Beers For All Occasions

An Experiment in Social Drinking

Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar

Located between at 230 E. Main Street is Stevie Ray’s, bringing live music to Louisville six days a week since 1994, and they can be found online at www.stevieraysbluesbar.com , where you can view daily drink specials and concert calenders. Parking is primarily on the street, but ample, and the neighborhood is convenient to both Downtown and the Highlands/Eurotown vicinity. 

Billed as the only venue in Louisville bringing you local blues bands, Stevie Ray’s is a music haven. They were voted the 2007 LEO Reader’s Choice for Best Blues Bar, so you know the decor is musically themed, with exposed brick, old posters, guitars and a bonafide dance floor. They have a great singer/songwriter open mic night on Mondays, hosted by Louisville’s own Tenia Sanders, complete with an in-house sound guy. The night we were visiting there was a Felktastic (hearts, stars, and rainbows Michael!) blues band playing, featuring an ensemble cast of local blues greats. Music starts at 7:30 PM on the weekends, however it must be noted that there is often a cover to hear the bands, and that they don’t take reservations or presell tickets.

Originally a workshop, Stevie Ray’s is named for the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan, a bit of music trivia that the general manager called a, “tip of the hat.” They have a beautiful, hand-carved wooden bar that is large enough to successfully serve the masses, and they’ve managed to maintain an industrial vibe, without losing any sophistication, all of which reminds us pleasantly of the Monkeywrench. There are lots of tables, in addition to seating at the bar, most of which are oriented toward the stage for your musical enjoyment.  They don’t have a draught line in house, so all their beers are bottled, and primarily they only serve the staples, although they do keep one BBC brew on hand (the Nut Brown). They also carry some wine, and it goes without saying, plenty of liquor. The vibe is really mellow, with dancing on the weekends and none of the fighting we see at some of the downtown joints. For our fellow smokers, we invite you to experience the Voodoo Garden, a walled courtyard complete with seating and wall murals, where you are invited to bring your drink with you.

The management at Stevie Ray’s would like us to extend to our readers an invitation to come out, dance, drink and listen to some really great, regionally-based music. Dedicated to re-urbanization, they’re trying to bring a younger crowd both into the bar and into the neighborhood, but they need you to come and have a drink. 

While never ones to rain on a parade, we have to say that these beers are for the blues, regardless of where they find you, and for the legend of Stevie Ray Vaughan.

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Downtown | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freddie’s

Though I’ve always known Freddie’s was there, I had never ventured inside before our review excursion. It’s certainly not a new bar- Freddie’s has operated under it’s current name for the past 47 years and was Bachelor’s Too for the 17 years prior to that. It started as a church- the steeple still stands- and also was likely a pharmacy at some point, as all the cabinetry has an apothecary-sort-of-vibe. Furthermore, Jimmy, our bartender, believes it may have been an orphan’s home at some point. Of course, bars always manage to care for mis-fit children, right?

The location is a good one- it’s on Broadway between 2nd and 3rd. Granted, that stretch of road is no Baxter ave. or 4th Street Live (though it’s just a couple of blocks away), but it’s located directly across from the Brown Theater. Plus, for those of us who truly believe in Louisville’s downtown, it’s a great spot to do your part to revitalize it. We had no problem finding street parking, but found out once inside that there’s more in the back, and though we had a nice little chat with a respectful bum out front, the area feels completely safe. 

Once inside, one can’t help but notice the presence of the Rat Pack- the beerologists were certainly reminded of Sinatra’s hotness. In fact, I think if my Grandpa had a man cave, it would be Freddie’s. There’s an amazing collection of antique bottles and a pair of Jimmy Ellis’s gloves. In addition to the internet jukebox, video monopoly, and darts, there’s a classic cigarette machine (these are starting to get rare, folks) and a commonwealth seal over the bar. It even smells old in that way that always invokes nostalgia. The ladies’ room is wood paneled with a classy dressing table- it’s one of the cleanest I’ve seen. It also must be noted that Jimmy was watching a western when we came in- something with Clint Eastwood- it fit the scene. 

The selection at Freddie’s is completely basic- the domestics you’d expect- but it’s cheap enough there’s no need for specials. Food-wise, there are chips and beef jerky for sale- nothing extravagant. Take note: Freddie’s is cash only!

I also think it’s worth mentioning that there was once a bar-cat named Tinker who was somewhat of a local celebrity- her picture still hangs over the service area. 

According to Jimmy, the crowd varies every night, but the staples ae actors and Brown-concert-goers. Perhaps the most crowded day is the Pegasus Parade, so stop in on Thursday and celebrate a great Derby event local style!

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Downtown | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Note On Reader Recommendations

Hey Guys!

We thank you so much for all of your suggestions on bars for future review. We got WAY more than we expected (enough to keep us busy for several weeks)! We started reviewing your recommended bars last Wednesday, so look for them in the upcoming days and weeks. 

In the spirit of “first come, first served,” we’re just going to review them in the order in which they were received. Also, we wanted to note that we’ll probably review at least one other bar in the vicinity, per week. For example, this week we visited Freddie’s on reader suggestion, and since we were already downtown, we headed over to Stevie Ray’s. 

We promise that if you keep the recommendations coming, we’ll keep going to the bars you love! E-mail us at beerologists@gmail.com, or leave us a comment, and we’ll get on it! 

As always, thanks for reading!

April 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sergio’s World Beers

sergio

Have you ever found a person, so dedicated to what they do that they do that they make you want to work harder for what you believe in? A person so in love with what he or she does that they never seem to have to really work? The founder, owner, and operator of Sergio’s World Beers is such a man. His passion for beer began at the ripe age of 14, has carried him around the world, and has landed him in his personal sanctuary in Shelbyville, or to the Louisvillians, “East Jesus Nowhere.” Sergio’s World Beers is located at 2412 Shelbyville Rd., and can be found online at http://sergiosworldbeers.com. The website is really a wonderful resource, with a complete beer list, a menu, and comprehensive driving directions. We highly recommend that you check it out before taking the drive.

 

sergiosoutside

 

We must admit, that when we were told by a reader to go visit Sergio out in Shelby County, we were reluctant to make the drive. We felt that we hadn’t done enough work in Louisville to warrant an out of county excursion. So, we put it off for a few months to develop the blog. However, last week we found ourselves sans excuse. The trip would have to be made, because Sergio’s was demanded with the swiftness. As we drove the 30 minutes from Louisville to Shelbyville, in my car full of twenty-something intellectuals, conspiracy theories abounded. First, we wondered if this was an elaborate joke designed to see how far we would go in the name of beer. As the trip progressed through the Kentucky back country, some of us were pondering lynch mobs, while others were concerned about getting shot. Visions of sawed off shotguns and nooses danced through our heads. However, upon arrival we realized that the reason we had driven over the river and through the woods was not because Sergio’s is really in East Jesus Nowhere, but rather because directions on an iPhone don’t include shortcuts or brief backtracks. For all of its marvelous qualities, even I have to admit that the iPhone doesn’t actually have cognitive skills. We suggest using the directions posted on Sergio’s website for a faster and less daunting expedition.

 

 

seatingatsergiosedited1 

We almost passed Sergio’s up, rolling down US 60 at fifty-five miles-per-hour, waiting for our technology to tell us that we had arrived in civilization. The partially burnt-out neon sign declares Sergio’s a restaurant, while the other sign reads sports bar and grill. Truth be told, it looks sort of like a restaurant, or a sports bar. Nothing from the exterior told us that we had just arrived in our version of the promised land. As we walked through the large front room, toward the much-smaller bar room, something began happening to us. We were transported from Shelbyville, Kentucky to somewhere far more European. For the true beer enthusiast, the sight that we beheld was nothing short of a religious encounter. Shelves of beers covered the walls, like a library of brews. Beer bottles sat on top of the refrigerators, they were lined up along the bar, and they formed pyramids in the halls. What immediately looked like a shrine to beers gone by is actually the selection of offerings at this holy land of alcohol, almost 900 in all, with deliveries of new selections arriving regularly.  Allow me to just impress upon you that you could go to Sergio’s everyday for two years and six months and never have the same beer twice. Overwhelmed? Good, let’s move on.

 

 whoalotofbeer

 

Behind the bar, in his personal pulpit was the bishop of beers himself, Sergio Ribenboim. A native of Brasil, Sergio began his love affair with beer in Germany with a beer affectionately called “bacon in a bottle.” Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock is the epitome of a genre called “smokebeer”, in which the malt is smoked much like meat. Imagine this gentleman as a teenager, sitting in a small German village, sipping his first smokebeer, and you begin to understand what drove Sergio to create this shrine. As he tells you stories from his life, Sergio regularly pulls obscure beer bottles down from the walls, illustrating his life story in brown glass. From each of his travel destinations, he brings back bottles, and allows you to smell the empty glass, and so be transported to Germany, Holland, Belgium, and France.

 

 

baratdergiosedited 

 A master at the recommendation, Sergio seems to take what you’ve said you like in a beer, be it hoppy or malty, light or dark, and add your personality into the equation, producing a beer recommendation that is not just what you like in beer, but what you didn’t even know you loved. When I told him that my current favorite is Magic Hat #9, he produced an apricot beer from the Pyramids Brewing Co. in the Pacific North West that I had never even heard of. Needless to say, it puts the #9 to shame. When another of our crew declared her love for dark ales, he gave her a beer with a wine finish that she swore was the beer she had always been looking for. If you’re open minded, this shaman will give you the beer of your dreams.

 

aroundthetopofthewalls 

 

To compliment your dream beer, Sergio can whip you up a variety of cultural food. Because of the Shelby County location, at least 70% of Sergio’s sales must be in food to keep that liquor license, so be prepared to eat while you’re there. This is no real burden however, when you consider that he has one and two dollar menu items, and that the food is incredible. The menu is international as you may expect, and the kitchen doesn’t close until Sergio leaves. There are several complete, many coursed dinner menus available, and, of course, each course comes with its own beer. While we were there, Sergio plied us with a series of home made foods like his shrimp ceviche and brownies, both of which were perfect.

 

 

 sergiosbathroomedit

Adding to this multicultural atmosphere, Sergio’s is decorated with flags from around the world, and is literally papered in empty six pack boxes. The low ceiling, the walls, the halls, and the bathroom are all covered in these colorful containers. Also, like pilgrims crawling on their knees to Mecca, the patrons of Sergio’s tend to be from elsewhere. They drive in to pay homage at the temple of beers. As we spoke with Sergio, we learned more about the selection than anyone could ever guess from looking around. For example, the beers lining the bar are selections that you can only get there, and the black and gold tap is a draught beer that costs $500 for a small keg. As you take all this in, it should come as no surprise that Sergio’s World Beers is listed among the best bar destinations in the world, on www.BeerAdvocate.com, with an A+ rating on that site.

 

 

sergiospersonalbathroom 

As a writer, I have to say I was absolutely humbled by this man’s love for his work.

While I know that this article reads less like a bar review than a love story, I would suggest to you that these beers are not just for the love of beer. These beers are for passion, in all of its many forms.

April 11, 2009 Posted by | Out of County | , , , , | 9 Comments

Hey You!

Hello Drinkers!

Have you ever wondered how we make our lists of bars to visit? Its not random choice, believe it or not. Its a serious effort to provide you with information on bars you either love, or want to love. Basically, we want to be a resource for our bar-centered community.  

But alas! The day is rapidly approaching when we will be out of trendy, hip bars to profile for you. Without your suggestions and requests, we will be forced to subject you to an entire series of reviews that you have no particular interest in. Unless you’re masochistic, we need your help.

As you may or may not know, reader requested bars get priority treatment. Which means, if you e-mail us at beerologists@gmail.com or leave us a comment, your bar will be reviewed the very next week. Bars that got reviewed by request include Marmaduke’s, DCE and the upcoming review on Sergio’s World Beers. This is a plea for your input on the shape our blog will take, because we know we can’t do it without you.  

Take this opportunity and move to head of the line! We promise you’ll like it.

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Marmaduke’s

Marmaduke’s was never on our radar before this excursion. Somehow, it was missing from our bar lists, and for two girls who met in the Highlands and now live in Old Louisville and Germantown, Camp Taylor might as well be a different planet. And how. 

Just getting there was a bit of a challenge. One of us heard it was across from the K-mart on Poplar Level and the other was told Poplar Level and Watterson. Watterson is certainly a better director- you run into that Mexican restaurant where the “Open Mondays” sign is more prominent than the place’s name, then you make a sharp turn- almost a U-turn, and you’re at Marmaduke’s parking. I think you can park in front- on Poplar Level- too, but that lot is easy to miss. It’s not really close to any other bars, so I can understand, now, how it came to pass that the two of us had never even seen this place. Luckily, the Bar Belle, our third musketeer for the night, has been at this game longer than we have. 

marmadukes3

Once inside, both of us raised an eyebrow, I believe. It’s definitely sort of a honky-tonk and the crowd took notice of the fact that it was our first visit. It’s wood paneled with padding on all corners, and lots of sign advertising Budweiser, Nascar, or drinking Budweiser while watching Nascar. There are a few pool tables (tournaments on Thursday), an internet jukebox (which seems to mostly be used for country music), and ping pong. Yes, Forrest, you can drink and play ping pong at Marmaduke’s. Also, there’s Karaoke on Wednesdays- we’ll come back to that later. They say sometimes, there are Saturday night bands.The crowd was small, though, (as per usual) we were assured it’s packed on weekends. The place was clean enough, but it must be noted that the stall door in the ladies’ room is a camouflage curtain. 

marmadukes4

As far as selection, this joint is bare bones, but cheap as hell. My Budweiser was $1.75, which may be an all-time low for somewhere I don’t work. They tend to serve beer in a pitcher with no glass, I’ve been told. Use what you have, right?  Food-wise, there’s no kitchen, but plenty of pork rinds. There was a crock pot in the back of the room which implies that people might sometimes bring food. There’s also a jar of pickled eggs, but I don’t know if they’re sustenance or ambience. We stuck around for a while because the company was good (Beerologists meet the Bar Belle? Brilliant!) and the drinks were cheap, and in doing so, we met a couple of real characters. 

marmadukes2

I grew up in a small town in SOKY- you know, the kind with a church, an elementary school, and a gas station. The crowd kind of felt like that crowd. Specifically, I was reminded of the guys who were across the street at the gas station smoking cigarettes and shooting the shit while all the “decent folk” were at church. It’s not where I’d look for a date, but conversation was pretty good- completely different from our usual social set. 

First there was Dennis. The bar-tender told me she’d seen him on the corner with a cardboard sign, but never in the bar before, and asked multiple times if he was bothering me, but Dennis was no trouble at all. He was a weathered fellow with a good heart who kept us laughing- the type who loses his cane multiple times and lights the wrong end of a cigarette, calling it a “candle.” He begged us all to sing karaoke, but we are generally adamant about remaining spectators, not participants, in that game. Besides, Dennis was a far more entertaining singer than we could hope to be. 

Then there was a lady who I’ll call “Delta Dawn,” because I never caught her name, but that’s what she sang. Delta Dawn and I had one of the stranger and more awkward conversations of my life. She opened with, “You’re all gay, right?” I told her I’m not, but the other one is. Then Delta Dawn asked me, “Why do you wanna hang out with gay people? Don’t that hurt your chances with men?” I live in a liberal bubble, I know, but that struck me as absurd! It also pointed out to me that this may not be the place to take your more falmboyant friends.
On second thought, though, I don’t think Delta Dawn meant any harm. She was just trying to understand. Maybe it was me who wasn’t being understanding. One way or another, these drinks are for expanded horizons. 

April 5, 2009 Posted by | Camp Taylor | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Rant

In light of the new taxes that have been levied on alcohol and tobacco, we feel that it is our civic duty to post a bit of a rant. Frankly, Frankfort, we’re tired of it all. Every time there’s a deficit in the state budget, the burden falls on the shoulders of “sinners.” We tax cigarettes, then alcohol, then we tax it again and again. The smokers have already been exiled from all public places, yet I remember a time- not too long ago- when legislators could smoke inside the capitol building. There are offices in the annex where they still do, but these same legislators pass taxes upon taxes upon taxes. Will we ever be punished enough? Here’s my beef with sin taxes. Kentucky’s economy is entirely based on sin. Tobacco is our chief cash crop- at least, as far as legal crops go- the top cash crop is a separate rant. They say the intent of all these taxes is that people will quit smoking and be healthier, but how one cares for and defends one’s own health is one’s own business. What happens when the smokers do quit? What happens when that tax money is gone? What happens to the farmers? Is Frankfort prepared to subsidize them? Clearly, Frankfort doesn’t really want this absurd plan to work. Then there’s bourbon. This liquor is our claim to fame, yet we tax it to discourage it’s consumption. Where’s the logic? While we’re taxing sins, shall we also tax gambling? Why not add a tax to bets at Churchill Downs? We all know that will never happen. Here’s my proposition. Let’s tax fast food- that’s also detrimental to our health. Gluttony is also a deadly sin. Be a little more creative, Frankfort. Or perhaps we could be bold. What if we taxed franchises? Seriously- any company that takes money out of the state of Kentucky could have an additional tax. Some might say that taxing Wal-Mart and McDonald’s is a tax on the poor, but I ask those naysayers to examine the demographics who buy cigarettes and beer. We are poor, as well. It’s simply a difference in priority. I have one last request, Frankfort. If you must require us, the sinners, to float your budget, bear in mind that we know what we’re paying for every time we make a purchase. We know that it’s cheaper to drink at home than at a bar, but we gladly pay the surcharge for ambience. Similarly, we know we’re filling the gaps in the state budget- even covering for dry counties. We know. Now is the time to treat us as philanthropists, not degenerates. You need us to sin, so stop condemning and let us be.

April 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments