The OTHER Lou: Our Louisville Adventure

Maybe I’m being obnoxious by referring to Louisville, KY as the other Lou. I don’t remember my US history all that well (sorry, Mr. Jones!) but I’m fairly certain Louisville came before St. Louis, at least in terms of US Cities. (Ok, because I love history and hate being wrong, I had to turn to the ol’Google. Turns out Louisville was chartered in 1780, while the settlement of St. Louis was established in 1764 BUT [and here’s where that history lesson paid off] didn’t become a US city until the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Thanks TJ!*)

Anyhoo, the hubs and I took advantage of the less-than-4-hour-drive for a long weekend mini-vacay (side note: I don’t know why I have to so aggressively defend the fact that Louisville is 4 hours from St. Louis. Several people have tried to dispute me on this *after* I’ve made the damn trip!). It was such a blast, despite the weather being pretty frigid. As my husband put it: we didn’t do a lot but we saw a lot.

We stayed at the 21C Museum Hotel which was awesome–there was a fun video wall in the elevator lobby, my brother in sculpture form near the entrance, and we were able to get drinks at the hotel bar and wander through the exhibits–which makes weird art SO MUCH more enjoyable. We giggled a lot, which is one of my favorite things to do with my husband.

Our hotel was right next to the Louisville Slugger museum. I come from a family of baseball fans (like, my mom’s dad built a baseball field into their farm when she was a kid). We wandered the gift shop and touched all the different bats and read the wall of plaques bearing the names of baseball greats and their favorite Louisville Slugger bat number. We did not tour the actual museum, but I got a picture of the giant bat out front.

We also made the short trip to Churchill Downs. It was really cool seeing the racetrack from the highway (and through the slats in the fence). We got some pics with the horse statue out front, and entered the lobby of the museum…in the middle of a feral pack of elementary school kids on a field trip. No thank you, we agreed to save the inside of Churchill Downs for another day.

We checked out several different neighborhoods. Our museum was on Main Street, which featured a lot of distilleries and restaurants and shops. It was an easy/long walk to NuLu, a hip neighborhood with funky antique shops, more distilleries and breweries, and some tasty food spots. We also walked through 4th Street Live, which was bumping with the Guy Fieris of the world. We made a few trips to Bardstown Road/the Original Highlands, which I liked a lot. It had a lower-key vibe that reminded me of some of my favorite St. Louis neighborhoods.

Ok, now for the good stuff, the real reason a person checks out Louisville (apart from maybe horses): the bourbon! I’ve enjoyed a few whiskey drinks on occasion before this trip, but had next to no knowledge about the nuances of whiskeys/bourbons/ryes. Now, I can say I really like bourbon. I like rye whiskey, too. I really like Old Fashioneds.

So first stop for us was Evan Williams, partly because it’s one of the best known names, partly because it was only about a block from the hotel, mostly (for me, at least) because he was Louisville’s first distiller! I wish I could have learned more history–I got that from a street placard–but we did not do the tour. We just hopped on the elevator with another group and slipped into the bar for the best Old Fashioned I’ve ever had. We also got to keep commemorative Evan Williams bourbon glasses. Score!

We also wandered far enough down “Whiskey Row” to find Peerless–a younger distillery (closed before prohibition but recently reopened)–where we did an $8 whiskey tasting. 4 whiskeys plus a commemorative glass and a dee-licious piece of chocolate–I was obsessed with this place. Bourbon is aged for 4 years, so theirs won’t be ready until this summer–we had their rye whiskey instead. I learned how the barrel soaks its own flavor into each batch, and theirs had such unique flavors that most of their bottles are single-barrel (meaning–duh–only from 1 barrel) rather than small batch (combining several barrels). They also keep it cask-strength–this got a little too chemistry-heavy for me to remember fully considering the whiskey-fog my brain was in, but something about letting the alcohol evaporate rather than diluting it with water so it gets to the legal ABV without diluting the flavors (maybe?). We bought a bottle of their rye (as well as some of those whiskey-infused chocolates).

The tour we booked ahead of time was at Angel’s Envy. That was a lot of fun–the most memorable part for me was when we dunked our fingers in a bottle of basically everclear. He had us smack those fingers on the palm of our other hand, then smell it (straight ethanol). Then we rubbed our hands together a couple times and smelled it. Now, I can’t remember the order, but one time it smelled like corn, another grains, and after more rubbing, fresh-baked bread. It was a really cool “science experiment” to show how adding heat changes it.

A couple other notable experiences: my favorite bourbon drink was probably the bourbon slushy at Feast BBQ. There was a terrify bathroom at galaxie bar–painted black and lit only by black light, glow-in-the-dark paint, and a tv set on static (can you say flashbacks to the first/only 15 min I watched of The Ring??). I really loved how the air smelled of peat, similar to the hops-smell around AB in Soulard.

It was a lot of fun, a really cute city with a surprising amount to do. We’ll definitely be back for more bourbon–and maybe a horse race!

 

*TJ is of course Thomas Jefferson, hands down most popular president in Missouri, if the number of references to Jefferson (including the capital) are any indication.

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Yum

We went to Union Loafers in Tower Grove for pizza and it was a) delicious b) floppy (from grease) c) a close second-favorite behind the U.R.B. pizza or d) ALL OF THE ABOVE

yes the answer is D and also I had TWO dee-licious sour beers by Stillwater which I cannot remember nor pronounce the name of but here we are.

Somehow upon entering our apartment, I started singing “Screamer” by Good Charlotte, and that sent me down a crazy, spiraling rabbit-hole of old school Good Charlotte that has made me so happy in my buzzed state.

UPDATE: the hubs is playing some remixed song that I get to croon Creed-style to the chorus: hold me now, I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinkkiiingg…

This post has no point. Sorry for your time.

Lou Brew Reviews: 4Hands, Round 2

We recently revisited 4Hands in downtown St. Louis, and it was a lot of fun! My husband and I are big fans of their Single Speed blonde ale, but we also like City Wide (he the pils, me the pale ale).

My parents were in town and we wanted to give them a bit of the local beer scene flavor. We were going to do Schlafly (their tours are pretty fun and as I’ve said, their beer selection is fantastic), but they were setting up for a big weekend to-do. We ended up at 4Hands, because I like their beers and I remembered it was a fun atmosphere.

Mom and I loved the On Cue–Himalayan salt, cucumber, and hibiscus–but the men did NOT (the enjoyed their pilsners and free arcade games). Dad had a great time crushing it on Galaga while Mom and I played skee ball (even if it took us a little while to realize we had to push “start” for our points to start counting…). We giggled a lot and I may have panicked and way over-tipped the bartender at one point (you’re welcome for that 60% tip, sir) and it was a great time.

Something I think we figured out last time but forgot this go round: they have different drinks at the downstairs bar and the upstairs bar, but your tab is accessible through either. Just something to keep in mind if you start a tab downstairs then head up to the game area and decide to try a beer up there!

Lou Brew Reviews: Modern Brewery


Modern Brewery is another brewery in a warehouse space, but smaller than 2nd Shift. The bartenders were friendly enough, but they were more engaged with regular customers when we visited last fall (which is understandable), so we just grabbed a table near the entrance to enjoy the late autumn breeze (okay, it was too chilly but neither of us wanted to admit it to the other).


We tried the Citropolis IPA and Citropolite (slightly less-hopped). They were fine, but not our favorites.

Since visiting, I’ve ventured into the world of hops and pale ales. That in itself makes me want to revisit Modern. Add to it the fact that the weather is warming up, and I know their space is open and breezy, and this could be a great spot to enjoy this summer!

Lou Brew Reviews: Schlafly Tap Room

Yesterday I took the VIP tour at Schlafly’s Tap Room — my husband got us tickets through the Beer and Wine Club at his grad school and it includes free tastings so YES PLEASE — and it was awesome.


Firstly, I’ve been to the Tap Room one other time (Stout and Oyster Festival), but I didn’t realize just how big the place is. There is a LOT of seating through several rooms. We got to go behind the windows into the room where the giant vats are (wearing safety goggles, of course), and then down into the basement where the real magic happens.

AJ was a pretty great tour guide. He was informative and clearly very passionate about craft beer. He mentioned a beer class he also gives, which I’d love to check out. Just based on his enthusiasm, I’m going to go ahead and recommend both the tour and the class.

The tasting was really fun. My husband is *obsessed* with Schlafly’s Kentucky Mule, which was one of the options during the tasting, so all his buddies got to sample and see why he isn’t crazy for talking it up so much. I also tried the Scotch Ale, which is ale aged in scotch barrels. It was really smoky, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing (I vaguely remember telling people it tasted like the chicken taco I’d had earlier — still not a bad thing). I also had the Gruit, which was a delicious and refreshing sour (probably my favorite of the tasting), and one other from a bottle with a kind of shiny label whose name I can’t remember. Also, on the tour I had a (plastic) glass of the Pale Ale, which as I’ve said before, makes me so happy that I magically enjoy Pale Ales now.


P.S. My husband bought two bottles of the Kentucky Mule (they come in like wine-bottle size and are also I think 12% ABV?). I’m pretty sure he tried to say one of them was for one of his buddies, but we ended up bringing both home with us so I think he just pulled a fast one on me. I wasn’t in the most observant state of mind by that point.

It was a fun night!

 

Lou Brew Reviews: Schlafly Bottleworks

We’ve been sort of avoiding visiting either of the two Schlafly (pronounced shla [‘a’ like in ‘cat’]-flee) brewery locations because we’re now St. Louis craft beer snobs who view Schlafly as practically being on the same level as any Anheuser Busch product. That’s not exactly fair — mostly, Schlafly was our first St. Louis beer experience, and we found Schlafly beers back in Virginia, and they seem to be everywhere here, so they just aren’t *exclusive* enough for us anymore.

Anyhoo, we decided to visit Schlafly because it was one of the few breweries we haven’t yet visited and (the Bottleworks location specifically) because it was pretty convenient for us and the friend we were meeting up with.

First, let me throw some fun facts at you: Schlafly was the first microbrewery to open in St. Louis since Prohibition. They opened their downtown location (Taproom) in the early ’90s, and expanded to a second location (Bottleworks) in the early 2000s.

Secondly — and maybe this should have gone first — you need to know why visiting Schlafly is imperative. They have a bunch of beers that aren’t sold everywhere. Specialty and seasonal options that are freaking tasty and fun. We really liked the Kentucky Mule Ale specifically (which basically tasted like a Moscow Mule, but with beer). The Bottleworks location is pretty big, with lots of seating (indoor and outdoor), a shop full of beer glasses and t-shirts and 6-packs, plus a space you can walk around and learn more about the different beers being brewed (and windows you can peek through into the plant).

It was a lot of fun and surprising in the best way. The food looked really good, but we’d just eaten so we’ll save taste-testing for our next visit.

Drinking in the Lou

Saint Louis is the location of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, and a huge microbrewery scene, so we knew before we moved we’d be getting our drink on once settled in. I already wrote about visiting AB during our first few days in the new city, and since then, we’ve visited a LOT more breweries (detailed posts to come).


Personally, I’d rank them as such:

  1. Urban Chestnut
  2. Heavy Riff (beers)/Four Hands (atmosphere)
  3. 2nd Shift
  4. Civil Life
  5. Modern
  6. Square One*

*Square One is a brewery/distillery and set up more like a restaurant than anything, which we were not expecting. The beers were good, but the overall impression was meh. For the first time in the 4 month’s we’d been here, the bartender was not at all friendly.  We have to give this place another try with this in mind — hopefully when someone else is tending the bar.

Also, Missouri has its very own wine country. We’ve only visited one vineyard so far, but plan to make more trips as the weather warms up. Montelle Vineyards has lovely views of rolling hills from its multi-level decks. When we visited, they had live music that reminded me of a very good wedding band — great voices and excellent, catchy song choices. The wine was decent — although, coming from Virginia, our bar was set pretty high. I would say we will continue visiting wine country, but more for the views and ambiance than the wines (we’ll see if that changes as we try more of the wine offerings).

Leaving aside the breweries and vineyards, Saint Louis has an epic number of bars. In our neighborhood alone, we’ve found several fantastic options depending on the mood of the night.

For football or other sporting events, or if you’re in the mood for a huge variety of beer options, International Tap House is the place to be. In the Central West End location, I-Tap has three levels of seating and plenty of TVs throughout, as well as a couple fire pits and seating out in front of the building. The bartenders are so friendly. They’ll offer you a draft list (if you’re too far from the chalkboard wall covered in the current draft options), but more often than not, they’ll ask what you’re looking for or what you like to drink, and make suggestions that are almost always great.


Taste is another CWE bar that is a must-visit. They have a booklet of cocktails and are masters of them all. Sitting at the bar, if you don’t find something that strikes your fancy, you can tell the bartender what flavors you like and they’ll whip something up just for you. There’s a cozy section upstairs with intimate couch-seating for date night or catching up with friends. Also — and I know this is going to sound weird — the restroom by the bar is the most beautiful bathroom I’ve ever witnessed. Exposed brick walls, Edison lights, ivy dripping from the ceiling, tea candles, and an antique-style toilet with a pull chain come together to feel like some sort of romantic fairy tale setting, rather than somewhere to do your business.


Just around the corner, Tom’s Bar and Grill is a great spot for trivia on Tuesday nights. The pitchers are a little small, but at trivia, there’s a chance to win a free one. There’s karaoke on the weekends, which is entertaining whether you participate or just enjoy from the audience. Their chicken tenders are delicious, and their late night menu is full of great snacks like mozzarella sticks and wings.

For wine, Sasha’s in Demun is the spot. They have a huge selection of wines, and even though it was very busy when we visited (with a huge party of our own), the servers never seemed rushed or stressed. I stuck with a couple of reds, all of which were delicious. The food also looked really good, though we didn’t have any this time around. We will definitely be back for dinner!

If it’s a dive-bar you’re looking for, CWE has one of the last ones in the city: Rosie’s. It somehow maintains that authentic, divey-grunge feel while being rather clean in actuality. Beers are cheap: under $3 for local beers is hard to beat, except by the under $4 Tito’s and Tonic. As it’s the only dive bar around, the owner runs a tight ship — absolutely no service without IDs, which is more than I can say for a lot of spots we’ve been in Missouri. They also sell cigarettes, snacks like Slim Jims, and 375mL bottles of liquor, in case you want to take your party to go.

For late night, you can’t beat the $2 tacos and tequila shots deal at Mission Taco. Their tacos are fan-freaking-tastic, even if the tequila is rail. I’ve been to both the Delmar and CWE locations, and both are great — but they get packed. The tacos come out as they’re ready and somewhat mixed together, so you have to be ready to defend your shrimp taco against over-eager friends who don’t remember what they ordered (yeah, I’m looking at you, Greg).

There are a lot of other great restaurants offering stellar drinks and deals. We have a whole list of places yet to try out, so I’m sure this will be followed up by a sequel post.

Cheers for now!