Falls City Hipster Repellant Debuts at Liquor Barn

louisville beer - liquor barnI cruised by Liquor Barn out at Springhurst yesterday after work to (again) try Falls City Beer‘s Hipster Repellant IPA and to snag one of those cool Falls City mason jars. I hadn’t been to Liquor Barn in a while, however, and had forgotten just how much great beer they have on tap.

Of course, if you know what you’re doing and you have 40 lines at your disposal, you’ve got a pretty good head start.

I started off with a pint of the Hipster Repellant ($4, keeps the pint, a special deal yesterday evening), and perused the draft list as I enjoyed it and chatted with some of the staff and others on hand to get their beer on.

A great feature of the tap/tasting bar is that you can get two-ounce pours for 75 cents and six-ounce pours for $1.75 before deciding on a growler to take home. I didn’t get a growler this time around, but I did taste a couple of extra brews while I was there.

One was a beer I’ve been curious about for a while but had not gotten around to trying: Country Boy Brewing Jalapeno Porter. All I can say is that if you haven’t had this stuff, you need to. Like, today. It has such an intriguing depth to it — it possess all the characteristics you’d expect from a good porter, and adds a light jalapeno flavor, and just the tiniest bit of a spice kick that lingers on the palate. Nicely done.

I also had a six-0unce pour of Green Flash Brewing Company Symposium IPA at the recommendation of one of the Liquor Barn employees. I’ve had Green Flash beers before, but I don’t recall ever having the Symposium IPA. According to the Green Flash website, this is the third go-around for the beer since 2008, and I can see why they keep bringing it back. It has a floral and citrusy nose, and the flavors explode once you take a drink.

The beer description at the site notes that Green Flash placed a “profound emphasis on hop extravagance” — that’s putting it lightly. Apparently, the brewers added hops at every step of the brewing process, and the result is a highly complex and unique flavor in a beer that is still light bodied and crisp. Highly recommended.

Yeah, I’ll be going back to Liquor Barn again soon. Hope to see you there.

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BBC to Celebrate 20 Years

louisville beer - bluegrass brewing company logoThis was originally published by Insider Louisville; here are a few paragraphs to get you started, along with a link to the rest of the article.

The popularity of craft beer grows ever stronger, with new microbreweries popping all over the United States and around Kentucky and southern Indiana. But only one local microbrewery can claim to have been at the forefront of that growth: Bluegrass Brewing Company.

Pat Hagan found himself traveling all over California back in the late 1980s, where he fell in love with the hoppy beers brewed by places out west such as Sierra Nevada. When he returned to the Louisville area for good, well, he started getting the itch to move beyond home brewing.

And so the original BBC, in St. Matthews, was born.

Did he envision it still thriving after 20 years?

“No, I didn’t, really,” Hagan said. “At the time, that was really the first time I was getting into the restaurant/brewery business. I probably didn’t know exactly what I was doing or what I was getting into.” …

Read the Full Story.

A Chat With the Guys Behind Great Flood Brewing

louisville beer - great flood brewing

In a few months, you’ll be able to get craft beer at this place.

Matt Fuller, Vince Cain and Zach Barnes are serious about beer — especially Louisville beer. As such, they’re seriously going to open Great Flood Brewing in early 2014 at 2120 Bardstown Road, near Twig & Leaf in the Highlands.

The 3,000-square-foot property is being renovated for a two-barrel system with which they hope to crank out about 8 barrels or up to 16 half-barrels per week. Their hope is to fill up their beer garden with a “hang-out” atmosphere, good brews and a unique pricing model.

Of course, one of the first questions out of my mouth was, “What kind of beer are you going to start out with?” The good news is they plan to have eight taps. The interesting news is, there will be a lot of experimenting going on, style-wise.

“We have a rotating IPA recipe we’ve been working on,” Vince says. “It’s a pretty high gravity IPA we like a lot. It’s not going to be for everybody. We have a coffee porter. One of our goals also is – we do extreme things, but we want to have craft beer for everyone.”

Matt added that the plan is to have beers on tap at all times that can appeal to different demographics; Zach says the recipes will remain “fluid” based on demand, but that there will be “every man” beers such as Kolsch styles and amber ales, for the more casual beer fan or someone just looking to whet their whistle.

“We have such a small capacity size and we’re going to brew so frequently that we’re going to have something new all the time,” Vince says. “You’ll get maybe two regulars and six rotators. When it comes to kind of beer have on tap, we’re going to allow the customer base to dictate how we brew. We’re not sure how it’s going to happen yet, but we’re willing to try pretty much anything.”

In short, don’t be surprised if there are a few “name the recipe” or “you choose the beer style” contests in the offing at Great Flood.

louisville beer - great flood brewing logoThe name , of course, is a reference to exactly what you think: the Great Flood of 1937.

“We’re trying to bring in a historical tie, not just for our generation but generations past,” Zach says.

“We want to be part of the Highlands in every way,” Vince adds. “That’s our background, and that’s why we named the brewery the way we did. We want everything to reflect the heritage of the community.”

As for the pricing model, that’s an interesting proposition. At most microbreweries, you have the option to buy a flight or a sampler, usually for between six and eight bucks, that provides a chance to try five or more beers. Great Flood is going to expand this a bit: Beers will be priced by category, with the high gravity beers being a bit more expensive. You’ll be able to get a pint for a set cost or a 10-ounce pour for a little over half that cost.

louisville beer - great flood brewing

This will look a lot different in a few months. (Photos courtesy of Great Flood Brewing.)

Where it will differ from other craft breweries, where a sampler is a set animal, is that you’ll be able to get, say, a 10-ounce sampler for $2.50 as opposed to paying the six or eight bucks for 24 ounces worth of samples. The smaller sampler a) Keeps it more affordable, and b) affords a greater opportunity to find something you like and enjoy a pint of it.

Their point is that you know you can go have a couple of pints or whatever amount you choose, and you’ll know how much you’re going to spend going in. What they want is for Great Flood to be very “communal.”

“The same three guys brewing your beer will be the same guys pouring your beer and handing you your bee,” Vince says.

With both a sit-down bar and stand-up areas, Great Flood also will, hopefully, not be a place of segregation, where parties simply sit with their friends at a table.

“You can sit there with six of your buddies or one guy you know and four guys you’re just now meeting,” Matt says of the beer garden.

Not surprisingly, the Louisville beer community (and the community in general) is excited — Great Flood has done no marketing outside of social media and a couple of interviews, and the Facebook page already has close to 500 “Likes”.

“It’s really fun to hear people talk and hear the excitement,” Zach says. “It’s nice to hear from old friends you haven’t talked to in a while, and them saying ‘Its great you’re doing this, congratulations.'”

While the government shut-down has caused some delays and opening any new business presents its share of obstacles, the trio of young businessmen feel they can have Great Flood up and running by the end of March. Brace your palate for what will come next.

“We’re getting into the market because we enjoy drinking good craft beer, and we enjoy brewing good craft beer,” Matt says.

“It’s an art form,” Vince says of brewing beer. “We’ve never once made a beer that we said, ‘That’s the one we’re going to do from now on.’ We’re not going to stop making a better beer.”

exBEERiment at Louisville Science Center

louisville beer - exbeeriment louisville science centerEveryone knows there is a science to beer; most people just don’t know how it works. The making of beer has fascinated us for centuries, and exBEERiment is here to keep that fascination alive.

This second annual event at the Louisville Science Center happens next Wednesday, Oct. 17, and will offer not only tastings but sessions on the science of home brewing, ingredients and how to cook with beer. You’ll also see a few familiar faces, as exBEERiment partners include New Albanian Brewing Company, Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse, My Old Kentucky Homebrew, Pauly’s Schnitzelburg Pub, Nachbar, Bluegrass Brewing Company and Cumberland Brewery.

Also, exBEERiment will feature free ice cream samples made with beer and liquid nitrogen (???). In addition, adults can take advantage of a kids-free Science in Play exhibit where adult visitors can build rollercoasters, maneuver through a rope maze and play hide-and-seek in the Noodle Forest. Oh yeah, there will also be hydrogen balloon explosions and liquid nitrogen induced ping pong ball volcanoes.

Last but not least is the Brewseum, by My Old Kentucky Homebrew. If you missed this at Louisville Brewfest last month, you really should check it out. Oh yeah, and DJ Matt Anthony will spin some tunes as well.

Tickets are $20 for non-members, $15 for members and business partners, and $10 for designated drivers.

Yappy Hour Tonight at Apocalypse Brew Works

apocalypse brews - louisville beer blogBy way of my pal Sara Havens’ blog, The Bar Belle, here’s what you should be doing tonight:

Another great Louisville Craft Beer Week event is tonight at Apocalypse Brew Works: Yappy Hour from 5-11 p.m.! Beer-drinkers are encouraged to bring their four-legged DDs, and proceeds go to the Kentucky Humane Society! There will be food trucks (Johnny’s Diner and Lil Cheezers), music by Double Dog Dare, and beer from Apocalypse (of course) and the LAGERS Homebrew Club. Finally, a bar that encourages pets! See you there!

It’s part of Louisville Craft Beer Week. Yep. All week long.

(By the way, be sure your dog drinks responsibly. Which is to say, water, not beer.)

Craft Beer Takes Over Louisville

louisville beer - brewfest craft beer week

Photo courtesy of Louisville Independent Business Alliance.

I’m now blogging for AlcoholProfessor.com, a site you must check out. Here’s my first piece, about the forthcoming Louisville Craft Beer Week celebration:

On Friday the 13th, beer will take over Louisville, Ky. That’s the beginning of Louisville’s annual Craft Beer Week; more than just a beer event, it’s a city-wide celebration of the beverage that proves the existence of happiness.

Jennifer Rubenstein organizes the capstone event, the Louisville Brewfest, where 14 local brewers and other vendors (there will also be wine and bourbon on hand) will present their wares at Slugger Field, the city’s AAA baseball stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21.

Rubenstein said the first Brewfest happened five years ago as an independent event. “We were hoping for 500 people, and 1500 showed up,” she said. “We knew we had something good going on.”

Louisville Brewfest will also include a “brewseum,” a collection of artifacts from the city’s beer history … Read the Full Story.

A Chat With Gordon Biersch Brewer Dave Stacy

louisville beer - taps at Gordon Biersch 1When I took my seat at the bar at Gordon Biersch downtown at 4th Street Live, I was struck by the pure beauty of it. The bright taps, the vibrant colors – not to mention the friendly bar staff who were quick to greet me and ask if it was my first visit.

OK, so Gordon Biersch is a chain; that much we know. As such, my expectations when meeting brewer David Stacy was that he would be buttoned-up and corporate, a man toeing the company line, wearing a bright GB button-down and speaking the corporate lingo. Imagine my surprise when I heard, “Are you Kevin?” and turned to be greeted warmly by a thin man with a graying, medium-length beard, and wearing a baseball cap and overalls.

Turns out, Dave Stacy is just a beer guy like the rest of us. As such, we sat and casually talked about the Louisville beer scene as I sipped on my Gordon Biersch sampler.

To start, GB is a lager house that brews based on German principles using ingredients almost exclusively from Germany. Which is to say, similar to the new Blue Stallion Brewing in Lexington or Hofbrauhaus in Newport, the products tend to be unfiltered, lighter-bodied creations than one normally finds at a smaller brewery. In addition, its 31 locations are all based on the original concept of offering quality food as well as freshly-brewed beer – meaning that the food is just as much the focus as the brews. Not your usual microbrew, in other words.

Nevertheless, while a beer snob may be quick to turn up a nose at GB brews, Stacy makes no apologies. The quality in ingredients and brewing processes is high, regardless of how some might view the concept. He sees that perception as a challenge on one hand, but an advantage on the other.

louisville beer - David Stacy of Gordon Biersch“Our challenge is how people view us,” he said. “We started as one store, and we just grew beyond that. … I realize we are considered the Starbucks. I know there are guys that look down on me because of what I do. But it’s not because of our production standard.”

He pointed out that while most microbreweries situated in neighborhoods rely on regular customers for a fairly large chunk of their business, being located at 4th Street Live means a lot more walk-in traffic from out of town people, or those who are downtown for reasons other than going to the brewpub. This makes being a lager house an advantage, because a larger percentage of the palates who taste his beer aren’t necessarily looking for high gravity or a hop explosion.

And he’s fine with that.

“I’m from a small German community [in Texas],” he said. “I love the origins and traditions of German style production.”

Not that he doesn’t enjoy a bold-flavored beer. In fact, he praises the Louisville beer scene and always keeps other local beers available in his guest taps. He is particularly fond of Falls City, in part because his grandparents drank it often when he was growing up, but he is also quick to sing the praises of the others and to keep them on tap on a rotating basis.

He went so far as to say that when someone comes in and can’t find anything he or she likes, “I send them to ATG or BBC,” both of which, obviously, are nearby. (In fact, he wishes he had more time to visit other local breweries himself, but long hours and being a dad to a toddler make that difficult.)

But with new breweries opening in the area seemingly every couple of months and more on the way, where is the saturation point?

“If you want to compare it to bourbon, there is no saturation point,” Stacy said. “But beer being the product it is, I think we’re getting close to that. But I think it’s better to keep that door open and have [breweries find] success at what they do.”

And while the recipes and brewing standards are GB-wide and are somewhat constrictive, he also has some latitude and gets to come up with outliers referred to as “Brewer’s Select.” Later this year, he said, he plans to brew a red ale, something big and malty (similar, we discussed, to BBC’s Irish Rover Red). That would really throw off the taste buds of the 4th Street Live dwellers.

Here’s an overview of the beer tasting:

louisville beer - Gordon Biersch 2Golden Export (5.0% ABV, 17 IBU) – This is lightest beer available at GB, and is specifically geared toward people who fear anything without the word “light” in the name. Bottom line, if you’re a Bud Light or Miller Lite drinker, and you can’t drink this? There’s something wrong.

Hefeweizen (5.5% ABV, 12 IBU) – This one’s a classic German wheat beer, unfiltered and light orange in color, with lots of banana and clove notes and a smooth texture. Not my thing, but this is a well done version of it, and easy on the palate for people who fear hops and may fancy something fruitier.

Czech Pilsner (5.6% ABV, 36 IBU) – By far the hoppiest of the GB regulars, this one still has only a mild bite. It’s light- to medium-bodied, and made with Saaz hops from the Czech Republic for a tiny bit of spice and a nice tingle at the back of the palate. As a hop guy, this one’s easily my favorite.

Marzen (5.7% ABV, 18 IBU) – At first glance, this could be mistaken for a pale ale with its auburn color, but it’s a Bavarian lager that relies on malts for its flavor. Stacy said this is GB’s top seller, at least here in Louisville.

Schwarzbier (4.3% ABV, 21 IBU) – This is the one that trips people up. Despite a light nutty flavor and light body, the darkness of this lager can be deceiving. This could be why it’s the lowest seller of the regulars. “People confuse it with a porter or stout,” Stacy said. “They see the color and are afraid of it.” It’s unwarranted, but what can you do?

Blonde Bock (7.0% ABV, 26 IBU) – This seasonal is golden and may look light, but has surprising body and flavor. Stacy said it is 90 percent pilsner and is an anniversary celebration beer of sorts for GB. The finish is surprisingly malty, which may belie the kick. “People sometimes forget this is almost equal to two Jack and Cokes for a 20-ounce pint,” Stacy said, smiling.

SummerBrau (4.8% ABV, 25 IBU) – Another annual  brew, this is a Kolsch-style beer, and is one of Stacy’s favorites. Truly, while it’s relatively light, it’s crisp and surprisingly flavorful with a blend of pale-malted barley and malted wheat. I enjoyed this one quite a lot myself. “There are subtle characteristics in this beer that I find fascinating,” Stacy said. “I’m very happy how it came out this year.”

Toward the end of our chat, we further discussed the divide in beer people’s preferences, not to mention the resulting beer snobbery that sometimes ensues.

“A lot of times, I think it’s a cluster of people patting themselves on the back,” he said. He then paraphrased a traditional German saying: “Beer is the every-man’s drink, and it’s only done right if every person can enjoy it.”

He continued by astutely noting that “beer is a common denominator,” because we often enjoy it while sharing our lives and emotions with friends and family. If someone prefers a light beer? So be it.

He concluded: “I like a lot of exotic beer, I like a lot of plain beer. I just like beer, period.”

Kentucky Ale Co-Sponsors Salsarita’s ‘Stampede Sunday’

Stampede2013-logoSalsarita’s in Middletown will play host to Stampede Sunday and Happy Hour this Sunday, Aug. 4, from 2-5 p.m.; basically, it’s a pre-event signup party for the Urban Stampede on Aug. 24.

Why is this being posted on a beer blog? Because Kentucky Ale is one of the sponsors, which makes it a good excuse to drink some local beer. You can getcha some if you show up to sign up. You can also get happy hour prices, enter to win random prizes and also get $60 of the $140 entry fee. The whole deal benefits Dare to Care Food Bank.

About the race: “The Urban Stampede is the next race taking place Saturday, August 24 with a Belvedere Start & Finish Line featuring MANY Reality Stars! Come enjoy and explore Downtown Louisville while enduring strength and mind challenges! The Urban Stampede requires a bit of a different mentality. Runners do well but this is a 2 person team sport. Working well together with your partner is a must. The Urban Stampede brings communication to the forefront. Physical challenges and mental challenges will both test Urban Stampede racers abilities.”

Get more info here.

Yours truly has been invited to enter. We’ll see how that goes …

Honorable Mention: More Blog Name Suggestions

name the blog - louisville beerOK, so the blog has been re-named, the cyber-bully has presumably called off his legal dogs, and now we can get on with writing about Louisville beer in relative peace. But what about the names that weren’t chosen? Well, there were quite a few. Here are some that received various levels of consideration:

Bluegrass Brewski (Nova Conover) – Nova chimed in early in the contest and had a couple of interesting ideas, led by this one. Beer Barrel was another good one, particularly if you think of this as a repository of beer-related musings.

Foam Home:  A Blog About Beer (Tim Roberts) – My old pal Tim had a decent idea with this one, although he rightly pointed out that Foam Home “could also be a blog about shaving.”

Brew Stew (Laura Meyer) – This one also got some consideration. It helps to know that Laura is a local cook/caterer, and clearly that experience reflects in the name. (Laura, I still miss my daily Big Daddy K sandwiches.)

Louisville Mug Shots (Amanda Long) – This name was a bit on the long side, but it’s a great suggestion. You have the locale, the “mug” reference, and the “shots” could be interpreted as the usually brief posts about beer. Nicely done, Amanda. She also had a few others worth mentioning: Not New Albany Beer Guy (I know Amanda from our days writing for the New Albany Tribune many moons ago); Sweaty Mugs; Lou-a-vALE; Bluegrass Gulp.

Derby City Brew Beat (Cynthia Bard Mayes) – This very good entry is from my well-meaning girlfriend, who originally suggested Louisville Beer Blog, which nearly got me sued. It’s OK, sweetie. I don’t blame you.

Louisville and Beer Together (Greg Thomas) – This is actually an inside joke that almost became the winner. The guy who runs the other site and demanded I change the name of my blog sent me a message threatening legal action, and told me I had to change the name, period. He then followed up with a message that said (paraphrased), “And it has to be a name without Louisville and Beer together.” Clearly, “Louisville and Beer Together” separates the two words in question with a conjunction and therefore would have technically been fair game. Kudos to my old friend Greg for being even more snarky than I am in the face of cyber-bullies. Greg also submitted two others that received consideration: Louisville’s Beer Goggles and The Ville’s First Draft. Good stuff from a guy who knows a thing or two about beer goggles.

Louisville Bleer Bog (Britany Baker) – More great snark, this time from the mind of my pal Britany. At first glance, I thought she had simply re-named the blog with the original name; she had to correct me and force me to read it again. Good stuff, Brit. Here are a few other entries from Brit that caught my eye: LouBrew; Brew-y-ville; Louisville Chugger (like!); Colonel Urinal (yeah, she admitted she’d been drinking when she sent that last one).

Fleur di Beer (Fred Minnick) – International whiskey and wine writer Fred Minnick took time out of his busy schedule to chime in with this fine entry, as well as three others: Kentucky Beer Blog; Up Your Hops; Hop N Suds (Fred knows I like hops). Fred has a new book about women’s role in whiskey history coming out soon. Check it out.

Derby City Beer-o-Sphere (Butch Bays) – A bit long-ish, but a good idea nonetheless. Butch is the guitar player in my band, The Uncommon Houseflies, and is also a great artist – in fact, he created the logo for this blog and does all the artwork for our band. He also co-hosts my Crescent Hill Radio show with me every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. (Sorry for the shameless plugs; it was more for him than for myself.)

The Beer Nut (Ben Schneider) – Also a great submission from my old pal Ben, of Digby fame. Ben actually named my LEO column, The Taste Bud, and this name would have made a fine pairing. It was nearly the winner. Thanks, Ben!

River City Suds (Jeff Butler) – This one sort of combines some of the other submissions, and it hit the mark I was looking for by mentioning the locale and making an allusion to beer as well. But ultimately using “502” won out. Thanks a bunch, Jeff. If I ever decide to re-name my dog, I’ll look you up.

One final thanks to everyone who submitted ideas, and congrats once again to the winner, Chapin Ott!

Name This Blog and Win Free Beer!

name the blog - louisville beerThat’s right, Louisville Beer Blog is going to change its name to … what? Well, I’ve got some ideas, and so do a few of my friends, but I’ve decided to have some fun with this. If you think you have a good blog name possibility related to the Louisville beer scene, I want to hear it. And if I choose your name, I’m going to buy you $25 worth of your favorite local beer as a thank-you.

So, get creative, be funny if you want, but let me have your suggestions ASAP. I plan to make the change by July 22.

Why am I changing the name? Well, it’s complicated, but another website took exception to my using the words “Louisville” and “beer” in my blog name and repeatedly demanded that I change it. There was even legal action threatened, followed by a snotty letter from some lawyers, even though I had my own lawyer do some research to assure me that, indeed, there was no legal leg on which to stand in those threats. (Now I know how West Sixth Brewing must have felt.)

But hey, this blog is supposed to be fun, so I’m just going to do my best to take the high road and ignore all the petty drama. Why let someone else’s negativity spoil the party?

To that end, however, please do not use the words “Louisville” and “beer” back to back in your entries! Yet, I want it to have a local/regional feel, so think Kentucky, Kentuckiana, Bluegrass, River City, etc. Similarly, if your name entry contains the word “Louisville”, look for an alternative word to “beer,” such as “brews” or “ale” or … well, is there another one?

Yeah, you see the task I have in front of me here, which is why I am asking for  your help, and offering beer (Louisville beer, in fact — wait, am I allowed to type that?) in return. To enter, simply type your suggestion into the form below or send me a private e-mail at kgramone(at)yahoo.com.

And always remember: Drink happy.