Sorry, whiskey, there’s a new sheriff in town. OK, maybe not a sheriff, but at least a deputy. Craft beer has been on the rise for years now, and shows no signs of slowing down, even in bourbon country. And these are the breweries that are proving it:
The Definitive Guide to Louisville's Best Breweries
The folks at Against the Grain Brewery never cease to amaze us. Their rise has been rapid, to say the least, and their ability to turn out new beers every week has never wavered. They are a trough of creativity and, luckily for us, have a pretty irreverent sense of humor. Take one look at their colorfully designed labels and tongue-in-cheek beer names and you’ll catch our drift.
Key beer: Too many to name, but their Citra Ass Down American IPA offering is always a favorite and is generally available by the 22oz bottle.
Taproom? Yes, Against the Grain’s restaurant is ample in size and their extensive, Main St facing patio is the place to be in the summer. Open Monday through Thursday, 11-midnight, Friday and Saturday 11-2am, and Sundays from 10am-10pm.
Many thought the Louisville iteration of Danville’s oh-so-popular Beer Engine would never come to be, with construction delays plaguing the project year after year. The doors to Monnik finally opened in November, and their taps have been flowing freely ever since, with crowds lining up to sample their various craft beers as well as the quirky War Fries (served with Dutch mayo, peanut butter, and chopped onions). We’re looking forward to warmer temps when we can experience their patio while sipping 2oz pours of each and every brew on offer.
Key beers: The Eagle Skull Saison and their IPA are where it’s at
Taproom? Yes, located on the corner of East Burnett and Hickory, Monnik is home to a large dining room and bar with communal table as well as a patio. Open Tuesday through Thursday, 4-midnight, Friday and Saturday 4pm-1am and Sunday from 4pm - 10pm.
Indiana, New Albany
Brewing since 2002, New Albanian has a solid seat at the head of the table when it comes to the Kentuckiana beer scene. Whether you’re visiting the Pizzeria and Public House or Bank Street Brewhouse, you’ll find plenty of good eats and a tap list ripe with house made brews, including their ever-popular Hoptimus Imperial IPA and the seasonal Citra Ass Clown, their cheeky homage to friendly rival, Against the Grain.
Key beers: Hoptimus, Imperial IPA
Taproom? Two locations... Bank Street Brewhouse is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11am-10pm... the Pizzaria and Public House is open Monday through Sunday from 11am-11pm.
“Producing beer for the masses and for your survival” is their pledge, and they began preparing for our final days in 2012 with the opening of their tap room, which is aptly referred to as The Fallout Shelter. A multitude of taps pour the ever-growing range of beer crafted by Apocalypse using sustainable brewing practices. Food trucks will often take up residence in the adjacent parking lot and pups are encouraged to get in on the fun.
Key beer: Watermelon Crack. It’s seasonal, and supplies run out fast
Taproom? Yes, taps only, food trucks visit often. Minimal indoor seating but a large patio. Open Friday from 5-11pm, Saturday from 4-11pm and Sunday from 1-7pm.
Established by three college buddies in 2014, Great Flood quickly became a hotspot in the Douglass Loop corridor of the Highlands neighborhood. Named for the epic flood of 1937, these young brewers are now living their dream and honing their craft brew skills, one new IPA, porter, and ale at a time.
Key beer: ‘37 Porter
Taproom? Yes, beer only, large interior and outdoor patio, open Monday and Tuesday from 4pm-10pm, Wednesday through Friday from 4pm-midnight, Saturday from 2pm-midnight and Sunday from 1pm-10pm.
Wood and limestone water: two of the key ingredients required when crafting a Kentucky bourbon. The Brewers of Goodwood determined that if it was good enough for bourbon, then it was most certainly good for beer, which is why all of their brews begin with limestone water and end with wood. At the helm of this operation are three of Louisville’s most experienced Brewmasters, their distinctive creations a direct reflection of their work in the industry since 2001. Previously known as the BBC taproom, the Goodwood watering hole is located at the corner of Clay and Main, on the edge of NuLu.
Key beer: Goodwood Bourbon Barrel stout
Taproom? Yes, relatively small indoor space next to production facility. Open Tuesday through Friday from 4pm-11pm and Saturday from 2pm-11pm.
Fresh -- and we mean fresh -- on the Louisville beer scene is Akasha, whose doors have been open since the end of September after a soft opening during the ever popular NuLu Fest. Their beers have been on offer at several local watering holes for some time (including Feast BBQ, conveniently located next door to their new taproom) and are now available to sample and sip at your leisure, six days a week.
Key beer: Word on the street is that the Oatmeal stout is where it’s at; however, it's too early to call for this fresh faced brewery.
Taproom? Yes, small and open Tuesday through Thursday from 5pm-10pm, Friday from 5pm-11pm, Saturday from 1pm-11pm and Sunday from 1pm-6pm
Cumberland Brewery is as much a part of the fabric of the Highlands as Carmichael’s or Guitar Emporium. Their pub fare is on point and always pairs perfectly with one of their original small batch, craft brews. Snag a table on the sidewalk and enjoy the people watching with your porter for maximum enjoyment.
Key beer: Nitro American porter
Taproom? Yes, medium-sized restaurants with a handful of coveted sidewalk tables. Open Monday through Thursday from 4pm-11pm, Friday from 4pm-1am, Saturday from 12pm-1am, and Sunday from 12pm-11pm.
Falls City Beer carries the badge of being Louisville’s very first craft brew, created in 1905, to be exact. Touting their beer as America’s most balanced, Falls City moved its brewing operation to Portland last year, partnering with Old 502 Winery and helping to break the infamous Ninth St divide. Head to neighboring Over the 9 restaurant to sample a variety of their creations, including the Hipster Repellant IPA (and make sure to order the duck nachos, which are smothered in Falls City Beer cheese).
Key beer: Hipster Repellant IPA
Taproom? No; however, you can sample their beer at restaurants throughout the city, including the neighboring Over the 9 restaurant.
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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.
1. Against The Grain Brewery401 E Main St, Louisville
2. Monnik Beer Co.1036 E Burnett Ave, Louisville
3. New Albanian Brewing Company3312 Plaza Dr, New Albany
4. Apocalypse Brew Works1612 Mellwood Ave, Louisville
5. Great Flood Brewing Company2120 Bardstown Rd, Louisville
6. Goodwood Brewing636 E Main St, Louisville
7. Akasha Brewing Company909 E Market St Ste 700, Louisville
8. Cumberland Brewery1576 Bardstown Rd, Louisville
9. Falls City Beer and Over The 9120 S. 10th St., Louisville
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.
This Schnitzelburg craft brewery and restaurants hosts local craft beers and affordably priced hipster pub grub. Beer is the star here, including libations you can sample in 5oz pours and a few creative beer cocktails, which elevate your basic brew with rye, apple brandy and other spirits. A solid food menu pairs well for the hoppy appetite you'll surely work up, and satisfies with an on-point classic burger and the eclectic War Fries dish, a pile of house-cut fries paired with Dutch mayo, peanut sauce, and chopped onions.
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.
This brewery features over 20 house brews on tap including cream ales, stouts, barleywines and sours alongside traditional IPAs, trippels and lagers.
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.
Goodwood Brewing Company lives up to its name by making beer "touched by wood" via the traditional barrel method of infusing whiskey. The resulting microbrews are complex, deep, and thoroughly tasty. Come by their brick and mortar and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.
At this newly opened East Market District alehouse, you can see how your favorite brews come to fruition (there's a window in the bar area that looks out onto the brewery factory floor) and enjoy house drafts on tap while hanging with the locals.
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.
This brewery and restaurant features Falls City Beer and Old 502 Wine brands that are known locally, plus signature cocktails and traditional pub fare that incorporates uncommon ingredients.