Louisville is depressing. The skyline is limp—much worse than Indianapolis, even. About on a par with Grand Rapids, or Cedar Rapids. Actually, post-flood Cedar Rapids is a good comparison, only if Cedar Rapidians bombed abortion clinics for sport and were still pissed off about having to share water fountains with black people.

Do I sound angry? Sorry. The south makes me nervous. Which is why I get almost giddy whenever I hear of some small ray of goodness emanating from its miasma, like maybe if I go experience something nice and pure there then the next time I hear someone speaking in that awful accent it won’t feel like maggots burrowing into my spine.

Enter Against the Grain, Kentucky’s buzziest brewery. I’ve had a few of their beers in Indy and they’ve ranged for solid to very good. And—take notes, kids—they have the good sense to directly distribute their kegs. Meaning they are generating hype in Indy and Cincy and even Chicago, which is very good for their brand.

Their set up was adorable. Way new brewery-y, with lots of exposed ductwork and warm track lighting, but it makes sense seeing how the brewery is physically is a part of a fucking AAA ballpark. I drove past the place 3 times before I realized the “BREWERY” written on one of the park’s enclaves wasn’t some Captain Morgan’s Cove-type bullshit. So, even without attending a game, I guess it’s safe to assume that the Louisville Bats have maybe the best beer selection of any baseball team in the states? That’s not fair.

The place is long, wide, and nicely ventilated. 5 15-barrel tanks sit well illuminated above the dining area, and bearded men paced about them intently. The crowd was southern mixed race-—meaning the black people came in diverse forms, but the white people were all fuzzy and car-shaped. The TVs showed sports and the music was innocuous.

I can’t gauge the south. The little aesthestic tics that signal coolness up north here can be meaningless. My first time in Louisville I came across a heavily tattooed youngster with gauged earlobes. He knew where the weed was, of course, but he also very deeply hated gay people and damn, he said, if we wanted to get out of this economic mess we was gonna have to stop spending so goddamn much on foreign aid. You know how much that takes outta his tax dollars? Too goddamn much. Then he said some slurs.

Anyhow, this place had some legit vegetarian options. Overall it was friendly, but I can’t tell if it was for-real friendly or that weird, perfunctory southern friendliness that’s actually just a thin patina they pull down to mask their pressing hatred of outsiders. It also looked like it could get real busy real quick, but it might be in the kind of area and appeal to the kind of people where it ain’t likely to get too awful busy at any given point.

Annnnd onto the beers:

Citra Ass Down

7.6%, served in a tall tapered 12 oz glass. Smelled like citra. Tastes like PsuedoSue only with some pronounced ethanol on the very back end and a surprisingly nice cereal nodes lingering behind on the aftertaste. The front’s all megacontemporary, then, and the back is like I’m drinking a pre-prohibition all malt. The two sides match up surprisingly well.

Maybe it’s because a severe stomach ailment has prevented me from drinking any beer for several days, but this just really hit the spot. Medium-acid citrus hops against aggressive, playful cereal grain. I could have drank it for days.

dork lard
Dork Lard

Their website mentions “Three Lloyds” and so I was thinking this was some kind of playful Dark Lord clone. Turns out it’s just a medicinal mess of shit.

Then again, actually bothering to fully read the description, they call this a “light, syrupy giant,” so it’s my fault for ordering it. It gets much more palatable as it goes along, but it never really comes together. Medicinal ethanol up front, moving into wine-aged spices and light nodes of imitation vanilla and just a general flavor that’s like the way an old spice rack smells, when that decade-old shaker of nutmeg half made up of dust and mites.

Kudos to them for trying something weird and for being obliquely up front about that fact, instead of having the waitress call this a “strong ale” and tell me it was “like a double pils,” (which is how I think a shittier brewery would have attempted to classify this). Still, not very good.

Dude Do Tang

Smoked Brown Porter with orange zest, 5.9%

Decided to abandon the last half of my Dork Lard and get something else. Apparently they always have a smoke beer on tap, which is awesome, especially for those of us who are fancy enough to appreciate a nice digestif. Also, it is fucking excellent to see breweries playing up malt complexities.

Smoke nodes are pretty tame on this one, making it more of quaffable smokey beer than an intense, night-finishing rauchbier. The citrus nodes actually make this one very sessionable, which at first I found a little offputting but then I kept drinking and began to like it quite a bit. Sort of like squeezing an orange over a Hickory Farms gift package, only without having to consume gross pork flesh.