Searching Kentucky Common and Other Adventures

The geography of beer production has always captured my attention. So it was quite a moment for me to visit the new brewery which has opened in my own neighborhood of Northside (also long ago known as Helltown) in what was once the St. Patrick Church and School, built in 1873. I will not trouble the dear reader with all of the history I have with this place, accept to say I was delighted to see this ancient part of local history rededicated as a brewing site.

It was also a joy to see that the Urban Artifact Brewery is also the Wednsday night home for The Blue Wisp Big Band, the large ensemble of the closed Blue Wisp Jazz Club.

What brought me to the Urban Artifact that Wednesday, was that I was hoping to try their take on a long lost style style of ale that was very popular in Louisville, Kentucky before prohibition. Made with usually 30% corn, it was first mentioned in the American Handy Book of the Brewing, Malting and Associated Trades in 1902, and was said to be the drink of the “labouring classes”.
Well, the short of it was, they did not have any. The opening batch produced sold out and I was told by Scott Hunter, chief of strategic development, that they hoped to have a new supply by August.

Since I was already there, I decided to try what was available. An exotic sampler to be sure, that included the pre-reinheitsgetbot style of Gose which uses corriander and salt, a Berliner Weisse style (and yes there were flavoring syrups available) and a brown ale, also in coffee and nitro versions.

Sampling some of these beers, I was reminded of what seems a countless number of small brewery tap rooms, where beer is the focus above all. In this case, the obscure exoticism of these styles seemed somewhat startling, in a city that was built on Hudepohl. I joked to the very amiable Scott Hunter that I thought about growing hops in my backyard beer garden, which I could sell to Urban Artifact. Wishful, blissful, dreaming yes, but my how the geography of beer has become local. I told Mr. Hunter of a famous cafe in Northside, where at one time the only beer they sold was made locally. Only local, as they use to say at the bar, only local.


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