INTERVIEW: Michael Gillooly talks about Stout Fest ’18, The Irish Rover & Warwick Davis!

Of the many reputable restaurants and pubs in Louisville, I’m pretty sure I’ve spent the majority of my time at The Irish Rover, which I can say with confidence has become more than a place to get a plate of food and a beer — it’s a Louisville institution that has been in business now for a quarter century. With their quality Irish fare and remarkable selection of brews and whiskeys, every day is a good day to plan your next visit.

To celebrate their 25th year, the restaurant is hosting Stout Fest which is set to happen this Sunday, November 4th lasting from 3PM to 8PM. The fest will feature twelve taps (all stouts), a limited beer-centric menu, as well as live traditional Irish music from open to close. Get more info on the event here.

To get a better handle on this celebratory event, I reached out to organizer Michael Gillooly to see if he’d be down to answer a few questions. If you’ve ever had a meal or a pint at The Rover, I’m sure you’ve interacted with Michael who over the last decade has become an integral part of what makes every visit such a good time. Thankfully, he agreed to discuss Stout Fest, the Irish Rover, and Warwick Davis’s Leprechaun…

Never Nervous: What exactly is Stout Fest, and how long has this been a thing?
Michael Gillooly: This is our 8th annual Stout Fest and it was originally conceived as a way to celebrate The Irish Rover’s anniversary. We try to bring together a diverse list of stouts each year — sometimes more international, other times more local. Availability and variety play a large role in the selection process. This year’s event is more significant as it kicks off a week of celebration designed to commemorate The Rover’s 25th year of existence. 
NN: Was there something particular that motivated you to start this beer fest or do you just really, really like stouts?
MG: Ha ha — honestly, our original motivation may have been more self serving than anything else… we love stouts, plain and simple. Guinness is the foundation of our tap list, and it always will be. It’s a damn fine stout and we pour the best in town. But it’s not the only example of the craft.

“This year’s event is more significant as it kicks off a week of celebration designed to commemorate The Rover’s 25th year of existence.”

NN: What went into the decision making process on which stouts to have on hand, and how diverse is your lineup?
MG: Every year is different. You know, the main idea this time is to celebrate our local community for supporting us for all of these years. That was on my mind for sure this year. That being said, I tried to incorporate a few more local breweries this time around. A fourth of the beers were born right here in Kentucky. As for the other eight, I hate to say the bigger the better, but that does play a role. I pour through reviews of each stout we put on and try to create a well recorded example of the craft. Can we really go over the top when it comes to putting together a list of amazing dark awesomeness?? We don’t think so. 
NN: How will the stouts be served, and how big of a price differential will their be?
MG: All stouts will be offered in 3 ounce pours. That’s the name of the game, plain and simple. You kind of drink through your self designed flight. We also offer large pours on every handle, but our past experiences have told us the fun is in the samples.
NN: Will the food menu be the same? Will there be any specials?
MG: The menu is hand selected by our chef to be a “stout-centric” list of our favorite items. We’ve got some big beers on so we need ya to eat! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered on beef stew, fish and chips, bangers and mash, etc. It’s a perfect menu for the event.
NN: What on the Irish Menu menu goes best with a glorious glass of stout beer? I’m thinking the cottage pie.
MG: Man, you’ve been in here enough to know the cottage pie is a great primer for an imperial stout. I think you answered your own question!
NN: Is there one particular stout that your especially excited to sip on?
MG: Christ, that’s a tough one. I’ve been building this year’s list for just under a year now. In my mind they’re like the ’27 Yankees! Putting me on the spot, at this very moment I’m excited to sample Avery Brewing Company‘s Raspberry Truffale. What can I say, I’m feeling decadent at the moment, and it is bound to be an unreal beverage.

“I’ve been building this year’s list for just under a year now. In my mind they’re like the ’27 Yankees!”

NN: Which stout would Warwick Davis’s Leprechaun character drink?
MG: Guinness, hands down. Sorry to be boring but I’ve learned over the past 10+ years that if you’re from Ireland and you like stouts, as the saying goes — “Guinness is good”. But… for a fact he’d be back on Tuesday and Thursday of next week for our whiskey flight nights.
NN: What kind of live music will you have on hand? And will the music be played from open to close?
MG: Traditional Irish music all day — We’ve got a great group of folks who know how to get down joining us for the music. They will take a break for the occasional pint of the black stuff, but I suppose we can forgive them for that.