First off, let me apologize for doing a second “list” in my short time writing here. I wholeheartedly admit that I like reading peoples’ “list” articles, but it’s not my plan to become the “list guy” around here. It just happens to be a coincidence that I was sitting at an establishment mentioned below on Saturday and came up with the idea for this list. What list is that, you say? It’s a list of local establishments not known to be craft beer destinations but are places you can find a good craft pint, many times even from a local brewery.
Let me repeat that again. This is NOT a list of top craft beer bars in the area. It’s a list, in no particular order, of places you probably don’t think of when you’re looking to quench your craft beer craving. So if you want to flame about how #3 shouldn’t be mentioned because you can’t get Brewery X’s impossible to find Rum Barrel-aged-chili-coffee-doughnut-bacon-citra-hopped-imperial-barleywine-with-brett, blame John King. I don’t know why it’s his fault, but that’s DEFINITELY the person to blame. Without further ado, my list!
1) Café Lou Lou- If you had to pick one of these places that actually has a bit of a reputation for draft line-up, it’s probably this one, especially the 12-tap selection at the Highlands location. Regardless, Café Lou Lou is a fantastic little Italian restaurant that likely won’t come up when talking about where to have a beer. I don’t visit as often as I should (probably a quarterly spot for the wifey and I), but when I do I’m always surprised by all they have available. Three Floyd’s Zombie Dust, Flying Dog’s Single Hop Galaxy IIPA, and Green Flash Symposium have all been consumed and there always seems to be a selection from Country Boy (Go Cats!) to go along with main-stays like Bell’s Two Hearted. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a non-craft beer on draft. And don’t miss out on the pizza. I know Louisville has about 4,000 pizza options, but Café Lou Lou makes some of the best in town.
2) Brownie’s the Shed- I don’t think you can call the Shed a dive, but I think it’s fair to say that it is some mix of a sports bar and your neighborhood dive bar. And I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. The place has a very “local” feel to it when you’re hanging out and plenty of TVs/sports memorabilia to warrant the sports bar tag. Add in a decent tap list and a plethora of tasty fried goodies, and you have yourself a more than adequate place to watch a game or grab a meal. This is probably the least “craft” spot on this list, but you can still find a Falls City Pale Ale, Widmer Drifter Pale Ale (I don’t care who owns it… it’s still good), or a good ol’ fashion Guinness on draft (and likely a few other surprises among the BMC options). That likely won’t excite many, but a mix of fried cheese, quesadillas, and pints of Falls City will keep this guy happy for a LONG time. And if you’re looking for a meal, I suggest The Shed German Double Bratzel or the Beer Cheese Burger. Your arteries may not like either choice, but your taste buds will.
3) Joe’s Older Than Dirt- I’ve worked for two companies in Louisville and Joe’s was the official happy hour location of both, and the beer list (not to mention the people watching, which is fantastic) makes that perfectly fine with me. While you’ll see more than your fair share of buckets of Miller Lite, there’s a large draft selection that consistently has West Sixth IPA, BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout, and Falls City Pale Ale as well as multiple choices from Sierra Nevada, Goose Island, or Sam Adams. I can’t comment on the food as I haven’t eaten there much, but the beer selection alone will keep me tagging along for the post-work consumption.
4) DiOrio’s- Another one of my favorite pizzerias in Louisville offers a great slice and a sneaky-strong draft list, especially the new location in the Highlands. West Sixth IPA, NABC Naughty Claus, BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout, and Falls City have all been spotted at one of the two locations and I know the St Matthews spot tends to have Bell’s Two Hearted on quite frequently. If you’re looking for a good NYC-style slice of pie and a good beer to go along with it, give DiOrio’s a try. Oh, and don’t miss out on the Cheddar Shots. I know they’re just marble-sized bites of fried cheese, but they’re mighty delicious.
5) Saints Pizza Pub & Sky Bar- Before getting going on Saints, I should probably mention that this is one of my favorite drinking spots in Louisville. I’ll try not to sound too partial, but if I do it’s at least genuine partiality. Saint’s doesn’t garner as much attention as some of the other locations near it in St Matthews, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out. On a frequent visit I had my standard pint of Falls City Pale Ale, but I was also pleasantly surprised to see Schlafly’s Tasmanian IPA on draft. If you don’t know anything about that beer, it’s one of the best seasonal IPAs you’ll find in this area and not something you see on tap too incredibly often. Throw in a mix of stuff from Sam Adams, Goose Island, Widmer, and Hofbrau, and you’ve got a selection that should keep you nice and sated. Everything I’ve had from the kitchen has been solid, but the fried banana peppers are a must-try.
This is just an example as to how craft beer is creeping its way further and further into the draft-lines of Louisville’s culinary establishments and favorite watering holes. The 5 noted above are some of my favorites, but there are many examples that could be used to prove the same point. Feel free to list one of your favorites in the comment section below, and everyone recommend that your eatery/bar of choice utilize our Better Beer Spot tool to keep the thirsty public up-to-date on what beers are currently available.