Many claim to have it, but only one can — what is it? A winning personality? The proficient skills of a tenderoni in the bedroom? An expansive scratch-and-sniff sticker collection? It’s the coldest beer in Louisville, of course, and we at LEO believe we have found it. It has taken weeks of thorough research using only the most advanced tools known to man — a digital meat thermometer.
We understand that not all establishments would brag about having beer so cold it’ll freeze your tongue to the glass. Hipster bars preferring room-temp craft beers will argue against anything below 40 degrees. But this research was done for those who love a frosted mug after mowing the lawn … or surviving another day at the office … or sitting through an episode of “Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On.” Below are the results.
Joe’s Older Than Dirt
29.9° — Coors Light
8131 Lagrange Road, 426-2074
Joe’s may be older than dirt, but the bar’s rare Coors Light tap system nabbed it first place in LEO’s Coldest Beer Contest, so perhaps we should refer to it as Joe’s Colder Than Dirt. The special tap is separate from the other 20 taps along the back wall of the bar and was a hefty investment. The machine looks like an iceberg (although I’m assuming it’s supposed to be Colorado’s Rocky Mountains) covered with a fuzzy layer of ice. According to bar owner Gary, it’s supposed to pour at 29.8°, and they are one of the few bars in the Nashville-Indy-Cinci region to even have one of these systems. The beer is so cold, it should be frozen. Bring gloves and enjoy.
Sal’s Pizza and Pub
30.3° — Miller Lite
812 Lyndon Lane, 365-4700
This Lyndon pizza joint nabbed second place for coldest beer in Louisville. In fact, when we conducted the test, we actually toasted Sal’s as a winner — who knew we could find a lower temp? Jo behind the bar will gladly fill up your frosty mug with any of the 12 selections. And on Mondays, all the drafts are $2! The pizza is delicious, the wings are Back Door worthy, and the company is friendly and entertaining.
30.9° — Miller Lite
2931 Richland Ave., 451-2237
If you feel a chill in the Hikes Point air, in, say, July, it’s probably coming from Roddy’s mug freezer at the Pizza Place. He keeps it well below zero so that the 10 taps offer only the coldest, freshest beer in the neighborhood. Like any good beer joint, there are three sizes of mugs — 12, 16 and 32 ounces — and numerous specials throughout the week, including $2 pints on Mondays. While you’re there, you’ve gotta taste the homemade garlic butter. And check out Roddy’s Tap Museum, a display of more than 450 throughout the bar.
Buffalo Wild Wings
32.1° — Miller Lite
1055 Bardstown Road, 454-3635
Yeah, we are quite aware BW3’s is a chain. And one thing you can count on from a chain is consistency. BW3’s beer is always crisp, always cold — whether it’s 90 degrees in July or 10 below zero in January. The 20 taps at the Highlands location offer mostly domestic swill — but when you’re watching baseball, that’s par for the course. Or is that golf? Whatever. Cold beer, hot wings — sometimes opposites just attract.
33.4° — Falls City
445 E. Market St., 690-6699
Mozz’s state-of-the-art tap system is definitely worth checking out. Smooth ice that you can reach out and touch covers the draft lines to a handful of predominately local beers. This swanky downtown bar offers one of the best happy hour deals in the city — from 5-7 p.m., it’s $3 for an ice-cold Falls City, $4 for select wines, $3 wells, and half-price pizzas and appetizers (from spicy mussels to cheese dishes).
34.2° — Elector Imperial Red Ale
225 State St., New Albany, 812-945-9425
It may be known for its 10-pound “Big Wick” pizza, but this cavernous, hunger-inducing joint gets a hat tip for their finely chilled beer. Located in historic New Albany, Wick’s boasts several drafts on tap, from Blue Moon to local New Albanian brews. If you’re into sports, hi-def flat-screen TVs blanket the walls. And for the kids, there’s a mechanical, miniature Italian chef named “Tricky” encased in glass that will spit out your future for a buck.
Pauley’s Schnitzelburg Pub
36.8° — Falls City
1151 Goss Ave., 634-5401
This small neighborhood bar in the heart of working-class Germantown/Schnitzelburg is a relatively quiet, laidback watering hole. The drinks are cheap and cold, the service is friendly, and the vintage Flash Gordon pinball machine is awesome. There are also two pool tables, and most likely a local who’s just gotten off work and will talk your ear off.
36.9° — Southern Tier 2x IPA
1101 E. Burnett Ave., 637-9515
This little Germantown corner tavern has one of the best-kept secret happy hours in town — on Tuesdays, all their drafts are $2. The temperature of the beer has never been an issue, probably because we’re so enamored by the friendly staff and the shit-a-brick low prices. Honestly, when you’re two Southern Tiers in, aliens could beam up your tablemates and you would still be smiling and deciding between the cheeseburger, the chili or the grilled cheese. Go with the chili. And order up another round.
Bank Street Brewhouse
38.2° — Black & Blue Grass Ale
415 Bank St., New Albany, 812-725-9585
Bank Street Brewhouse and the folks behind New Albanian Brewing Co. are like the Justin Timberlake of beer. Everything they try is amazing. With their simple, contemporary décor, they’ve brought a bit of cool to New Albany’s downtown. Their bistro-inspired menu impresses but remains unpretentious. And their often-rotating craft beers? Strong. Delicious. If you crave specifics, like alcohol content or flavors, bartenders and chalkboards have that covered.
38.4° — Bud Light
1573 Bardstown Road, 454-4544
This no-frills neighborhood dive holds its own in a town overflowing with pizza-and-beer joints. Za’s has an extensive beer list with dozens of offerings from more than 20 countries. And, of course, there’s Bud Light, which is $2 a pint from 4-7 p.m. The pizza is tasty, but we’re usually too stuffed from gorging on hot, doughy breadsticks drenched in garlic butter and served with marinara. If you can’t get a table on the sidewalk when the weather’s nice, you can still enjoy the great outdoors via oversized windows lining the front of the restaurant.
Stooges Bar and Grill
38.9° — PBR
7123 Grade Lane, 363-9803
Open from 6 a.m. to 4 a.m., Stooges sits as a welcome oasis for thirsty Louisville Ford Assembly Plant workers ready to relax. Located in an industrial checkerboard near the airport, the spacious, friendly bar offers cold beer, sand volleyball courts, plenty of sports on TV, and pool. Their long menu boasts bar staples like loaded nachos as well as burgers, soups and salads. Even if you’re not assembling a Ford by day, it’s worth the drive.
BBC Tap Room
39.7° — American Pale Ale
636 E. Main St., 584-2739
Tucked on the corner of Clay and East Main Street, BBC’s Taproom doesn’t have food, but it does have the essentials: beer, darts, tables and beer. Attached to the bottling plant that packages BBC sold in stores, the cozy taproom typically has a couple staples along with a seasonal. If you like to support local breweries — and you better — you can’t go wrong with this place. Plan ahead, though. The hours are limited: 4-10 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.
Spring Street Bar & Grill
39.8° — Bud Light
300 S. Spring St., 584-6630
Spring Street may have some of the best burgers and coldest bottles of beer in town, but their draft system registered at a middle-of-the-road 39.8°. And that’s not a bad thing, though perhaps a little warmer than you might like if you’re partaking in cheap light beer on an especially balmy day. If you want the extra chill, our advice: Float a cup of ice in the pitcher and drink up. Or order a bottle. Just for shits and giggles, we recorded the temp of a bottle of MGD at 25.4°!
Mulligan’s Pub and Grill
40.8° — Bud Light
1801 Newburg Road, 632-2818
The patio is a pleasant place to throw back a cold beverage on a warm day, though the all-wood interior (with ample flat-screens) is equally as inviting thanks to a laid-back vibe. A full menu offers a variety of pub fare, including meats smoked on site. Our favorite: the buffalo wings, which are crisp and spicy and only 45 cents each! A daily happy hour offers $2 domestics, $3 wells and $4 glasses of wine.
41.4° — New Albanian Hoptimus IPA
969 Charles St., 637-4377
Often labeled as a hipster haven, really it’s a beer lover’s best friend. With dozens of taps and bottles from local brewers and around the world, this Germantown staple finds its way into many evenings/late nights dedicated to drinking, be it the first stop or last. As LEO sipped this 41-degree Hoptimus, debating a second high-alcohol pint, Snoop Dogg, Iron Maiden and Will Oldham played on the jukebox as patrons’ pups scurried about the dog-friendly, dimly lit space. Bliss.
Louisville Beer Store
41.7° — Reissdorf Kolsch
746 E. Market St., 569-2337
Before opening the Holy Grale, owners Tyler Trotter and Lori Rae Beck dipped their toes into beer with this store/bar. Compact, with less seating options than many more traditional drinking pleasure palaces, LBS offers many craft and/or international beers for sale, to take home, as well as an attractive bar that one may belly up to, for tastings and/or many beers. The back patio offers seating that, on nice days, serves as a welcome respite from downtown business.
41.7° — Bell’s Oberon
2100 S. Preston St., 635-9227
Some nights, it’s the hippest, most happenin’ music room in town. Some nights, people get way too excited about the many arcade games. But always at Z-bar, the food is damn good and the drinks are, too. A cleverly concocted (and expansive) selection of craft and mainstream beers on tap makes everyone feel welcome, and, if you can’t find a seat inside, the patio’s pretty sweet. A neighborhood essential.
42.1° — Dieu de Ciel Route Des Épices
1034 Bardstown Road, 459-9939
You’d never know from the outside (though it is lovely) that this former church, next to a KFC, across from Cahoots, just might be the best bar in the region. Their selection of beers on tap is always jaw-dropping, with helpful, educational descriptions available, plus a board behind the bartender arranging the titles from lightest ABV to heaviest (great for the lightweights among us). And the food: Even without the many great beers, this would be one of the best restaurants in town. But we’re thankful for the drinks, too.
The Back Door
42.6° — Falls City
1250 Bardstown Road, 451-0659
The motto of The Back Door is “Bikers to Brain Surgeons,” so if you’re looking for a neighborhood bar with a random mix of people, this is the place to go. This large bar in the heart of the Highlands has five pool tables, a big patio, cheap drinks, lots of beers, and friendly bartenders who are perhaps the most generous in the city when it comes to loading your mixed drink with liquor. They also have a diverse bar menu, from burgers to pizza. The bar is tucked away on the right side of Mid City Mall (don’t let the “mall” part fool you), so don’t miss it.
Highlands Tap Room
42.7° — Falls City
1279 Bardstown Road, 459-2337
This aptly named bar has a wide selection of draft beers in its dark, cozy confines, with two pool tables in the back and an always-eclectic mix of clientele. Patio seating out front lets you take in all of the Derby madness traveling through the heart of the Highlands on Bardstown Road. This spot features live music or karaoke nightly.
43.3° — Falls City
1398 S. Second St., 637-9052
There’s so much to love about this reliably moist dive bar. Drinks are stiff. Beer is cheap. The jukebox rules. An assortment of seasoned drinkers frequent the sun-averse, musty space. (For fresh air or a smoke, seek out the back patio.) Most nights it’s an eclectic mix of slouchy punks, overdressed undergrads and Old Louisville surprises. She may not be much to look at, but she’s the real deal, with several draft beers and an assortment of bottles to supplement the brews on tap.
44.8° — Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
1134 E. Breckenridge St., 582-9217
Don’t let the “café” fool you. This long-standing Germantown watering hole is a bar’s bar. No frilly cocktails or dainty cheese plates, just stiff, relatively cheap drinks and beer, both on tap and stocked in the fridge. Strangers and friends look just a bit prettier here, aglow in neon signs that wash out imperfections in an unnatural red. Sundays are reserved for horror movies. Trivia happens on Monday nights. Happy hour runs daily, (yes, daily), until 8 p.m.
48.1° — Moonbow Wit
1576 Bardstown Road, 458-8727
We went for this local brewery’s summer seasonal on a recent visit and paired it with a bison burger — the combo is just $10 on Wednesdays, one of many daily deals. (On Thursdays, it’s $10 for a pint and a quesadilla, and on Mondays they offer $5 growlers to go.) There are a handful of small tables on the sidewalk, and the inside atmosphere is warm and welcoming — particularly the large leather chairs flanking a cozy faux fireplace upstairs.
Boombozz Pizza and Taphouse
49.1° — Schlafly Summer Lager
1448 Bardstown Road, 458-8889
Though the crisp summer beer we ordered was less than frosty, we had no problem finishing every drop as we dined on the patio near the lively intersection of Eastern Parkway and Bardstown Road. Every Tuesday, Boombozz taps a new keg at 4 p.m., offering $2 pints of the special brew until the barrel is dry. Their regular happy hour runs daily from 3-7 p.m. and 10-close, with $1.99 domestics, 2-for-1 well drinks, and half-price appetizers (the potato chip nachos are scrumptious).
Haymarket Whiskey Bar
49.3° — Brooklyn Sorachi Ace
331 E. Market St., 442-0523
When Matthew Landan operated Derby City Espresso at this location, the unconventional proprietor, highly knowledgeable in the field of craft beers, soon learned that there’s more money to be made with nighttime adult beverages than from morningtime adult beverages. (Plus, he wanted to sleep in.) Hence, Haymarket, named for the turn-of-the-20th-century outdoor farmers market on his block, now the home of many dozens of whiskeys, beers and live music, and expanding soon.
The Monkey Wrench
51.2° — Goose Island 312
1205 Barret Ave., 582-2433
With its Hunter S. Thompson mural on the wall outside, The Monkey Wrench is a good spot to get decadent and depraved in Derby City. The patrons range from bikers to hippies (Hunter would approve), and the large upstairs patio and bar is perfect for a warm spring evening. Inside, there’s a decent bar menu and usually live music. For your post-Derby hangover, try their splendid Sunday brunch.
54.2° — Light Meat
1076 E. Washington St., 354-3212
The Prohibition-era-esque Meat is a relatively hidden (which we love) new local treasure — which, OK, we confess, is upstairs from the Blind Pig — that delights in expertly made cocktails that seem pricey … until you get your first taste. Even if the first taste had been free, you’d still pay for what they’ve got (it’s like crack, but tasty and legal!). What’s free, and also exciting, are the snacks — many delicious snacks you can just … have. It’s like Christmas, every time you arrive. As for the above-average temp: That’s how they like it.