As someone that loves buying records, eating food and drinking beer, living in Louisville continues to present me with the best kind of problem — so many worthy options! This is increasingly the case throughout the Derby City’s brewing community where over the last decade or so we’ve witnessed a slew of micro and nano-breweries materialize in neighborhoods all across the city.
Since opening in 2016, Mile Wide brewing has quickly become a cornerstone of Louisville’s brewing scene. In short order, they’ve made a name for themselves as purveyors of excellent beers, not only served at their tap house (636 Barret Ave), but also their canned offerings which are on sale at an array of liquor/beer stores across the region (I typically pick up a 4-pack of Idlewilde at Evergreen Liquors in Middletown on my way home from work).
During a recent visit to Mile Wide’s taproom, my curiosity was piqued as I tried beer after beer, all of them a god damned drinkable work of art. The next day, I reached out to cofounder Scott Shreffler for an interview to get a better handle on what this place is about and to pick his brain about where they fit into the city’s burgeoning brewing community. Thankfully, he obliged…
Never Nervous: How does Mile Wide fit in with the rest of Louisville’s booming microbrewing community? What sets you apart from the pack?
Scott Shreffler: I think the quality of beer being brewed in Louisville is higher than its ever been before. So, to that point, we offer consumers yet another high quality brewery for them to support. Our approach to IPAs is one thing that I think sets us apart. Instead of brewing one West Coast IPA, we brew a whole series of them where the hops rotate and the names change (almost) every time we brew them. The same holds true for our Northeast IPA series. This means that the majority of our hoppy offerings are always rotating. So, you can come to the Taproom every few weeks and you’ll likely find a few different IPAs on draft.
NN: From your vantage point, what do you see as being the latest beer trends, and how do you feel about them?
SS: The biggest trend to hit craft beer in a very long time is the Northeast/New England/Hazy IPA (whatever you choose to call it). They tend to be low in bitterness, so people who don’t normally like IPAs seem to like the style. And, they’re brewed with such an excessive amount of hops that they can satisfy even the most devout hophead. We’re fans of them at Mile Wide, and brew a wide range of beers in the style. We were the first brewery in the state to release a NEIPA, when we released Tessie a few days after our Grand Opening in December of 2016. And they’ve remained some of our most popular beers.
“You can come to the Taproom every few weeks and you’ll likely find a few different IPAs on draft.”
NN: I feel like a lot of beer enthusiasts enjoy a clever name with an interesting backstory. How much thought goes into the actual naming of your beers?
SS: There’s quite a bit of thought (and sometimes argument) that goes into them. We’re pretty big pop culture fans, so a lot of our names come from some of our favorite movies and TV shows. For instance, most of our West Coast IPAs have been references to Arrested Development (Motherboy, The Gothic Castle & Army Had a Half Day). There are Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Wayne’s World, Dazed & Confused and Saved by the Bell references in our beer names as well, amongst many others.
NN: Adding to that, where does the name “Mile Wide” come from?
SS: The Ohio river is a mile wide, just West of downtown Louisville. We wanted a name that tied us to Louisville, but wasn’t overtly rooted here. So, we wanted to avoid horses, boxing, bourbon, etc. The name also gives a sense of openness, of possibilities. We think name mirrors our desire to explore and experiment with the beer that we brew.
NN: What have been your most successful beer experiments?
SS: For our Hops on the Hill festival last year, we brewed a Sour/Hazy IPA with our BFFs from Against the Grain & Monnik, called “So Hot Right Now”. That beer was funky and a little bit weird, but it was also super awesome. It was the perfect beer for day drinking in the hot August sun.
NN: On the flip side, have there been any experiments that you loved but didn’t click with your customers for whatever reason?
SS: I don’t know about experiments, but there have been surely been beers we’ve brewed that I wish had caught on a bit more with the general public. We brewed a collaboration dry-hopped Saison with our buddies from Perennial Artisan Ales in St Louis, called “…And Don’t Forget Handsome”. It was a fantastic beer, but never quite found the audience that I think it should have. But, we’re going to keep trying. We just released another dry-hopped Saison called Chair Lift, and it already seems to be catching on a bit more than Handsome.
NN: Of all of your current staples, which beer is your personal favorite?
SS: Idlewild, our Session IPA, is, and probably always will be, my favorite year-round beer we brew. Its as hoppy as any standard IPA I’ve had, but the clean malt bill and 5% ABV make it insanely crushable. A close second would be Brabble, our new Blonde Ale. The yeast strain we use contributes some nice fruitiness, giving it a bit more depth and complexity than your standard Blonde Ales.
“Idlewild, our Session IPA, is, and probably always will be, my favorite year-round beer we brew.”
NN: I know you sell a few canned beers around town, but how far does your distrubution reach? And how many retail beers are currently available?
SS: We sell our beer throughout the state of Kentucky. Our core, year-round beers (Brabble Blonde Ale, Idlewild Session IPA & McPoyle Milk Stout) are available throughout the entire state. However, our special release cans are only available in Louisville, for the most part.
NN: Would Mile Wide ever consider hosting live music? Or have you already and we just missed it?
SS: We do already! We usually host 2-3 live music events throughout the month at our Taproom. Keep an eye out on our social media for dates and artists!
NN: If Mile Wide beer could give people one super power, what would it be and why?
SS: Hmm, that’s a good question. I’d love for our beer to give people the ability to control time. That way the good times can last forever, and the bad times can be over in an instant.
NN: If Luke Skywalker were to walk into Mile Wide and ask for a beer recommendation, what would you suggest? And why?
SS: Well, it depends on which Luke Skywalker we’re talking about. If its whiny Luke from A New Hope, I’d probably suggest Brabble. Anything else and I feel like he’d complain that it was too hoppy, or too heavy, or too much of whatever. But, if we’re talking about Jedi Master Luke from The Last Jedi, I feel like he’d want something much more complex. So, I’d probably suggest Barrel Aged Buku, our yet-to-be-released BA American Imperial Stout. If the universe is all a balance of the light and dark, Buku is big and dark enough to keep Luke squarely in the light.
NN: But what if all four of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles walked in to Mile Wide? What would you recommend each of them?
SS: Umm, they’re teenagers, so it’d be irresponsible of us to recommend that they drink ANY beer. Plus, it’d be illegal for us to even serve them! Are you trying to get us in trouble with the state ABC?!?! But seriously, I’d suggest Chair Lift Dry-Hopped Saison. Belgian-style beer and Pizza are a match made in Heaven.
NN: Before you go, if you were to recommend a local brewery to a friend from out of town that’s NOT called Mile Wide, where would you send them?
SS: That’s a tough question, with so many great breweries opening up here in Louisville. But, if I have to recommend one, I’d probably go with one that flies a bit under the radar, Holsopple Brewing in Lyndon. They’re making a wide range of beers, and are crushing them all. Their core Holsopple IPA is super tasty, and its a beer I’d like to drink a lot more of. Their Taproom is big, but also very cozy. And best of all, the people are absolutely top notch.