Tastecation: A travel guide for all things beer, and other musings
Destination: Louisvile, KY
I recently took a brief trip down to Louisville, KY; an annual trek I make with my father, brother, and a few friends for a three-day music festival, called Forecastle Festival. Over the last four years I have become increasingly familiar with all the best places to hit up for food and drink on this long weekend. The following are a few places you must visit should you ever get the chance to go to a truly spectacular city.
Brewery: Against the Grain
Located right in the heart of the city, Against the Grain takes up residence just blocks from a waterfront park, not dissimilar to Canalside in Buffalo. The brewery itself is housed within the Louisville Slugger baseball stadium, home to the Louisville Bats minor league baseball team. Against the Grain is by nature a brewpub and smokehouse. How could you not have a smokehouse when in the south?
I can’t comment on the food, as I wasn’t here to eat, but I had a couple beers, to say the least. When it comes to variety this brewery has their bases covered, no pun intended. I imagine these guys change their lineup more often than the baseball team does. Take a quick peak at their website and peruse their beers, the list is enormous. I drank a handful of Against the Grain beers over the weekend, with my favorites being the Tropical Dank and the Citra Ass Down. Tropical Dank is a rather interesting stout that imparts a fair sweetness from the use of adjunct sugars, native to the tropical, Caribbean Islands. Citra Ass Down is just right in my everyday wheelhouse. It’s an 8% IPA (Double IPA?) that is just loaded with late addition Citra hops. For the unfamiliar, Citra hops are a varietal that has huge citrusy and tropical fruit flavors, especially melon and grapefruit. This was a deliciously hopped, clean, and aggressive IPA that gave me quite a punch after a few. Yes, a few.
Other notables: Rico Sauvin (IPA) and Vidal Saison (Saison w/grapes).
Take Homes: Louisville Beer Store
I found this place a couple years ago, while up for the music festival, and it will surely make any beer geek from WNY drool. Not only can you have a couple pints while you shop, but they have quite the collection, ranging from the coveted 3 Floyd’s to Cantillon to local/regional up-and-comers, such as Rhinegeist of Cincinnati, OH.
This time around I was lucky enough to wander in as the employee working the bar was putting a fresh keg of 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust APA on tap. One please! With a little liquid lubrication I convinced myself I should probably defer to the credit card this time.
Of the lot I walked home with, here are a few suggestions if you’re ever in the neighborhood. Anything from Rhinegeist is pretty much the cat’s pajamas. They are a newer brewery up in Cincinnati that is absolutely killing it right now, and for good reason. The Truth IPA is standout, along with the Zen Session Pale Ale and the Cougar Blonde Ale, which are highly notable. Of course, when you can get your hands on some 3 Floyd’s it should go without saying. This time around I picked up a Space Station Middle Finger APA, although I was a bit disappointed in the balance (way too malty for my liking) and the Backmasking Oatmeal Stout, which I thought was above average, with a nice thick body and rounded malt sweetness.
Coffee & Donuts: Sunergos Coffee Roasters and Nord’s Bakery
These two separate shops are located a bit outside the city, next to each other in the old Germantown. Sunergos could be one of my favorite coffee roasters in the U.S. to date, and I am never disappointed here. Now, Buffalonians, this isn’t a Tim Horton’s. Don’t ask for a double-double; they have no idea what you’re asking for. Plus, that’s just gross. This is some damn fine coffee, drink this black or get an espresso drink. I generally opt for the pour-over, as opposed to the pre-made drip at a good shop like this, but anything is delicious.
Nord’s Bakery is right next-door and serves up donuts that give Paula’s a serious run for their money. They aren’t as big, but just as delicious (maybe even more). There is a huge selection of donuts, and generally a solid line, but there is only one donut that you must try: the bacon, maple-glazed donut. I won’t even discuss it, you must try it for yourself. The best part is you can get your donuts to go at Nord’s and walk over to Sunergos for a coffee.
Favorite coffee: Brazil Cerrado is hands down my favorite, with heavy notes of peanut butter and chocolate.
While, I could probably go on for hours about all the great offerings to be found in Louisville, KY, I will let you find your own as I did. This is just a start for anyone that may land in this beautiful waterfront city, and is fully recommended for a trip, just not during the Kentucky Derby if you want a relaxing vacation.