Picture 5Great news! The partners behind Great Flood Brewing plans to open a taproom in the Highlands early next year.

Bad news is thanks to the recent government shutdown, that opening was pushed back at least one and maybe two months because issuing brewery permits is done by non-essential workers.

Counting up the 16 days Uncle Sam was off the job, GFB partner Matt Fuller expects, “Things are probably backed up quite a bit now. We were on course to have it opened by January, but now we’re conservatively hoping it’ll be early 2014.”

IMG_2774Oh, well, we’re sure it’ll be worth the wait.

Once opened, GFB will be located at 2120 Bardstown Rd. (next door to North End Café and a few yards from the corner of Douglass Blvd.) It will mark the second Highlands brewery in addition to Cumberland Brews about 1.5 miles north on Bardstown.

In addition to Fuller, partners Vince Cain and Zach Barnes are longtime homebrewers who saw the economic and fun potential of marrying their beers and business school degrees.

Not surprisingly, the trio, whose ages range between 23 and 25, has received help and guidance for their new venture from local brewery operators.

“Brewers in the community have really helped us out, especially some of the people at Apocalypse (Brew Works),” said Fuller. Not only are their peers uncommonly friendly competitors, Fuller acknowledged those brewers know any added exposure to local craft beer will increase awareness of their own products.

“When you look at what’s going on nationally, Louisville and Kentucky overall are so far behind in terms of the number of breweries they can support. There’s no concern as far as potential market saturation.”

Fuller recently left a management position to focus full-time on getting the brewery open and running, while Cain and Barnes expect to keep their jobs for some time after the beers at Great Flood start flowing. (Neither wants their employers concerned they’ll leave, so they asked we not mention where they work.)

At the outset, GFB will be open only Thursday through Sunday, giving Fuller plenty of time to brew and allowing his partners to join him after they clock out at their day jobs.

Though the space formerly was a Chinese restaurant and a floral shop, there won’t be a kitchen preparing food. The 125-seat taproom will supplement its eight GFB brews with a few snacks.

“We’re not executive chefs, we’re business school graduates who brew,” said Cain, adding that they had to agree to not compete against North End Café in order to lease the space. They also didn’t want the hassle of managing additional labor. “We’ve looked at Apocalypse, BBC Taproom and West Sixth in Lexington, and we’ve seen that they’ve been successful with this format.”

Since their operation is self-funded, Fuller said their array of brewing equipment will be modest compared to larger breweries around town.

GFB will run a one-barrel system serving two fermenters, which, for customers means at least half the eight beers on tap each week will be changed out to new ones.

“The system we’re doing is similar to a large homebrew system,” Fuller said. “The cost of a steam boiler system like you’d see at a larger place is astronomical.”

Fuller sees that smaller output as a blessing since he’ll be able to experiment more quickly with smaller batches and be able to gauge which styles sell well and which don’t.

“We’re going to be utilizing some analytics software with our point-of-sale system to identify beers our customers are liking the most and go with those,” Fuller said. In the beginning, he added, the lineup will center on a variety of ales. “We’ve got a pretty wide spectrum of beers we’ve already done at home. So we’re comfortable with a lot of different recipes.”

Don’t expect other breweries’ beers on their taps anytime soon, Fuller said. Not surprisingly, alcoholic beverage regulations don’t make that terribly easy.

“It’s about the new and different (for many beer drinkers), so we expect them to hop around to different breweries anyway,” he said.

Keep up with their developments by following the Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Steve Coomes
Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 24-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Louisville magazine, Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass and Food & Dining Magazine. The author of two books, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and the "Home Distiller's Guide to Spirits," he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.