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

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

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

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

The Bambi Bar

We’ve all heard the name. We know the walk. We know the burgers. Now, allow us to introduce you to the bar behind the legend. Located at 2701 Bardstown Road, The Bambi Bar has been in operation since at least 1955, and is family-friendly, hosting a little league team after their games. They serve only beer and wine, have an internet jukebox (which was religiously playing country music), and welcome your kiddos at a reasonable hour. The place is frequented by a tight-knit circle of regulars, and there’s never any trouble. The low ceiling, well-loved bar, and panelled walls make the Bambi Bar welcoming and comfortable, and the regulars are happy to strike up a conversation with you about anything and everything.

When we visited The Bambi Bar we met Wayne, a bass player and the best short-order cook in Louisville. Wayne’s been at the Bambi Bar for 17 years, and he was able to give us all the inside information on the history of the joint. What we now know as a bar used to be an old-fashioned fill station. The new owner has made tons of improvements, including turning the fill station’s old ice house into a kick ass smoking room, complete with heaters in the winter, industrial fans in the summer, tons of seating and a sizeable bar. There’s additional outdoor, picnic table seating on the patio.

So why the Bambi Bar? Wayne was able to tell us that too. Its called The Bambi Bar because the first owner of the bar wallpapered his kid’s bedroom in Bambi wallpaper, and used the excess to paper the front wall of the bar. Wayne says the wallpaper is probably still in the bar, under layers and layers of paint and panelling. Whether or not you’re into little deer, you’re gonna love this bar.

We would be ridiculously remiss if we did not give you the history of the bar hop that’s been keeping Louisville weird for the last 40 years. It all started in the early 70’s, with 5 bored fellas. They would spend Saturday afternoons riding the bus from the Outlook Inn down to the Bambi Bar. That’s right, Bambi Bar used to be the end of the walk, but as more people learned about the hop, and more bars popped up along Bardstown Rd., the owners decided to let someone else clean up the puke. Now, the big Bambi Walk happens in August, every year around the Fair, and of course begins at the Bambi Bar itself. People start their own, impromtu walks all the time, especially in celebration of 21st birthdays. Come on…you know you tried to do the entire walk for your 21st birthday! Its a virtual rite of passage for Louisvillians, and is definitely on par with wearing a big hat to the Derby.

You don’t need to do anything special to start your own Bambi Walk – just get a group of friends together, give yourself plenty of time and use City Scoot to stay safe!

So, in honor of this legendary Louisville bar, these beers are for tradition, and Bambi walkers everywhere.

May 21, 2009 Posted by | Bambi Walk, The Highlands | , , , , , , | 1 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

Swan Dive

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The Swan Dive has been a bar since the 1920’s, but until about a week ago, it was called “The Dugout.” Though it’s pretty obvious where the old name came from (the bar was literally dug out of the ground), the new one is even better, I believe.

 

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It’s a risky move to call a bar a dive before you see what the crowd will be like, but being located on Swan Street must have made it nearly irresistible. It’s a nice area- close to the Nach, but not so close that the crowd from the Schnizelburg area necessarily has to spill in. Originally, legend has it, the place was pretty shady- a hang out for bookies and the like,  but thus far, the current incarnation seems fairly low key and laid back.

 

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The first thing you’ll notice once inside is the low ceiling. Even the shorter beerologist can touch it, and she’s pocket sized. The place doesn’t have a bar smell yet- right now, it’s reminiscent of a Germantown basement in that regard, and it’s impressively clean- even the bathrooms. The decor is minimal, but I assume tchotchkes may collect with time.

 

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The owner, Becca, assures me there will be shows, but she and her husband/partner Jeremy plan to be considerate of the neighbors in regard to noise. By the way, if you’re looking to chit chat, Becca is the talker of the pair.

 

The menu is where the beauty lies in this place. The beer list is extensive- thirty eight including the elusive Deliriums- and it’s reasonably priced (but be warned- there’s no liquor). There’s also food- all veggie, plenty is vegan friendly, and it looks delicious! Swan Dive is open 5P-2A every day, but there’s also breakfast- including waffles- on Saturday and Sunday starting at 9:30, which we’ll be sure to sample and report on as soon as we drag our asses out of bed before noon on a weekend. 

 

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As the place has only been open for about a week, it’s hard to evaluate the crowd, but it looked like the hipsters had sent their scouts when we were there. Is it possible that we, the beerologists, beat that crowd to something new? Time will tell. What’s certain is that the bar’s landlord was having a drink, which was nice to see.

 

 All in all, these drinks are for the cutting edge- check it out before your friends find it!

May 6, 2009 Posted by | Germantown | , , , , | Leave a comment