Beers For All Occasions

An Experiment in Social Drinking

Carly Rae’s

Carly Rae’s holds a special place in the hearts of the Beerologists in that we’ll always associate hope with that place. That is to say we were there on November 4th. Yes, Carly Rae’s is the political hub of Old Louisville, and the very best place for watching any event that is politically pertinent. To be there when Obama was elected was a sort of magic. We found a quiet corner and cried together for the hope that the next four years might be better than the last eight and that our luck might change as the skin tone of our president. It is important to note that we, the beerologists, were the Paul McCartney to the Michael Jackson of the rest of the crowd. We will be there on Tuesday to see him inaugurated, as well.
Considering that Old Louisville is comprised mostly of college students, recent grads, and twenty somethings trying to get back into school, Carly Rae’s is Ford Hall- it’s the political science building. That is in the same sense that the Rud is the school of music, the Mag is the Philosophy department, and the Granville is the Athletic Department and Greek Row at the same time. Carly Rae’s is where we talk politics.
Parking is never a problem- there’s no lot, but with the bar on one side of the street and the liquor store on the other, most of the street parking is not occupied by residents. In fact, you can generally park in a manner so that you can see your car from inside the bar- how’s that for security? As is the trend in Old Louisville, other bars are walkable in nice weather, and only a few seconds away if you’re driving.
Carly Rae’s is primarily a restaurant. We’re including it because it keeps bar hours (of the 2AM variety, that is), so after 10 it’s as much a bar as is the Rudyard Kipling. However, its being a restaurant means you don’t get pool tables or dartboards and the look of the place is simple. It’s not painted that green color most bars tend to be and it’s truly clean (enough that this beerologists has been known to leg wrestle there). Even the bathrooms are graffiti free. That is not to say nothing ever happens there- sometimes you’ll catch a DJ or an open mic, but again- if Obama’s doing something that will be covered on the news, Carly Rae’s many big screen TVs will serve you well. On a typical night, the place isn’t crowded- just a few good friends huddled around the bar watching The Daily Show or Colbert Report, but even on a full night, you can get a beer quickly. As for the staff, they’re active residents and committed residents of Old Louisville. Catch James on one of his shifts and let him tell you about the perfect candidate and his experiences with a city council campaign. Or, if you’re a lady, visit the lovely Laura Quimby on a Tuesday for ladies’ night (with 3-olive martinis).
The beer selection is a great one- probably 20 or 30 microbrews. There’s definitely enough beer for you to stay all night with no repeats, and it’s reasonably priced. As Carly Rae’s is truly a restaurant, the food is better than most bar food. There’s a cajun selection that would make New Orleans proud- which is fitting, because when it’s warm, the patio feels like the French Quarter.
Overall, these are drinks for watching C-SPAN, no doubt. If you want to talk about what’s going on in the world around you, it’s a good place for that, but if you voted for McCain, you might want to keep that to yourself. And if you didn’t already know. the President drinks PBR- and tips well.

Current Music: Yes We Can-Will.I.Am

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January 17, 2009 Posted by | Old Louisville | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seidenfaden’s

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If a junior in college were to undertake an anthropology project on Germantown, the result would be Seidenfaden’s. A perfect microcosm of the Germantown neighborhood, Seid’s is home to the exact sort of people who live in Germantown: the people who have been there since 1932 and the kids who just bought their first place. It even feels like the inside of a Germantown house, with lots of kitschy old stuff. We particularly noticed their ancient U of L basketball, a miniature sail boat and an antique Heaven Hill bottle.  A no-frills, pretense-free environment where one and all can let their hair down and enjoy a good time, Seidenfaden’s was the nation’s top seller of Falls City Beer until they discontinued production in 1978. The beer selection is basic, but they did recently tap Magic Hat #9, and you know how we feel about that. We feel strongly (and positively) about that! 

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Located at 1134 E. Breckinridge St., Seidenfaden’s is owned and mainly operated by the local Heck family. They’ve been in operation for 88 years and very willing to bet very little has changed across those decades. The crowd varies according to the night, but its never so jam packed that you can’t get a beer or hear yourself think. There’s plenty of room around the bar, so its easy to get served and the bartenders are great for anecdotes and bar history. On Wednesdays Seidenfaden’s plays host to what may be the single most entertaining karaoke night ever, and unless they have a local band in to play a set, that’s the most crowded I’ve ever seen the place. Also, for your entertainment, Seidenfaden’s has a small pool room, arcade bowling and a personal favorite, erotic photo hunt. However, there have been some questions as to the location of aforementioned pool room, so here are some directions: Walk up to the bar and look to your left. See the space between the end of the bar and the walk-in? Walk into that space and hang an immediate right. I know, you feel like you’re in forbidden territory behind the bar, but if you look to your left you’ll see a doorway. Go through it. That’s right, up the little ramp. And voila! There you are!

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If that’s not enough fun for one night, spend a little time in the admittedly foul bathroom. The graffiti in the women’s room spans the genre of bathroom art (we spotted “It ain’t over ’til you don’t call me back” and some T.S. Elliot all in one bathroom trip each), while the men’s bathroom vandalism is more along the lines of actual graffiti (i.e. tags). All in all the joint is pretty dirty, but its got nothing on some of the dives we know you frequent and the people at Seidenfaden’s are great. You’re welcome to bring friends along, but if you sit at the bar for half a beer we’re willing to bet you’ll make at least one new friend. Also, if you’re having a house party and you run out of beer you can walk into Seidenfaden’s a buy a six pack out of their walk-in (which is glass and fully visible). I don’t even think the mark-up is that bad. Feeling snacky? There is a wide range of gas-station-style nibbles available behind the bar, where they also sell a range of cigarettes. 

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So, what are these beers for? Hearing a great, old story about the neighborhood we all know and love and making a friend outside of your demographic. Support this local family business and visit a piece of Germantown history in one fell swoop!

Current Music: Steve Miller Band – The Joker

January 17, 2009 Posted by | Germantown | , , | 2 Comments

The Nachbar

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Welcome to Germantown! To begin our foray into the various and sundry bars, dives and watering holes in Germantown, we felt that it would be prudent to begin with the bar du jour – The Nachbar. Like so many great neighborhood joints, there has been a bar at 969 Charles Street for as long as most people can remember. Granted it wasn’t always called The Nachbar, in fact there hasn’t always even been an open business on the location, but ask your folks and just see if they don’t have some memories originating with The Nach’s older relatives.

Germantown is, by and large, a safe neighborhood and all of the Nachbar’s neighbors are houses and apartments. However, with parking being entirely on the street we recommend that if you have something in your car that you want to keep, make sure its out of sight. Also, be very careful when driving home that your doors are locked, because from time to time some unsavory characters do wander the streets late at night and isolated events do occur. As for the bar itself, I’d go out on a limb and say you’re more or less entirely safe there, we’ve never even so much as been bothered by an overly friendly drunk guy before. Used to be, I guess about a year ago that the Nachbar was known for being incredibly pretentious, but things have really loosened up a lot on that front. In fact, on one occasion your friendly Beerologists overheard a rant from one young man that began with “I just don’t understand why I have to pay for a fishing license,” he then proceeded to expound upon the principles of vegetarianism and rounded the whole thing off with the tidy little catch phrase, “The Earth is my bounty.” Go figure. Nowadays you’ll probably get your beer in a plastic cup and the Jerky Man makes regular stops. Case closed.

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On the weekends, the Nachbar gets really slammed and it can be difficult just to get from the front door to the back door much less to get a drink. Its really a very small bar with a very large and varied clientele. All sorts of people have started to coming out to the Nach and while its not officially a gay bar, it is a very friendly atmosphere. Luckily there are both front and back patios for the bar overflow. I know it doesn’t help much in the winter, but its great in warmer weather, I promise. A word to the wise: don’t think you’re going to slip through the cracks uncarded. They’ve gotten religious about carding any and all patrons recently – I get carded every single time I go there. 

Now, for the stuff you really care about. The Nachbar is a regular host to live, mostly local bands and they have a stage set up in the back yard for outdoor shows in the summer. While they appear to be a little shy on the drunk past-time front (the pool table was removed to make way for additional seating and space for bands to play during the winter) the juke box is far from shabby. The bathroom situation can get a little shady sometimes at the Nach, what with no lock on the ladies room and the men’s room being a known portal into some kind of underworld, but the ladies room at least always seems to be reasonably clean.

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The beer selection is awesome, with beers from all over the world. Their complete beer list is on their MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/thenachbar and believe me when I say its almost daunting. On the downside, a night that includes the Nachbar definitely involves driving from one location to the next. The Schnitzelburg, Lisa’s Oak Street Lounge and Seidenfaaden’s are all in the neighborhood, but not in what I would term walking distance. Also, The Nachbar doesn’t have a kitchen so plan to hit someplace like Flabby’s Schnitzelburg before heading out. Keep in mind that Germantown is more or less a city unto itself, and can pretty much meet any of your needs, should they arise. 

Personally, when I’m going to the Nachbar I make sure I always have at least a couple friends with me. The bar gets very loud and all of the patrons have come in groups so making enough chit chat to strike up a conversation can be tough. For optimal fun, bring your two favorite drinking buddies. 

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In closing, I would venture to say that these beers lend themselves to partying. The atmosphere when the Nachbar is crowded is exactly like that of a truly great house party so baby, let your hair down. 

Current Music: David Bowie – Young American

January 13, 2009 Posted by | Germantown | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mag Bar

If you’ve ever lived in Old Louisville, chances are you know about the Mag Bar. In fact, if you’ve lived in the neighborhood and never stopped in for a beer, you really didn’t do it right. They call it “the living room of Old Louisville” because that’s just what it is- a classic neighborhood bar. It is important to note that the Mag is home base for the Beerologists, hence, this article is certainly written with bias. 

It often seems that the core value our society lacks is community. In an age where people tend to keep to themselves, places like the Mag are refreshing, and I believe absolutely necessary. An Irish fellow who has declared the corner stool his office puts it like this: The Mag is a pub. Many of the bars in Louisville are bars- they’re places to drink with the people you brought with you and maybe meet someone to sleep with- but a pub is a place where you can walk in alone and know your friends are already there. And if you’re visiting the Mag for the first time, chances are you’ll have found new friends by the time you leave. 

Though most of the regulars live within walking distance of the Mag, there’s ample parking at Schiller’s and generally street parking nearby, as well. It’s not unsafe by any means, but this is Old Louisville, so street sense is a must. If there’s something desirable left in plain view in your car, chances are you’ll leave without the desirable thing or the window closest to it. If you’re a female concerned about walking to your car alone, there are plenty of good-hearted burly dudes who are generally happy to escort you. As far as the nearness of other bars, there are none within a stone’s throw, but within a few blocks are the Rudyard Kipling, the Granville, Woody’s, and- if you feel spunky- the Tavern. Also nearby is Juanita’s, where you can find Louisville’s finest drunk food. 

It must be noted that the Mag Bar is dirty. In fact, it’s downright grimy. The restrooms are an absolute adventure, particularly the men’s- it has no seat, no toilet paper, no lock on the door, and a perpetual puddle on the floor. Ladies, unless it is a dire situation, I wouldn’t recommend peeing where you’re meant to stand up- I speak from experience. The bathroom graffiti at the Mag never fails to be an interesting read and the quips therein range from uplifting bits of self help to reviews on the sexual skills of bar regulars (though the oft ignored rule of thumb is “If you meet it at the Mag Bar, don’t take it home.” That it is oft ignored is, perhaps, the reason it’s a rule).

The decor is delightfully random. The Mag bar may well boast the city’s largest collection of taxidermic fish with cigarettes in their mouths, a church directory hangs near the freezer, and watching over the service area is a portrait of a J. Edgar Hoover with sexy legs, flanked on both sides with a heap of skulls. The Mag loves holidays, so in addition to those items that stay year round, there are more often than not additional seasonal things hanging from the ceiling. 

The Mag’s jukebox is it’s pride and joy- definitely the best in Old Louisville, likely the best in the metro, and quite possibly the best in the world. It contains a staggering collection of songs that don’t suck covering many a genre- though “Psycho Killer,” “Roxanne,” and “TNT” play most every night. Depending on the mood of the person with the quarters, you may hear Slayer, Tom Waites, Johnny Cash, or Dave Brubeck (or all of those in succession). It’s also not out of the question for a live band to play in the back room or a DJ to spin a dance party. There are also pool tables a plenty and dart boards. Yes, there are pool tables. Folks who are new to the Mag often don’t realize it has a second room, but it’s just past the jukebox. If you keep going past that, you’ll find a door to the outside beer garden where you can smoke the haul you picked up from a camel fairy and talk about things around a picnic table without having to yell over the music. Though it isn’t a sports bar, if there’s a game of interest, it’s probably on the TV in the corner.

The bar’s layout is one of the better ones around. Granted, it’s tough to squeeze around on holidays (the holy days of drinking, that is- the Mag is THE place to be on Halloween, New Year, Mardi Gras, and St. Patrick’s Day- it also must be noted that the Mag is open 365 days a year, so it’s a great place to escape family on Christmas Night or sit out a snow storm), on an average night, mobility isn’t a problem and the clearly defined service area means you can get your drink quickly.

As is the case with any great bar, the staff truly sets the tone. Even on an empty night, you’re sure to have a laugh if you strike up a conversation with the nearest barkeep. Perhaps they’ll be placing bets on a random sporting event so they can feel like they have some stake in it, or maybe they’ll be mixing salsaritas and other seemingly disgusting drinks for each other. A political bitch session is always in order, but please be warned- the guys and the lovely Jackie O know more than you do about most things.

The true beauty of the mag is that the drinkers therein are pros. We pride ourselves on a complete lack of pretense when it comes to our booze. Granted, you’ll find a few microbrews and whatnot, but most of the regulars keep something simple in hand- a domestic longneck or a shot of Jameson. If you’re looking for a more obscure drink, you’re probably not looking for a dingy dive bar, anyway. There are drink specials outside of the weekend, but your base price for a domestic is a meager $3. As far as bar food, there isn’t any. Magnolia Bar and Grill is, at this point, a misnomer. Of course, they didn’t just lie. There once was a grill. In fact, my Grandpa used to go to the Mag for burgers when he was a young fellow- he assures me they were quite good. Now, however, the best you’ll find is a bag of Rusty’s jerky- or, if the bar staff is in a particularly generous mood (which is about half the nights they work), there will be popcorn available for free- a little “thank you for drinking here.” Also, Spinelli’s pizza happily delivers to the corner of 2nd and Mag. As far as the sign, I doubt that it will change. These days, “and Grill” stands as a tribute to folks like grandpa who ate burgers there long before any of us.

The Mag is generally regarded as a punk rock bar, and though many patrons fit that bill, it’s simply not that simple. We’re truly dealing with the kind of place where everyone’s welcomed. Everyone. With the exception of assholes, of course. People of all ages, occupations, sexual orientations, and political persuasions find common ground on this one corner of Old Louisville. Perhaps you’ll spot a dreadlocked hippie, a skinny-jeans hipster, and a black-leather metalhead debating the merits of Bavid Bowie’s catalogue. Maybe a few english major bohemian types will start an impromptu poetry meeting. Maybe you’ll step into a mind game like “Psychiatrist.” If that’s your bag, try the Wednesday night quiz. If you’re just meeting the crowd, you may or may not find them pretty (though chances are better that you will than that you won’t), but certainly will find them witty, so please bring your conversational A-game. 

All in all, the Mag is a true bar for all occasions. Again, I’m biased as I’m there most nights, but it’s good for celebration, drowning sorrows, meeting new friends, hanging out with old ones, and even for a date where you may need a safety net. Check it out once. I bet you’ll go back.

Current Music: The Talking Heads-Psycho Killer

January 11, 2009 Posted by | Old Louisville | , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Hideaway

If we’re talking about hole-in-the-wall bars (and we are), our list would be sorely incomplete if we didn’t mention The Hideaway Saloon. And they don’t call it The Hideaway for nothin’ – technically the bar is located at 1607 Bardstown Rd., but if you are anything like me and rely on landmarks to get around, The Hideaway is between Leatherhead’s and the hair shop across from Book and Music Exchange. Its also nestled back between the buildings, up a flight of stairs and through a door. If you still have location confusion let us know and we’ll try to help. Aside from some slight problems arising from being hidden, apropos to its name, The Hideaway is easily one of the best bars in Louisville being incredibly safe, reasonably clean and offering 160 beers and regularly scheduled live music. Make sure to check out their MySpace at:  www.myspace.com/hideawaysaloon 

At its heart, The Hideaway is your quintessential Hippie bar. The staff is really friendly and always good for a beer recommendation if you’re in the mood for something new. We tried Black Majic Java Stout on Compass’ word and loved it!  Also, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the $2 Mystery Bucket special, which is one of the most original ways we’ve found to get clientele to broaden their alcoholic horizons.On tap they’ve got the old standards, plus Magic Hat #9 and She Devil, some personal Beerologist recommendations!! Sometimes the crowd can get pretty heavy at The Hideaway if they’ve got a favorite band in to play, but the folks are generally great for all kinds of conversation and really friendly. This is not a bar that you need to take people with you in order to have a good time – you can go in, sit at the bar and within moments be talking to a fellow drinker about anything from non-profit work to conspiracy theories. But, if you do bring some buddies along, be sure to check out the Hideaway’s second floor. They’ve got more seating, pool tables, darts, pin ball and one of those new fangled juke boxes that searches the Internet for the song you want to hear. However, be warned for the stairs to the second floor are steep and narrow and not to be undertaken lightly if you’ve over-imbibed. 

The Hideaway is very close to the Baxter Ave. bars (like The Taproom!), Cumberland Brews, Cafe 360, Ray’s Monkey House, Za’s and The Backdoor. Additionally, they have their own kitchen which produces some of the best bar food in the city. Its also the half way mark on the infamous Bambi Walk. Anecdotally, one of your adorable Beerologists attempted to complete the Bambi Walk for her 21st birthday and only made it to The Hideaway and yes, she did throw up on the walk home. Furthermore The Hideaway was the first bar the Beerologists attended together and where we smoked our first hand rolled cigarettes. We were 19. Nowadays they card religiously, so don’t go gettin’ any ideas young’un! 

In closing, allow us to say that these beers are great for hanging out, but may just be better for getting laid. The Hideaway is a far cry from a meat market, but they’ve got some great deals of the Hippie variety, if you’re shopping around. Just promise us you’ll use protection! 

 

Current Music: Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Bambi Walk, The Highlands | , , , , | Leave a comment