In 2019 at LEO Weekly, writer and beer drinker Kevin Gibson summarized the experience at Louisville’s Holy Grale (1034 Bardstown Rd.), which just this week announced a schedule for reopening after pandemic time off; the flagship remains closed until autumn for renovations, but the return actually begins now.
As much as I love breweries, I’ve always admired Holy Grale as being its own thing in Louisville — a unique beer bar patterned after a traditional European pub. This isn’t a place you go for a tap takeover to “steal the glass.” It’s a place you go to gather, commune, dine on shared plates and sip beers from around the world that are worthy of discussion. Let’s face it, I’d be willing to bet that if you’re reading this column, you’ve already got plenty of logo glassware in your cabinets. I know I do. Rewarding beer experiences aren’t as easy to come by.
The “shared plates” reference is significant, because it wasn’t like Holy Grale patrons were ever compelled to consume mixed nuts with their Orval. The very notion of emulating a traditional European pub implies equal attention being devoted to the kitchen, and Holy Grale’s menu amply achieved the Old World food/drink balance since inception in 2010.
In 2014, gralehaus “bed and beverage” joined the Holy Grale’s compound a few steps away at 1001 Baxter Ave., offering breakfast, lunch and libations, with guest rooms upstairs and the gralegarten outside. Lori Beck and Tyler Trotter also were the founders and operators (since 2009) of Louisville Beer Store in NuLu, which unfortunately did not outlast COVID, closing in late 2020; however, at the time, they hinted at a future desire to “make something happen,” and now Grale Goods, a new shop for retailing beer and other items, is planned for 2022 as located adjacent to Holy Grale.
In a collective sense, we now have The Grales; it’s the tried and true, incorporating a few different twists.
The comeback so many of us have been waiting for begins outdoors with THE GRALES sommergartenparty, launching in the gralegarten on Thursday, July 15 (tomorrow) and runs through August 8, Thursdays through Sundays only, from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (enter through the side gate at 1001 Baxter). For beer lovers, two words will suffice: Kölsch Service.
Gralehaus reopens for indoor dining on Friday, August 16 with hours from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with weekend brunch resuming on Saturday, Sept. 4 (same hours).
Remodeling will continue at Holy Grale until it returns this fall, and Grale Goods follows next year. But there’s even more, because The Grales has an executive chef: Jonathan Searle, late of Proof on Main.
Welcome back to The Grales. We’ve missed you. For more, revisit F&D’s recent beer bar rumination.