From BBQ To Bourbon, All Of The Non-music Things To Do At Louder Than Life 2021

Festivals are about music. We can’t dispute that. But, for many of us, they’re about the experiences, too: The food, the drinks, the pop-up shops. And Louder Than Life festival, starting this Thursday, has plenty of them for you take advantage of in between sets. 


Ever faithful to Louisville, Louder Than Life has a heavy bourbon focus, starting with the Kroger Big Bourbon Bar, which sells more than a dozen “hand-selected bourbons from top distilleries.” You can shoot them straight (if you’re metal enough) or have them added to specialty cocktails. 

Participating brands include 1792, Angel’s Envy, Beringer Bros Bourbon Barrel Aged Wine, Boone’s Bourbon, Bulleit, Buffalo Trace, Coopers’ Craft, Elijah Craig, Four Roses, Jeptha Creed, Jim Beam Black, Kentucky Peerless, Maker’s Mark 101, Old Forester, Wilderness Trail and Woodford Reserve, as well as one special selection picked by bourbon expert Fred Minnick. 

Even at the bourbon bar, you can’t escape the music. DWPresents will be streaming its virtual music show, “That Space Zebra Show”

You’ll be able to find bourbons and other adult beverages in plenty of areas around the Highland Festival Grounds. There are over 10 bars scattered throughout the campus, each fitting a different sort of vibe. And for non-drinkers, some have activities included.

  • Caduceus Wine Garden – This wine garden features vino from a music legend, Maynard James Keenan — the co-founder of Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer — and the creator of Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards. You can sip on both red and white varieties in the garden. 
  • The Blackened Bar – Did you know Metallica has a whiskey brand? It’s called Blackened Whiskey, and it was created by Master Distiller Dave Pickerell and is aged with the help of Metallica’s music.
  • Jack Daniel’s No. 7 Sports Bar – Sip on your favorite poison while watching NFL and college football games
  • Heavy Tiki Bar – A true destination bar, with frozen daiquiris, rum punch and other tropical drinks. 
  • Budweiser Beer Garden – Get away from the crowd and sit at one of Budweiser’s picnic tables while enjoying “The King of Beers.”
  • Jim Beam Garden – Play some games, like jumbo Connect Four, while enjoying — what else — more bourbon.
  • Silver Dollar Hunter’s Club – Take your mouth back in time at this bar featuring vintage bourbons, the oldest of which started aging in the 1930s. 
  • Jack’s Char House – Enjoy one of America’s most iconic whiskey brands, Jack Daniel’s.
  • Milagro Cantina Bar – Try something different. And by different, we mean tequila.
  • Larceny Trailer Lounge – Larceny Bourbon is mixing up signature Kentucky mules at its trailer. There’s a photo op, too, where you can pose like John E. Fitzgerald, who, as legend goes, used to steal whiskey from barrels. 
  • Tito’s Handmade Vodka Airstream – Relax at Tito’s airstream, where there will be lawn chairs to sit in and Tito’s All American Lemonade to sip on.


The food offerings at Louder Than Life are inspired from the flavors of Kentucky, which usually means unhealthy — but damn good — eatin’. 

You’ll have close to 40 choices, several of which are from local and regional businesses. 

They include:

  • 502 Café*
  • Angry Bird Grill
  • Bangarang Bahn Mi
  • Barrett’s BBQ
  • Barrett’s Burgers
  • Bistro Italiano
  • Burger Factory
  • Cheese Louise
  • Dank Nugs
  • Ehrler’s Ice Cream *
  • Eli’s BBQ
  • Gary’s Philly Cheesesteaks
  • Gelato Gilberto *
  • Hole Mole Tacos *
  • Island Noodles
  • Jammin Concessions
  • Longshot Lobsta *
  • Mac Attack
  • Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen *
  • Mike’s Kentucky Kitchen *
  • My Olympus Greek Food
  • Overloaded
  • Phat Daddy’s Creole
  • Pie Baby Wood Fired Pizza
  • Pizza Lupo *
  • Potato Tornado
  • Ramiro’s Cantina *
  • Shady Grove Wraps
  • Spicy Pie
  • Strawberry Field
  • The Cookie Lady *
  • Tica’s Tacos
  • Tickle Pickle
  • Tumbleweed

*The asterisk indicates that we know these vendors are local to Louisville.

And for coffee lovers (because its a long day):

  • Blackbeard Espresso *
  • Bru Bros Coffee


Not everything (albeit most everything) in life is about alcohol and food. Here are things to enjoy at Louder Than Life that have nothing to do with greasing your gullet. 

Mortus Viventi has set up a tarot reading booth, with 10 unique tarot card designs on sale. Your purchase will benefit local musicians. 

The Music Experience is an interactive exhibit with all of the instruments and equipment you could want: guitars, basses, amps, drums, keyboards and electronic gear. Come to play around and maybe even win something. While there, you might also run into one of the members of a band playing the festival.

At The Well, you can recharge with IV hydration or with an elixir from the juice bar. 

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