Food & Drink

The 17 Best Beer Bars in Louisville

Published On 05/04/2015 Published On 05/04/2015

In other parts of the world, human beings are made up of 80% water. In Louisville, they're made up of 80% whiskey and 20% beer. And if you're going to keep that critical balance in check, you need to know where to find the finest suds spots in town. So without further ado, here are Louisville's finest beer bars...

Nach Bar

Germantown
Once an unironic biker bar, Nach Bar brought Germantown into the modern era with its 2007 opening. Now an unironic hipster haven, Nach Bar offers a smartly curated selection, a dog-friendly backyard, and a jumpin' jukebox. And you never know which touring musicians might drop by after a show.

Courtesy of Jessica Fey

Holy Grale

The Highlands
Life in the once-legendary Highlands neighborhood has become less weird lately. But Holy Grale and its conjoined coffee-and-brunch sibling, Gralehaus, are doing all they can to keep it lively. You'll want to come here for the most exciting, unpronounceable (for Americans) beers from across the globe, plus amazing meals, whether you sit inside (a converted church), or out in the legendary backyard.
 

Cumberland Brewery

The Highlands
Another survivor of the Highlands-chain-nightmare era of today, Cumberland has thrived for a while as an excellent neighborhood bar that also produces some good titles of its own. Parking and seating can be problematic, but it's worth a try.

Great Flood Brewing Company

Great Flood Brewing Company

The Highlands
These young folks just celebrated their first anniversary, but drew big crowds in their neighborhood from day one. To celebrate, they shared their bourbon barrel-aged beers to thank those who could just be drinking bourbon. They're making it happen on their own, by showing off smart skills when it comes to selecting greatest hits from fellow brewers.
 

Bluegrass Brewing Company

Various locations
Another long-serving vet, the Bluegrass Brewing Co. mixes a family-friendly feel and party vibes for both its Downtown and East End patrons. What was once brand new has settled into something familiar and comfy; it's won the awards, and influenced many others, and has little left to prove.

Against The Grain Brewery

Against the Grain Brewery

Downtown
It's to their credit that no one saw these guys coming. Launched in a prime spot next to the minor league baseball park Louisville Slugger Field, ATG made its name with smoked beers, smokehouse food, eye-popping art design, and inscrutable drink names. Now selling to frothing fans around the world, it's expanding faster than most of its peers.
 

Sergio's World Beers

Butchertown
World traveler Sergio has assembled a collection or more than 1,000 beers, many of which you won't find elsewhere in the region. The bar has all the style of your weird uncle's basement, which makes it doubly entertaining. To be a beer lover is to know Sergio's.

River City Drafthouse

River City Drafthouse

The Highlands
This humble pub doesn't get as much recognition in a busy beer scene. But it offers a nice night out, with plentiful craft options and notable pub grub. Plus, it's next to Cumberland Brewery, oddly, so you can sample both without much effort.
 

Haymarket Whiskey Bar

Downtown
Don't let the name lead you astray from that hard-to-find beer. While the Whiskey Bar has made its name through expertly serving up our native specialty, the folks here also know their beer better than you will for another decade. Plus, a back room offers live music by the pound.

New Albanian Brewing Company

New Albanian Brewing Company

New Albany, IN
The granddaddy of the local scene, the NABC makes age look good. In two New Albany locations with very different vibes, Baylor's baby isn't as unique as it once seemed, and that's a great thing. Still, go there for endless amounts of great choices (including its own popular creations), and ask for a Bud Light just to watch stunned faces shoot daggers into you.
 

Zanzabar

St. Joseph's
Touring musicians are always on hand at what is the most consistently and progressively cool club around for live new music. Its beer selection couldn't be anything but on fleek, and it pairs well with the interior design (including a well-known collection of dozens of pinball and arcade games).

Crescent Hill Craft House

Crescent Hill Craft House

Crescent Hill 
In Kentucky, the talent for creating world-class beverages doesn’t stop at bourbon. The owners of Craft House pay well-deserved praise to the various beers of the Bluegrass State (such as Goodwood Brewing Company) at this Crescent Hill establishment, which opened back in August 2014. The restaurant holds 40 Kentucky brews on tap at all times, and has a menu featuring locally sourced ingredients. Grab yourself a beer and either the buffalo wings or the unique take on poutine (with braised beef) if you're looking for some local favorites.
 

Four Pegs

Germantown
With regular trivia nights, a weekly open mic, and frequent “tap takeovers” featuring some of the restaurant's favorite beers on tap (sometimes with a theme), this stop is a real go-to for Germantown and neighboring Highlands and Schnitzelburg residents alike. Why? Well, between the regularly rotating 12 taps, and constant sneak peeks of what events are soon to come (be it a locally brewed favorite or a quirky craft IPA you’ve never heard of), Four Pegs gives you plenty of reason to stop by.

The Louisville Beer Store

Louisville Beer Store

NuLu
The Beer Store shares an owner with The Holy Grale, and is perhaps one of the most legit places to buy beer in the whole state. (Honestly, it's called the Beer Store.) It has a seemingly endless supply of hard-to-find bottles (Country Boy Sinkhole Stout anyone?) mixed with a great array of canned beer and eight rotating taps. This place is a must-stop when in NuLu. Insider tip: don’t miss the hidden back patio. It’s the ideal spot to drink away a couple of hours.
 

Monnik Beer Company

Schnitzelburg
Schnitzelburg is gaining steam as a prime place to eat, drink, and be seen in Louisville. Much of that is thanks to the recent opening of Monnik Beer Company. This place holds a variety of house-crafted brews offered in samples, full pours, or growlers, and even has a recently opened patio. So it's pretty easy to see why people are flocking to one of the city's newest restaurants located in one of the oldest neighborhoods in town.

Courtesy of Flat12 Bierwerks

Flat12 Bierwerks

Jeffersonville
The first spin-off of the Indianapolis brewer has the best view of all the bars, on the water, looking at Louisville from the sunny side of the walking bridge. Go here for some unique creations (try the Walkabout) and delicious food options. And get a taste of what the outside world has to offer!
 

Flanagan's Ale House

The Highlands
The most traditional bar on this list has been a staple in an area teeming with bars for many years (and located down the block from sibling O'Shea's Irish Pub, which is also a fine option). You can try a little of a lot of things here, and everyone here has craved a cold one with their burger at some time or another.
 
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Food and travel writer Lindsey McClave knows that there is more to Kentucky than a good bourbon. Follow her eating and drinking adventures on Twitter -- @foodiegirlky.

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1. Nach Bar 969 Charles St, Louisville, KY 40204 (Germantown)

On the surface, this Germantown drinkery just your run-of-the-mill, neighborhood bar with a good outdoor area (and it’s dog-friendly!), a great beer selection, and inexpensive drinks. But some would say Nach Bar is the soul of young Louisville’s music-loving, sort-of-hipster, just-wanna-hang-out-somewhere-tonight youth.

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2. Sergio's World Beers 1605 Story Ave, Louisville, KY 40206

When you get to Sergio's in Louisville, you might not be entirely sure you've gotten to Sergio's, with its unassuming sign-less exterior and windows covered with flags from around the world. Once you get inside you might not be entirely sure what's going on, either: the furniture's mismatched, and there are coolers everywhere. But once you start taking in all the tap handles, glassware, and bottle upon bottle (as in roughly 1,200 of them) of amazing beer, you'll feel like you've stepped into the secret basement hideaway of the world's biggest beer geek -- which is kind of true. Brazilian-born owner Sergio Ribenboim has been traveling the globe for decades making connections with brewers and amassing an unparalleled collection. Bring cash. Ask about what's on tap. Prepare to stay a while.

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3. New Albanian Brewing Company 3312 Plaza Dr, New Albany, IN 47150 (New Albany Ind)

The granddaddy of the local beer scene, the NABC makes age look good. Go there for endless amounts of great choices (including their own popular creations), and ask for a Bud Light just to watch stunned faces shoot daggers into you.

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4. Holy Grale 1034 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

This converted century-old church now works full-service as an artisanal pub specializing in beer and food pairings. The space is equal parts ingenious adaptation and gorgeous design and the menu is always changing, as are the beers. Be sure not to miss the choir loft and the beer garden, and if the Scotch quail eggs are on the menu, order them immediately.

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5. Zanzabar 2100 S Preston St, Louisville, KY 40217 (Germantown)

Originally opened in 1938, Zanzabar is one of Germantown’s oldest neighborhood establishments, and has been entertaining its patrons ever since. Home to the city’s only vintage arcade, an intimate live music venue, and a Southern-inspired food and drink menu -- chili-smothered nachos, pulled pork sandwiches, and a few dozen bourbon and whiskey labels -- Zbar is a bustling joint for any occasion. Stop by for a bourbon and have a go at the vintage pinball machines, or spend the night dancing to live music, featured multiple nights per week.

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6. Haymarket Whiskey Bar 331 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Haymarket Whiskey Bar has more than 100 bourbons and almost 200 whiskeys, as well as live music four-plus nights a week. If the extensive liquor selection isn't enticing enough, visit for the décor alone: '80s memorabilia, Star Wars posters, old pinball machines, and a gorgeous green glass bar.

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7. Cumberland Brewery 1576 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205 (Highlands)

Cumberland has thrived for a while as an excellent Highlands neighborhood bar that also produces some solid titles of its own. Parking and seating can be problematic, but it's worth a try, because it features some of the best brews around.

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8. Great Flood Brewing Company 2120 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205 (Highlands)

Located in the heart of the Highlands, Great Flood churns out some of the tastiest brews in all of the city. Period. There's always a rotating selection of beers, so stop by, pick a favorite, and then do the same thing tomorrow.

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9. Against The Grain Brewery 401 E Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Damn good beer and damn good barbeque are the hallmarks of downtown Louisville staple Against the Grain, located right at the famous Louisville Slugger field. Since opening their doors, the creative brewing team at Against the Grain have created over 100 unique beers that are so good they've evolved from local brewery to national beer distributor. With a full range of beer types, from light session ales to hop-full IPAs and smoky stouts, Against the Grain has a beer for every drinker. And if you don't drink, then chow down on their house-smoked barbeque, with favorites like brisket and pulled pork sitting alongside vegetarian options, like a signature chickpea sloppy joe, more adventuresome than just another salad.

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10. River City Drafthouse 1574 1/2 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205 (Highlands)

In the middle of a well-traveled area once the center of Louisville’s counter-culture (hippies, not lunch counter), River City Drafthouse's main attraction is its well-curated selection of craft beers, but try the food, too. You’ll be very satisfied.

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11. Flanagan's Ale House 934 Baxter Ave, Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

One of the most traditional, old-school bars around, this Highlands drinkery has been a staple for years. You can try a little of a lot of things here, and if want some ballast, there's a solid menu of bites as well.

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12. Flat12 Bierwerks 130 W Riverside Dr, Jeffersonville, IN 47130

The first spin-off of the Indianapolis brewer has a terrific view. It's located on the water looking at Louisville from the sunny side of the walking bridge. Go here for some unique creations (try the Walkabout) and delicious food options. And get a taste of what the outside world has to offer!

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