3rd Turn Brewing draws crowds, eyes larger brewing system in historic church-turned-pub

3rd Turn interior crowd 1

It’s hard to believe that as recently as last summer, the cozy space that is now 3rd Turn Brewing was an abandoned Moose lodge.

Now a full-blown craft beer destination, the former Calvary Church of Christ built in the late 1870s in Jeffersontown still maintains a vague chapel feel, but also has taken on a pub vibe thanks to the renovation.

On a recent Saturday night, the place was hopping, with all eight of the large tables in the main taproom occupied by large groups, and the two black leather couches in the middle of the space occupied as well. The square bar at the center of the building (where the baptismal font once was) also was full, and the bartenders barely had time to breathe.

The original hardwood floors and high ceiling, which reaches probably 30 feet at its apex, is exposed, and the entire place is trimmed with what looks like reclaimed barn wood. There is a glaring absence of TVs and even ambient music, leaving the sound in the place to the echoey buzz of people talking and clinking glasses.

This figures, as the intent from day one was not to open a bar but rather a pub-style gathering spot that focused on beer. With 20 taps, that much has been accomplished. While only two 3rd Turn beers were available during my visit — a Lacto Coffee Porter and a Vanilla Porter — the range of guest taps was wide, from an APA by Akasha Brewing to an IPA from Cumberland. Other guest breweries included Tin Man, Hammerhead and plenty more.

3rd Turn is about to turn up the brewing. After launching with a 20-gallon system, co-owner Greg Hayden says he and co-owners Ben Shinkle, Dale Shinkle and Brian Minrath are working toward installing an electrical four-barrel system that will enable more production. (There are 31 gallons per barrel of beer.)

3rd Turn exterior nightIn addition, plans are in place to build out a beer garden adjacent to the brewery, and the hope is to have everything ready by Derby time as an opportunity “to do kind of a grand opening for our beers,” Hayden says.

While so far the limitations of the original system have held them to only a couple of house-brewed beers on tap at a time, the new system would theoretically allow them to fill six of those 20 taps with some ongoing 3rd Turn offerings. The 20-gallon system could then be used for small-batch beers and experiments.

In other words, there will be a variety of 3rd Turn beers available at any given time when all this happens. All four owners are brewers and all four come from different angles, style-wise. Expect an IPA or two. Expect Belgian beers. Expect the unexpected.

Hayden says in addition to recent lacto vanilla and coffee porters, they’ve done hazelnut, orange and chocolate orange versions, with a lacto espresso varietal coming soon. There also was a saison, a cucumber saison, and a Bavarian hefe gerste. Look for a pepper saison and a stout coming soon.

And so far, the wide variety of house beers and guest taps have been well received.

“We at first thought in J-town, it would be difficult to get people’s palates acclimated to experimental beers,” Hayden says. “But people out here are experimental as hell. It is insane how busy it has gotten from time to time.”

It’s a small sample size, but both porters I tried show plenty of promise for what’s to come. Both are 3rd Turn’s base porter, one finished with coffee beans and the other with vanilla beans. Both have a medium body with chocolaty tones, but the coffee version balances that with heavy roast tones and a coffee bitterness that balances malt sweetness. The vanilla version is smoother on the palate and makes for a creamy winter warmer.

Those who aren’t into craft beer can get ciders and other alternative beverages in cans and bottles, as well as wine and even bourbon. There also is a signature bourbon smoothie that is fruity and sweet. Several restaurants deliver food to the brewery, or visitors can bring their own or munch on beer cheese and pretzels for $5.

Similarly, most pints come in at a reasonable $5, while the smoothies are $7. Five-ounce beer tasters are $2.50 apiece if you want to mix and match. The brewery is located at 10408 Watterson Trail and is open Thursday and Friday, 4 p.m.-midnight; Saturday, noon-midnight, and Sunday, 1-8 p.m.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Sterling Beer owners have confidence in future of ‘heritage’ brand

Sterling Six Pack

Todd Jackson is the first to admit he’s still finding his way in the beer business. After buying the more than century-old Sterling brand with his brother Ken in 2012, he’s had three different brewing partners and a packaging concept that was well received but ill-fated.

But Sterling has high hopes for a bright future. Recently, it was reported that the Sterling owners and its investor group, Louisville Sterling LLC, had a contract to purchase a pair of currently empty buildings in the Highlands at 1300 and 1306 Bardstown Road, with the intent to open a taphouse and brewery operation.

Sterling’s launch nearly four years ago went from local draft releases to unique 16-ounce, wide-mouth cans, and more recently to standard 12-ounce cans. Along the way, Jackson talked briefly with Stevens Point Brewery in Wisconsin about contract brewing the pilsner, ended up partnering with Upland Brewery in Bloomington, followed by a short partnership with Capital Brewing in Madison, Wisc., and then back to Stevens Point, where Sterling is brewed currently.

“It was really, really well received,” Jackson says, “but we started learning a lot about the beer business. The trickiest thing is how much beer to brew, and where is it going to go?”

He then found the 16-ounce cans weren’t treating the beer well, and the taste was being altered by the time it reached the consumer. And with the rising popularity of everything from craft beer to energy drinks, they soon came across another hurdle: a nationwide shortage of 16-ounce cans.

Sterling Taphouse Rendering MAIN

Another issue was price; he says at some bars, the 16-ounce cans went for as high as $6, which is pricey no matter what’s inside the container. Reverting to 12-ounce cans brought the price down to the $3 range in bars, and $7.99-$8.99 for retail six-packs.

And so, the Jacksons decided to pursue a taproom to help push the brand forward.

Still, there is another hurdle, which is perception. Much like with Falls City Beer when it returned to the market several years ago, Sterling is an unknown commodity to young beer enthusiasts and is remembered as cheap swill by older beer drinkers. But it was a brand Jackson grew up with, which is why he resurrected it to begin with.

“I love craft beer,” he says, “but this was about the brand when this started.”

Falls City CEO Cezary Wlodarczyk has taken a strategy of making the best of the lingering perception of Falls City beer that many Louisville grandparents and great-grandparents drank. Falls City has adopted marketing slogans that identify it as “craft beer before craft beer was cool,” while focusing on the future of the brand when talking to distributors, bar owners and retailers. Of course, Falls City has a big portfolio of beers.

Jackson’s job is similar, but for now he has one beer, a pilsner, which is very similar to what many remember Sterling being, but made with higher quality ingredients. It’s crisp and drinkable, but with a flavor profile leaning more toward a traditional Czech pilsner. It is being packaged and marketed in throw-back design.

When Jackson talks about the brand he loves — he has a growing collection of Sterling breweriana and studies the brewery’s history — he uses the word “heritage” repeatedly. His idea for the taphouse is to maintain the familiar Sterling pilsner is a heritage brand, while utilizing a small brewing operation, likely in the 10- to 15-barrel range, to brew other beer styles to be served on site. Those beers are yet to be determined, he says.

Sterling can“People are drinking more of this beer,” says Jackson. “We’re very happy with the flavor; it’s something you can count on. We would love for it to be the heritage brand, the go-to brand like what people’s grandfather drank. I have no problem with that.”

In fact, looking back at Sterling’s history, it wasn’t just grandparents and great-grandparents in Louisville; Sterling was based in Evansville, Ind., and was distributed around the Southeast. It was an important brand in its day before being ultimately stomped on by larger breweries like Anheuser-Busch, Coors and Miller.

The Louisville connection is complex — the beginnings of Sterling Beer date back to the Civil War era, and a version of the Sterling brand was brewed here as early as the mid-1860s. The brewery was purchased in 1873 by brothers John and Charles Hartmetz, but the brothers soon decided one would relocate to Evansville to run another brewery. The younger John legendarily lost a coin toss and moved to Evansville, where he ran the operation that would ultimately make Sterling a highly successful brand.

Meanwhile, the Hartmetz brewery in Louisville continued to use the superlative “sterling” in describing some of its beers, but Charles died in 1891, which is when John F. Oertel purchased it from Charles’ widow, leading to the popular Louisville brand Oertel’s. Years later, Sterling and Oertel’s ’92 would become popular competing brands.

Jackson hopes to pay tribute to that legacy with a taproom that doubles as a Sterling Museum. He hopes the spot will eventually become a destination for locals and tourists with multiple beers on tap — and a steady supply of original Sterling pilsner. He even hopes there is space for a canning line in the roughly 2,400 square feet of space. Renovation on the buildings is not expected to begin until at least fall 2016, and there is no timeline for opening.

“We’re still researching the building,” Jackson admits. “There’s always that chance we get into that building and it’s too overwhelming to do.”

He hopes luck will be with Sterling this time. Jackson wants to figure out a way to erase past perception and bring Sterling back to its former glory, both here and around the region. He believes that starts by giving beer drinkers a place where they can meet with friends and drink the beer, learn about its history, and also have other craft beer available to them.

“We got lot of kickback when we had the four packs out and people were like, ‘Sterling?’” he says. “That’s a huge hurdle. I know Falls City has gone through the same thing. I don’t know what else to do but get it in people’s hands and let them try it. … My biggest goal would be to walk into every pub in the city and people are drinking Sterling. I don’t care if they call it ‘craft’ — I don’t care what they call it. It’s a man’s beer. And it’s too good of a brand to lay dormant.”

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Tailspin Ale Fest turns 3 with more beer and more charity

crowd-shot-tailspinTisha Gainey and Trevor Cravens hope to donate $10,000 to Dare to Care following this year’s Tailspin Ale Fest, set for Saturday, Feb. 20, at Louisville Executive Aviation Hangar. That would be roughly triple the donation made the first year the festival was held.

Of course, there will be beer, as always. Lots of delicious, craft beer. But one of the key focuses of the festival continues to be on maintaining its local flavor. For instance, the first Tailspin featured seven Kentucky breweries. This year, there will be up to 20. Throw in local food trucks and other vendors, and a whole lot of local artisans and businesses are benefiting, in addition to the charity.

Other Louisville beer festivals operate similarly, from the Fest of Ale to Highlands Beer Festival to Brew at the Zoo. By contrast, a number of people likely will attend Louisville On Tap this Saturday. While there will surely be plenty of beer to sample, this festival is one of more than 80 “On Tap” events produced by a Connecticut-based company called Townsquare Media, which primarily owns radio stations in mid-market cities and does live events.

There is no charity beneficiary; profits go to the parent company, so in essence, it is an out-of-town cash grab. For example, Louisville On Tap has its own Groupon. When I tried to contact the umbrella America On Tap asking for media info about the Louisville version of the event, I found no contact name or info. I filled out a website form asking for information, and the response was simply, “Who do you work for?” When I responded “Insider Louisville,” I received no further communication.

west-sixth-TailspinMeanwhile, as I sat talking with Cravens and Gainey about the 2016 Tailspin, I could barely type quickly enough to catch all the new features and hard-to-find beers. First off, the founders have configured efforts to make sure there is a sizable donation when it’s all said and done. Whereas the first year, the final donation was dependent upon the festival’s success, now that is not totally the case.

“We’ve expanded our efforts just by working with sponsors and distributors to find ways to raise money,” Cravens said. “We’re connecting the dots between nonprofits and people in our circle. We’ve created other avenues.”

One such avenue, which started last year, is Paper Stein, a project with Tailspin’s title sponsor, Liquor Barn. It enables customers to donate in advance without going to the event. Meanwhile, breweries now have the option to easily donate the money they make from the sales of their kegs to the festival, Gainey said.

By raising cash, rather than, say, having a can drive at the door, it enables Dare to Care to purchase fresh food, she added.

Meanwhile, new sponsors Yum! Brands Foundation (a Dare to Care supporter) and Middleton Reutlinger Law Offices are community-focused and will help maximize the funds raised at the festival itself. And with the festival’s continued growth and success, more and more sponsors are interested in getting involved.

“It’s so nice that it’s all falling into place,” Gainey said. “We’re just tweaking things to make it better.”

Of course, let’s not forget the beer. Gainey rattled off a long list, and quite a few will have hardcore beer nerds salivating. Here are several Tailspin attendees should get a chance to sample:

Founder’s Kentucky Bourbon Stout, a highly desirable brew all beer nerds know; Country Western Vol. 3, a collaboration between Lexington breweries West Sixth and Country Boy not readily available in Louisville; New Belgium Transatlantique Kriek, a cherry sour; Sweetwater The Pit & Pendulum, an apricot American wild ale; and Great Lakes Brewing/Oskar Blues Brewery/ Lagerheads Brewing collaborative called Mash Appeal, which is a Kentucky Common that is usually only available on premise.

This represents just a small fraction of the list.

And since beer festivals are affairs in which beer samples can quickly sneak up on people, this year Tailspin Ale also will unveil a phone app. Not only can you rate the beers as you try them, you can get info on the brewery and also see the timed tapping schedule.

Meanwhile, Lou’s Brew Bus and World of Beer will team up to provide a $10 pint-and-ride by bus, as well as shuttles to and from the parking lot. Cravens noted he has conducted research to find out the best way to handle the gate so that people will be able to get into the festival with minimal waiting time. Add to that music, pin-up girls, a photo booth and more, and it sounds like another successful festival is on tap.

Finally, for those upset with the bathroom situation from last year, that has been reconfigured to mirror year one, Gainey said. She also suggests to all attendees that they dress warm; it’s an airplane hangar in February, after all. (There are plenty more features and details at the festival’s website.)

As for Louisville On Tap, the Tailspin folks hold no ill will, but it bears noting that a festival like that one is aimed at a different demographic. In other words, it might not be as desirable for the hardcore beer lover.

“It’s kind of a beginner’s beer festival,” Gainey said, echoing a promotional video on the America On Tap website.

“They get to an audience we’re probably not reaching,” Cravens agreed, noting that Louisville is simply a city that enjoys staying busy, which makes it attractive for out-of-market companies. “It’s hard to look at Louisville and not think it’s an opportunity to do something.”

Tailspin Ale Fest tickets are $75 for VIP, $45 for general admission and $15 for designated driver. The festival is 3-7 p.m., with VIP ticket holders admitted at 2 p.m.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Flat 12 re-brands

Flat 12 rebrandSpeaking of Flat 12 Bierwerks turning 5, the Indianapolis-based brewery today announced a re-branding. Gone are the quirky cartoon caricatures, and in their place we have new, more fleshed-out artwork.

“Our new branding is more representative of us as company. It continues the legacy of our namesake —a classic game-changing engine— as we take it back to a more refined design and move towards a more revved up beer,” says Director of Brewery Operations, Sean Manahan.

In a press release, Flat 12 announced it was going for “visual identities that are both retro and modern,” focused on its Indy roots. (As you well know if you’re reading this, Flat 12 also has a Jeffersonville location, but to this point it has been a tap room only — nary a drop has been brewed there yet, though I hear it will happen this year.)

Flat 12 rebrand 2“The continuity of the new packaging represents Flat12 and who we are as a brewery, but each beer also has an individual message that ties back into our core values,” adds  Marketing Director, Valerie Green.  “For example, Pogue’s Run is the brewery’s backyard creek, so we wanted the new Pogue’s Run Porter design to incorporate water to reflect our commitment to cleaning up Indianapolis waterways. Whether it’s buying from local hop farmers, hosting fundraisers, or helping educate the public on organizations that share our values, we are an active participant in supporting our community, and that’s a big part of who we are as a company.”

To kick off the re-branding, Flat12 will be having contests, quizzes, and giveaways via  social media. Follow Flat12 on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Flat12 to hold 5th anniversary bash in Jeffersonville

Direct from Flat12:

Flat12 logoThis January, Flat12 will celebrate 5 years of brewing in Indiana. To mark the milestone, we are inviting our fans, partners and customers to come out to the Jeffersonville taproom January 23rd for an epic Anniversary Party. The party will feature more than 20+ beers including barrel-aged, specialty brews, bombers, along with beer specials and live music from 502 Stringband.

We will also be making a VERY special Flat12 announcement this January, so watch for details!

Whether it’s through our commitment to brewing consistent, quality beer, buying from local hop farmers, hosting fundraisers, or helping educate the public on organizations that foster our shared values, we are committed to our customers and are an active participant in supporting the community they live in. Thanks to our community reciprocating this support, our company continues to grow and we want to celebrate this milestone with all the people that have helped us grow and thank them for being a part of this journey.

“Five years ago, we started the process of making our dream a reality, and along the way made great friends, brewed great beer, and developed great partnerships. To thank everyone who has made Flat12 a success, we’re excited to celebrate 5 years in a big way.” said Sean O’Connor, Founder and President of Flat12.

The party is free to attend and traditional half pints and pints will be available for purchase. For $20, guests can also purchase a commemorative glass that will allow them to enjoy 4oz for the duration of the event.

5th Anniversary Celebration
Flat12 Bierwerks
130 W. Riverside Dr.
Jeffersonville, IN
Time: 6-11p / Live Music 7-9p
FREE / 21+ / $20 sample & glassware package
Event Link

Falls City Beer to Celebrate WFPK 20th Anniversary with Specialty Brew

Direct from Falls City:

louisville beer - falls cityThe 20th anniversary of Louisville’s beloved independent radio station, 91.9 WFPK, will be toasted with a one-of-a-kind beer collaboration of an independent Louisville craft brewer and a local coffee shop favorite.

To celebrate WFPK’s two decades, Falls City Beer will serve a limited edition Quills Coffee Brown at the Jan. 9 All Star Jam concert, with a portion of sales supporting the local independent music station. The anniversary concert takes place this Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Brown Theater and will feature Ben Sollee, Wax Fang, Twin Limb and more.

Also, a portion of sales of Quills Coffee Brown at the craft brewer’s bar and restaurant location, Over the 9, will benefit WFPK while supply of the limited edition brew lasts.

Falls City’s Quills Coffee Brown is a collaboration with Quills Coffee, the Louisville-based coffee shop and roaster recently dubbed “America’s Best Coffeehouse.” The beer is brewed with chocolate and crystal malts to complement but not overwhelm the coffee addition, and then infused with Quills Inkwell Blend coffee using a cold-extraction method. At 6.8 percent ABV, it’s a well-balanced beer that will complement the high-energy of the concert.

“WFPK rocks and we want to toast them with a beer that rocks as well and that celebrates Louisville’s independent spirit,” said Cezary Wlodarczyk, president of Falls City Beer. “We’re thrilled to be part of an event that toasts a local radio station that is a critical part of the Louisville cultural fabric.”

Falls City Master Brewer Dylan Greenwood will also be on hand at the event to talk craft beer with fans, and to provide inspiration for attendees to take #FallsCityBearded selfies with handheld beard cutouts.

Falls City Beer will also offer Kentucky Common on draft. Kentucky Common is an easy-drinking ale brewed with corn, barley and rye – similar to a bourbon mashbill. The beer style originated in Louisville and, at one point, most beer consumed in Louisville was in the Common style before it disappeared during Prohibition.

Hipster Repellant IPA, a piney, citrusy IPA with a caramel and toffee malt bill available year round, will also be on offer in bottles.

Tickets to the WFPK 20th Anniversary Celebration All Star Jam can be purchased in advance at www.kentuckycenter.org.

Akasha Brewing revs up Pintwood Derby charity event Jan. 24

Logo created by Kentucky Brushes.
Logo created by Kentucky Brushes

If you were ever involved with Cub Scouts, chances are you had the Pinewood Derby experience wherein you built your own miniature car, painted it and raced it against other Scouts in your region.

My car didn’t win a thing, but being involved in an actual race was quite a thrill. Hey, I was 9. And if you share a similar childhood memory, Akasha Brewing has just the thing: the Pintwood Derby, which will happen Sunday, Jan. 24.

Just imagine your childhood Pinewood Derby, but with craft beer. Not bad, eh?

Here’s how it works: Any local business, club or organization can sponsor a car in the Akasha Pintwood Derby for a mere $20. The sponsor then builds and decorates its own car from a kit supplied by Akasha, and the top three finishers receive monetary donations for a charity of their choosing based on the total amount of the entry fees. Winners also get a commemorative trophy.

The idea for Pintwood Derby came from Paul Young’s own experience with Scouts.

“I thought this would be a fun idea for local businesses,” says Young, who coordinates events for Askasha. “I wanted to do a twist on an old concept.”

Akasha is teaming up with Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA) for the derby, which Young hopes will become an annual event. In addition, expect at least one, maybe two, food trucks, and possibly guest beers from other local breweries such as Monnik Beer Co. Young has been organizing special events on Sundays at Akasha, from local brewing history to game nights to movie screenings.

“That little pocket of NuLu is not very active on Sundays, so we wanted to do something to help draw people over to us,” he says.

Competitors for each heat will be randomly drawn, with double elimination, and races will continue in elimination fashion until the top three remain. Donation prizes will be 50 percent of entry fees for first place, 30 percent for second place and 20 percent for third place.

The entry deadline is Friday, Jan. 15, and teams are responsible for bringing their own cars to the Pintwood Derby. Teams may design their cars however they like, but each car’s weight must not exceed 5 ounces, the overall width of the car should not exceed 2¾ inches, and the overall length of the car should not exceed 7 inches (they must be able to fit on a standard Pinewood Derby track).

As far as modifications, entrants can modify as much or as little as they want. The Pinewood Derby car kits come race-ready other than paint and/or decals. Of course, there are ways to make the cars faster, if an organization wants to get competitive.

“I think it’s more about making the car part of the organization’s identity,” Young says. “If they want to do faster cars, there are probably people they could talk to in engineering who might know more about the aerodynamics. I think the main focus is to have fun and make a car that is identifiable to their organization; really, beyond that, people can shape it however they like it.”

Young, who previously owned and operated My Old Kentucky Home Brew, now works at both Akasha and Monnik. He wanted to remain active in the local beer scene, and he’s carved out a new niche.

“I spent seven years selling hypothetical beer, so it’s really nice to be able to say, ‘Here, taste this,’” he says.

Akasha is located at 909 E. Market St. in NuLu; doors will open at 1 p.m. on the 24th, with races beginning at 2 p.m. To enter or for more information, contact Young at paul@akashabrewing.com. Entries should include the following information: business, club or organization name; street address (for car kit delivery); phone number; email address, and charity.

West Sixth Brewing to release new canned beer: the Snake Eyes Imperial Stout

Direct from West Sixth Brewing:

W6 Snake EyesWest Sixth Brewing announced today the release of the newest beer in their specialty line of seasonal cans – the Snake Eyes Imperial Stout.

“We’re very excited to release this next beer in our seasonal line ” said West Sixth co-founder Ben Self. “We’ve made Snake Eyes since our first year in 2012 – releasing it each winter. It’s always a crowd favorite”.

Snake Eyes Imperial Stout is brewed with many roasted malts, with flavor hints of chocolate, coffee and a touch of caramel sweetness, making up an exceptional flavor profile. A high ABV stout, it’s sure to take the chill out of the air.

“Everyone at West Sixth loves malty stouts – and we make quite a few different varieties” said brewer and co-founder Robin Sither. “Snake Eyes always rises to the top every year”.

“Snake Eyes Imperial Stout takes its name from the strength to which it’s brewed – ending up at 11% alcohol by volume”, said co-founder Brady Barlow. “It’s also the beer we have the most fun aging in bourbon barrels to make beers like Snakes in a Barrel and Snake Cake”.

As with all West Sixth cans, the can design was created by Brian Turner of Lexington-based Cricket Press.

“Similar to the Heller Heaven Double IPA release earlier this year, we’ll be releasing this beer for a short run in limited quantities” said co-founder Joe Kuosman. “Once it’s gone, it’s done for the year.”

Snake Eyes Imperial Stout will be available in 4-packs of cans and on draft throughout Kentucky and Cincinnati, OH beginning on January 4th, 2016.

Germantown Craft House will up the ante when it opens in summer 2016

Germantown Craft House rendering

Rendering by Architectural Artisans.

When I first spoke with Pat Hagan about his plans for the Craft House on Frankfort Avenue, he and fellow owner Brad Culver mused that they would like to see the name develop organically into “Crescent Hill Craft House,” as they likely would open other locations down the road.

It did, and in summer of 2016, they are.

But whereas the original Craft House was set in a space marked with memory and featuring beautiful exposed brick with arches, the forthcoming Germantown Craft House will be located at 1030 Goss Ave. in a building that heretofore has housed offices.

In other words, it’s not already a comfortable space for a bar and restaurant, which was the case when neighborhood favorite Dark Star began its transformation.

“We’re going to have to bring the comfort into it,” Craft House co-owner Bo Kerley says. “The building itself lends itself to a different look.”

Which is to say the ownership group isn’t going to replicate what it did in Crescent Hill, but rather will create a sibling that bears a resemblance but isn’t a twin. As such, the 4,500-square-foot building, which the owners are buying from Underhill Associates, will be completely re-imagined and re-designed, with help from Architectural Artisans.

The Germantown Craft House will feature a 1,000-square-foot outdoor deck facing Goss, along with an A-frame glass facade that will, indeed, make it different than its sister establishment. Inside, Kerley says, wood salvaged from the forthcoming Underhill-owned Germantown Mill Lofts will help bring about that feeling of comfort from floor to ceiling.

Kerley and Hagan declined to reveal their investment, but a complete overhaul, they admit, isn’t cheap. Still, located just across from The Post and Four Pegs, the Germantown Craft House will give Louisvillians yet one more reason to venture into that area of town (as if they need more), giving the owners confidence that it will not just succeed but become a staple of the neighborhood.

The new Craft House likely will feature 50 taps instead of 40, pouring all local and regional beer, along with signature craft cocktails, a brunch menu and iced coffee drinks.

Pat Hagan

Pat Hagan

“It’s still going to be food-oriented,” Hagan said, “but it will probably be more of a bar” than the Crescent Hill version.

Asked if the menu will be the same, Hagan said, “Yes and no. We’re going to do it a little bit to the area.”

And by that, he means that sausages made on-site will be available, along with liverwurst and other traditional German favorites. Kerley confirms that the more popular dishes on the Crescent Hill menu will make their way to the Germantown version, and the food will still be sourced locally as much as possible.

Permits and planning are under way, but few details are set in stone. After the new Craft House opens, Hagan and his crew will set their sights on a new Blugrass Brewing Company location on Fourth Street, which is planned for fall of 2017.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Monnik Beer Co., finally open, is well worth the wait

Monnik Beer 4Well, it took almost three years, but Monnik Beer Co. is finally open in Germantown, just across the street from Check’s Café. And you know what? It was totally worth the wait.

The space at 1036 E. Burnett Ave., the former home of Zeppelin Café, is clean and inviting, there are plenty of taps pouring fresh beer, and there is already a buzz that is helping make the brewery and taproom a place to be. The food menu is brief but deliciously diverse, and the beer is not just on point, but outstanding.

There have been times when the delay has dragged on so long, it has been joked about; owners Brian Holton and Ian Luijk were never joking, however, and they have delivered.

I went to Monnik twice over the holiday weekend, and the first thing I am going to say is this: Monnik’s IPA, to my palate, is probably the best in the city right now. I have tasted most of the Monnik beers, and they all are excellent, but that one really nails it for me. (Case in point: They had run out of the stuff by the time I made my second visit, so I guess I’m not alone.)

I also tried three of the menu items and was impressed by all three. No, this is not a fine cuisine experience — it’s a brewery and taproom — but what is better than a cozy room that serves fresh beer and good pub food? Not much. Monnik has already leaped to the top of the heap in that regard.

Monnik Beer 3Friends told me the beer cheese and spent grain bread was a highlight, so when my girlfriend Cynthia, our friend Jessica and I went, that was what I insisted we order. The beer cheese was mild, thick and rather basic, almost resembling pimento cheese without the pimento. But the bread? Yeah, it’s delicious, soft and would taste good by itself or with just about anything else spread on it. Spent grains usually go to local farms to feed livestock, but this is a great way to repurpose the husks for the taproom — on top of that, it’s a beautiful pairing, because the bread and lightly tangy cheese balance each other so nicely.

The 12-item menu also has a starter called curry baked beans on soda bread, a take on an English pub classic. We tried that as well, and it was simple, affordable and, well, kind of brilliant. The sweet baked beans were fresh and cooked plump, with just the right amount of curry, and the soda bread was an inch thick, soft and delicious. I was scooping up excess beans from the basket in which the appetizer was delivered like a greedy miser. They were that tasty.

Cynthia and I went back a few days later after a friend told me about the Bier Burger, which is not on the menu but apparently is going to be in the very near future. We each got one, and they came out quickly (kudos to the Monnik kitchen staff, by the way) with hand-cut fries.

Monnik Beer 6 burgerThe burgers are served on thick and soft wheat buns, and the best way I can describe the single-patty burgers are that they are sort of like the ultimate Steak ’N’ Shake tribute. The burger I had was thin, cooked crisp on the outside, yet medium rare inside, and hanging off the bun. I’ve had better burgers, but it was quite tasty, topped with the aforementioned beer cheese, beer mustard, onion rings and pickles.

Cynthia ordered hers with the beer mustard on the side, which gave us a chance to really experience it, and it had quite a nice kick. She also ordered a side of curry ketchup, and it was a sweet and mildly spicy complement to the fries.

As noted, the menu is fairly brief, yet not simple — in fact, it’s quite well designed, with nods to English pub favorites in the curry beans and Mokie’s Pie, which comes in two versions, pork and currant and roasted root vegetables.

There are a pair of house burgers, which look to be every bit as promising as the Bier Burger, as well as a neighborhood-appropriate sauerbraten, not to mention smoked trout with poached egg, and War Fries, which are french fries served with Dutch mayo, peanut sauce and chopped onions. Nothing is priced over $12. (We also heard good things about the fried kalette salad.)

If you’ve not tried the beer, get ready for a lengthy and tasty tour. Ranging from an accessible and low-octane English mild (Mild George) to a zesty ginger saison to a 9.0 ABV Sour Cyanator, a doppelbock aged in a sour barrel and whiskey barrel. For beginners, there’s the crisp and drinkable Hauck’s Pilsner, named in tribute to Hauck’s Handy Store, just a few blocks away. The point is, there will no doubt be something to satisfy your taste buds.

Again, it was a long wait for Monnik’s opening, but well worth it. Now I just have to hope they won’t run out of IPA again.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.