Beers For All Occasions

An Experiment in Social Drinking

The Rudyard Kipling

If Old Louisville were a body, the Rudyard Kipling would indubitably be its heart. Where Garvin Place meets Oak Street, you’ll find a pinkish building with an elephant for a sign. And more often than not, you’ll be able to spot Ken Pyle somewhere on the same block picking up bits of trash “so he won’t have to look at them again.” Though the neighborhood may feel “shady” to some (mostly to visitors from the East End), a red pickup truck in the Rite Aide parking lot means you’re being watched out for, and after the Rud’s 2AM closing, you’re only a few blocks from the Beerologists’ next stop, the Mag Bar. Once inside the Rud, one can’t help but notice the elephants. Make no mistake- this is not a political statement. At first there were a few here and there, but over the years, those who have grown to love the bar have given more and more elephants until it’s become a sort of mascot. Ken, the owner, takes serious pride in his place, and hence, the grime factor is surprisingly low. Even the bathrooms are free of graffiti, though those who have found themselves employed there at one time or another- which is most of Old Louisville- can point out myriad silly things they along with the staff members who came before have scattered around for their own entertainment. 

It is important to note that though it certainly has the “Cheers”-esque feel of a neighborhood bar (you know- where everybody knows your name), the Rud is primarily a venue. It’s hosted some of Louisville’s favorite bands, as well as many who are renowned on the national stage. In addition to music, the Rud is often home to plays, poetry readings, political forums, and what have you. The hours are irregular depending on events, but chances are it will be open on any given Friday or Saturday night. Between the “Gazebo” (bar area), the “Parlor” (the music room), and the outdoor beer-garden, it rarely feels claustrophobic and the english standing bar provides a sensible service area- though there are servers most nights who will happily come to you.

As for the staff, it’s a family bar, though most of the staff is not related. Ken has a habit of adopting his workers and most believe bar manager Aerin is actually his daughter. In the same sense, to visit the Rud is to enter Ken’s home, where you will be welcomed with open arms (but if Aerin is behind the bar, you may have to make her laugh to get service with a smile). The beer list isn’t the biggest in town, but the essentials are always on hand, and bar food goes above and beyond the call of duty. Rud pizza has flax and sunflower seeds in the crust and caramelized zucchini and squash among the available toppings. Along with traditional and veggie burgers, the Rud offers a salmon burger and they make a mean bowl of burgoo. As far as specials, most of the bands who frequent the Rud stage have their own custom drinks, which will be available on the nights of their shows. Plus, Aerin delights in creating mixed drinks in honor of friends and kitschy pieces of pop-culture. 

The bar crowd at the Rud is like a microcosm of the city we love. Old, young, black, white, gay, straight- everyone is welcomed. Conversation can cover all corners of the intellectual universe and the entertainment is as varied as the neighborhood in which the bar sits. All in all, it’s a bar to hang out. Better said, it’s a bar for feeling like you’re at home.

Current Music: The Pogues – Fairytale of New York

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December 31, 2008 Posted by | Old Louisville | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Highland’s Taproom

Let the social experimentation begin! Do you feel like a guinea pig yet? Well you should. Except maybe without the mad, sticky-outy hair. 

 

The Highlands Taproom is located on Bardstown Road, right across from Mid-City Mall,  in the heart of the Highlands. They’re open ’til 4 am, 7 days a week and have a huge beer pong tournament every Tuesday. Check out their website at http://www.HighlandsTaproom.com for band schedules, etc. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the Highlands (shame on you!), the Taproom is a great place to start familiarizing yourself with the area. The neighborhood is one of the safest and most solid in Louisville, with a lovely mix of businesses and private houses and while parking can sometimes be a challenge, most everything is close enough together that you only need to park once and can walk for the rest of the evening. A word to the wise, park in the National City parking lot after they close, rather than in Mid-City Mall’s parking lot because they will tow, randomly and without proper warning. If you have to park on the street, I prefer parking a street off of Bardstown Rd., because traffic is so heavy at night. 

From top to bottom, the Taproom is all we know and love in a neighborhood bar. They have a nightly beer special, which changes on Saturdays and live,local music every night. They swear by their mugs never to host a cover band and they have Karaoke on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For the competitive of nature, they have pool tables (Free on Tuesdays!!) and foosball in the back. They also have huge beer pong tournaments on Tuesdays, oh Gaming One. If you’re feeling particularly anti-social or want to watch the ball game (this is UK territory, people) there’s a big screen television upstairs, complete with cable access. 

The really special thing about the Taproom is their beer club. Its not the typical, drink a bunch of $5 beers you don’t like to get a negligible discount on the two beers you actually drink club. You pay $20, one time, for a giant (22 oz) beer mug and you get a spot on the wall to hang that mug on for life! They have no “annual dues”, and your first beer is free. After that first beer, you pay $3.75 for your beers on tap from then on. That’s every draft beer, every day. Not bad, huh? And they wouldn’t be able to call it “The Taproom” if they didn’t have a pretty great selection of beers on draught:  13 hand crafted, small batch beers including Magic Hat, Murphy’s Irish Stout, Kirin Ichiban, Nitro Porter, Old Style, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, BBC Nut Brown, Widmer Hefe, and then some run of the mill brews like Blue Moon, Rolling Rock and Amber Bock. In bottles, they have your very typical Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Miller Highlife, Coors Lite, Corona, Heineken, Amstel Lite, Woodchuck Cider, Red Stripe, Stella Artois and (randomly) Sharp’s non-alcoholic.  Beers are a pretty typical 2-5 bucks, with $2 Miller Highlifes every day and a $1.50 shot special, which is whatever they choose at the beginning of the night. 

Now, they also have a daily beer special. The schedule is:

Sunday – $2.50 wells, $2.00 domestic bottles

Monday – $3 Jager, $2 Bud/Bud Lite, $2.50 Early Times

Tuesday – $2 Old Style Draughts

Wednesday – $3 Jager, $4 Jager Bombs

Thursday – $1.50 Highlifes and Coors Lites

Friday – $3 Jager, $4 Jager Bombs, $2.50 Killians Draughts

Saturday – Vary Weekly, but there’s always something cheap!

In the summer I’ve been known to begin and end my evening at the Taproom. The patio outside is great, with lots of tables and plenty of people-watching opportunities. Not much help in January, but its great in July. If you’re one of those many people who gets hungry as they get drunk though, you’ll have to go down the street to get eats, as they don’t have a menu at the Taproom. Not really a problem, considering you’re next door to Kashmir (the best Indian food in the world!) and just steps from Skyline Chili, City Cafe, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Just Fresh, Subway and so on. The Back Door, and lots of the bars on Irish row also serve food and are incredibly near by. 

As far as atmosphere goes, the decor is pretty typical except for the large (and growing!) collection of beer mugs hanging on the walls and the bar is as clean as can be expected. I will say though, that its always smelled a little funny in there since the wretched smoking ban passed. Its a safe place for a couple girls to go together, without protection. The worst that will happen to you is that some of the regulars will probably hit on you at some point.  And we all know you can handle that. 

Allow me to say, when this bar gets crowded, the lay out is not conducive to easy travel. There’s a very narrow space between the wall and the bar, so it gets tough to order sometimes, also. However, there are all sorts of people in attendance at the Taproom from all ages, stages and backgrounds. A word of wisdom though, seeing as how I got kicked out when I was underage, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that its not an easy place to score an illegal beer. Occasionally, one can even find a Camel Fairy at the Taproom for free cigarettes! 

All in all, I’d say these beers are for hanging out. The Taproom and I go way back and I can honestly say, this is the bar I attend when I want company and conversation. The friends you bring with you are recruited, not for salvation but rather for company and you’re pretty well assured to make a new friend. Nothing in the world to keep you from going and getting a Magic Hat #9, but be prepared to see someone you know! 

 

Current Music: Peter, Bjorn and John – Young Folks

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Bambi Walk, The Highlands | , , , , | Leave a comment

Allow Us To Introduce Ourselves…

Sometimes, we drink to celebrate. Sometimes, we drink to forget. Occasionally we drink just because we like it. Motives aside, as Louisvillians, we drink. Often. In this, our city of superlatives, we search for claims to the first, biggest, most, and best. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that someone did the math to find that Derby City has more bars and restaurants per capita than Manhattan. The thing is, we are faithful to our watering holes and most locals have actually gone into maybe ten of the three hundred plus bars in the Metro. We, the Beerologists, have made it our mission to try them all. Yes, all of them. 

The fingers that type this blog belong to two girls with men’s names who met long ago when the boy they were simultaneously dating invited them both to his Highlands Hideout on the same time. The initial resentment melted upon discovery that we smoked the same cigarettes (Turkish Jades) and the resulting friendship evolved into a sort of professional drinking partnership. A few years older, we found ourselves patrolling the local housing market one day and decided a place could best be evaluated by the bars nearby and the folks who call it home. That conversation led to the idea that we should actually make it our mission to try every bar in Louisville- Portland, South End, St. Matthews, Strip Clubs, Hole-in-the-Walls: no bar was to be overlooked. As fortune would have it, the both of us are avid readers, writers and drinkers, so a better partnership couldn’t have been asked for. Around the same time, a dear old friend was launching The Broken Sidewalk, the most glorious Louisville real estate blog you’ve ever seen, so it seemed only logical that we should join forces. 

It has taken a few months to get to this point. We chose Wednesday as our primary night to explore, but postponed weekly due to too-cold-weather, exhaustion, suffering bank accounts, and general feelings of ickiness. Then we had the admitted madness of the Holidays to cope with. More than enough drinking without extending ourselves for the greater good. Finally, though, we vow to pry ourselves away from the Mag bar and see what else is out there. Who knows, we might find something we like. 

In that spirit (or those spirits, if you like) we venture out into the world next week to begin our search in earnest. Until then, enjoy our impressions of our most regularly attended booths, stools and counters. 

 

Current Music: The Kooks – She Moves In Her Own Way

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment