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.)

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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

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

Against the Grain announces ‘Brews and Bruises’ wrestling-themed beer launch event to introduce new pilsner

Brews and Bruises posterJust when you think you’ve seen everything, Against the Grain announces a beer release that will pay tribute to WCW Hall-of-Famer Randy “Macho Man” Savage and the legendary wrestling Poffo family. The brewery will launch the beer Saturday, Nov. 21, with a night of wrestling entertainment in the Slugger Field concourse.

The collaboration between Against the Grain, Ohio Valley Wrestling and Dauntless Distributing will unveil Poffo Pilsner in honor the family, which turned out a trio of legendary wrestlers in Savage (whose real last name is Poffo), Lanny Poffo and Angelo Poffo.

The event, dubbed “Brews and Bruises,” came about a bit by accident, according to Sam Cruz of Against the Grain. The brewery was set to release a pilsner-style beer anyway, but needed a name for it. Cruz and brewer Jerry Gnagy were joking about the number of pilsners on the craft market that start with the letter P — Prima Pils, Polestar Pilsner, Pivo Hoppy Pils — and started coming up with names that started with “P” to carry on the traditional alliterative naming style.

Enter the halfway serious suggestion of “Poffo.” Yes, it seemed an odd way to name a beer, but since both Gnagy and Cruz are wrestling fans, they decided to go with it. As it turns out, they have friends in the wrestling business, and when these friends got wind of the name and the inspiration, they suggested a cross-promotion between the brewery and the sport.

“It was like, ‘Sure, whatever, we’ll talk,’” Cruz said. “The next thing you know, it’s, ‘Holy shit, we’re going to launch a beer at a wrestling match. A pro wrestling match.’”

Cruz said it has already been fun learning how a professional wrestling event is planned, adding the Ohio Valley Wrestling has been great to work with in that regard. He said attendees should expect classic American wrestling tradition to pair with their new German pilsner.

Of course, professional wrestling brings with it a certain amount of theatricality and drama. Asked if that aspect of the sport will enter into the event, or potentially even spill over into the brewery, Cruz was mum. He did, however, say, “Crazier things have happened.”

This could get interesting.

Wrestling stars from across the country will come to Louisville to take part in “Brews and Bruises.” The night’s card features the Danny Davis Invitational, which is a one-night, tag-team tournament including internationally known tag champions The Wolves, Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards, as well as former World Wrestling Entertainment and Ring of Honor tag champions Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. OVW will also crown a new women’s champion at “Brews and Bruises” with a ladies’ battle royal.

To say the least, it will be an interesting cross-promotion.

“We kind of feel like there’s a place in market for a good, classic, German pilsner,” Cruz said. But to launch it at a pro wrestling match?

“It’s out there. It’s not something you see, normally, for a beer release,” he said. “It gives us the opportunity to connect with a different audience, also. It’s a neat opportunity. It should be interesting.”

A special ticketed meet-and-greet kicks off the evening at 5:30 p.m., with the event beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online. Tickets for the meet-and-greet are $15, while tickets for the wrestling event range from $25 to $50.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Against the Grain conspires to present Swayze Dayze Sept. 18

louisville beer - against the grain logoOne thing about Sam Cruz over at Against the Grain, he sure knows how to write a fun press release. This one is about a new collaborative event that, yes, will involve beer. Lots and lots of beer. Here it is in Sam’s own tongue:

To you the lovely, esteemed, and pleasant smelling members of the press, we have an exciting, dare I say titillating, announcement.  Against The Grain and eight other American breweries have conspired to produce an event of monumental proportions.  On September 18th, 2015, we will celebrate the first annual national celebration of Swayze Dayze. Swayze Dayze is our response to the international event Zwanze Day.  Zwanze, is the cult beer-ophiles dream event, where Belgian brewery Can’tillion releases a once a year,  lambic-esque styled beer (which is probably infected with horse blankets or sumptin) to be consumed at select bars throughout the world.  Having been “fortunate” enough to sample these beers and attend an event, we feel it necessary to, in American fashion, do it better, faster, and harder and longer and with hungry eyes.  So an event the day before, paying tribute to America’s greatest hero, Patrick Swayze, makes perfect sense.  On second thought, it makes no sense other than Swayze sounds kinda like Zwanze, but I digress.  It is our mission to literally roundhouse kickstart the excitement of a beer nerds event a day early and potentially rip their throat out with a beer that is actually brewed a short distance from them. This event will take place at an as of yet undetermined number of at least average or better craft beer centric bars east of the Mississippi River. The event will feature a very special beer titled Dalton’s Kriek that the participating breweries conspired to produce.  You’ll have the time of your life…and you’ll owe it all to uhhh-ussss! The following breweries have created a very limited amount of their local iteration of Dalton’s Kriek:

  • 1 Against The Grain Brewery (Louisvlle, KY)
  • 2 18th Street Brewery (Gary, IN)
  • 3 Carton Brewery (Atlantic Highlands, NJ)
  • 4 4 Hands Brewery (St. Louis, MO)
  • 5 Central State Brewery (Indianapolis, IN)
  • 6 Marz Brewery (Chicago, IL)
  • 7 Edmunds Oast (Charleston, SC)
  • 8 Trophy Brewing (Raleigh, NC)
  • ●9 Ethereal Brewing (Lexington, KY)

Each brewery has committed to producing a limited amount of its own Dalton’s Kriek and will send small amounts out to select bars of their choosing to feature the beer, along with Swayzecentric celebrations (pottery, martial arts, dancing, bow-hunting, working on cars and general awesomeness), all of which to occur on Sept 18th. in your area.

Against the Grain Brewery joins governor on trade mission to Canada

Photo courtesy of Sam J. Cruz.

Photo courtesy of Sam J. Cruz.

Canada is Kentucky’s biggest trade partner — in fact, the commonwealth exported more than $7.6 billion in products and services to our neighbors in the north last year, topped by motor vehicles, auto parts and aerospace products; iron, steel and ferro-alloy; resin and synthetic rubber; and machinery.

Kentucky Gov.  Steve Beshear leads Kentucky Export Initiative trade missions to Canada, and this year he chose a local company to be a representative during the May 25-30 venture. That representative? Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse.

Why is this so important to a brewery that is already distributing products in dozens of U.S. states and in Europe? Well, for one, because Canadians love beer, in particular many of the barrel-aged products in which Against the Grain specializes, according to brewery co-owner Sam J. Cruz.

But it’s also not easy for a company that makes alcoholic beverages to get their products into Canada, he adds.

“It’s a monopoly,” Cruz says. “The government decides what products go in, so it pretty much eliminates competition. We were able to connect personally with the people who are making those decisions and can now eliminate that barrier or wall that acts to keep competition out. I would say that’s a priceless thing to make that connection.”

What it means is that now Against the Grain will be able create an export packet to present its products for approval by the appropriate governing body. A process that might have taken two years previously (if it worked at all) can now be completed in just a few months, or possibly even less.

Basically, Cruz and fellow Against the Grain owner Adam Watson toured Canadian cities Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto with a handful of other participating Kentucky businesses, building relationships that will help foster future trade agreements.

One beer Cruz identified as a potential export to Canada is called Coq de la Marsh, an easy-drinking saison-style beer, but the aforementioned signatures such as Kentucky Ryed Chiquen also are prime candidates. He notes, however, that the higher the alcohol content in Canada, the higher the price, so the saison is a perfect first step as a market entry product as it’s a mild 5.8 percent ABV.

“By giving them something in that middle range, they can keep the price down,” Cruz says. “But they also want all of the crazy big barrel-aged beers, and we can give them that.”

In addition, Cruz says the initial product offering shouldn’t take long: “Realistically, within five months, we will be in Montreal. And that’s a really conservative estimate.”

Cruz says the opportunity essentially came about as a result of Kentucky breweries establishing a relationship with government officials in Frankfort during the House Bill 168 battle earlier this year. He believes that in addition to being a small victory for bluegrass brewers, it will continue to provide inroads.

More than that, Against the Grain’s presence on the mission trip will have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the breweries in Louisville and around the state. Essentially, breweries can use Against the Grain’s presentation as a template to promote their own beers, and Cruz and his partners can make sure those packets get to the appropriate representatives.

Against the Grain is committed to helping other small Kentucky companies, Cruz says, and “part of that is putting Kentucky brewers on a national stage. We can take the information … and package it in a way so they can take it forward themselves. We can be advisors. In this case, we’ll feel really good about doing it in a foreign country.”

Of course, that is a big part of the mission.

“Canada is the largest destination for Kentucky-made products, but there are many additional opportunities for our small businesses to build partnerships with our neighbors to the north,” said Gov. Beshear said in a press release announcing the trip. “This trade mission will give Kentucky businesses the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings, form relationships to increase sales and explore international markets.”

Of course, it wasn’t all meetings and pressing flesh. There was beer consumed, and there were luncheons and other gatherings that involved simply meeting people to present what Kentucky business owners are really like — putting a face to the products, if you will.

“It might have been good for them to meet brewers,” Cruz says, chuckling, “maybe dressed down a little bit, with tattoos.”

Ultimately, it is an extension of what is going on not just in Louisville or around the commonwealth, but everywhere: Craft beer is a hot item.

“Quite frankly, internationally it’s booming,” Cruz says. “Everybody’s excited about good beer. I was really amazed by that and the interest our government officials who met with us had in craft beer. And the ambassador to Canada was really into talking about it.”

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

New summer menu at Against the Grain is meat-friendly and fun (try the jerky)

Against the Grain rib tipsJust when it seemed like Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse couldn’t possibly fit anything else on its plate in the wake of firing up a new brewery in the last couple of months and launching its first line of canned beers, it has. Literally.

Co-owner Sam Cruz announced in a press release that Chef Jordan Delewis has unleashed a new menu for summer that expands the brewery’s selection of smoked meats while adding a few new wrinkles, including caramel-bacon popcorn and donut holes, not to mention new cocktail options.

A new house specialty is a smoked ham and cheese sandwich for $11, described with these tantalizing ingredients: “sweet tea city ham, Kenny’s white cheddar, arugula, apple mustard, Breadworks brioche bun.”

There’s also now a house-made smoked sausage by the link or on a bun ($6.50 or $8.50), not to mention spare ribs, either half ($14) or full rack ($26).

“Chef Jordan has put an emphasis on our smoked meats,” the press release crows.

Indeed. But that isn’t all. Hi-Five Donuts has invaded the dessert menu with bacon-glazed donuts topped with house-cured bacon. Even the desserts are meat. And the aforementioned donut holes are served with beer custard made, of course, with Against the Grain beer.

And if you crave a bar snack, try out the bacon-caramel popcorn, which is exactly what the name says it is, for $3, or perhaps some house-made barbecue beef jerky for $4.

I stopped in recently with two meat-focused menu items I wanted to try: the jerky and an order of “Hot Tips” — rib tips served with house hot barbecue sauce. For $9, I figured I’d get six or eight good-sized tips, then I’d move onto the jerky. Hey, this is an appetizer item — it didn’t dawn on me it would be a plate designed for sharing, even though it absolutely should have.

So, what was presented to me was a pile of barbecued meat, served wet. They didn’t give me silverware — they’re rib tips, after all. So I dug in.

The smaller bites were chewy, even crackly, while the larger tips were tender with crispy edges and full of pork flavor, nicely smoked. Plenty of fat is left on the tips, which was fine with me. The only obstacles were the occasional small bone tips, but that’s part of the fun with a dish like this.

The sauce is spot on for the dish, although I would actually prefer a bit more heat, as the thick, red sauce relies more on a sweet-ish Southern tangy flavor than the visible peppers. (Although, as you plow through, there is a slowly building, lingering warmth.) They’re also good left over, and my dog Darby got plenty of enjoyment from the rubbery bone tips.

I made a good call by pairing the meat plate with a pint of The Ballad of Hoppy Johnny, the IPA of choice on tap the day I visited; the brew offered mild hop (65.7 IBU) and a nice, dry fruity bitterness into the mix.

AtG jerkyAbout halfway through, I asked for a to-go box and added some jerky to my order. And, to my great disappointment, they were out. I let out an audible groan, after which my server apologized. So I waited a few days and returned, and boy, am I glad I did.

For $4, I got a cup of about seven or eight strips of tender, peppery jerky that was not far removed from simply being flat iron steak. This isn’t the dry, stringy stuff you get at a gas station, this is nicely smoked and barbecued meat bursting with flavor that also has a slowly building heat profile.

I enjoyed my order with a California Common-style beer called I Left My Pride in San Francisco, but I have to say that jerky would actually partner well with a cabernet sauvignon or even a zinfandel. And if Against the Grain named its food the way it names its beers, they might call the jerky Get Your Own. Yeah, it was that good.

Anyway, I’ll say that if the rest of the new menu is as good as the jerky and Hot Tips, it’s going to be a good summer at AtG. A line of new canned beers and a production brewery that operates nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week apparently is just a start.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Opinion: In approval of ‘Beer Bill,’ Kentucky finally rights a wrong

Brewers at StatehouseAll the controversy and scuttlebutt the past few weeks over House Bill 168, aka the “Beer Bill,” bordered on ridiculous. I found myself confused over the entire issue, because, to me, it came down to one simple question: Do we have a three-tier system of alcohol distribution, or don’t we?

If we do, then the obvious action was to block A-B InBev (or any brewery) from being able to distribute its own products in Kentucky. That’s why there is a separation between supplier, distributor and retailer in the first place (thanks, Prohibition). If we don’t have a three-tier system, well, then it’s open season — all Kentucky breweries should be empowered to sell and distribute their products as they see fit. But a long-existing loophole enabled out-of-state brewers to distribute in Kentucky while in-state breweries could not.

So, the Kentucky General Assembly’s approval of HB 168 — which the Senate passed yesterday and will become law once it reaches Gov. Steve Beshear’s desk — was tantamount to lawmakers righting a longstanding wrong. A sort of political “Oops, our bad.” If Kentucky’s breweries were David armed with right versus wrong, then Goliath never had a chance. It just took awhile.

In 1978, Anheuser-Busch opened a distributor in Louisville thanks to the aforementioned loophole. That distributing company has done business here for nearly four decades without a peep of dispute. But when A-B InBev (Anheuser-Busch was acquired by foreign-owned InBev in 2008) bought a distributor in western Kentucky back in the fall of 2014, it sparked a new round of examination.

Why? One simple reason, as far as I’m concerned: the soaring popularity of craft beer. In 1978, beer was beer — nearly every American thought of beer as being fizzy yellow liquid that almost had a flavor. Why? Because thanks to companies like Anheuser-Busch, Schlitz and Miller, that’s what it had become. It was a thoroughly homogenized commodity. So, it’s 1978 and A-B is going to distribute beer outside the three-tier system thanks to a careless loophole in the law? Who cares? Falls City closed that same year, leaving Louisville without any local breweries.

It’s a different world now. Kentucky breweries have the Kentucky Guild of Brewers. They have leverage and support as state-owned and operated businesses. The playing field may not be level, as A-B InBev has a hell of a lot more money and clout than the barely funded KGB, but the Kentucky Guild had one thing on its side going into this standoff: It was right. When A-B InBev bought the distributorship near Owensboro and then Cincinnati brewery Rhinegeist Brewing formed its own distributorship, River Ghost, to take advantage of the same ridiculous loophole, in-state breweries spoke up, and lawmakers finally recognized it was time to close that loophole. It simply wasn’t fair.

The passage of HB 168 wasn’t easy. For one, ranks in the KGB split, with a handful of local breweries taking an “if-we-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em” stance and urging others to withhold support for HB 168 in an attempt to gain self-distribution rights. That notion was not without merit, as more than half of U.S. states have some form of self-distribution for small breweries, including Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee.

But early on in the struggle, Kentucky lawmakers reportedly drew the line on that possibility. And so, the remaining KGB members took up the fight. A-B InBev employed more than a dozen lobbyists in Frankfort and spent upwards of $2 million in an attempt to convince lawmakers and the public that their special privileges should not be taken away. Like a petulant child that had long been getting away with something, the mega-brewing conglomerate stomped its foot and whined about fairness.

The giant spent money on social media (@KYBudFacts) to spread its story. It referred to the in-state brewers as “greedy special interests” intent on killing Kentucky jobs. It insisted that craft beer had still thrived in spite of 40 years of A-B self-distribution in Louisville. It whined that it had had its special privileges for almost four decades and didn’t want to give them up.

But in the end, Kentucky brewers had one important trump card: They were right. The three-tier system was not being upheld. The loophole was unfair, and the brat had to finally start playing by the same rules as all the other kids on the playground. The brewers turned out in force to plead their case to lawmakers. Lawmakers listened and agreed. In this case, right made might.

During a text exchange with KGB executive director John King yesterday while he was in Frankfort, he relayed that one A-B InBev rep commented, “Maybe if we grow beards and wear jeans, we can get meetings with legislators.”

Spoken like a truly entitled brat.

Personally, I’m glad this thing is almost over — well, except for the inevitable lawsuit which A-B InBev is already threatening. Who knows how ugly that might get? But the three-tier system is the three-tier system, and it sounds like Kentucky has made its decision on the long-open loophole: It’s closed for business, at least for now. Perhaps if it ever reopens, it will open for all brewers — not just those from outside Kentucky. That never made any sense to begin with, and Kentucky lawmakers are finally acknowledging the fact.

So, congratulations to Kentucky brewers on this win, which we can hope will be the first of many. New breweries are opening all the time; Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse just made RateBeer’s Top 100 Breweries on Earth list. Good things are ahead.

King also passed along a quote from Against the Grain co-owner Adam Watson that perhaps sums it all up: “This three-year-old group of ragtag brewers just beat the largest brewer in the world.”

Goliath, meet David.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Against the Grain Named to RateBeer’s Top 100

louisville beer - against the grain logoThose guys over at Against the Grain get a lot of accolades for their beers.They just got another really, really impressive one. Here’s the press release:

We are excited and honored to announce our being named to RateBeer’s top 100 brewers in the world!
In addition to the prestigious honor of being on the ‘top 100’ list, AtG was also named for being the ‘Best Brewer’ and producing the ‘Best Beer’ (our very own 70K barrel aged imperial  milk stout) in Kentucky!

RateBeer is one of the largest and most respected beer forums in the world. Millions of people have posted beer reviews on the website since it launched in the year 2000. The ‘Top 100′ list is released annually, and brings notoriety to a brewery that makes the list.

The top 100 brewers in the world are according to reviews taken last year and weighted by performance within and outside of style, balanced by indicators of depth. The winners are presented by top 10 and country of origin and reflect the top performing brewers of over 19,000 listed at RateBeer.   (For complete results of this years RateBeer’s best, follow this link.
Against The Grain Brewery was established in 2011 by brewers Adam Watson, Jerry Gnagy, Sam Cruz and Andrew Ott.

In our short life thus far we have made a profound impact on the way Kentucky beer is enjoyed and perceived not only on a local level, but also on a national and international level. AtG, for short, is Louisville’s most innovative and progressive brewery.  Focused on quality, without compromise and a cavalier approach to producing beers for educating and enriching the local beer scene, Against The Grain beers have become a staple of Louisville beer aficionados conversation.

In our short life, AtG has been able to build a global market presence that allows us to boast our world class brewery and smokehouse located at Slugger Field, as well as launching a new, state of the art production facility in the Portland neighborhood of Louisville, KY.

Against the Grain’s new brewing operation now being ‘put to the test’

Agaisnt the Grain 1In the cavernous, 25,000-square-foot Against the Grain brewing operation in Portland sits a lonely 12-pack of Miller High Life.

The facility, which was announced in July and recently saw its brewing operation built out, brewed its first batch this week — a batch of Brown Note — and cranks up in earnest today with a double brew that will truly test the new equipment’s efficiency.

But break time at Against the Grain means cracking open a couple of cans of High Life, which offers a peek into the quirky humor and irony that comes out in AtG’s beer names and recipes. The 12-pack of beer now is the center of attention at the brewery.

“It’s the champagne of beers,” says co-owner Jerry Gnagy, mimicking the national brand’s long-time slogan. “It’s the official beer of the brewers at Against the Grain.”

Hey, the way Gnagy looks at it, any Against the Grain beer not consumed by the brewing team is extra profit that can be spent on more High Life. And around and around we go.

But in spite of the undertones of goofiness — Against the Grain has made beers with names like Attila the Hen and Bonfyre of the Daiquiris — this is one serious brewery. Since opening in 2011, it has quickly ascended into not just regional or national but international renown, cranking out a number of signature brews and becoming a Louisville destination brewery at its prime location at Slugger Field.

Over these Miller High Lifes, Gnagy, fellow owner Adam Watson and brewer Peter Fingerson talk about the big brew coming on Wednesday, Feb. 4. It’s a double batch of the Against the Grain’s signature IPA, Citra Ass Down, which will be one of the first two beers canned when the new canning operation goes online, likely in March.

So far, they’ve used the system once, for a batch of the Brown Note. But the 30-barrel Sprinkman brew system, which is built for efficiency, can crank out two batches a day when used correctly. But the equipment arrived on Jan. 29, so the crew is still learning how to use all the bells and whistles.

Against the Grain 2“We’re learning all the little subtleties that can bring the whole thing to a halt,” Watson says with a smile.

While giving a visitor a tour on Tuesday, Fingerson notes that what would be a roughly nine-hour brew at the brewery at Slugger Field is more like a four-and-a-half-hour brew on the new system. The mash tun features a set of automatic, rotating rakes to stir the mash evenly and precisely, whereas usually a brewer would have to stir it manually with a paddle.

And a whirlpool vessel allows the brewers to free up the kettle to start another boil, further trimming time and maximizing efficiency. Perhaps even more impressive, the system is electronically controlled. Heck, as long as the boiler is on, any of the brewers can wake up in the morning and start the equipment remotely using a cell phone.

That could come in handy, as Fingerson says the goal is to more or less brew around the clock; Gnagy says his hope is to brew 6,000 barrels this year, at least half of which will go into 16-ounce cans for four-pack retail sales. Gnagy says the old system at the Slugger Field brewery, which will continue to brew, put out about 1,600 barrels per year, with another 360 or so barrels contracted with a brewery in Maryland.

“We’ll be able to brew four times as much beer in the same amount of time,” Gnagy says.

The brewery also features a German-made Argelith tile foor. A tap room is in the offing for later in the year, and there is room for expansion — plenty of room. The space, located at 1800 Northwestern Pkwy., is truly humongous.

Canned products will be the long-term focus of the brewery, with a Belgian table beer called Sho’Nuff to be the second beer canned. Which future Against the Grain products get canned will depend largely on which beers are selling. Gnagy says consumers can realistically expect to see product on liquor-store shelves as early as April.

Of course, first the new brewing system and the Against the Grain team has to pass that first big test of brewing two batches of Against the Grain in a day.

“We’ll see what happens (Wednesday) when we put it to the test,” Fingerson says.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.