Holy Grale (Louisville, KY)

Let’s just say I was excited to visit Holy Grale. I deffffffffinitely hadn’t been looking forward to going here for three years. I don’t love Belgian beer thaaaaaaaat much.

Some background first. I am a Belgophile (not sure that is a word, but sounds like one). I love Belgian beer. I love Belgian frites. I love Belgian waffles. I love Belgian chocolate. Did I mention I love Belgian beer?

Holy Grale is in an old, small Unitarian church from 1905, not to be confused with a popular rap song

Not quite as old as European churches, but the sentiment is there. This old church feel really makes you feel like you are in Europe. Dark inside. Street lamps dimly lighting the bar. Very neat atmosphere. There is also a Choir Loft upstairs, which I saw, but didn’t realize you could actually go upstairs. You may need reservations to sit there. And it has rare beers on tap as well, including one of the United States’ only La Trappe taps. Trappist ales are extremely rare because they have to be brewed in a monastery by monks and can’t be a profit-making venture. Not kidding. I’m going to stop writing about this now because I can feel the anger building that I missed it.

*planning next trip to Holy Grale*

Holy Grale is conveniently located on Bardstown Road, so very close to lots of restaurants and bars. We came here to have a drink or two in between our lunch at Butchertown Grocery and our dinner at Jack Fry’s. You would assume from the previous sentence that we didn’t eat anything at Holy Grale. And you would be wrong.

If Belgian Frites are on the menu, they are getting ordered. I’ve eaten them in Belgium (Fritland post coming soon…), Nice (France), Barcelona (Spain), and now Kentucky.  

Belgian frites (better French fries, basically) are served traditionally in a cone with up to several dipping sauces. Here is a New York Times article discussing Belgian frites. My favorite quote from the article is from a doctor about frites:

Following doctors’ orders, we ordered the frites. These frites were delicious and hot. The several layers of hard palate skin I’ve shed over the past few days also agree the frites were hot. The dipping sauces we ordered were “frites sauce” and Samurai sauce (spicy mayo/ketchup mix). Both were good. My all-time favorite is Andalouse sauce, but they didn’t have it here. The Samurai sauce was similar to Andalouse, just not quite as good.

Cone of frites and pouring the Cantillon

We didn’t want to completely spoil our dinner, so we stopped eating after the frites. Well, actually after two cones of frites. Oops.

We didn’t try anything else on the menu, but it looks very Belgian with some German influence. Waffles, schnitzel, mussels, pretzels. I guess we will have to come back to experience these. Darn.  

Onto the beer.

There are 27 taps downstairs with a mix of Belgian and other beers. There is also a large booklet of bottled beers, including rare bottles from the cellar. They also have a small wine selection if you’re going with a non-beer drinker (shame!). The tap list changes frequently. Here is the updated tap list, which they seem to update daily. I always appreciate this.

Tap List

The great thing about going out with friends is you get to try even more beers and food without ordering it all yourself.

 

We started with an old Belgian favorite, Cantillon Classic Gueuze. Cantillon is a Gueuze-Lambic brewery in Brussels that specializes in sour beers. By the way, Gueuze is pronounced “gooze”, which is different from Gose, pronounced goes-uh. If you’re interested in the difference between Gueuze and Gose, read here. These beer names keep you on your toes.

The Cantillon is poured from its own wicker basket, as it is in Brussels. The basket keeps the beer at a nearly horizontal angle to prevent sediment, which can alter taste, from entering the glass during the pour. I had this same beer/basket combo in Brussels at Poechenellekelder, one of Belgium’s famous beer bars.

Next was a plum gueuze on tap, Tilquin Quetsche. Gueuzerie Tilquin is the brewery, apparently fairly new (2009) but with a 4.14 brewery rating on Untappd. That’s really good.

We all split a bottle of Framboise Boon, which is a raspberry lambic beer and brewed with over 300 grams per liter of fresh raspberries. Sign me up.

Stille Nacht, a Belgian Strong Golden Ale from Brouwerij De Dolle Brouwers was a unique beer, brewed for Christmas with white candy sugar added to the kettle.

Before leaving, we tried the Oerbier from Brouwerij De Dolle Brouwers, which is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. This style is characterized by dark malt and fruity flavors.

After getting to try several different and rare Belgian beers, the time had come to eat (again). I can’t wait to come back to Holy Grale for the great beer selection and to try more of the food. Oh yeah, and to see the Choir Loft. *sigh*

 

Hours: M-Th: 4p-12a+, Fri: 4p-1a+, Sa: 12p-1a+, Su: 12p-12a+

Address: 1034 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40204

Phone: (502) 459-9939

 

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