop Hunter IPA, and the Harvest series.

Still, it’s kind of weird that the California-based brewery is the beer sponsor for Louisville’s biggest music festival. Hey, I understand that sort of sponsorship costs a lot of jack; still, wouldn’t it be cool if one day Against the Grain can fill that role? Maybe one day.

Anyway, LeeAnne Porter from Sierra Nevada will be the guest speaker at a beer dinner hosted by Harvest Restaurant on Monday, July 11. A meet-and-greet starts at 6:30 p.m., while the four-course dinner itself begins at 7. There will be five Sierra Nevada beers, including Raincheck Stout. The dinner is $55 per person.

Here’s the menu/itinerary:

6:30 Doors Open

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale served as greeting beer

7:00 Dinner Sitdown

~ one ~

citrus cured Lake Barkley silver carp

tomato water, jalapeno, wheat berry

beer pairing

Sierra Nevada “Otra Vez” Gose-style ale brewed with cactus & grapefruit

~ two ~

Rivercrest Farm rabbit “wurst”

basil-fava puree, green tomato mustard

beer pairing

Sierra Nevada Summerfest Crisp Lager

~ three ~

jerk spiced Kentucky bison shortrib

charred carrot, black bean, napa cabbage

beer pairing

Sierra Nevada Rain Check Stout

~ four ~

“Bluegrass” cheese plate

“St. Paulin” mild creamy, “Foxglove” double cream wash rind, “Sophia” bloomy ash rind goat cheese

beer pairing

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA

Shakers and beer? You bet

GoodWood coaster and glassIt’s hard to imagine a beer event at Shaker Village, given the religion’s beliefs on alcohol. Then again, it’s hard to imagine they did all those crazy, ritualistic dance moves sober.

Oh well, Shaker Village is now a tourist attraction, event space and dining destination, so the old rules don’t apply. With that, Goodwood  Brewing will be at the Village July 9 as part of Hike For Beer With a Twist.

Attendees will hike to a secret location to enjoy beer and dining experience that will very much be a surprise. It’s $65 per person, and a NOT having a good time is apparently not an option.

Get tickets right here.

West Sixth to release Half-Bite IPA in 12-packs

Check it out, a new IPA from West Sixth. Apparently, it’s a slightly lighter kid brother to the brewery’s flagship IPA, at only 3.5 percent ABV, which is roughly the same as ice water. Interesting. Here’s the press release, although as I post this, the link to more info doesn’t appear to be working:

W6 Half Bite IPA
West Sixth Brewing announced today their latest canned beer – the Half-Bite IPA.

“We’re excited to announce that Half-Bite IPA, our newest offering – will be available just in time for the Fourth of July celebrations” said West Sixth co-founder Ben Self.

“Designed to be the rowdy younger brother of the West Sixth IPA, the Half-Bite IPA uses the same varieties and quantity of hops as our regular IPA, but contains only half the alcohol – so it’s perfect for summer days and outdoor adventures when you want to have a few” said co-founder Brady Barlow.

“Reflecting on the nature of the beer, it only seemed appropriate the Half-Bite IPA will be canned and sold in 12-pack boxes” said co-founder Joe Kuosman. “We’re very excited to be the first brewery to do this in Kentucky.”

“Half-Bite IPA is aggressively hopped with Centennial, Citra, and Columbus hops. It’s got a great bite, earthy bitterness, and citrus notes, but clocks in at only 3.5% ABV” said co-founder and brewer Robin Sither.

As with all of the West Sixth Brewing cans, these cans and boxes were designed by local designers Brian and Sara Turner of Cricket Press.  “They really knocked it out of the park with Half-Bite, especially having both a can and box design” said West Sixth Creative Director Kelly Hieronymus. “I can’t wait to see this 12-pack in the wild.”

Half-Bite IPA will be available through West Sixth’s distribution partners in Kentucky (Clark Distributing, River City Distributing, and Stagnaro Distributing) beginning next week.

More info at:

Mile Wide announces it will open late summer

Straight from the press release:

MileWide_Logo_1_PrimaryMile Wide Beer Co. is proud to announce that they will soon be joining the growing and vibrant Louisville craft beer scene. Led by a team of beer industry veterans, Mile Wide will aim to push the boundaries of what you’ve come to expect from American craft beer, while respecting the traditions established by all who have come before them.

The Mile Wide Beer Co. Brewery & Taproom will be located at 636 Barret Avenue. The building is part of the same facility that formerly housed The Silo Brewpub, which opened in 1992

The Brewery will be home to a fifteen barrel brewhouse, with an opening day capacity of 1,700 barrels per year. Mile Wide’s flagship beer will be a Belgian-style Witbier. They will also prominently feature the rotating Scavenger IPA series, which will highlight a variety of hops from all over the world. The rest of the lineup will be brewed to the whim of the founders. Pilot batches of a number of different styles are currently being brewed, with a focus on yeast and hop trials.

The Taproom will feature 12 taps, each one dedicated to Mile Wide Beers. Many of the beers on tap will be made available exclusively at the brewery. The Taproom will also feature a carefully selected list of wines by the glass & bottle, and a small selection of craft distilled spirits. Additionally, the Taproom will have a feature various forms of entertainment, including weekly trivia presented by Geeks Who Drink.

The Mile Wide Taproom will also have a Retail Shop, highlighted by the sale of 32 ounce Crowlers filled with Mile Wide beers. These single-use aluminum cans will hold fresh draft beer, kept safe from oxidation and light strike. Portable and recyclable, the Crowler is the best, safest and most environmentally friendly way to consume Mile Wide Beer outside of the Mile Wide Taproom.

Mile Wide Beer Co. is:

Matt Landon

– Master of Ducats

– Former Super-Structure Placement Foreman for Baker Concrete Constructio

Patrick Smith

– Certified Cicerone ©

– Brewer/Raw Materials Contractor

– Owner of River City Drafthouse

Kyle Tavares

– Head Brewer

– Former Brewer/Quality Control Specialist at Schlafly Beer

Scott Shreffler

– Certified Cicerone ©

– Hype Man

– Former Regional Brewery Representative at Schlafly Beer

 

AtG to present ‘A Beer Event’ for Memorial Day

louisville beer - against the grain logoAgainst the Grain has us all covered for Memorial Day. Man, if only they were going to make a new beer and call it “America” … anyway, here’s the word via a Sam Cruz press release:

Fellow citizens of the United States

It affords us great pleasure to tender our friendly greetings to you, wherever you may be. As an American craft brewery we are proud to present, “A Beer Event.” This Memorial Day we hope you join us for a celebration worth every firework and hot dog inside each and every one of our American dreams.

A Beer Event will resemble a good old fashion American, backyard cookout at our production facility located at 1800 Northwest Parkway. We’ll be serving BBQ sandwiches, sausages, baked beans, and homemade chips hot off our legendary smoker. It wouldn’t be complete without the sweets. Louisville’s favorite doughnut gals will be frying up their tasty dough because, “If you don’t like High Five Doughnuts, you don’t like America.”

It wouldn’t be a cookout without A Beer. Our Extra American Pale Ale will be available to wash down all that American spirit, all day.

If that’s not red, white, and blue enough, DJ Clay Baker will be spinning the classics and our GIANT outdoor games including Yatzi, Connect Four, Jenga, and Cornhole will be there to entertain.

AtG American Pale

Brewery Roundup: Mile Wide, Old Louisville, CIDEways on track to open in 2016

Monnik Beer Co. and Akasha Brewing Co. both opened in late 2015, while Goodwood Brewing rose from the ashes of the Bluegrass Brewing Co. production brewery. In addition, 3rd Turn Brewing made its debut in Jeffersontown early this year.

But Louisville isn’t finished. Two breweries and a cidery are in various stages of completion in the area: Mile Wide Beer Co., Old Louisville Brewery, and CIDEways, which will eventually become a cider brewery in New Albany.

Here are the latest updates on these three up-and-comers:

Mile Wide Beer Co.

Mile Wide Beer Co logo

Mile Wide, so far, has been fairly secretive about what it is planning, offering glimpses on social media. But co-founder/co-owner Scott Schreffler, a beer industry veteran best recognized for his days repping St. Louis-based Schlafly Beer, did tell Insider Louisville this week the brewery plans to open in late summer or early fall.

While he wasn’t ready to reveal what style or styles of beer Mile Wide will focus on, he does promise a “wide variety.”

“A good deal of the time,” he says, “we will be brewing to our own whim.”

Right now, Mile Wide is running test batches through a 25-gallon system, which ultimately will be replaced by a 15-barrel brewhouse. But the small system will remain “for R&D and one-off beers.”

Little other information has been released, and Schreffler says he isn’t ready to talk about the project at length yet. Social media accounts launched in March with occasional teasers, from photos of brewers milling grains by hand to a shot of the temporary brewing system.

Mile Wide will be located between Downtown and the Highlands at 636 Barret Ave., in a space behind Diamond Pub Billiards — the Diamond space, coincidentally, is the space that originally housed Silo Microbrewery, Louisville’s first microbrewery following the 1978 demise of Falls City. Silo opened in 1992.

Old Louisville Brewery

Old Louisville Brewery has been a slow burn, as brothers Wade and Ken Mattingly have been completely renovating a spot at 625 W. Magnolia Ave. that once was a neighborhood grocery store, as we reported last May.

The five-barrel brewing system arrived on April 7, and the business recently received its certificate of occupancy and has passed health inspections. So, what primarily remains is getting the brewhouse set up and working with the state ABC to get proper alcohol licensing. Wade Mattingly says he expects to know by early May about when inspections and final approval should be complete, but he estimates it will be roughly a 45-day process. Best case, he says, would be to shoot for late June.

“Fingers crossed they are going to be able to come through a little earlier for us,” Mattingly says, “but history has told me don’t count on things going smoothly.”

A few other finishing touches remain, but soon Old Louisville will be able to look toward making the first batches of beer. Mattingly says the tentative plan is to open with four beers on the 12-tap system, while working up to having all 12 taps filled with house beers. Guest taps won’t be permitted due to zoning restrictions, but patrons should expect a Rye IPA, a pale ale and possibly a blonde and a stout or porter.

CIDEways Cidery

A project founded by the owner-founder of Big Four Burgers + Beer, CIDEways Cidery is a long-term project of sorts in that it will open in late summer as a restaurant and bar. A cider brewery will follow, according to owner Matt McMahan, in four to six months following the initial opening.

We first checked in on CIDEways last November before it even had a name, and it has since progressed to a point where an opening is not far in the distance, after a full renovation of the space, located at the corner of Pearl and Elm in New Albany.

According to more recent media reports, CIDEways initially will offer a wide variety of beers and wines as well as specialty hard cider; there will be 18 taps and a bottled beer selection of around 60. The venture is reportedly being funded in part thanks to a $50,000 loan from the Horseshoe Association of Southern Indiana. Plans are for it to be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to midnight.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.