After months of working and waiting, the three owners of Great Flood Brewing opened the doors of their highly anticipated brewery to the public on Friday.
Predictably, it was packed.
Doors opened at 4 p.m., and there was a line of people on Bardstown Road waiting to get in the front entrance. By the time I got there around 8 p.m. with my friend Laura, the back parking lot was full, people were stacked three-deep at the bar, and every seat in the place was taken.
Great Flood kicked off its run at its cozy spot at 2120 Bardstown Road in Douglas Loop with seven house-brewed beers: a hoppy IPA that packs an 8.6 percent alcohol by volume punch; a milder but still plenty hoppy APA with a unique finish; a malty, delicious brown ale; Hoppy Irish, a red ale with a hop kick at the back of the palate; a citrusy wit; a thick oatmeal stout with plenty of coffee tone; and a surprisingly tasty and tart (but thankfully not too sweet) blackberry wheat beer.
If you haven’t been, you should go. The warm atmosphere features an art wall opposite the bar, with a row of tables down the wall ending in a lounge area containing black leather couches and chairs just inside the front window. Down the center of the space is a long, wood standing-bar where you can chat with friends and also have a place to sit your beer while you socialize.
Behind the bar is a pair of chalkboards, one displaying the beers on tap, along with their ABV content and IBU (International Bittering Units) rating. There’s also a flat screen TV showing sports.
On the wall nearest the bar is a huge mural featuring images from the 1937 flood, along with more tables and seating. In the midst of it all is a large orange sign bearing a pledge that ends with, “I dare you to catch me not smiling.”
There were plenty of people smiling during the Great Flood opening on Friday night. In fact, the throngs were so happy about Great Flood’s beer that by Saturday night, very little beer remained; as a result, a planned full weekend — including Sunday full-day hours — was cut to just Friday and Saturday.
“There was, in our minds, less than a 1 percent chance it was going to be like that,” said Vince Cain, who founded and owns Great Flood along with partners Matt Fuller and Zach Barnes. “We blew more kegs on Friday than we expected to blow the whole weekend.”
Saturday was not nearly as busy as Friday, Cain said, but there was “a steady stream from noon to midnight. There was never not somebody buying a beer.”
On Sunday, the Great Flood guys were busy brewing four new batches, including a rye IPA, a citra-hopped IPA, coffee porter and a double IPA. Those will be on tap for upcoming Halfway to Craft Beer Week celebrations, along with some guest taps including New Albanian Brewing Company’s Community Dark and Bluegrass Brewing Company’s bourbon barrel stout.
They are also working with BBC on a collaboration beer: a barrel-aged Kentucky common.
The clear crowd favorite for grand opening weekend was the brown ale, Cain said, which was a bit of a surprise. And while all the beers seemed to go over well, Cain cautions that they’ve only just begun to brew.
“These were our first batches on this system,” he said. “We are far from perfecting it. It’s only going to get better.”
And while Cain looked every bit as tired as he felt on Sunday afternoon as the new batches were being created, there wasn’t a complaint to be heard about how the weekend went.
“We’re tickled to death,” he said. “I’m tired. I’ll give you tired. But I’m not going to give you frustrated.”
Great Flood will be open Thursday and Friday 4 p.m.-midnight, Saturday noon-midnight, and Sunday 1 p.m.-10 p.m. (Unless they run out of beer.)