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    Expanding and Crafting Against the Grain's Year of Change
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    “This is the year of change” for Against the Grain, according to owner Sam Cruz. Cruz and his three Co-Owners, Adam Watson, Jerry Gnagy, and Andrew Ott, have been crafting at their own accord for the past three years and will continue this mentality as their restaurant menu receives a drastic change and the brewery expands to a second location in Portland.

    Located on the Southeast corner of Louisville Slugger Field, AtG is primarily known for craft beer, but unlike other brewpubs the food will never “live in the shadow of the beer,” according to executive chef Jordan DeLewis. While the beer is recognized nationally and internationally (it won two silver medals in the 2014 Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair in Dublin), they are “now more than ever trying to push the food in front of the beer,” establishing an equal craft between the food and beer, according to DeLewis.

    Against the Grain’s smokehouse is known for the live fire smoking of what DeLewis refers to as “tough proteins,” like brisket and pork butt. Their current menu features entrée-style dishes like the Memphis, tacos carnitas and baby back ribs, but as AtG’s brand expands, their food menu is taking a different focus. 

    DeLewis is keeping the eccentric feel of the initial menu, but integrating more of a “southern drawl. ”Since Against the Grain is now a destination spot for their beer alone, DeLewis wants to be sure that people traveling from thousands of miles away are not let down with “mediocre pub grub”. Against the Grain is ditching the traditional and moving to an à la carte menu. 

    According to DeLewis, the meat has always been the "star of the show," so it would only make sense to construct a menu where the meat is "understood as a craft," which allows for the restaurant to "hone in on what the flavor [of the meat] should be." Against the Grain's new menu, which will launch early to mid-February, brings a communal aspect not only to the tapas-style appetizers, but the all-important meat. 

    Instead of coming in and ordering a traditional entrée, patrons will have the option to compose their own meal. Rather than everyone order a pork sandwich, you can order pork by the half-pound and share the meal as a table. The new menu opens taste buds to ordering freedom. Aside from smoked pork, the new menu will also feature Southern-influenced foods like pimento cheese hoecakes, a ham and cheese sandwich made with picnic-cured ham and real cornbread—not the sweet stuff. DeLewis wants to make it known “loud and clear” that there will still be vegetarian and vegan options still available.

    As the restaurant takes on a life of its own, Against the Grain’s brewery is growing up. Establishing a second location in Portland, AtG is doing what they said they’d never do, focus on core brands of beer, but as Cruz says, “we’re Against the Grain, so we do whatever we want.” Cruz is quick to say that while AtG is expanding their beer to core branding, they are not settling to lower qualities for those brands. While most microbreweries settle on branding six types of beer, AtG has in mind at least 12 beers they will develop over the course of two years. Among these 12 brews to be canned will be Citra Ass Down, 35K, Brown Note, Kentucky Ryed Chicken, Bo & Luke and Rico Sauvin.

     

        

    The first batch of beer brewed in the new location will be in the form of draft beer and sent out to wholesalers in Kentucky, as well as nationally. The cans will follow suit sometime in early April with Citra Ass Down being the first to find its way onto shelves. According to Cruz the new product will be available in the “finer beer stores”, liquor outlets, and perhaps even grocery aisles.

    With the Portland location, Against the Grain’s original brewery on Main Street is freed up to act as research and development. As they expand, “we have significant plans after we establish Portland to become further involved in the community,” says Cruz. The mission from the beginning, according to Cruz, wasn’t just to have a successful brewery and restaurant; it was also to move the Louisville community in a better direction. As Portland redevelops, Against the Grain has the opportunity to step in and make an impact. “I would say in the coming years, look out, because we aim to make things very nice and reasonable.”

       

      All Photos by Aaron Mikel 

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    Loretta Lynn is the best country music singer of all time and if you don't like pickled foods, you can leave.

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