I left Philly yesterday under gray, cloudy skies, headed for Kentucky. As usual, air travel's magic soon dispelled the grayness of the day, and I got to work, proofing and tweaking the stories for the next issue of Malt Advocate. It was a very easy flight, and I wrote a note to myself:
How perfect a moment of modern travel: high above Ohio, bright noonday sun pouring through the window, and the triumphant opening chords of "Pinball Wizard" soaring through my ears. If I had just a small glass of whiskey yet. It's hard to edit Malt Advocate stories with nothing to drink!
It only got better when I landed. I picked up my rental (a Chevy HHR, which turns out to be not bad at all) and made my usual first stop: New Albanian Brewing, across the Ohio River in New Albany, Indiana. Roger Baylor and I go way back, and though I didn't get to see him this time, I did get to enjoy New Albanian's fresh hopped ale, Wet Knobs. It was very good, bustingly fresh and packed with piney, grassy hop flavor. They brewed it with pellets, the fresh hops -- limited supply of locally-grown Cascades and Chinook -- were used as finishing hops. They hope to have enough hops next year to do all the hopping with fresh hops. I also grabbed a small Roundhouse pizza that was delish, reminding me that this place started as a pizza joint with good beer. It's evolved nicely, and if you've never made it over here, you should.
I headed back across the river and dropped in at Bourbons Bistro. I'll reluctantly admit that this was my first visit, and it won't be my last. An excellent selection of over 130 bourbons (plus additional ryes, corn whiskeys, and Tennessee whiskeys), an intriguing Kentucky-influenced menu, and locally-owned? Yes, please. Best of all, they offer flights of whiskeys in a variety of classes. I got three bottled-in-bond whiskeys: Old Fitz, J.W.Dant, and Ancient Age (I was told at Liquor World later that Ancient Age BiB is being discontinued: a shame, because it was really good). $10, and the bartender had to work at it, literally climbing up on the backbar to get them. Nice spot to sit for a bit and sip.
Then I had to check out the beer bar I'd been hearing about, Nachbar. The bar's in Louisville's Germantown section, and the name means "neighbor," or "next-door." Given that it's smack-dab in the middle of a residential section -- as I wish more bars were -- the name's perfect. Very impressive selection of beers, both in draft and bottle: locals, craft -- I had a Bell's Two Hearted -- and imports all well-represented. Laid-back to the point of being horizontal. Friendly, but not eager. And a nice patio area outside. Good place to hang out.
And then I drove down to Bardstown. I cruised around town, re-acquainting myself with the place. I stopped at Liquor World and got some here-only bottlings to take home (got an article on that coming in Malt Advocate soon), and a small bottle of Old Fitz for the room, and checked in at the Hampton Inn. Did some work, slept, and I'm doing a bit of work again this morning till the rain stops...I hope it stops. I've got places to go and people to see!