Category Archives: Liquids

Our coverage of everything drinkable — spirits, wine, beer, coffee & tea

HopCat is the Craft Beer Lover’s Meow

HopCat is a beer bar like the Rolling Stones are a rock band and LeBron James is a basketball player. Simple descriptions don’t always tell the whole story.

In fact, HopCat is a craft beer conundrum. It’s a growing Midwestern company boasting 12 regional locations, with more to come, and yet each one generally has more locally brewed beers on tap than nearby “indie” craft beer bars.

Uniquely tailored to their chosen neighborhoods, HopCat locations consciously seek to be as much a part of their community as the mom-and-pop joint right down the street.

HopCat garners national praise, but it soft-pedals superlatives, modestly describing itself as “a home for craft beer lovers,” as well as promoting recycling and sustainability, engaging with local breweries and beer geeks, and serving food “like mom would make if she loved craft beer.” That is, if your mom had room for an eye-popping 132 draft beers, which is HopCat’s signature.

Continue reading HopCat is the Craft Beer Lover’s Meow

Cork 101— The wines of South Africa

South Africa was certainly on my list of wine countries or wine lands, as they say in South Africa, to visit but not at the top of my list. It should have been. I am very happy that I accepted an invitation to speak there and endured the incredibly long flight to this Southern Hemisphere country to find perhaps the most naturally beautiful wine country I have ever visited. Continue reading Cork 101— The wines of South Africa

Hip Hops— Bourbon-barrel-aged Imperial Stouts

You’ll hear one sort of pitch at a sales meeting, and see another thrown during a baseball game, but brewer’s pitch is completely different. Brewer’s pitch is a resinous substance used to line wooden barrels so liquid doesn’t come into contact with the wood. That’s because exposure to a wooden barrel affects the flavor of its contents, and generally over the centuries, brewers have preferred their wooden vessels to be neutral. Brewer’s pitch remains a handy means to this end, and anyway, stainless steel long ago supplanted wood for beer’s storage and serving. Continue reading Hip Hops— Bourbon-barrel-aged Imperial Stouts

Along the Urban Bourbon Trail— Proof on Main

Since it first opened in 2006, the 21C Museum Hotel Louisville has twice been named the Top Hotel in the U.S. by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine. That is because it is more than a place to eat and sleep – it is a bona fide cultural institution. The 21C broadens public access to contemporary art with its rotating collection of paintings, sculptures, photos and video installations. That same creative spirit extends to Proof on Main, the hotel’s celebrated restaurant. This is especially apparent in the way the bartenders and cooks at Proof on Main use Kentucky’s most popular export: Bourbon. Continue reading Along the Urban Bourbon Trail— Proof on Main

HIP HOPS— Goodwood Brewing Co.

It is a deceptively simple notion to modify the flavor of beer by aging it in Bourbon barrels. Just as char and time transform simpler corn-based spirits into a sipper’s elixir, so a barrel’s second use with beer can create a characterful hybrid, balancing the chosen base beer with notes of vanilla and spices.

This principle holds true when using barrels previously filled with other liquors or wine, and to a more subtle extent, by exposing beer to various types of wood (most often oak) through chips or spirals. Continue reading HIP HOPS— Goodwood Brewing Co.

Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey

People who know me won’t be surprised by the analogy that came to mind as I sat down to sample Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey, a new product from a veteran of the local distilling industry. What jumped into my head was the rabbit-duck illusion, an ambiguous 19th-century German drawing depicting a rabbit that, if you look again, looks like a duck, or a duck, if you blink, that resembles a rabbit. Which creature is it? Continue reading Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey

Cork 101: Regional Picks — All Wine is Local

Our wine panel picks good values from their favorite wine regions, explaining why and how local conditions influence the character of wine. 

Often, people who want to know more about wine get befuddled because there seems to be too much to learn — grape varieties and vintages and appellations and labels that supposedly tell a lot, but appear to be written in code. One way is to sample wines of a particular region, to understand how the geography and geology and climate of a place affect the growth of grapes and determine the style of wines it produces. Continue reading Cork 101: Regional Picks — All Wine is Local

HIP HOPS: A look at two new New Albany Breweries

In 1906, thirsty residents of New Albany had the choice of three local breweries to visit when it came time to refill pails gone dry.

Paul Reising’s plant was the granddaddy of them all, taking up a whole West End city block, where Bavarian-style beers had been brewed on-site since just after the Civil War. Continue reading HIP HOPS: A look at two new New Albany Breweries

Trail Blazer

By creating the Urban Bourbon Trail, the CVB’s Stacey Yates helped put Bourbon tourism on the map.

[Originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of Food & Dining Magazine]

These days, Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail, a network of 34 establishments that promote and celebrate Bourbon by offering at least 50 brands, is so popular that “I’m waiting for Gattiland to call and say, ‘We have 50 Bourbons – can we be we on the Trail?’” Continue reading Trail Blazer