Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Beverages of Louisville

We spent two nights in Louisville, Kentucky this weekend. Holly ran a marathon (race report to follow) while Dave followed around. Louisville was not a town we researched much before arriving. In fact, Dave was googling the whole ride down to try to figure out where to find brew pubs and a good bourbon bar. We were lucky to have easy access to both! We stayed at Galt House, which is a large convention hotel right on the Ohio River. It's in the heart of Louisville's tourist district.

Right on the property of Galt House is this historic marker commemorating the fact that bourbon was first produced near this location. How close? Two blocks, two miles, two towns over? Does that location have a sign saying Galt House Hotel is near them?

Inside Galt House is a bourbon bar called Jockey Silks, which claims to have the largest bourbon selection in America. We'll cover more on that location later.

A block from our hotel was one of several Bluegrass Brewing Company locations. We visited the 3rd and Main location twice. Once before dinner on Friday, then again for lunch on Saturday. We both enjoyed the Nut Brown and the Porter. Dave also ordered the bourbon barrel stout, which you would think he'd like.....Nope! These two great things did not taste great together. Surprisingly he did like the Bourbon Barrel Blonde Ale he had with dinner that night.  BBC was a great place for burgers.

While Holly was running the marathon Dave got to visit Against the Grain Brewery. This business is conveniently located in the Louisville Slugger minor league ballpark and at mile mark 26.1 of the marathon course. This brewery will have beers on tap matching one of six styles including session, malt, smoke, and hop. Dave tried the malt offering of Nut Brown and the smoke offering. The nut brown was a bit light in his opinion and the smoke......since it's made with burnt wood the first sip was like drinking a pork sandwich. It got better after that first sip, but still it was an odd sensation. Good news is beers in this town are relatively cheap: $4.50 at this location.

Now onto the bourbon. Dave sampled flights of bourbon at two locations. The first location was at Maker's Lounge in the area known as 4th Street Live! Maker's Lounge was a modern style lounge/high-end bar and we felt a little under dressed in shorts and t-shirts. They had a large cocktail menu that featured drinks with or without bourbon. You could buy bourbon individually or in flights of three (1/2 oz each). Flights were grouped by style and you were instructed to sample left-to-right. Flights were served straight-up with a glass of ice on the side. After you take your first two sips of each one you were supposed to add ice to help dilute and mellow the alcohol. Dave tried the Wheated flight that contained Maker's Mark, Old Fitzgerald Prime Bond, and Weller's Special Reserve.

Maker's Lounge is where we learned about Blanton's Bourbon. There was a display on the bar that had a bottle of Blanton's with 8 bottle tops circling around a merchandising display. The bartender explained that there are 8 different ones, each with a letter in Blanton's on it. Each jockey had a different pose. Looks like a new collection may be forming.

Later on that night we went to Jockey Silks in our hotel. This was a great space and reminded us of The Chart Room in Key West. Dank, lots of wood, popcorn machine. Dave wanted to get flight, which was available, but I had to come up with my own. We were handed a piece of paper with the names of all their bourbons and prices. No groupings or flight pairing suggestions. Dave expected a little more from America's biggest bourbon selection. He ordered a Blanton's and asked the bartender to give him another one with "a horsey painted on the bottle" and a Buffalo Trace.

Dave also sampled another Kentucky favorite, the mint julep. Tasty as always. It was fun to get a glimpse into how bourbon influences Kentucky from tourist attractions to beer. Maybe a return trip for distillery tours is in order.......

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