When the editor asks the beer writers if they can crank out a last-minute article on six can’t-miss local beers that out-of-towners might want to try while visiting Louisville for Derby, the beer writers jump at the opportunity. However, there is no way the beer writers can narrow it to six. Watch how we sneak in a few extras — shhhh, don’t tell the editor. Shout out to the 5.6k-member-strong “Louisville Beer Snobs” FB group for helping us make sure this list doesn’t only reflect our personal biases — and just for being a great community of beer loving peeps! Also, Louisville Craft Beer Appreciation day is May 2 (the day after Derby), so it’s going to be a great weekend to try all of the below!
Ten20’s Woodland Gardens IPA
Sure, the Storyteller New England IPA might be the bigger seller, but traditional West Coast IPAs are few and far between these days, and this is one of the best we’ve ever had. Big, clean, dry and bitter, it’s a perfect way to wake up your taste buds. We are also fans of the pilsner, porter and dunkel. Do yourself a favor and just grab a crowler of each. Also, look for Derby-week releases of a Belgian Tripel (eek!) and a Lilly-inspired hard seltzer. Visitor tip: Ten20 Craft Brewery has ample indoor and outdoor space, along with beer cocktails, bourbon, and food. And, you can walk two blocks to West Sixth Nulu for a Hop Static IPA or Magic Beans Coffee Stout (or 20 other options with nary a bad pick among em’).
Monnik’s Italian Disco Pilsner
The ability to make a great pilsner is the mark of a great brewer. The fact that this crisp and bright delight is now available in cans, as well as on draft, makes us happy. With locations in Germantown and New Albany and 15-20 beers on tap, you can easily spend a whole evening here without getting bored. If you’re a high-grav fan, check out the 10% Giant Goat Doppelbock that Monnik Beer Co. is releasing for Louisville Craft Beer Appreciation Day. Visitor tip: Monnik has great German-inspired food as well as a full bar and banging cocktails.
Atrium’s Tiki Boy Sour
If you like your beers with notes of pear, pineapple, passion fruit, guava, apple, butterscotch, lemon, lime, grape, Kool-Aid extract, bananas or watermelon, look no further than Atrium Brewing. All of the aforementioned ingredients are in their Supa Slush, the first of Atrium’s Pastry Slushie Series. Brewer Spencer Guy has a cult-like following for his sours and other kooky concoctions and seems to be pumping out about two new beers a week! A recent fan-favorite is Tiki Boy, a 7% sour available in cans and on draft. Two new releases this week — Piña Colada Shakes Milkshake IPA and Last Flight Hefe. Visitor tip: tasty food available from permanent food truck, Brick & Mortar, and many of Atrium’s beers are also available in cans to-go.
Mile Wide’s Uncle Disheveled Coffee Stout
While Mile Wide Beer Co. tends to be very hazy-hop-forward in its offerings, their barrel aged and dark beers — especially the Uncle D variants — get lots of love from the Louisville Beer Snob community. This beer lets you double down on the localness as it leverages Southern Pecan coffee from Highland Coffee. Fans will also be excited to hear that “gateway sour” — Raspberry Quiet Science — will be hitting the tap again just in time for Derby. Mile Wide is also the most recent brewery to release a beer in collaboration with the newly formed Louisville Ale Trail: Catacombs, a 10% blended imperial stout. Visitor tip: on-site Mac’s pizza offers delicious brick oven pies, and many Mile Wide beers are available to purchase in cans to-go. Also, walk two blocks to Gravely Brewing Co. for great views of the Louisville skyline from their second story patio and a solid line up of beers including Sprockets German Pilsner.
Against the Grain’s Citra Ass Down Double IPA
There are some beers that you appreciate because you can find it lots of places, and it’s consistently good. As Louisville’s most prolific brewery, with the broadest name recognition due to global shipping, and of course, their iconically edgy can art, we’d be remiss if we didn’t suggest that an out-of-towner get their hands on some ATG. You can visit the Public House (the only ATG taproom location currently open, though they are hoping to reopen their downtown smokehouse in May) to try a dozen beers, including the sticky, hoppy Citra Ass Down. You also have a pretty good chance of finding ATG on draft or in cans at other drinking stops. Bo & Luke and its many variants are fan favorites, as well as the Loo-a-vuhl hazy pale (which also serves as a fuh-net-iks lesson for you non-locals). Visitor tip: The Public House serves classic pub grub in the heart of the quirky Highlands neighborhood.
Upland’s Upland Lily
There’s just no way around it — Upland Brewing Co. offers the best vantage point from which to appreciate just how beautiful Louisville is. Having only opened a few weeks ago, Upland is getting solid reviews for its food and beer. And with 24 taps, you’ll have a wide range of options. But, when in Kentucky for the Derby, you can’t skip this Oaks Lily-inspired crisp cranberry and orange beer topped with a spritz of wood-aged blackberry sour beer. Visitor tip: The Second Street bridge will get you there without tolls, and the foot of the walking bridge that spans the river between Kentucky and Indiana is only 0.6 miles from Upland.
While we were forced to narrow this list to (cough, cough) six, there is no shortage of awesome options. May your hats be flashy, your horses be winners and your beer be local!