Beers For All Occasions

An Experiment in Social Drinking

Sergio’s in Louisville!

We know, we know…it’s old news now, but we just wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t do a little update on Sergio’s World Beers.

For all of you who don’t get out as much as you’d like, or perhaps live under a rock (we’re looking at you, Daniel Stearman) Sergio’s has moved to a fabulous Louisville location!! Now located strategically at 1605 Story Avenue, which is basically on the corner of Frankfort Avenue and Story Avenue, SWB is poised for the Clifton/Butchertown takeover of 2010.

The new location has a certain members-only vibe. There’s no sign on the front door, and the windows and front door are literally covered with flags from the world. But the Shaman of Suds is there, we assure you. With an ever-expanding beer list, and food that can make very private things happen to your body, SWB is as much of an experience as it ever was. You get an amazing, eclectic crowd of very respectful and adventurous folk. We can say, with total honesty, that we have never had a bad experience on a Sergio’s night.

When you walk in the front door, you will immediately be greeted by the beautiful bar, which is literally covered with taps, from the very popular Two Hearted, to some of the most rare and unique beers available in the world. The menu is roughly the size of your torso, so if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, we recommend asking Sergio what his current favorite brew is. It’s always something off the beaten path, but life changingly delicious.

In addition to the forest of taps, you will also encounter not one, not two, but three refrigerators of chilling brews. The kitchen is also visible from the bar room, a fact which we can all appreciate on multiple levels. If you follow the hall past the kitchen and the restrooms, you will find a large back room of booths and tables for larger parties.

We have to say, we love this Story Ave location.  Its pretty accessible from all over town, and there is parking behind the building, and on the street. Mostly we love being able to see Sergio on a regular basis, which means more beer discoveries and more knee-weakening brownies!

Make sure you check Sergio’s out at the website: www.sergiosworldbeers.com and on Facebook! Or hell, why not just take a drive  down to Story Ave and see the man?

These beers, all 1,000 of them, are for growth, personal accomplishment, and for never saying “die.”

April 9, 2010 Posted by | Butchertown | , , , , , , | 1 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

Longshot

I sometimes find myself reminded of the coolness of Crescent Hill- it’s not that I ever think it’s uncool, but as an Old Louisville resident who hangs mainly around Germantown and the Highlands, I tend to forget that Crescent Hill is over there. Between this excursion and apartment hunting with a friend, though, this week has reminded me. Crescent Hill is great!

One of the great things about the neighborhood, certainly, is Longshot Tavern. To start with, there’s generally plenty of parking on the streets nearby and Longshot is totally safe. It’s right across the street from Bourbon’s Bistro and though there’s nothing right next door, none of the Frankfort Ave. bars are beyond walking distance. Once a florist, Longshot has been serving drinks since ’93.

The entertainment offered at Longshot is a key draw, for sure. This joint boasts ping pong, foosball, pool, and darts- all the best drunk games in the same place! They also have one of those old cigarette displays, which you don’t see much these days. Music-wise, there are bands most weekend nights, Thursday is Open Mic night, and The Merry Pranksters play Wednesday and Sunday- we love those guys.

The look is pretty basic with a definite horse theme- it’d be a good place to bring a friend who’s visiting for Derby, as this is surely what outsiders expect a Louisville bar to look like. There’s an outdoor smoking area and also a small greenhouse-sort-of-nook that counts as outside. It was a little too hot when we were there, but that place would be a perfect refuge from rain.

It is certainly worth noting that Longshot’s happy hour extends into useful hours- domestics are but a dollar on Wednesdays from 1 to 10:30PM. And on that not, Brian the Bartender is one of the nicest fellows we’ve come across! The selection is basic, but they’re sure to have your stand-by and there’s a $10 tab minimum.

Longshot supports UK and U of L, so it’d be a great place to catch a game. It’s also dog friendly- so much so that they have a water-bowl by the door- that’s even better than the Nachbar. 

Rich, a regular, was quick to strike up a conversation and we found ourselves staying much longer than we usually do on a review. Longshot is a good place to feel at home, even if you’ve never been before. Best of all, we went in on a Friday and it wasn’t crowded enough to annoy us (we review on off nights for a reason, folks)- so, that being said, these drinks are for weeknight people who are out on a weekend.

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Crescent Hill | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Cahoot’s

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Once upon a time, before Headliner’s Music Hall, Louisville had a legendary music venue. Tooligan’s  brought in great bands in its time, but has been known for the past 13 years by another name, almost as legendary in certain circles, Cahoot’s. Located at 1047 Bardstown Rd., Cahoot’s is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Irish Triange, Pheonix Hill, and all the activity North of Grinstead too. You can visit their MySpace here, but be warned it is not checked often. Now Cahoot’s is a neighborhood bar, frequented by a circle of regulars and the overflow of Bardstown Rd. insanity. Be prepared for a crowd on the weekends, and at least one bar fight, but a pretty quiet atmosphere through the week.

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The beautiful thing about Cahoot’s is that its like the Mag Bar of the Highlands. Its dirty, smells like vomit and shame, and all the same rules apply. The jukebox is good, there are 3 pool tables, Pac Man, Foosball, and one our all-time favorites, a cigarette machine.  The main difference here being, Cahoot’s serves food. And not just bar food, real food. And they serve it until 3 AM to keep your drunk ass from driving anywhere. When we talked to the bar staff, they assured us that the live music of the previous era is making a comeback, so make sure you check their MySpace for upcoming events.

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Cahoot’s has nightly drink specials, which are the same from week to week. You can get a Bud or a PBR for $1.50, and they have drink specials every night. On tap, Cahoot’s has all the standards, plus one BBC beer, and the Jager is kept in the deep freeze (we thought it was special that they even had a deep freeze). Its worth mentioning that Cahoot’s has two bars, one in the front and one in the back, which makes getting a drink during the busy times that much easier. The outdoor seating is limited, but covered and there are lots of group booths inside so that no one gets left out. We called them drinking forts, because the backs of the benchs are so high.

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Although the crew at Cahoot’s mainly kept to themselves, these beers are for them, and for their chest pieces, long may they wave.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | The Highlands | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Back Door

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It’s no secret that the Beerologists like reader requests, and so this article is written with a heavy heart for a dear friend who asked us to do it. Nick was a fellow with an unforgettable laugh who had a way of lighting up when he saw his friends. Every night with him was a blast, and I had the pleasure of spending a good chunk of his last week with him, much of that time at the Back Door.

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The Back Door is located in the heart of the Highlands, at the North end of Mid City Mall. For those of you who aren’t Highlanders, Mid City is a strip mall located between Bardstown and Baxter- the one with Baxter Avenue Theater. There’s a well-lit parking lot and it’s close to a lot of stuff. The Taproom is across the street and Bearno’s, The Bristol, Ramsi’s, Avalon, and Akiko’s are all basically in spitting distance. The neighborhood is one of the safer ones around. Open since 1985, the Back Door was originally a warehouse. The old loading dock is now the smoker’s patio- which is quite a good one- there are umbrellas that serve well on rainy nights and it’s heated. In fact, the Back Door was a key opponent to the Louisville smoking ban.

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It’s sort of a local legend with more LEO awards than I can count- among them, it’s been named Best Neighborhood Dive, Best Free-Pour, and they consistently have the best wings behind Hooter’s and BWW. It’s a great place to shoot pool with six tables (there’s a league that meets on Mondays), but it also boasts foosball, darts, video games, and a bunch of big-screen TVs (take note- this is U of L country).

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Despite its ranks as a dive bar, the Back Door is pretty clean, even the bathrooms. The front room is dominated by murals- one impressionistic sort of work sponsored by Blue Moon, a portrait of happy hour regulars sponsored by Jack Daniels and the door to the patio painted to look open on a sunny day featuring more regulars. I appreciate a bar that appreciates its patrons, so it’s nice to know all those people on the walls are real folks- you might even recognize a few.

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The bar staff is a sort of wonder, as well- Owner John Dant bought it from within his family, so the bar has stayed with the same bloodline since it opened. Furthermore, it’s had the same manager since it opened. Five of the bartenders have been there for twenty years or more. We spoke with Steven- after nine years, he’s one of the new guys. There’s no jukebox, so the tunes you hear are bartender playlists. As far as selection, the beer list is good and cheap. There are daily and weekly specials, and happy hour is every day from 4 to 8.

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 Foodwise, it’s better than the standard bar fare. In addition to the aforementioned wings, there are great sandwiches and the “Back Door Bomber”- a blackened chicken wonton. The crowd is best described as “Highlands-y” (in non-Louisville speak, that means eclectic). It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to saddle up between a Doctor and a Trucker and see that they’ve found common ground. The place is both mulit-cultural and gay-friendly. It’s a welcoming crowd and a safe place to go alone- in fact, the Back Door is such a common ground, you’re bound to run in to a friend even if you don’t pre-plan a meeting. In addition to the Monday pool league, there’s an open mic on Tuesdays and they’re open every night except Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

 

These drinks are for making it count- they’re for making those memories that’ll get you through darker days. More importantly, though, these drinks are for Nick.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | The Highlands | , , , , , , , , | 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

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

Sergio’s World Beers

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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 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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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