Beers For All Occasions

An Experiment in Social Drinking

Louisville On Tap

 

We got a domain name, and we are dancing with joy. For those of you who don’t recognize it, this is the “happy bear” dance. You have to turn in a circle to spread the joy all around.

March 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Ray’s Monkey House

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Nestled between Café 360 and Cumberland Brews on Bardstown Road, in the same building that once housed the late, great Twice Told Books is Ray’s Monkey House. Another bar/coffee shop hybrid that I’m willing to call a “bar shop”, Ray’s can be viewed online at www.raysmonkeyhouse.com, where they have a full menu and a schedule of special events they have coming up for the month. They also have a blog of their very own available on their site, complete with some very cute pictures of the owner, Nimbus, and his kids. They’re just across the street from Za’s, down the block from the Hideaway and a candidate for the newest stop on the Bambi Walk. Contrary to popular belief, Ray’s is not connected to Café 360, they just had the same artist (Noah Church) do their signs. The result is a cohesive corner on one of the most popular streets in Louisville. They’re open from 8am-11pm (more or less) and have live music every night, with some standing engagements. Tuesday nights are their Bluegrass Jam night, Wednesdays are dedicated to Open Mic, and Friday nights are their Jazz Jam night.

 

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If you scroll down, you’ll see that we related Derby City Espresso to your buddy’s living room. Specifically, DCE is Matt Landan’s living room, with that urban vibe that we love so much and associate with Downtown, right? Well, Ray’s Monkey House accomplishes a similar feat.

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Ray’s is the product of another man with a plan, this time a man named Nimbus. Nimbus’ plan? Create a place that is kid friendly and family oriented, while still being hip enough to survive on Bardstown Rd. Our verdict? Mission accomplished. There are lots of activities for kids like coloring, toys and picture books, and their open mic nights and jam sessions are open to kids with musical talent. They even have a seating section totally dedicated to kids with pint sized tables and chairs. The walls are brightly painted, the floors are hardwood and the ceilings are copper colored. There’s tons of comfy seating, and a separate (red) room available for meetings and birthday parties. We also noticed several cool chandeliers, one of which was in the ladies room. They have a little bit of outside seating, which provides some of the best people-watching available.

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While I know that I’m supposed to focus on the beer (and trust me, we’ll get there), I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on the manifesto over at Ray’s. They are committed to being 100% organic and fair trade, and they’re also completely vegetarian/vegan. We were impressed by their selection of fresh fruit, baked goods and organic snacks and we noticed that they’re offering a grilled cheese and avocado sandwich that we can’t wait to try. Furthermore, they roast all their coffee in house, so you know its awesome.

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Which brings us to the alcohol portion of our program (everyone’s favorite portion). All their beers are local and/or small batch microbrews. They have competitive prices and a great selection in bottles. On draught they currently only have two beers which aren’t local, one of which is Small Craft Warning, a great, hoppy lager that we recommend highly.

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I never thought I would say this, but these beers are for hanging out with your kids (or your buddy’s kids, or Nimbus’ kids). Be responsible though, ok?

 

Current Music: Hey Man – The Eels

March 28, 2009 Posted by | The Highlands | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mother Lodge

In 2003, a bunch of musician types put their heads together and made an album for a bar we all love and who loves all of Louisville, particularly the music makers and the dreamers of the dream. It included the likes of Digby, The Middle Men, Peter Searcy, the Java Men, King Kong, the Pennies, the Glasspack, and many more- two whole discs of local greats. There’s even an otherwise unreleased track by MY MORNING JACKET!

In more recent days, a back stock of the Mother Lodge CD was found and put into circulation. They’re available at ear X-tacy and the Rud. They sell for cheap and are a must for any collection of Louisville music- if you’re a fan of Louisville is for Lovers, you’ll love it.

Now, the same geniuses that put that album out are working on a festival that will cover 6 different venues March 29- April 5. The full schedule is at www.motherlodge.com These events are not to be missed- Ray Rizzo, Myron Koch, and Derrick Pedolzky (Louisville’s promotion giants!) are all involved. Please do check it out. 

March 26, 2009 Posted by | Old Louisville | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Derby City Espresso

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You’ve seen the stickers. They’re everywhere. But Derby City Espresso is kind of alone, as far as bars. It’s not in a bad part of town, and there’s some parking (though more often at night, it’s full). Stevie Ray’s isn’t too far away, but at Preston and Market, it’s more of a gallery-zone than a night-life destination. That makes sense, though, when you consider that DCE isn’t entirely a night-life kind of place.

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There have been in recent years sociological essays that mention the coffee shop as the “third area”- that place that isn’t work and isn’t home where you can comfortably pass the other third of your time when there’s nothing better to do. I can’t cite those essays as I don’t remember who wrote them, but I felt that the idea was flawed, only a little, when I first stumbled across it. I’m a second shifter, so my third area is the bar- when you get off work at midnight, you can’t really go hang out at Heine Brothers and wind down. But there’s this new model in town for that place to pass time, of which DCE may well be the form (in the sense that Plato uses the word “form”). I call them hybrids. Coffee shops that sell beer. What more could you want in a place?

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The real heart of DCE is Matt, the pig-tailed fellow who’s generally tweeting on twitter about which songs he loves. Matt’s becoming a man about town popping up at many a social event, but if you’re at Derby City Espresso, so is he. That’s because Matt’s the only employee. He’s also the owner. And he lives at the shop. Yes, Matthew Landan has managed to merge all of his areas- work, home, coffee shop, bar- it’s all the same place for this fellow. It’s the perfect bohemian business model, really. And I like that about the place. In fact, I love it. 

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I’m a fan of passion. There’s this singer/songwriter fellow, Paleo. For a solid year, Paleo lived on the road. He toured constantly, and every day he wrote a song. Not only did he write it, but he also recorded and posted to his website (www.paleo.ds) the song of the day every day. 365. True story. He was living at work. That’s passion. I think Matt displays the same sort of passion for coffee and beer Paleo displays for music. I also think if those two fellows ever do meet, they’d immediately become very close friends. And so, in the same way I’ll happily listen to all 365 of those songs in chronological order because I feel special to be so invited into Paleo’s life and his heart, I enjoy that when I get a drink at DCE, I’m really hanging around a friend’s living room. 

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Really, I think that’s the charm of the place- when you walk in DCE, you can’t help but notice that it feels more like a friend’s apartment (albeit a really fantastic apartment with the biggest espresso machine in town) than a place of business. The walls are covered in the art Matt likes. And speaking of art, this is not a politically neutral sort of joint- it may be Louisville’s biggest collection of Obama propaganda- and that gets the beerologists seal of approval, for sure. There’s also an award winning fish tank,  a computer available, a disco-fleur de lis, and a staggering collection of Star Wars action figures for which Matt would like to repent saying, “George Lucas stole my youth!” They’re all for sale, by the way- there are even whispers on the wind of a closet stocked with more, still in the package after all these years. There’s also a great pinball machine, and a courtyard that’s perfect for hanging out with cigarettes. There’s no cash register, but DCE does take plastic (not AMEX), and the minimum is a meager $2. If you’re coming to a show, be aware- seating cam be limited, at least today it was. Matt’s a furniture-mover and the place has been re-arranged every time I’ve visited. DCE prides itself on the fact that it’s always changing. Please notice the copper bar- it’s not level, but beautiful.

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I would typically make a brief mention of the bar staff at this point, but Matthew Landan requires more than that. To start at the start, Matt arrived in Louisville after living everywhere else. He is, by trade, a journalist and foreign relations specialists who speaks Italian and German. DCE is his fresh start, a decision made at a concert to re-invent his life. Matt knows the stuff he serves. There’s a massive and delicious beer list, traditional Italian style coffee (DCE does not speak Starbuck’s), and 40 varieties of tea. Matt assured me he can tell you the difference between all of them- but I wasn’t in the mood for tea- so I tested his suggesting power on a beer. I got a Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and it was a near epiphany in drinking- to say it is my new favorite beer doesn’t do it justice. It must be noted, though, that a beer/coffee snob who reports only to himself is not always cordial, I’ve been told. In my experience this is all here-say, but previous customers may have gotten small lectures about light beer and decaf coffee. You also may get an ear-full if you pull the handle on the kegerator, but that’d be an asshole move, so you wouldn’t, right? Even if he rubs you the wrong way at first, I implore you, hang in there- this is a gem of a personality. Matt recycles and keeps louisville weird and knows more than most everyone about most everything. If you want in his head a little more, check out his Velocity blog. 

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As far as the nitty gritty, DCE is open 11-ish AM to 8-ish PM if there isn’t a show there and Phish isn’t playing nearby. On show nights, it’s open until it closes, which is the umbrella rule all the time. I prefer to check via twitter to make sure the shop is open before I make the trek downtown. If you spend $50 on the card Matt has yet to give me, he’ll give you $5 in cash. All events are listed on the DCE myspace. Someday there will be a website (it’s kind of like us with the .com). DCE actually has a house beer- a coffee porter custom made by BBC- it’s delicious. 

 

These beers are for the third area- they’re for being away from home and away from work and enjoying the company of a man who’s completely invested in what he does. On a final note, keep your eyes open- the beerologists and DCE may soon join forces for a party and we’d like you to come.

Current Music: The Weight- The Band

March 25, 2009 Posted by | Downtown | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Monkeywrench

Does anyone really know what to call that place between the Highlands and Germantown? That area is like an abyss. Some people call it the Original Highlands, some people call it Lower Germantown while still other people call it Paris Town Point. What we need is another bridge, and we shall call that bridge, The Monkeywrench! Located at the corner of Winter and Barret, right across the street from the Barret Bar, The Monkeywrench wants to be your segway between Germantown and Bardstown Rd., and they’re willing to work for it. 

This restaurant/bar hybrid has a full menu of food that they serve until about midnight, and a brunch on Saturday and Sundays from 11-2, complete with mimosas. They’re only open til 2 AM out of respect for the residents of the neighborhood but they have a parking lot and street parking aplenty. They don’t have any games like you’ll find at the Pour Haus, but they do have regular live music on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are bluegrass night (Relic was playing while we were there). And while we’re on the subject of music, we all know that the Monkeywrench was beginning to get something of a reputation for being a nightclub-esque spot, but all that is changing. While  they are bringing in regular live music, they want to get down to their roots, which means music you can drink to. The Monkeywrench is also billed as the sports bar for non-sports fans, and this is pretty serious U of L country. So, the next time you want to watch the game without being bombarded by drunk Frat guys, head toward the Monkeywrench and they’ll see to it you have a good time. 

Denny, the owner, told us that the Monkeywrench had previous lives as a Pita Delights and a dry cleaners. He made the bar from the old duct work from the dry cleaning era, the light fixtures are made of blown glass and the floor is painted concrete. In fact, the whole place has a great industrial vibe that makes you feel like you can relax while you have a burger without being grimy. The ceilings in the bar room are postered, and there are tons of local stickers behind the bar. We also spotted a TV on top of a piano and those awesome mechanical fortune tellers that you never see anymore. 

As far as the beer list goes, this one tops the charts. They have a great selection of local bars on draught, along with some standard favorites like Magic Hat #9 and Bell’s Two Hearted. They serve your beer to you in an actual glass and yes, you can take it outside to smoke a cigarette. And you know that roof deck they’ve been working on? Its still in the works, with an estimated finish time of late Spring. They’ll be serving bottled beer and booze, but no draught beers. The current outdoor seating is a little tough to negotiate because its confined to the sidewalk to allow patrons to park, but persevere and you may find that you have the best of all things drinking. 

So after much contemplation, the Beerologists have decided that these beers are for bridges. So get some people together and bridge a gap.

March 21, 2009 Posted by | Germantown, The Highlands | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pour Haus

The Pour Haus is located at the corner of Shelby and Burnett, and area that was a bad part of town not too long ago. With the upswing in yuppies and hipsters buying homes in Germantown, though, it’s getting better every day. This is still the kind of place where one must use caution, though. If you leave stuff in your car, someone may break in. The Pour House has had trouble in the past with a lack of security, so it’s not the kind of place where you want to get so drunk you’re not in control of what you do. For a few beers, though, you’ll be fine and the crowd’s generally harmless, so it’s not really necessary to bring back up. Also, there’s a full parking lot, which is nice. You’re not too far from anything in Germantown, but not close enough that I recommend walking anywhere (particularly if you’re a female- like I said- it’s the kind of neighborhood where caution is a good idea).

Now that we’ve talked about the Pour Haus’s weaknesses, let’s look at the strengths. My favorite is that it has the oldest original wood dance floor in Louisville. In fact, I hear a couple just celebrated their 55th anniversary there because it’s where they got engaged. Pretty amazing, eh? Actually, the place has been a bar, consistently, since the 1880’s. Most recently, it was Club 21.

To keep you busy, they offer pool tables, darts, a few of those fantastic bar video games, and even horseshoes. There’s an internet jukebox, which is great because you can absolutely find the song you want, but there’s no safeguard on what songs other people play, so sometimes that’s a bit of a curse. There’s also some excellent karaoke on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The decorating scheme is pretty random- a little bit nautical, a little bit asian, lots of horses, and classic bar green. But hey- this is Germantown. Did you expect it to make sense? The place is basically clean and the bathrooms don’t have a ton of graffiti, but sometimes you find a gem there (“Mojitos…Mo’ Problems). There’s tons of seating and generally, there’s no cluster-fuck at the service area, so you can get a drink fast.

And on that note, drink-wise, the Pour Haus carries the basics plus a few better beers. If you’re with a drink-snob, he or she will be ok. Furthermore, I’ve always found that the staff is happy to create custom drinks. There’s no food, but the Pour Haus is equipped with a full kitchen, so maybe someday?

I would be remiss not to mention the music room and courtyard. Upon first look, the Pour Haus seems like a relatively small bar, but a glance at the size of the building tells you there just has to be more there. On nights without a show, the music room is kept locked and many people have no idea it’s there, but it’s actually one of the biggest music rooms in town. I’m talking not much smaller than headliners. And again, there’s plenty of seating. There’s also a second bar in the music room, so you don’t have to go in and out. And if you need a cigarette, the Pour Haus has one of the bigger outdoor smoking areas in town. it’s no frills- horseshoes, of course- but it’s just perfect for a massive game of charades or Belegarth demonstration (I’ve seen both). Plus, there’s a service window, so when it’s warm, you don’t actually have to go inside to get a drink. This place is good at serving you where you are. 

As far as the crowd, it’s honestly all over the place. It’s often determined by who’s playing, but if there’s no show, the Pour Haus is a social grab-bag. Some nights it feels like a hip-hop dance club, and sometimes an old honky-tonk. There are usually a few true hipsters there for the irony. Karaoke nights draw folks who aren’t quite up for singing in front of an Akiko’s crowd. There’s a lady in her 70’s who comes in pretty often because she says she like to hang around young folks who don’t treat her like an elder, but instead have a few drinks and a good time with her. That kind of sums the place up. These drinks are for a 120-something year old dance floor and an ageless crowd.

March 20, 2009 Posted by | Germantown | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pink Door

I think the Pink Door had a good idea. The concept was a noodle bar/ tea house/ hipster-accommodating dance club. I’m speaking in past tense because it’s recently changed owners, so we’ve yet to see what happens. I’m writing about this bar as it’s been so far. I’m hoping stuff doesn’t change too much.

The Pink Door isn’t really in a “bar zone”- it’s more of a stand-alone on Douglass Loop. It’s right behind that Heine Bro.’s. You’ll know it by the Pink Door. Crazy, huh? It’s a safe area to be around and it you count the Kinko’s next door, this in one of the better parking situations in the metro.

As for entertainment, the Pink Door is a dance club. It’s possibly the coolest one in town, I believe, due primarily to the crowd it draws. It’s mostly free of toddlers with fake IDs and creepy folks just looking to get laid (you’ll find them on some other dance floors in town). It’s the fun of a frat party without the frat boys. Louisville’s music nerds and good time enthusiasts tend to be around without pretense. It must be noted, though, that I’m basically describing a weekend night- The Pink Door also hosts swing nights, shows, poetry readings, and “Thurs-gay”- the same dancing, but more argumentative lesbians, from what I hear. All events are listed on their myspace.

The place is clean, even the bathroom, and well engineered for traffic flow everywhere but the bar. It often takes a minute to get a drink. Decor is simplistic, one of the hi-lights being a full-wall projection screen that generally shows ambient images that respond to the music. There’s also generally a fog machine in action.

Drinks are reasonably priced and in addition to the standards, there’s a huge variety of teas and $1 sake shots. Currently, the kitchen is on hiatus, but rumor has it the new owners plan to bring back the asian fusion cuisine.

The Pink Door’s a great place to shake it, whether you take a crowd or meet a new one. I suggest rounding up a group of girls and getting silly costumes at Unique, but that’s just me. The crowd’s down with that sort of thing, though. They’re mostly mid-20’s to early 30’s, intelligent, and looking for fun in a locally-owned joint. Considering that warm weather has a lot of town all twitter-pated, these are drinks for killing spring-fever.


March 11, 2009 Posted by | The Highlands | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lisa’s Oak Street Lounge

dscn0801The sign above the stage reads, “Please remain seated until the ride comes to a complete stop.” To the left of this sign is a small wooded box filled with the ashes of a dead guitarist who requested this spot for his final resting place. Welcome to Lisa’s Oak Street Lounge, a combination venue and bar that has played host to some of Louisville’s greatest local bands. Located at 1004 E. Oak Street, at the corner of Oak and Swan, Lisa’s Oak Street Lounge is located smack dab between Old Louisville and the Highlands. Its on your way from here to there, so check it out!! Their MySpace is www.myspace.com/germantownlive and this dive is owned by the famed Lisa who got her start in bar tending in the self-same spot. There has been a bar on this location for over 70 years, and until it came under Lisa’s ownership was known as the Blue Castle Tavern. They’re currently cash only a la the Mag Bar, but they’re getting ready to take credit and debit cards for your convenience. They hosted the very first Germantown Fest and have been active in the neighborhood for over 7 decades.

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As a point of interest, keep your eyes peeled for the ghost of a 6 year old girl who was said to have died in a fire in the back room. She’s not in the main bar area, but creepy instances of doors opening and closing in the music room have been reported!

And while we’re on the subject of the music room (have we mentioned that this is a venue), we would like to mention that there is carpet inside the walls to enhance your musical experience and that the room itself is large enough to host quite a crowd. The next time you want to hear some live music, we strongly encourage you to do it here, at Lisa’s.

Their schedule is pretty flexible, but keep in mind that Lisa is primarily interested in beer, strong drinks and live music. On Wednesday nights they have 70’s classic rock, Thursdays its standing open mic night, hosted by Louisville’s own Jamie Duvall and Fridays and Saturdays change according to the week. There is absolutely no karaoke night, given Lisa’s dedication to live music, however she just got the pool tables re-covered and she’s going to be starting free pool nights in the very near future. Free pool will be on Monday through Thursday nights and will be available all night long. The decor is primarily conventional, but we spotted a green sink in the ladies room which is unique to say the least. The bar is quite clean and reflects Lisa’s love of bars in general and her’s in particular. She bartends most every night and on slow nights they have friendly card games that you’re welcome to partake in.

The beer list is standard, but Lisa is looking into getting a draught system put in and she assured us that if it proves feasible she will be offering a few microbrews and locally made beers in addition to the old stand-bys. Prices are reasonable, we got a PBR for $2 and Budweiser for $2.50, but Lisa is well-known for pouring an very strong drink for your money. Where better to take your custom?

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Parking is on the street, and I wouldn’t recommend walking too far on your own, especially if you’re a woman. Bring your drinking buddy if you’re coming on an off night, and make sure you walk to your vehicles together to keep it safe. They draw a huge crowd on show nights and have tables and chairs available outside for smokers. Keep in mind however that Lisa’s does not tolerate underage drinking (we were carded upon walking in the door) and you will be asked to leave if you’re not of age. So don’t go gettin’ any crazy ideas young’un!

 

Upon consultation, the Beerologists have decreed that these beers are for keeping Louisville weird and for supporting local business. Bring your friends and come out to Lisa’s for a brew and a game of pool, even if they don’t have a show going on. If we don’t go in, sit down and order a beer there may not be a Lisa’s Oak Street Lounge in the near future and that is just not acceptable!

Current Music: The Fashion: Dead Boys

March 10, 2009 Posted by | Germantown | , , , , , | Leave a comment

News Flash!

The Beerologists now Twitter!!

Check it out at: twitter.com/Beerologists

Oh! And, I know you guys have been asking about our domain name and we’ve been saying “yea, yea, yea” but we really are on it, and we’ve narrowed it down to just a couple names. Stay tuned for updates there. 

Beerologists on the move!!

March 1, 2009 Posted by | Bambi Walk, Germantown, Old Louisville, The Highlands | Leave a comment