Three years ago, the space at 625 W. Magnolia was little more than a shell. Wade Mattingly was gutting the place in preparation to fulfill his dream of opening a brewery.
This week, Old Louisville Brewery will celebrate its forthcoming first birthday in the former grocery store, a landmark that officially takes place this weekend. On the docket are several special events and beer releases.
“I can remember this time last year,” Mattingly says. “I remember getting ready to open, not knowing what to expect.”
He doesn’t exactly know what to expect during this week’s activities, either, but he’s better prepared this time around. The celebration began with a viewing of the “Game of Thrones” season premiere on Sunday night, followed by “first-responders” night on Monday, with special beer prices for emergency workers, along with the kickoff of summer Monday hours and food from The Celtic Pig.
On Wednesday, July 19, it’s Old Louisville trivia, which includes a walking scavenger hunt. On Thursday, the brewery will bring back Old Mutt, a brown ale that will be available in several flavored versions.
Proceeds from all sales of the beer, and all tips, will benefit Fat Heads Dog Rescue.
On Friday, Old Lou Brew will unveil its first can releases, with a bourbon barrel Russian imperial stout and a wine barrel-aged blond.
The cans will be a limited run, available only at the brewery, thanks to a small Oktober can seamer Mattingly recently purchased that essentially is sort of a mini-crowler system. Cans will be labeled with stickers by hand.
The stout is a medium-bodied beer that is deceptively drinkable for an imperial that measures 8 percent alcohol by volume. Meanwhile, the blond is a unique, lightly tart beer that only hints at the red wine that once resided in the French barrel.
Mattingly also said part of the one-year birthday bash will involve him leaving his day job in contracting to manage the brewery full time.
“It’s what I want to do,” he says. “I can’t grow this the way I want to just doing it part time.”
Essentially, he says, if he continues to treat the brewery as a hobby, that’s as far as it will ever get. He and co-owner/brother Ken, who also is head brewer, have been brewing in higher volume for distribution, and Wade says he will begin to take on more of the brewing duties to step up production further.
“I don’t feel like we’re half-assing anything, but I don’t feel like we’re showing our full potential,” Mattingly says.
Plans include a larger-scale barrel-aging program as well as a barrel-souring program. The plan also is to work harder to maintain consistency from brew to brew, as well as doing more experimental beers.
“Now, we’re going to really be able to focus on everything we’re doing,” he adds, noting his original vision was to be a brewery that is active with events, collaborations and beer releases. Balancing both jobs, he says, has made that difficult.
“We want to re-release who we are,” Mattingly says, adding that more local partnerships and charity collaborations also are in the plans.
He laughs and says, “Probably by Thursday, I’m going to regret it.”
He also says further canning is in his plans, hinting that cans of Brown Mutt may be available on Thursday.
And while it is a one-year celebration, Mattingly notes he and Ken have been working on the brewery for three-and-a-half years. This milestone is just another — albeit notable — step along the way. In Mattingly’s mind, he’s been working on it for a lot longer.
“Everything is going too fast,” he says. “I kind of want things to slow down, because it’s going so fast.”