Monday, April 2, 2012

Run-up to ADI: Mecklenburg Gardens, and Louisville beers

Saturday I drove out to Louisville for the American Distillers Institute craft distilling conference (I'll be blogging about that at the Whisky Advocate blog). Just didn't feel like dealing with the airport again, so I loaded up the TDI and headed west. I had packed a turkey sandwich for lunch (home-roasted turkey breast with some Penzey's Galena Street rub and a raspberry-wasabi mustard on sliced miche, and damn, but that was good); then 5:00 found me just outside of Cincinnati, and I took the recommendation of a Facebook friend to get dinner at Mecklenburg Gardens. Good call: the Kostritzer schwarzbier was clean and fresh as a whistle, and the goulasch was rich and tasty, sitting on fresh-made spaetzel. Nice couple from Indianapolis at the bar, too; we talked all through the meal.

I got into Louisville about 8:20, and holed up in my hotel room till about half an hour after the UK/UofL game was over...and then went out to get a beer. I walked down to the Bluegrass Brewing Company taproom on 4th Street, dropped at the bar, and after considering the sessiony Altbier...went for the Duppy Conqueror, which they described as a "Belgian porter." Tasted more like a roasty dubbel, but hey, there's crossover territory there. Had one more -- a 7.5% Rye IPA that was spicy/hoppy, but maybe a bit heavy for my tastes; I like rye IPAs a bit crisper -- and then called it a night; it was a long day of driving.

Next morning I went to Palm Sunday mass with friends, who then took me to brunch at -- I was going to keep that to myself, actually, because it was nice enough that I wanted to keep it a secret, but that's no way for a blogger to be! We went to 211 Clover Lane, tucked back in a quiet little corner, and had a great meal; I had a great plate of shrimp and grits with tomato gravy (with a lemon cranberry scone before; delicious). There was a good selection of whiskeys, but I just wasn't quite ready for that yet.

I left after this nice quiet moment with my friends and their kids (3 year old daughter and a newborn son, and just beautiful), dodging the remaining thunderstorms that had been blasting through the area since I woke up. By the time I got back closer to downtown, I was ready for a drink...and stopped at Against the Grain, the brewpub at the ballfield. Candace set me up with a Keller Zwickle, a sharply fresh unfiltered lager in a big half-liter willibecker, which just put a beautiful spin on the day for me. I followed it up with a Smoke, a rauchbier that was pounded with smoke, just the thing for a place with barbeque (and smoked cabbage, which I got a side of; delish stuff).

The day was just getting nicer, so I headed across the Ohio to New Albany, aimed at New Albanian Brewing's in-town premises, Bank Street Brewhouse. Now it was time for session beer! I started right in on an imperial pint of Community Dark Mild, one of my favorite American session beers (3.7%, chocolatey and dryly malty). New Albanian owner Roger Baylor popped up -- he was enjoying the day himself -- and introduced me to the guys from Flat 12 Bierwerks from Indianapolis. They're participating in Session Beer Day -- as is New Albanian, in a big way, sounds like as many as seven session beers on tap that day! -- and we had a great talk about it. Then after a glass of Tafelbier (4% Belgian pale ale, and tasty-delicious-spicy), I gave Roger and his friend Jared a ride over to the ADI which point this becomes the ADI story, which you'll have to read at the Whisky Advocate blog when it goes up. I will tell you that I'm down in Bardstown now, eating country ham -- for work! -- drinking coffee, and going bourbon shopping (gotta take the opportunity when I'm "out of control").


Bill Cancro said...

Im in Louisville in two weeks; thanks for the prep work.

sam k said...

Damn right I should have been on this trip!!!

Bill said...

Lew, some imposter posted under your name at the whisky site -- there's not a single bolded word.

Re: your Twitter question: I know Chicago brewers who are heavily into good whisk(e)y, but I'd wager for the most part that most barely-making-a-living brewers can't afford good whisk(e)y (hey, which is the accepted spelling when you're talking about the entire category?). Don't know how it works the other way -- do distillers make a good living? Can they afford good beer? Maybe we need more local lagers for those who really like them.