An initial qualifier: I love beer (I'm talking about real beer, folks, not the watered down swill that often passes for beer). My fascination springs not from its intoxicating qualities, mind you; but rather for its complexity and craft and versatility. It truly is an art form — and a delicious one.
But my affinity for beer doesn't always translate to a love for bars. I can enjoy bars of all stripes — dirty dives, neighborhood spots, sports bars, music venues — but a night on the town isn't usually high on my agenda. I'm more of a “front porch with friends” type of guy. And on the night of my recent trip to the New Albanian Brewing Company's new downtown New Albany brewhouse, my fiancé Lindsay and I were feeling a little lukewarm about having to drive across the river to sit in a pub when my porch was a much closer option.
That quickly changed when we got there.
Upon arriving, we were a little surprised by the Bank Street Brewhouse's look. Housed in an old bread warehouse, there are three large doors along the façade, two of which were raised on our visit. It's an odd blend, but it works well: A swanky but homey atmosphere with a dash of modern industrial chic.
The room is small, with an occupancy of only about 50 people. A large L-shaped bar takes up almost a third of the room, with about a dozen or so tables scattered through the rest of the space. Despite its small quarters, the room, especially with two of the doors raised overhead, felt more like an open-air patio; it was roomy and breezy and perfect for the amazing weather that night.
Ah, but the beer. The brewhouse has 14 selections of NABC beer on draft, including some choice selections that only see production once or twice a year. Of the choices, some of the more high-gravity brews come only in a 10-ounce glass (always drink wisely, kiddos!), but others come in the imperial 20-ounce pint glass. The bartender (I've been told to refer to him only as “Nasty”) was a great help in explaining the selections.
And after a few samples (I wish I had enough space to explain them all), I finally landed on the Oaktimus ($3.25 for a 10-ouncer), a variety of the NABC's Hoptimus brew aged on oak chips. It was surprisingly smooth and absolutely delicious. Lindsay tried the Community Dark ($4.50), an English mild ale, and was equally satisfied.
The brewhouse has a lunch menu from chef Josh Lehman that's miles above average pub grub — items like steamed mussels and a Croque Monsieur with black forest ham, prosciutto, Emmentaler cheese and mornay sauce. A dinner menu was set to come into effect by the end of March.
But what excited me most was talking to Lehman, general manager Gregg Rochman and brewer Jared Williamson. They talked about future plans for the brewhouse, including an outdoor beer garden.