Louisville’s Best Brewery
Friday Nights at the Brewery
It is a Friday afternoon text–“Are you Turning? Do you know what the food truck is tonight?” –that gets us amped up for our Friday nights at 3rd Turn Brewery, our home away from home. Located in the historic Gaslight Square in Jeffersontown, KY, “the Turn,” as we call it, is where we can all catch up with our best friends (Truly included!) and feel relaxed, happy, and comfortable. Just like the gang at Cheers, it has been our Friday night hang out and tradition since its doors opened on September 17, 2015.
20 Rotating Taps (Half Brewed On-site) –Dog Friendly Inside & Out–Bring Your Own Food–Food Trucks Fridays & Saturdays–Wine, Bourbon & Frozen Drink Selections–Book Events
32 Rotating Taps (Locally & Regionally Brewed)–Dog-Friendly Outside-Backside Grill–Wine, Bourbon & Frozen Drink Selections–Local Meade from Hive & Barrel–Book Event
We recently sat down with co-owner Brian Minrath to learn more about the place we love so much, their history, values, and hopes for the future. Brian told us he has been a home brewer since the age of 20, when he was challenged by his father to make a better beer than the domestics his dad was used to drinking. So Brian bought himself a home brew kit and made his first brew, a nut-brown ale, which he described as awful but his dad loved. From there, Brian started experimenting with batches and has not stopped brewing since.
Brewing was a passion that Brian shared with friends Greg Hayden and brothers Dale and Ben Shinkle, who were all home brewers as well. After dreaming together for some time about opening their own brewery, they decided to bring that dream to life and 3rd Turn was born.
Name, Place, and the Art
As you might guess, the name came from the 3rd Turn at Churchill Downs infield, well known for its party atmosphere. That decision was easy, but finding a location proved to be a bit more challenging. That is, until they settled on Jeffersontown, where the community welcomed them with open arms. They decided to move into the historic old church on Watterson Trail built-in 1878, which had most recently served as a Moose lodge. It had the appearance of a 60s funeral home, with a nine-foot dropped ceiling, boarded up stained glass windows, and nasty thin red carpet over hardwood, and “it smelled,” as Brian put it, “of stale beer, cigarettes, and regret.” But the owners saw the vision for what it could become.
The four worked tirelessly over the next three and a half months, including nights and weekends after their 9-5’s, to convert it into the beautiful work of art it is today. Speaking of art, it is Brian’s daughter, Samantha, who at the age of 14 started filling the place with her talent: she is the artist behind the mural paintings inside and out. She is now a University of Louisville Hite Art Scholar and one talented young lady.
Perfectly Paired Partners
The four partners could not be more perfectly paired, as they all bring their own talents to the table. Brian is the man behind the curtain with all the social media and PR, as well as designer of their awesome swag, Dale is the bookkeeper and numbers man. Greg is the general manager of the entire operation, though both locations have their own general manager. Ben is the craftsman behind the beautiful furniture and construction and the creative genius behind the brews. Although they have carved out their niche roles, they have all contributed to the brains, brawn, and talent behind 3rd Turn’s success.
All About the Beer at the Brewery
Head brewer, Mike Burress, works closely with Ben. “Mike is fantastic,” Brian says. He has an amazing attention to detail, which you must have to be a brewer because, as Brian notes, “Brewing is 10% brewing and 90% cleaning and sterilizing.” Mike, Ben, and the team brew some of the best beers we have ever tasted, including the Big Ass Amber. Brian told us the origin of that beer was an accident: when they first started making beer, their brewer at the time misread the recipe for a wee heavy brew. The brewer said, “Gosh, I screwed this up and now it’s nothing but a big ass amber.” They thought it tasted all right though, so instead of pouring the batch down the drain, they decided to sell it and it became a hugely popular beer.
Speaking of their beer, their number one bestseller is the Space Grass IPA, one of our favorites as well. It is a soft and flavorful IPA with a massive amount of oats. It has a mild bitterness and slightly grassy, zesty, and citrus note on the nose. One of our other favorites at the brewery is the Pineapple Monkey, a seasonal variation on the Turn’s base beer release, the Monkey IPA, plus a hint of pineapple. The mosaic hops bring notes of citrus, stone fruit, and a tropical flavor medley to the palate. This is a smooth, easy-to-drink IPA that pairs well with any type of spicy food. They also serve wine and have a delicious selection of frozen slushies like their Hurricane, Bourbon Pineapple, and White Russian. Our favorite is the Bourbon Pineapple, though honestly, it is hard to choose between the three because they are all so yummy!
In 2017, the partners decided to branch outside of Jeffersontown, opening the 3rd Turn Brewery Oldham Gardens in Crestwood. The space was previously home to a plant nursery and has 11 greenhouses on the property. One of the greenhouses has been transformed into a beautiful beer garden covered in a canopy of gorgeous wisteria. They have a stage for live music and have created an idyllic space for weddings and events. It is also home to the Backside Grill, offering delicious sandwiches, tacos, and snacks. Oldham Gardens itself is a whole new blog for us down the road, so stay tuned!
Welcome to Next Door Bourbon Bar
In 2019, the team decided to expand their operations from beer and boozy slushies, opening a bourbon bar next door in a building formerly home to the Jeffersonian Newspaper. Fittingly, called Next Door, the bar has a cool vibe and a nice intimate space. Although they do not make their own bourbon, Next Door has 300 bourbons in-house and offers a flight night every Thursday, which often includes some rare finds, like Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace Kosher, and Weller Full Proof. They make an amazing Old Fashioned and a Manhattan made with Old Forester Rye. They are currently looking to hire a talented mixologist to create more delicious creations, so if you know of any talent out there send them Brian’s way.
The Social Room
They also have a third building adjacent to Next Door called the Social Room. Brian compared it to Sergio’s World Beers in historic Butchertown, which is a shop/bar business model. It has eight taps and offers a place for other regional breweries, like Against the Grain and West Sixth, to showcase their beers. The Social Room also boasts a rare, hard-to-find collection of beer that the partners have been collecting over the past few years. “These are beers that people cannot find anywhere, like Cantillon and Tre Fontane–high-end beers that age really well and will be offered for sale,” Brian says.
Brian explained that there is almost always one owner on-site at their various locations, spending time talking to people, answering their questions, or listening to their ideas. “We work to build relationships,” he says. That extends to collaborating with other local breweries, working together to help build the brewery community. In fact, Brian told us, they would love to see more new businesses, including bars and breweries, come to Jeffersontown. Watching Brian get excited about J-Town’s growth and success only compounds our love for this place.
Delicious Food Trucks
That sense of supporting fellow businesses can also be seen in the array of amazing food trucks that come on Fridays and Saturdays to feed the masses. Their most popular food trucks, although they are all delicious, are the Traveling Kitchen, Louisville Sushi Truck, and Hot Buns. The Traveling Kitchen is our personal favorite: it is the ultimate street food on wheels. We cannot get enough of their dumplings, which you can get pan or deep-fried. They are delicious!
Four Legged Friends at the Brewery
Everyone at the Turn feels welcome, including their four-legged friends. Our Truly girl always makes friends with the adorable dogs that visit the Turn. Their greetings usually lead to a conversation with their Mom or Dad, where we often learn how they were adopted or rescued. Meeting other dog lovers makes us feel like we are with our kind of people. The partners have also worked to build relationships with several local animal advocates and rescues. They often host organizations like the Arrow Fund, Mispits and Friends, and My Dog Eats First, bringing in founder and director Bethany Buster to educate and recruit volunteers.
Like a Good Neighbor
At a recent event in May, the Turn hosted new-to-town State Farm agent Derek Carlton, who partnered with the Kentucky Humane Society as part of State Farm’s “Do Good Things” initiative. Not only did they donate $10 to KHS for every quote given, but Derek also brought in Community Relations Manager Frank Hanlon to spotlight two boxer mix puppies up for adoption, Taj and Trooper. As the State Farm jingle goes, 3rd Turn Brewery is “like a good neighbor.”
See You at The Turn
The team at 3rd Turn Brewery is incredible and their wheels are constantly “turning” (pun intended) as to what may come next for their business, so we are excited to see where their wheels stop next. We invite you to grab a slushie, bourbon or a beer, enjoy the warm sun on their patio, and join our gang at the Turn, where you’re sure to meet some new two- and four-legged friends. You’ll quickly learn why it’s our home away from home, and we challenge you not to feel the same way. Come out and support this amazing brewery that supports so many others and tell them the Bluegrass Travelers sent you!