Drawing such large crowds is no mean feat in competitive downtown New Albany. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

Breaking sales records has become a regular occurrence at Floyd County Brewing Company, per owner Brian Hampton.

The Medieval-themed brewery and restaurant, which opened in fall of 2015, has been setting new records “two or three times a week” in recent weeks, Hampton tells Insider. He says he doesn’t know precisely why, but he isn’t complaining.

One recent surge coincided with a new beer on tap called Cloud 10. Created by brewer Jeff Coe, it is a Northeast IPA, a style that recently came to the local market by way of a successful release from Mile Wide Beer Co.

“It was by far the best seller” on a recent record-breaking night, Hampton says.

I had visited the brewery not long after it opened and found the food to be quite good but the beer to be hit and miss.

After hearing of Cloud 10 and the surging popularity of the place, which is in direct competition with ballyhooed restaurants such as The Exchange Pub + Kitchen, Gospel Bird, Brooklyn and the Butcher, Toast on Market, and others, I decided to return.

I’m glad I did.

Floyd County Brewing Company stuck to its vision of being a Medieval-themed pub and brewery. Photos by Kevin Gibson.

I stopped in for an early dinner on a weekend with my girlfriend Cynthia and her son Nikolai, and the place was packed. It was 4:30 in the afternoon, so I had expected it to be mostly empty, but the main dining room had only a couple of empty tables and the bar was full, with several people standing. Outside our window sat a curious yellow Volkswagen bus/Beetle hybrid trumpeting the brewery.

I decided to order a flight — known as a “Jester Tester” at Floyd County Brewing, in keeping with its Medieval theme — to get acquainted with the new beers and get my first taste of Cloud 10. We ordered an appetizer of Able Archers Pretzels and Bier Cheese, and I dug into my four 5-ounce samples.

Able Archers Pretzels and Bier Cheese are one of the cheeky menu item names you’ll find. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

I started with the Brewess Blonde, a classic American blonde with a clean, crisp body, minimal bitterness and a lightly sweet malt character. A nice starter, and an easy entry for someone not familiar with craft brews.

From there, I tasted the Gogmagog, the brewery’s take on a British ESB or strong ale. It’s exactly the type of style that goes with this Medieval theme, sort of like a Fuller’s ESB, with medium body and just enough bitterness to keep you on your toes.

I then went to the Brave Sir Robin — yes, the “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” references abound at Floyd County Brewing — which is a barrel-aged saison with an emphasis on the barrel. Fruit meets oak in this one, so if you love bourbon, it should be friendly to your palate.

Finally, I tried the Cloud 10, and definitely saved the best for last. The tropical aroma gives way to a big, hoppy-meets-citrus beer that comes across like some sort of tropical juice on steroids, with a nice lingering hop burn at the back of the palate.

By the time I finished my flight, we had pretty well knocked out the four sizable pretzels and the creamy beer cheese that carried only a hint of spiciness but satisfied with a familiar tanginess and a touch of smokiness. Let’s just say we nearly had to fight Nikolai for the last of it.

Afterward, they split an order of seasoned fries, while I couldn’t resist ordering the fish and chips — hey, it’s an English-themed pub, OK? Let’s just say I made the right choice. Two ample pieces of cod, fried crispy in batter made with Brewess beer, came served atop a bed of seasoned french fries and garnished with house-made tartar sauce. The meal was presented in a basket lined with faux-newspaper, giving it that full-on, English-fish-and-chips feel.

But what made it was the flaky fish that was fried without being greasy. When paired with the crispy, fresh tarter — and I’m not usually a big fan of tartar sauce — it was irresistible. Cynthia managed to sneak a few bites, but other than that, I inhaled the meal, save for a few leftover fries, which simply wouldn’t fit into my gullet.

The fish and chips might transport you to England. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

With the new focus on beers having one away from Belgian styles — which seemed odd to me at the outset, given the English theme of the pub — it’s not surprising the place is beginning to surge in popularity.

Add to that a revamped menu that adds burgers and some new sandwiches and appetizers to the English-inspired fare — like King Louie’s Smoked Turkey Leg and bangers and mash — and it’s even less of a surprise.

In addition, there is a full bar featuring “Medieval Mixers” with names like Monty’s Green Python (see?), Merlin’s Magic, Dragon Juice, and Butter Bier (Harry Potter!), so if beer isn’t your thing, you’re covered. There’s also live music on the weekends if you’re looking to be entertained as well as filled up.

Not long after my first visit a year and a half ago, I received a message from Hampton that said, in part, “We have taken on quite a challenge with offering both the full service restaurant and the brewery, and definitely taking a few risks with the theme, but I’ve got a vision in my head that’s going to take shape over the near future that I’m passionate and confident about.”

Looks to me like Hampton’s vision is working quite nicely.

Floyd County Brewing Company, located at 129 W. Main St. in New Albany, is open Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m.-midnight; Saturday, noon-midnight; and Sunday, noon-9 p.m.

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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]