Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bourbon-Infused Beer and A Turbo-Infused Buick: My Latest Trip to Louisville

I had a wicked two days of micro-beer drinking in Louisville last week. I'm more of a wine sipper, er, gulper these days; but when faced with several micro brews that I can't get at home, I'll go the hops-and-barley route. More on that in a graph or two.

Because Buick paid to haul me to Louisville, I feel compelled to make mention of the $29,105 Verano Turbo -- an all-new model. I don't mention it grudgingly; it is a fine little car. It is, after all, the king of the hill of Veranos.

Here are the highlights: Its 2-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine pumps out 260 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. It comes connected to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed, driver-shiftable automatic transmission. The price is the same regardless of the transmission. Zero to sixty takes 6.2 seconds and the EPA estimates you'll get about 30 mpg on the highway.

The cabin is comfortable and quiet. What the heck else do you need in an entry-level compact sedan?

Buick is kicking it as far as sales are concerned and Verano is its best-selling vehicle.

Buick put us up in the 21c Museum Hotel. This is a hotel run by members of the Brown family, as in Brown and Forman -- the folks who make some really good bourbon.

The hotel is at Seventh Street and Main.

It's a funky sort of joint. You realize that immediately upon stepping into the lobby as you gaze at the sculptures of naked little boys with their willies and everything. Apparently art is in the eye of the beholder.

Four blocks east is one of the micro breweries associated with the Bluegrass Brewing Company (BBC). There are three in town.

I know the BBC from drinking its Bourbon Barrel Stout in tiny Floyd, Virginia on a trip researching a travel story for AAA. I stumbled across it in a pizza joint. I was smitten.

My buddy Ray scooped me up at Louisville's Standiford field upon my arrival. I chowed down on a Hot Brown at Captain's Quarters on the Ohio River in Harrod's Creek. From there it was on to the BBC in St. Matthews -- a suburb of Louisville.

I was stoked. This would be my first chance to drink a little Bourbon Barrel Stout since my Floyd visit.

Not only was the stout everything I remembered it to be, we had a terrific bartender. I like bartenders. In fact, I consider myself a sort of bartender expert. I doubt anyone will argue with that self assessment.

Our bartender's name was Heather. She was friendly, funny and outgoing. Drawing beers isn't a taxing feat for a bartender, but she did it with a flair and seemed to be genuinely into her work.

The stout was everything I remembered from my Virginia experience. Full bodied with a hint of caramel and, of course, bourbon. Outstanding!

After downing a couple of beers -- and buying a BBC T-shirt -- we walked next door to a joint called Drake's. There I discovered a beer called Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale made by the Alltech Brewing Company in Lexington.

It' reminded me a little of the Caramel Crème Ale I had just tried at the Due South Brewing Company in Boynton Beach, Florida with a little bourbon kick.

Leaving Louisville, I was off to Tucson -- home of my buddy Jose. My flight arrived just before noon. We had lunch in a great Mexican joint where we ate several months ago on my last Arizona visit. We adjourned from there and headed to the Nimbus Brewery. This is a hole-in-the-wall brew pub in a warehouse district. I love it. Downing a couple of beers and buying a T-shirt, my business was done.

If you've never been to Louisville, it will blow you away. I'd be living there now if Greenville hadn't grabbed me.

I'm guess I'm fickle.

But there is nothing I like better than hitting micro breweries in far-off lands.


  1. I haven't had a hot brown in years! There used to be a place in Bloomington, Ind., that had them. Also, I guess i overlooked he "stout" in your Bourbon Barrel Ale message. Of course it wouldn't be "hoppy."

  2. I love Hot Browns. You've always got to ask the server what's in them, though, because some joints like to put their own twist on them. Sometimes tomatoes find their way on them, and I was really disappointed one time when some clown chef added mushrooms. Mushrooms!