Walking into Floyd County Brewing Company in downtown New Albany is a bit like walking into one of those faux taverns at a Renaissance Festival — there are coats of arms decorating one wall, a giant battle helmet in one corner, a bow with arrows on a side wall, and arched doorways that allow visitors to peek into the brewhouse. (Heck, the men’s room even pays tribute to “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”)
The only thing missing is a tightly cinched beer wench and a weekend minstrel whose voice carries just a little too far.
But what one finds after settling in for a few minutes is that the playful presentation is all part of a warm and inviting atmosphere where the servers and bartenders are friendly, the food is comforting and the Medieval-themed beer is fresh.
The brewery features six house brews and four rotating guest taps, liquor (in case someone in your party doesn’t like beer) and a menu that pays homage to British pubs. In fact, I was thrilled to find that one of the requisite side dishes with the fish and chips at Floyd County Brewing is a dish called “mushy pea.” When I’ve been to Liverpool, England, I’ve found mushy pea pretty much comes with everything you order — and it isn’t even on the menu.
But I decided to take my time and start with an order of the house chips and beer cheese to go with a flight of four, which was served to me in a small wooden box.
The chips were thick cut and would be a fine snack or side on their own, while the beer cheese was a thick, creamy concoction with an interesting flavor. The dark orange dip had the cheesy tang one expects, and just enough spice to let your palate know it’s there, but there is something else. And then I tried the amber ale — with which the cheese dip is made — and it all came clear.
The beer — or “Froth,” as the menu dubs it — at Floyd County Brewing tends to take on its own personality, with a Belgian bent and some interesting flavor choices. The ArrowSmith Amber Ale (is that a nod to the band Aerosmith? It almost has to be, doesn’t it?) features “hints of orange and coriander,” according to the menu. It’s actually quite an interesting and drinkable beer, but it tripped me up in the beer cheese.
Meanwhile, the Dungeon Deeds Irish Stout is mostly typical to the style, with a deep dark black color but a surprisingly light body with a bit of a bite to the finish and possibly even a hint of fruit. The Belchin Serf Saison veers away from lighter versions of the style to a lightly acidic profile with plenty of fruit derived from Belgian yeast. It’s almost a little funky, like beers brewed with wild yeast, so if you like esters in your beer, you’ll like this one.
The Hoppy Jester IPA is nicely balanced with a citrusy, floral nose, with less bitterness than its 100 IBU suggests. And the Brewess Blonde Ale is a hazy, golden beer with a big Belgian flavor (more Belgian yeast). And the BarBEARian Belgian Brown is exactly what you think it is. Head brewer Jeff Coe isn’t afraid to utilize Belgian styles.
While I was drawn to the fish and chips (with mushy pea!), the Renn Faire feel finally got to me, so I ordered King Louie’s Drumstick for dinner — it’s a giant turkey leg served with rice and a vegetable medley, presumably to help balance the meat onslaught of a piece of bird that huge.
Seriously, it was gigantic, and I got through about half the meal before asking for a to-go box. The turkey leg, which was tender and almost dripping but with a tight, almost crunchy skin rubbed with spices, nearly didn’t fit inside. The rice was tender and delicious, and the vegetables were fresh, flavorful and maintained a bit of crispness.
Other interesting-looking entrees include Bangers and Mash, Nimwit’s Pot of Gold (a pork and seafood steam pot), and ArrowSmith Chicken Skewers. Some tempting appetizers included Nutty Knights Pork Hammers (pork ribs) and Able Archers Pretzel and Cheese. You can also get salads, soup, sandwiches and burgers, and there’s a kids menu for family-friendliness.
Appetizers range from $7 to $12, while entrees top out at $13, and most sandwiches are $10. My only real complaint was the price of the beer, which rang in a $6 per 16-ounce pint for Floyd County Brewing beers and $7 per pint for guest taps. Six bucks a pint is well above pretty much every other brewery in town, and what I found strange was that a growler fill, which basically includes four 16-ounce beers, is only $10. The discount for taking it home is so great, it very well might deter people from hanging out in the bar.
Overall, though, it’s a fun premise and is situated in a rising part of downtown New Albany that caters to people coming to and from Horseshoe Casino. The prime location and attentive service will only help. There is also live music sometimes (maybe that’s when the minstrel shows up). And, hey, they have mushy pea.
Floyd County Brewing Company is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. It is located at 129 W. Main St. in New Albany.