After years of searching, I have finally found a place where I can take my dear friend Paul, a complex man with simple tastes. Paul loves a well-crafted burger, a hearty chili dog and an ice-cold beer. Though we have sampled many Belgian ales together — alongside heaping baskets of truffle fries — Paul prefers the pristine simplicity of an inexpensive Bud Light, preferably one purchased at the American Legion.
You see, Paul was a proud demonstrator at the Chicago Democratic National Convention in 1968 — he’s got the bruises to prove it — and when they hauled his ass before the judge, he was given the choice of jail or the armed services. Paul promptly enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in the Chesapeake Bay for the duration of the Vietnam War. When Paul tells me this story — he’s told me many times — I quickly remind him there were no Vietcong in the Chesapeake Bay. To which Paul replies with a chuckle, “You’re goddamn right, and you’re fucking welcome.”
Which is why Paul’s name jumped immediately to mind as I strode into Gravity Brewery’s Louisville digs, which share a building — and a kitchen — with American Legion Post 111. If only Paul could have been with me, he’d have gone left and knocked backed bottles of Bud while I went right and quaffed Gravity’s Mendacious (8% ABV), a golden strong ale with a bright nose and a round mouth feel that provides stone fruit with a hint of spice. I have a feeling Paul would have loved Mendacious if only it cost $1.50 and came with a twist off top.
Mendacious isn’t the only Gravity brew that sports a high-octane. These beers will warm you up on a cold, winter’s night, but they don’t display the typical burnt hotness of heavy alcohol. Instead, beers like the Acceleration (9.8%), a smooth, double IPA; the Tsar Bomba (11%), a big-boy stout full of black strap molasses and brown sugar; and the Desertas (7%), a brew that has the fruit-leather qualities of a ruby port meshed with the nutty flavor of an aged tawny port, bring loads of flavor. A current seasonal offering, Jingle Juice (7.1%), is bottled Christmas cheer, the kind that radiates warmth from the gut. Maybe it’s the alcohol, but I’d like to think it’s the combination of orange peel, ginger and cinnamon.
In my perfect Paul world, after a few pints at Gravity, I would collect my friend from the Legion. Paul would be likewise toasted, but he’d have spent considerably less than me, one of the benefits of the armed services. As we’d wait for the bus, Paul would drone on about the bobbleheads at the bar, the kind who gobble up whatever Fox News is serving. “The world’s in trouble, Michael,” Paul would say, excoriating those who dare raise the names of Rush, Hannity or Alex Jones as a defense. I’d nod in agreement, but who cares? With Paul by my side, we’ll take ’em all on.
On tap: Gravity Brewing. 1150 Pine St., Louisville, 303-544-0746, thegravitybrewing.com