Sometimes the best creations happen spontaneously. So it was when Brian and Julie Hampton decided to open Floyd County Brewing Company in downtown New Albany.
In 2009, the couple sat in a pub on an Irish shore after getting engaged at the Cliffs of Moher hours earlier, when they decided they wanted to do something special together.
“We went to this really famous pub, Gus’s Pub, it’s ancient,” Brian Hampton recalls. “We basically sat there drinking draft beer and talking about dreams and hopes and all this stuff. We both said we want to start something for ourselves. I talked about how I love craft beer, and she likes the culinary side of things. That’s when the idea was kind of born, and we’ve not stopped talking about it since.”
Nearly seven years later, with the financial aspect now in place, Floyd County Brewing and its Old World theme is about to become a reality. Hampton says a mid-July opening looks doable at the small structure at 129 W. Main St., just across the way from The Exchange Pub & Kitchen and others.
If the planned core six beers are any indication, we’re looking at a theme that will attract beer lovers and nerds alike, not to mention anyone who’s ever worn a corset or cape to a Renaissance festival.
The beers will vary, but the original concepts were to give them names like Nutty Knight Nut Brown Ale, King Louie’s Ville-Nilla Porter, Brewess Blonde Ale and Hoppy Jester IPA, with brand logos for each beer featuring a different character that could have walked right off the set of “Camelot” (or even “Spamalot”).
Meanwhile, the interior of the place is coming together similarly, with a dungeon-esque partition between the taproom and the brewhouse, plus a European pub look and even some original art depicting what appears to be a beer-swilling troll.
“I have it in my head what I want it to look like,” Hampton says. “We’re kind of striving for an environment that sort of feels like you’re walking onto the set of ‘Monty Python (and the Holy Grail).’ I’m trying to find ways to inject humor into the décor and the menu and the little things, which is an interesting approach. When I did market research, I found that not lot of (breweries) use humor in their imagery and whatnot. It seems like a lot of breweries are more serious and in a more industrial setting.”
This theme of “Food, Froth and Follies” will be filled out with a partly Medieval-themed menu that features items like giant turkey legs and fish and chips, along with staples like steak, chicken and fish, plus skewers, plus vegan options as well. Pricing will be competitive with other nearby restaurants in downtown New Albany, Hampton says. There also will be live music at times.
Inside the brewpub, which originally was a house and has been an antique store and other businesses over the years, will have three sitting areas including the taproom — which only adds to the authentic pub feel — and a deck is being built to provide for more seating. The taproom and brewery area was built on to the existing structure, roughly doubling the size, and Hampton notes it will have more of a European beer hall feel, while rooms in the original structure will feel more like a public house.
The brewhouse is interestingly unique in that the mash tun and kettle are made from re-purposed dairy tanks. The system also includes four seven-barrel fermenters and six seven-barrel serving tanks that will chill the finished products inside a massive cooler.
“They’re basically just giant kegs,” says master brewer Josh Hill, formerly of New Albanian Brewing Company.
Hill says he will start out by brewing a Centennial-hopped IPA; a nitro stout (possibly with chocolate and peanut butter); a kolsch, which is a lighter German-style ale; a white pepper pear saison; an amber Belgian wit; and a Belgian brown.
The plan is to have 10 draft lines, usually with four core beer offerings and a couple of seasonal or experimental beers as decided by Hill, as well as a couple of guest drafts. The “flagship” beers will be decided based on popularity.
“I’m hoping our IPA becomes a flagship beer,” Hill says. “But we’re going to kind of let the market dictate. I’m going to brew a bunch of beers and see which ones get the best reception.”
“I want the full color spectrum of beer,” Hampton explains. “Some people look at color. I’m a big stout lover, (Hill) is a big IPA lover. But a lot of entry people are looking for light beers.” (That’s where the kolsch and saison will come in handy.)
The target date for opening originally was July 4, but Hampton believes it will more likely be sometime in mid-July. That said, the brewing system was getting up and running as of the third week in June, so the final build-out and finalizing the kitchen remained among the remaining chores. What awaits, Hampton and his wife hope, is a space that will at least conjure the pub where the plan all started. He envisions a place where people can come to escape.
“I want the whole place to have a lot of creativity,” Hampton says. “And the stars sort of aligned, because there really is kind of a renaissance happening in New Albany.
“We figure the people who are interested in craft beer and coming to place like ours … are looking for an escape. You’re looking to get your day-to-day troubles off your mind, so to speak. There’s humor, there’s relaxing, and having a nice beer and a nice meal, and those are the things we’re trying to incorporate.”