The holidays aren’t here yet but the temperature has dipped, lights decorate Louisville’s Historic Downtown District and the ice rink is chilled and ready to go. With this atmosphere, an evening stroll down Main Street is a pleasant way to spend an evening. Especially if that stroll ends at that lovely little brewery where Belgian-style beers reign supreme, 12Degree Brewing.
Opened in 2013, 12Degree Brewing’s facilities are informal and welcoming. The cozy taproom sports plenty of wooden community tables for large groups to gather and discuss politics or watch the big screen that hangs over the windows, allowing drinkers a sight of the stainless steel tanks where the magic happens.
12Degree’s food menu features some higher-class nibbles than the average bar, and the taps pour a delicious range of Belgian-inspired ales: saisons, pales, darks and golden strongs to quench thirsty patron’s palates. Next door, Little Horse Book & Vintage piques curiosities with used books and hard-to-find vinyl. Anywhere else, this mash-up might smack of hipsterdom, but in Louisville, Belgian beer and a Thief of Bagdad coloring book from 1940 seems right as rain.
As one might suspect from their name, 12Degree Brewing offers a selection of 12 beers at any one time, with their award winners leading the pack. Both the Treachery Golden Strong Ale (8% ABV) and the Soleil Saison (6.9%) took home awards at this year’s World Beer Cup — gold and bronze respectively — with Treachery netting a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Fest this past October. Both exhibit 12Degree’s signature style, namely crisp and clean with an unmistakable hint of fruit. That fruit, primarily tropical fruit, can also be found in their blonde ale, 48 Hours (6.5%), their variation on a pale ale, Grapefruit Express (6.8%), and their American IPA, Inconceivable (6.7%). All three use Citra hops to add hints of passion fruit, lychee and citrus to balance out the bitter and bready flavors of the beers.
But as delicious as these beers are, they are the sort of thing one wants on a sunny afternoon or a warm autumn evening. What to drink when the snow falls? Why it’s the Midnight Fog, of course. This Belgian quadruple tops out at 9.6% ABV and has the color of molasses, the smell of coffee and the flavor of brown sugar. Midnight Fog is the kind of beer that warms up your insides no matter how cold it is outside.
12Degree Brewing is a lovely place to enjoy beer and pizza, but on Thursday nights 12Degree spins vinyl that customers bring from their personal collections with an added bonus: If they spin your record, your next beer is on them. I guess I’ll have to dig out my copy of Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue because “Flamenco Sketches” was meant to be played while quaffing Midnight Fog and watching the flakes fall.
On Tap: 12Degree Brewing. 820 Main St., Louisville, 720-638-1623, 12degree.com.