Beers For All Occasions

An Experiment in Social Drinking

Skull Alley

Where Barrett meets Broadway, there’s a special little spot- it exists as a venue- the selling of beer is just happenstance- but we believe in their cause, and so we’ll share that cause with you. Skull Alley is a tribute to a good fellow who didn’t quite get to see adulthood, but who loved music, and so his older brother created a sort of refuge for kids like him. That’s their schtick. It’s all ages. And I think that’s a wonderful thing, as loving to rock is not a trait that necessarily appears upon one’s 21st birthday.

Parking can be a bit of a hassle in that area, particularly for a packed show, but there are generally spots at the church across the street. It’s as safe as anywhere downtown and as there are generally smokers outside the front door, you’re within eye and earshot of friends from your car until you get inside. It must be noted that the venue encourages carpooling and biking because that’s the responsible way to be- and we think that’s awesome. Be sure you have your ID- as an all ages venue, Skull Alley has to card rigorously. It’s not really in a bar stretch, but not far from the Irish Triangle area of Baxter Ave.

Once inside, you’ll find that Skull Alley is pretty bare bones. The building is a the double barrel of shotgun architecture- the space you enter has the bar and the bathrooms, as well as the space where bands are generally peddling their merch. In the second room, to your right when you enter, is the stage and not much else. It’s just a hardwood floor and bare brick walls, but there’s a sort of beauty about the way you can see where there were once windows and fireplaces. The only seating comes in the form of a couple of barstools as the acts who play Skull Alley are generally the types you stand to hear. There’s no jukebox, no bar games, but the acoustics are good.

The bathroom is a fun thing. Like the Dark Star bathroom, it’s painted with that chalk board paint and decorating is encouraged. As there tend to be teenagers around, the doodles there look like a high school notebook- maybe I live in Peter Pan land, but it makes me smile to see loopy proclamations of love.

There’s a smoking area out back- door across from the bathrooms and down the stairs, though the front sidewalk area tends to serve the same purpose. Its a little tough on rainy nights as there’s basically no shelter.

More often than not, Jamie Prott, the owner, is tending bar. There’s no liquor, only beer, and the selection is mostly basic with a few surprise craft brews, but even for a beer snob, sometimes a PBR does the job- and they’re cheap here like they should be.

On a final note, Skull Alley has a whole other side in the form of a screen printing shop, so if your band needs shirts, this is a one stop shop to get those and book a show.

Skull Alley isn’t just a stop on the bar tour of Louisville- we go there a lot. It’s one of the few places people go these days because they sincerely give a shit about supporting music. That’s what’s cool about a place that lets the kids in- before you became accustomed to going out and getting hammered, you knew how to love a band and sing along with every word- I appreciate a place that reminds me of that sort of unabashed joy. These beers are for the kids and their un-jaded wanderlust.

April 12, 2010 Posted by | Downtown | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zanzabar

It seems only fitting that the triumphant return of the Beerologists should be marked by the triumphant return of a local watering hole. You know that building on Preston with the “Z” on it? Of course you do. Everyone does. We drive by it all the time. Most recently, it was the Brown Bag Bakery, but that “Z” recalled the former life of Zanzibar. The “I” has changed to an “A,” so these days it goes by Zanzabar, but essentially, the name is the same as it ever was. It warms my heart to see an old bar become new!

You’ve probably been to Uncle Pleasant’s. Everyone has. Z bar (that’s what we call it) is just about 2 blocks from there. Or maybe you know Tink’s? Just across the street. Parking is generally no problem unless there’s a big deal show, and as is the case with most Germantown dives, it’s safe as anywhere.

Once inside, chances are you’ll find the place nicer than you expected. The decor is simple and modern and it tends to be one of the cleanest bars I’ve found- even the bathroom. There’s a jukebox, but more often than not, it’s not necessary as Z bar is the new place to go for live music. Most every night there’s a band or a DJ (or both), and it’s a good place to catch a sporting event if you don’t want to deal with a real sports bar. Be forewarned, though, this is Card territory- there’s even a classic Dr Dunk poster over the service area. There’s a great patio for smoking- or just being outside if smoking isn’t your thing- and during colder months, it’s heated- well heated.

The beer list is a force to be reckoned with- definitely better than the average dive- and the food is restaurant quality. Though there hasn’t been an official Beerologists night out at Z Bar, we find ourselves there nearly as often as we find ourselves at the Nach- and that’s saying a lot.

As far as the patrons, they vary slightly depending on the entertainment, but this joint does fall under the umbrella of “Hipster Bar.” There are lots of skinny jeans and ironic t-shirt wearing 20-30 somethings smoking pall malls, but what sets it apart from Look at That Fuckin’ Hipster annoyance is that the Z Bar hipsters seem to have gotten over the need to be the coolest person in the room. Everyone just manages to coexist- conversations develop out of thin air that make you laugh until your face hurts- it’s community functioning well.

I highly recommend that you look Z bar up on the facebook (us, too, while you’re at it)- they do a stellar job of keeping that circle up to date on what’s happening. A band you like is playing there soon- that I can nearly promise. All in all, these beers are for drinking with your neighbors, regardless of who qualifies as a hipster.


April 8, 2010 Posted by | Germantown | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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