A Visit to Big Woods Brewing in Nashville, Ind.

louisville beer - big woods brewingBig Woods Brewing Company had been recommended to me by Peter Berkowitz of LEO Weekly — in large part due to the pulled pork nachos. When my girlfriend Cynthia and I made the 80-or-so-mile trip to Nashville, Ind., to check out the place, however, what we mostly encountered was people. Lots of people.

Lots and lots of people.

Eager and hungry, we went to Big Woods’ main restaurant to try and get a seat — only to be greeted by a 90-minute wait. We then decided to check out the Big Woods adjacent pizzeria, thinking maybe it would be less crowded. The result? Two-hour wait.

Ultimately, we ate pizza elsewhere (I won’t say where, because it sucked), and later fought our way through the crowds to make it to the Big Woods “tasting room,” which actually was more of a holding area where you could also get beer while you waited eternally for a seat in one of the dining rooms.

And so, while I was hoping to do a flight and write a longer visit report, I instead settled on having a couple of pints. Because two pints is better than no pints.

louisville beer - big woods busted knuckle aleBusted Knuckle Ale (7.2 percent ABV, 27 IBU): I love the description of Busted Knuckle on the Big Woods website: “Busted Knuckle is not a brew for sippers, sniffers, swirlers or pseudo-scientific beer analysts who spend more time talking about beer than drinking it. Busted Knuckle is the everyday, all occasion beer of choice for competent Quaffers.” It helps to know that Big Woods’ tagline is “Quaff ON!” Anyway, this is truly a good ale. The guy serving it in the holding area described it as “a cross between a brown ale and a porter,” and he was spot on. It’s nutty, with a big flavor thanks to roasted barley and a heaping helping of caramel malts, with a tiny hint of hoppiness. It’s described as Big Woods’ signature beer, and I can see why. Might have to track down some of this in bottles.

louisville beer - big woods hare trigger IPAHare Trigger IPA (6.5 percent ABV, 75 IBU): This one has a big, floral nose with a creamy body (although, the tap had just blown and I got the foamy stuff from a new keg, so that may have played a role — the head was magnificently too big) and a beautiful dark-orange or red color. The hop bitterness is medium, with a nice tingle left behind on the back of the palate. There’s also a nice, subtle malty quality that completes this beer. Solid.

That’s it. I wish I could have tried Cross Hare Double IPA and the rest of the Big Woods offerings, but the wait was simply too daunting. Perhaps we’ll return to Big Woods one day when it isn’t peak-freaking-tourist-season. January anyone?

Against the Grain’s ‘Brown Note’ Hits the Right Spot

louisville beer against the grain brown note

Against the Grain’s ‘Brown Note’ may look like root beer, but it’s the real thing.

I stopped in at Against the Grain last night after the weather got too chilly to continue watching the Louisville Bats play the Pawtucket Red Sox. To warm my bones, I decided to have a pint of ATG’s “Brown Note,” a brown malty ale, and bang out a few words for Louisville Beer Blog.

I am pleased to announce that Brown Note did not, unlike its theoretical namesake is thought to do, make me involuntarily soil myself. (You may recall that “South Park” addressed what Cartman called the “Brown Noise” during a Season 3 episode. It did not end well for the world’s underpants.)

Brown Note falls under ATG’s “Malt” category on its big board; I’m always intrigued by the clever names and the fact there seems to be a set lineup of styles as opposed to a regular batch of staple beers, like at many microbreweries.

Brown Note is served in a wide-mouth mug, and it is reminiscent of how we used to drink A&W root beer back in the 1970s. And the bold flavor carries a mild nuttiness and bitterness that, to me, seems akin to the taste of drinking roasted cocoa beans. Since I love bitter dark chocolate, this flavor was right up my alley.

The beer also has a malty mouth feel that hangs on in a unique way. It’s difficult to describe really, but if you like a combination of malt and bitterness, you’re gonna like this one. Note: If you are a drinker of Newcastle Brown Ale, you may also enjoy this brown ale – but be prepared for a major step up in intensity, flavor wise.

In other words, bring a fresh pair of boxers. Just in case.

ABV: 5.0%

IBU: 20

Read the ATG Description