Beers For All Occasions

An Experiment in Social Drinking

The Inkwell

I believe people generally have good ideas, but we tend to talk more than act. Even the beerologists talked over brews for months about this blog idea before we ever wrote a word (then we stopped writing and talked for a few more months about how we should start again.) Now, we talk about teaching teenagers about poetry or visiting a bar in Nottingham- but it’s all talk. There is a special sort of person, though, who acts on good ideas instead of talking about them.

This brings me to our original home bar. Before the Mag, before the Hideaway, we were Rudyard Kipling girls. And so we shall always be. Any visitor to the Rud can see that the building is bigger than what’s used. There’s a back room and a second floor, and even a third floor room. For years, those of us who call the Motherlodge home have talked about how to best make use of the extra space, but no one really knew where to start.

Then came a staff shift. Fear not- Aerin is still around, but these days, she’s got a lot more on her plate than keeping us all drunk.  A new hero has ridden into town in the form of Danny Moran. Danny’s the fellow behind the bar who serves you drinks and makes sure to learn your name. You may find him flipping about trays with drinks on them never spilling a drop or traipsing around the back yard on stilts. If you don’t see him, chances are he’s hidden somewhere working on a new project. He’s already completed his first.

As the Rud has always been a place where literary sorts like to be, Danny has installed for us a bookstore, and we shall call it The Inkwell. Why a bookstore? Because Danny had some books, of course. Why The Inkwell? In cleaning out the back room, he stumbled across a secret cistern. When I say the back has been cleaned out, let me clarify that having worked at the Rud a time or two myself, I always made trips into the back as quick as they could be. There was something spooky about it. It was just a storage area, but so much was stored that I never knew about the cistern or the stairs leading to an office upstairs. Now, it’s sort of magical- maybe my favorite nook in this place I love so much.

This is, of course, not a Borders or Barnes and Noble- instead, it reminds me of a place that used to exist on the square of my hometown where I would search for books someone else had written in because I am fascinated by things that have already lived a life or two. Like the books in that place, these have the smell of the hidden corners of a library where a person can hide for hours. The Inkwell has in it volumes of poetry I plan to buy even though I already own them simply because these copies have more character. I’ve even heard talk of some first editions, if you’re in to that sort of thing. The cistern is flanked by church pews and a chess board waits for someone to pay it attention.

Being a person who loves a good book as much as I love a good beer, I am ecstatic that Danny saw a sort of potential the rest of us hadn’t and went so far as to act on it. It’s just what the place needed. In honor of The Inkwell’s opening- and existence, for that matter- these beers are for Danny.


April 13, 2010 Posted by | Old Louisville | , | 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

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

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

January 17, 2009 Posted by | Old Louisville | , , , , , | 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 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

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