This week has been pretty freaking awesome. I had three pretty good meetings concerning the promotion and appreciation of those craft breweries within the Louisville Metro Area. My mind has been going about 100 mph while trying to do my real job, finish some Drunkwood projects, and attempt to build my running mileage up near the 70-80 mile range. I needed this week of positivity and rambling after having to go back home to Illinois for the second funeral in two months. Forward progress I guess. A lot of positive things regarding craft beer in Louisville have happened in the past few days and it keeps me looking forward to where we can go. Hence this damn post.
The first, and probably the most important meeting this week was with the Mayor of Louisville. You all may recall when Sam Cruz of ATG wrote a nice piece after the local craft brewers and coffee places weren’t asked to be on the Bourbon and Food committee. I also took this to heart and made my opinions felt via social media. Nothing happened of course, but we never really expected anything of it. Once again, craft beer was being overlooked by its bigger brother known as bourbon. Hey, we all use the same damn water.
Well Louisvillebeer.com received an email about setting up a meeting with the KGB and the next thing you know, myself, Sam Cruz, Phil Dearner, and Brian Holton were sitting down with the Mayor. Long story short, expect to see Louisville Metro breweries in more local events, working with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and have more of an overall presence and significance here in Louisville. Myself and other representatives of breweries are working with the Mayors office to create a craft beer task force to create a set of goals and an agenda for our local craft breweries. I feel like Mario sliding down the flagpole. One goal accomplished.
The second meeting of the day was with Damon from Danny Wimmer Presents (Los Angelas, CA) at Against the Grain Brewery. Quick shout out to Jesse for the awesome hospitality as always. DWP is going to put on a rock, bourbon, and craft beer event October 4th and 5th down at Champions Park (caddy/kitty corner from the old water tower). You can see some of the shows they’ve put on here and here. Granted, that type of music isn’t my choice of listening, but there is a good chance there will be a craft beer tent of 6-8 local craft beers. I’ll get out more info when I know more, but it’s just in the planning stages right now.
The final meeting and the one I enjoyed the most, was a private tour and brandy tasting with the Joe Heron, Shane Rietow, and Ron Jasin of Copper and Kings. Copper and Kings is the brainchild of Joe Heron, founder of Nutrisoda and Crispin Cider (which are now sold to Pepsi and MillerCoors). Joe is South African, but his accent and demeanor reminded be of Doug Coughlin in Cocktail (one of the best movies of all time). His cocktails and dreams are soon coming to fruition here in Kentucky.
Their building sits at 1111 East Washington street near the old Blind Pig and Meat. Including the cellar, their building is four floors with a massive front yard. The three met me, we shot the shit for a while, made fun of John Wurth, and then it was on to the tour.
The first floor contains their stills, their bottling line, and packaging. Over 22 local and regional companies equipment contributes to the making of Copper and Kings brandy. Localism at it’s finest. They currently have two large stills (don’t ask me how big, I can’t recall) and are awaiting the arrival of a third smaller still. All the stills are named after woman in Bob Dylan songs, obviously, when you could still understand him.
The basement is where the magic happens. Their cellar room is not your typical barrel room like a bourbon distillers. Three-quarters of it is underground with cement on all sides and it stays at a cool temperature with some kick ass jams blowing out over the speakers. They age brandy and absinthe in regular bourbon barrels (a majority are Woodford) along with port barrels, sherry barrels, and a few more oddities. There were a bunch of hogs head barrels (hold 68 gallons) and huge wine barrels also. The smell was heavenly. Working with barrels myself, I had to know if they would re-use their barrels or where they would go next. Joe’s answer, “Well were going to give them to local brewers of course!”. So yea, expect a possible Copper and Kings brandy barrel aged beer event in September during Louisville Craft Beer Week.
The third floor was an art gallery/event space/office area for Copper and Kings. Musician photos cover the wall along with the coolest goldfish I’ve ever seen. Their offices were very “clean” with white furniture and orange seats everywhere. The views overlooking Butchertown are gorgeous.
The final floor is the most breathtaking one. You walk off the elevator to a tasting room with huge windows overlooking the city skyline. A huge deck allows you to step out and look over Louisville as far as the eye can see. Quite possibly, one of the best views of the city I’ve ever seen. Having a glass of their brandy in your hand helps as well. Their virgin brandy (non barrel aged) was surprisingly creamy and smooth. A little burn, but not too much. Take a seat vodka. Their signature brandy has a great burn to it that lingers on the tongue. Extremely smooth. I think this is the second time I’ve ever drank brandy and I believe it’s gonna give some bourbon a run for its money.
While shooting the shit over brandy, we talked a lot about beer and the industry and how Butchertown has the space and capacity for another brewery to pair up with Apocalypse. Maybe one will come sooner than we think….until then, you can now find Copper and Kings in your local liquor store.
Last but not least is the grounds in front of the building. Large garage doors allow you to view the stills from the outside with a reflective pond (I referred to it as a moat) directly in front. In the picture, the large circular concrete piece is a fire pit and the small concrete building to the right is a where they will be smoking whole hogs. Yes, I said smoking WHOLE HOGS. Save me the jowl please. Expect to see a lot more flora, trees, and a stage for bands to play as well. Butchertown has just acquired a new gem that just needed a little bit of polishing. A gem adorning the crown of Copper and Kings. Come by on July 14th for their opening!