Louisville Slugger Field
Team: Louisville Bats
Affiliate: Cincinnati Reds (AAA)
Ballpark Basics: Downtown ballpark with lots to do.
Ballpark Breakdown: Encompassing remnants of an old train shed into the design of the park, Louisville Slugger Field is almost reminiscent of Minute Maid Park which incorporated parts of historic Union Station into the architecture when it was built in Houston. In Louisville, the train shed serves as the entrance to the park and houses the box office, The Louisville Hall of Fame and Browning’s Brewery. We arrived a good bit before gametime, with the plan to pick up our tickets at will call, and to check out the brewery pregame. We were sent from ticket window to ticket window, and back again — by several ushers who were overwhelemed by the amount of people around, and for the most part unhelpful, and even unfriendly. However, there seem to be large crowds that gather before the game, and we were definitely not the only ones arriving hours early to pick up tickets and participate in pregame festivities. Louisville actually has a bunch of things to do long before the first pitch is thrown, and ballpark employees were even setting up an activity area complete with pitching challenges, and inflatables for the kids.
Once inside the stadium, we set off to explore. With a large concourse that opens up to field you can see the action as you walk around the entire ballpark. The Ohio River and bridges that lead to Indiana lie right behind the park and form a nice backdrop behind the outfield line. To get a view of downtown Louisville you can sit along the first base side or find a spot at one of the picnic tables that dot the concourse. Larger parties can also choose to watch the game from the Overlook Deck behind right field. However, there are a lot of distractions in this part of the park as a large play area complete with a working carousel are housed in this section, and the sun sets behind third base which can definitely be a nuisance during a late afternoon game.
The lower seating bowl is huge but the sightlines are great, and even the upper deck/club section offers a great view of the field. The upper deck and club section is considerably smaller with just a few rows of seats and then the luxury suites. For one more seating options, there is even a small patch of grass behind left-center where you can bring a blanket lay out as you and watch the game; which is a popular trend we have noticed in many of the newer minor league parks.
The bat theme continues with the gift shop named The Bat Cave. While this is a minor league park, the prices (especially in the Bat Cave) are major league. The bat mascot himself made an appearance early on, but was noticeably absent most of the game; even in the kids play area. Granted it was a hot day, but if you’re signing up to be the team mascot, in the south, in the summer, “hot” is kind of in the job description.
One other note, when visiting the area don’t miss the Louisville Slugger Museum. While the museum aspect is not that impressive, the tour of the manufacturing facility is an interesting way to see the production of bats used by current major and minor leaguers, from design and crafting to dying and sealing. Be sure to check the museum website before you go, as the tours are conducted at specific times throughout the day, and never on weekends.
Editors Note: When first published this review, the Bats were – for proximity reasons – paired with Browning’s Brewery. It was the first place to ever earn a “Strikeout!” in our books. Brownings has since closed, and we are happy to have update the post with a place we really enjoyed; BBC.
Bluegrass Brewing Company (a.k.a. BBC)
Brew Basics: A brewery/restaurant with three locations and interesting clientele.
When we first started this blog, we did not realize it would open the door to offers of group sex and hard drugs. Never the less, this is what we found when we ventured to Bluegrass Brewing Company in Louisville. We have to imagine that the “I wear my Tommy Hilfiger sunglasses inside, at night, to show how cool I am and bring my laptop to the bar to show off my Facebook page” friends we met that night, who were very enamored with their much younger girlfriends are not the typical clientele — because we noticed that once these two guys engaged us in (constant) conversation, the bartenders who at first had been friendly, were suddenly absent.
Needless to say, these two livened up an otherwise rainy and boring evening regaling us with ridiculous stories of their awesomeness, and for that, we were (kind of) grateful. We were also grateful to discover that BBC has a lot going for it, and so even after our misadventures at Brownings Brewery, all is not lost in the Louisville brewing scene.
They currently have three locations, once that has opened since our visit right across the street from Yum Center, where the Louisville Cardinals play basketball. The original is also in downtown Louisville, but is closed on Sunday, and of course, that was the day we were in town, so in the spirit of dedicated journalism (and thirstiness) we ventured to their second location in a much more suburban part of Louisville.
When you first walk in there is a host stand/gift shop to your right, and some of the casks on display to your left. There is an offshoot for separate restaurant seating and a dart board or two, but the main part of the room opens onto a central and very large, square bar area that has seating on all sides. Mugs of patrons who have joined their Wort Hog Club cover the top of the bar, and many of the surrounding walls as well. The mugs actually serve as interesting conversation pieces, since the mug clubbers are allowed to decorate theirs as they see fit — so mixed in with your favorite sports team and Harley Davidson stickers, you find some with neon colored kittens, and creepy looking leprechauns.
BBC has a lot of different beers, and some apparently sell out as fast as they offer ‘em up on the menu; which you can find handwritten on chalkboards, along with IBUs and ABVs throughout the restaurant. It’s worth stopping at one of locations if at all possible. But if you can’t, chances are good that you’ll still get the opportunity to try one of their beers — their Bourbon Barrel Stout is aged in Jefferson Reserve barrels, and developing quite a following; we’ve seen it on tap in several bars, even as far east as Richmond — so keep an eye on the guest taps of your favorite local spot.
Jefferson Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout (8.5% ABV) — Lighter brown color than is usually associated with a stout, and the aroma is basically that of bourbon and a hint of chocolate and malt. Pours with a slight ivory head, and has a consistent, roasted taste that gets a slight kick from the booze.
Nut Brown Ale (5% ABV) – The beer pours a reddish brown hue and a head that disappears almost immediately. The nutty scents mix with molasses in the aroma. The flavor first is pronounced with malt but the aftertaste is notably nutty with a hint of maple. *Note* every so often, they brew a Banana Nut Brown — not available when we were there, but definitely a flavor that intrigues, and a brew I’m going to keep an eye out for!
Dark Star Porter (5.6% ABV) – A very dark porter that is almost black, with a head that dissolves off the top, but laces the sides of the glass. This is a very thick beer, which is more carbonated than most porters we have come across, and has a muted malt flavor; what you taste most are chocolate and coffee notes.
Professor Guesser’s Mind Numbing Ale (9% ABV) — Dark, cloudy ale with a solid head that fits in the IPA category of beers. Had a carmel, slightly citrus aroma with another, more earthy undertone that was hard to pin down. Not thick, not thin, not sweet, not bitter, this was an interesting beer that you would like in one sip, and not be so sure about in another.
3929 Shelbyville Road
Louisville, KY 40201