After a good night in L’ville, Layne recommends the Blue Dog Bakery & Cafe (2868 Frankfort Ave.) for breakfast. Known for their artisan breads, try the brioche French toast with either one of the best cups of coffee in town and/or, if needed, a Bloody Mary “served proper with a side of beer, usually something from Founder’s or Bell’s.”
Don’t miss out on two (and a half) places located just across the river and Indiana state line. Layne calls Keg Liquors (617 E. Lewis & Clark Parkway in Clarksville, IN) “one of the best bottle shops in the country. [Owner] Tom Antz is a fount of wisdom,” and organizes the local-minded Fest of Ale each June. Another institution is the New Albanian Brewing Co. and the double-sided restaurant (one half being a family-oriented pizzeria, the other a proper pub) it’s attached to, Rich O’s Public House (richos.com; 3312 Plaza Drive, New Albany, IN). While Layne mentions Rich O’s crazy beers on tap and menu rich in vintage gems, the stand-out item for me during my rainy afternoon visit was New Albanian’s Kentucky Komon. Far from a California Common but rooted in equal history, this opaque brown beer starts as a sour mash, a taste that visitors to the Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey Distillery understand from dipping their fingers in the corn mash.
Fortuitously, Kentucky’s Bourbon County isn’t dry like Jack’s home in Lynchburg, TN, so as you’re making your way down Interstate 65 from Louisville toward the park, detour down Highway 245 to the Heaven Hill Heritage Center in Bardstown (heaven-hill.com). Tour the otherworldly sights and smells of their barrel-aging rickhouses dotting the bluegrass-covered hills. Minors are allowed on the free tour except in the tasting room where you’ll get to sample Elijah Craig 18 year old, which, if you’re lucky, your next imperial stout will be aged in that barrel.
Medford, OR, and Crater Lake National Park
Even with the sea of breweries in Portland, some small towns are making a big splash in the world of Oregon brewing. Three years ago, Chris Dennett decided to celebrate local breweries by organizing the Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival (mid-June). There are five breweries directly along the Interstate 5 corridor about half an hour from the California border in the towns of Grants Pass, Central Point, Medford and Ashland, the latter of which is world renowned for its Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). Odds are, whenever you visit, the “festival” will be going on since the season runs from February to October.
This year, Dennett took things a step further by seizing the Beer Week movement and bringing one to Medford, where he runs Beerworks (323 E. Main St., Medford) bottle shop and Elements (elementsmedford.com; 101 East Main St.), a tapas bar and lounge where the small, spicy, Spanish dishes pair perfectly with bottled and draft beer ranging from Belgians to locals. Wash down your Patatas y la Riojana (a garlicky dish of Basque-style potatoes and Spanish chorizo) with a pint of Worker’s Pale Ale from Walkabout Brewing.
Walkabout is suitably Australian themed since it was created by Perth native Ross Litton. Dennett says Litton is about to open a tasting room for his seven-barrel brewery where you’ll be able to sample and fill growlers of Redback IPA or Wallaby Wit.