3rd Turn was buzzing on a recent weekend. Photos by Kevin Gibson.
3rd Turn was buzzing on a recent weekend. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

It’s hard to believe that as recently as last summer, the cozy space that is now 3rd Turn Brewing was an abandoned Moose lodge.

Now a full-blown craft beer destination, the former Calvary Church of Christ built in the late 1870s in Jeffersontown still maintains a vague chapel feel, but also has taken on a pub vibe thanks to the renovation.

On a recent Saturday night, the place was hopping, with all eight of the large tables in the main taproom occupied by large groups, and the two black leather couches in the middle of the space occupied as well. The square bar at the center of the building (where the baptismal font once was) also was full, and the bartenders barely had time to breathe.

The original hardwood floors and high ceiling, which reaches probably 30 feet at its apex, is exposed, and the entire place is trimmed with what looks like reclaimed barn wood. There is a glaring absence of TVs and even ambient music, leaving the sound in the place to the echoey buzz of people talking and clinking glasses.

3rd Turn interior wall
3rd Turn in Jeffersontown | Photo by Kevin Gibson

This figures, as the intent from day one was not to open a bar but rather a pub-style gathering spot that focused on beer. With 20 taps, that much has been accomplished. While only two 3rd Turn beers were available during my visit — a Lacto Coffee Porter and a Vanilla Porter — the range of guest taps was wide, from an APA by Akasha Brewing to an IPA from Cumberland. Other guest breweries included Tin Man, Hammerhead and plenty more.

3rd Turn is about to turn up the brewing. After launching with a 20-gallon system, co-owner Greg Hayden says he and co-owners Ben Shinkle, Dale Shinkle and Brian Minrath are working toward installing an electrical four-barrel system that will enable more production. (There are 31 gallons per barrel of beer.)

In addition, plans are in place to build out a beer garden adjacent to the brewery, and the hope is to have everything ready by Derby time as an opportunity “to do kind of a grand opening for our beers,” Hayden says.

While so far the limitations of the original system have held them to only a couple of house-brewed beers on tap at a time, the new system would theoretically allow them to fill six of those 20 taps with some ongoing 3rd Turn offerings. The 20-gallon system could then be used for small-batch beers and experiments.

In other words, there will be a variety of 3rd Turn beers available at any given time when all this happens. All four owners are brewers and all four come from different angles, style-wise. Expect an IPA or two. Expect Belgian beers. Expect the unexpected.

3rd Turn exterior nightHayden says in addition to recent lacto vanilla and coffee porters, they’ve done hazelnut, orange and chocolate orange versions, with a lacto espresso varietal coming soon. There also was a saison, a cucumber saison, and a Bavarian hefe gerste. Look for a pepper saison and a stout coming soon.

And so far, the wide variety of house beers and guest taps have been well received.

“We at first thought in J-town, it would be difficult to get people’s palates acclimated to experimental beers,” Hayden says. “But people out here are experimental as hell. It is insane how busy it has gotten from time to time.”

It’s a small sample size, but both porters I tried show plenty of promise for what’s to come. Both are 3rd Turn’s base porter, one finished with coffee beans and the other with vanilla beans. Both have a medium body with chocolaty tones, but the coffee version balances that with heavy roast tones and a coffee bitterness that balances malt sweetness. The vanilla version is smoother on the palate and makes for a creamy winter warmer.

Those who aren’t into craft beer can get ciders and other alternative beverages in cans and bottles, as well as wine and even bourbon. There also is a signature bourbon smoothie that is fruity and sweet. Several restaurants deliver food to the brewery, or visitors can bring their own or munch on beer cheese and pretzels for $5.

Similarly, most pints come in at a reasonable $5, while the smoothies are $7. Five-ounce beer tasters are $2.50 apiece if you want to mix and match. The brewery is located at 10408 Watterson Trail and is open Thursday and Friday, 4 p.m.-midnight; Saturday, noon-midnight, and Sunday, 1-8 p.m.

Kevin Gibson
Kevin Gibson tackles the 3Rs — retail, restaurants, real estate — plus, economic development. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono. Check out his books, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft” and “100 Things to do in Louisville Before You Die.” He has won numerous awards for his work but doesn’t know where most of them are now. In his spare time, he plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies.Email Kevin at [email protected]