[Editor’s Note: Please give a warm LouisvilleBeer.com welcome to our newest contributor, Beau Walker. Beau’s a great addition to the krü, and sure knows his beer. Now, here’s Mr. Walker…]
I’ll be the first to admit it: I was a whale hunter, in the craft beer sense of the term. I would travel hours and hours to release parties only to stand in line for more hours just to buy a few bottles of certain beers. I would call multiple stores on a daily basis asking if so-and-so beer had hit the shelves yet. I would make four trades just to acquire the right mix of hard-to-find beers in themselves just so I could trade for one bottle of the “it” beer of the time. I don’t regret any of this (well, minus the crazy costs associated with trading beer), and I will certainly take part in some of these things again at some point. But this column isn’t about the whales I’ve chased. This is about discovering just as much, if not more enjoyment in the beers you can find everyday or the locals you tend to pass over. The ones you overlook for the sexier choices. This is about the little things in the beer world and how I’ve fallen in love with them.
I’ve been in Louisville for about 9 years now, enjoying the craft beer scene the entire time. I love that our little piece of Americana has developed a damn good craft beer scene. Somehow in those 9 years of consuming I never ventured down to the BBC Taproom on Clay and Main until this past year. I don’t know why, but I tended to always do my imbibing at BBC St Matthews or Flanagans or Against the Grain (damn you Sam… making me follow you around like that). But over the past year or so of frequenting the Taproom I have both fallen in love with the beer and come up with the idea for this little writing adventure. So if you hate this column, blame the Taproom, but be sure to go have a few pints beforehand.
The brown ale isn’t exactly a style that sends the Internet beer community into a frenzy. It’s not overly hopped, it’s not 14% abv, and it’s typically not barrel-aged. It’s a more traditional beer that doesn’t over-do anything, making it “boring” to many beer nerds. Enter the Taproom’s Nut Brown Ale. This is a fantastic take on the style and anything but boring. The clear, deep amber brown color makes this one quite a looker and an aroma full of roasted malts, light chocolate, and even a bit of hazelnut will certainly hold your attention. The taste follows the nose and adds a touch of earthy hops to the mix, finishing clean. I’m not sure if anyone has invented a drinkability scale, but this one would certainly rank somewhere around “quaffable as shit”.
The other beer that evoked my “why don’t I drink this more often” thought process was the Saison. While the style may hold a bit more prestige in the beer nerd community than the brown ale (likely due to the ever-evolving use of the saison as a base for wild ales), it’s still not something many would travel for. The Saison at the Taproom pours a clear light honey color and has all the earthy, dry notes any good saison should have. Both the nose and the taste bring out a mix of Belgian yeast, candied fruit, slight clove, and grassy hops, all finishing in a lingering dryness that begs you to drink more. I don’t think I could drink 5 or 6 in a row, but this is a damn good beer and a great change-up to the Nut Brown Ale.
The Taproom opened my eyes to the simple pleasure that comes from discovering a beer I’ve overlooked so many times before. Realizing my fondness for the Taproom itself in the process was an added bonus, but I’ll write more about that in a future column.
I’m not trying to convince you to give up searching for the Moby Dicks of the craft beer world. Hell, I still try and snag one myself from time to time. Just remember that you don’t have to travel far and wide to have a great drinking experience or find a great beer. As someone famous probably once said, it’s all about the little things.