Beers For All Occasions

An Experiment in Social Drinking

BBC St. Matthews

Local microbreweries are a point of fairly intense debate between the beerologists- you see, I’m a BBC girl, whereas my partner swears by Cumberland. To clarify, I don’t dislike Cumberland and she doesn’t dislike BBC, but when it comes down to allegiance, we’re divided. After much discussion, we’ve determined that it’s purely an issue of what you drink. I like my beer dark and she likes it light. Though I occasionally befriend an IPA, more often than not if I can see my hand on the other side of the glass, I want to ask the beer, “Will thou leave me so unsatisfied?”
I’m sure you know there isn’t one Bluegrass Brewing Company in this town, but rather three. There’s one in St. Matthews just before Shelbyville Rd splits into Lexington Rd and Frankfort Ave, one at 4th and Broadway, and one on Main St that only serves beer. You may not realize there’s also one in the Cincinnati Airport (which is really in KY) and one in the Indianapolis Airport (which is really in IN). Why Standiford Field doesn’t have one is a mystery. Today, we’ll be discussing the big mamma jamma- St. Matthews.
As a general rule, I’m not a fan of St. Matthews. I know that’s bold to just say it and I’m sorry, but it’s not my scene. BBC, however, has a different feel that puts me a little more at ease- not to say it’s totally devoid of east-enders, but they tend to have enough of a hippie flair that they’d fit in at the hideaway. Granted, there are more Dave Matthews hippies than Grateful Dead hippies this far east, but I can handle that.
Though the parking lot is certifiably ridiculous in that you can’t really circle if there’s not a spot and you can get in if you’re heading toward Frankfort Ave, but not if you’re heading away from it, there is parking a-plenty and it’s safe. There are also quite a few bars close if you feel like a crawl- Dutch’s, Brendan’s, Diamonds, Saints, and Gerstle’s are all just a stumble away.
Once you get inside, take note of the flippin’ gorgeous tin ceilings. BBC boasts not only two bars, but also a fantastic smoking patio and a stage for live music, which happens often. The place is totally clean and the staff is friendly, albeit super-busy most of the time. There’s also a dart board and an ATM in house (fear not- they take cards anyway).
The food is fantastic as this place is as much a restaurant as it’s a bar- try the fish and chips- but don’t let that take the spotlight away from the beer. If you haven’t put it together yet, BBC beer is brewed in house, though it must be noted that the ones you pick up in 6-packs at ValuMart are brewed at the Main Street location, not St. Matthews. Of course, a true Louisvillian will sing the praises of anything made in Louisville, be it Derby Pie or Disco Balls, but this praise is certifiable. BBC has won 5 Bronze medals and 3 Gold at the Great American Beer Festival with the Baltic Porter being the most recent Gold winner (also note that the Oktoberfest has won the most across the board). They also have award-winning root-beer.
In the realm of specials, I must first tell you about the Wort Hog Club. Those mugs hanging on the wall- they belong to Wort Hogs. You pay a $40 membership fee ($15 per year after the first) and get a special mug that holds 5 oz. more than non-Wort Hogs get for the same price. Then, on the 3rd Sunday of the month, you get to go to a special tasting.
If you’re not a Wort Hog, there are still tons of deals at BBC. There’s a Happy Hour Monday-Friday 3-7 and also during all U of L, UK, and NFL Games (there are 16 TVs here with every sports channel you can dream of). During Happy Hour wings are 35 cents and beer is $2.75 (Which is also the deal all day Tuesday). Thursdays mean a hand-pump cask (which usually features something hoppy) and samplers are $7.50.
If you want to take some home (and you do), you can get a growler for $11.50 ($8 to refill). Half kegs are $99, 1/2 kegs are $55, and 1/4 kegs are $35 (with a $100 deposit).
A Louisville classic, BBC has provided Louisville with delicious beer for 15 years (I’m partial to Dark Star). If you’re like me and you like your beer dark like coffee, get the to the microbrewery- these drinks are for you!

June 12, 2009 Posted by | St. Matthews, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

ZaZoo’s

Located in an unassuming building near the corner of Frankfort and Bauer Avenues is ZaZoo’s, a funky little spot that claims to be a sports bar with a classy vibe. You can find ZaZoo’s online here, and in person at 102 Bauer Ave, across from the Frankfort Avenue Wal-Green’s.

ZaZoo’s has been on Bauer Ave for 5 years, and was a traditional Irish pub previously. Named after the bird in the Lion King, this joint stays true to its Irish roots by running TWO happy hours. Sunday through Friday, happy hour runs from 4 to 7:30, with $2 domestics and $2 wells, then Sunday through Thursday happy hour starts AGAIN at 11, and run through 4 am. There are also shot specials which run all week.  The beer list is standard, but solid with PBR, Smithwicks, Harp and Newcastle all on tap, and a decent spread of run of the mill bottled beers, including Red Stripe.

The environment at ZaZoo’s is sort of low-key sophistication. The basic tile floor is off-set by the intricately carved bar, topped with tiles from Ireland. The giant dry-erase board announcing the weekly specials doesn’t look quite so typical when you consider the smoking courtyard out front. Drinker beware however, the layout of ZaZoo’s lends itself to traffic jams by the bar and front door, and seating away from the bar is somewhat limited. The tables and chairs in front of the building, in the paved court consistutes the only space available to smokers, and it is entirely open to the elements. Regardless, the staff at ZaZoo’s is incredibly friendly and loyal to their bar, making you feel welcome right away.  

For entertainment, ZaZoo’s offers a variety of live music acts, with DJs on Thursdays, and High Five Fridays every fourth Friday. For those of you who haven’t heard yet, High Five Friday is an opportunity for local rap artists to get together and freestyle, which sounds like something this Beerologist just has to experience. They also host quite a few live acoustic acts, often outside, a great summer-time diversion. If it happens to be an evening without live music entertainment, ZaZoo’s boasts one of those nifty internet jukeboxes, and of course plenty of room to dance your socks off. However, it is important to mention that there aren’t any open mic or karaoke nights available at ZaZoo’s.

One of the best things about ZaZoo’s has to be their expanded menu. Used to be, ZaZoo’s just served your basic pub grub, but in recent times they’ve managed to add a lot of tasty things for those with a finer palate, including pesto flatbread, salads, bison burgers, and pizzas. Entree costs run from $6-$8, and pizzas are all $15 or less. Sounds good, right? We thought so, too.

In the near future, ZaZoo’s will be opening a lounge next door to the bar proper, called Top Shelf. Top Shelf will have its own bar, and is rigged so that anyone can plug in an iPod or iPhone for musical harmony. The lounge will be available for private parties and business meetings just as soon as their permits get finalized.

ZaZoo’s is incredibly friendly to local music, and is participating in the Peak Summit music festival, so swing by and give them some Louisville lovin.

All things taken into account, these beers are for making a joyful noise. Rock, rap, croon, and holler on Louisville!

June 11, 2009 Posted by | St. Matthews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gerstle’s

Gerstle’s is conveniently located in what has recently been called the “coolness corridor”- that spot where Crescent Hill and St. Matthews meet. In fact, it’s precisely at the juncture of Frankfort Ave. and Shelbyville Rd. The place does offer parking and is totally safe.

Once you’ve parked, some folks get a little confused about where to enter. On the Frankfort Ave. end of the bar, there’s a fantastic smoking area- heated with its own bar and bathrooms- but it’s essentially indoors, and the giant windows that make it a ban loophole look a lot like doors. Keep walking- you’re almost there.

Inside, the place is clean and decoration is fairly minimal. It is worth noting, though, that though it was built as a bar by the Gerstle family in 1924, Gerstle’s was remodeled last February, so it sort of feels new. We were particularly impressed to see that the booths can be shifted around to seat more than four people, always a plus if you travel with a pack.

This bar features entertainment-a-plenty with something going on all the time. Mondays Steve Cooley picks bluegrass and there’s a trivia game, $2 Old Forrester, and$3 pints. Also, there’s a 4-7 happy hour Monday-Friday offering $1.50 domestics and $3 wells, so stop in after work. Thursday, there’s full-contact karaoke (sing with a band), which Sean, the bartender, tells us is sometimes brutal. Bands play on Fridays and Saturdays.

The selection is fairly standard, but being beside BBC, they offer the Hefe and the Amber. For eats, they serve pub grub, which, according to Sean, is only the good stuff. There’s a $10 tab minimum, but Gerstle’s has an ATM in house.

Crowd-wise, Gerstle’s is a weekend melting pot with an age range that spans from early twenties to late forties. Though we went in on a pretty empty night, it’s worth it for the bar staff- Eric and Sean are both in their early thirties run this show, and as young folks, we think that’s pretty damn cool. Sean says he’s “Just a young man trying to make his way in the world today.” I have to add, he’s pretty easy on the eyes. All in all, I’ll drink to him and his business. These beers are for making your way in the world today (takes every thing you’ve got).

June 4, 2009 Posted by | St. Matthews | , , , | Leave a comment