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Brand new Clifton brewery finds success opening amid pandemic

Its 48 seat taproom has to stay empty for now, but the taps sure aren't as the Gallant Fox brewers embrace the new normal.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Businesses of all kinds have had to find ways to manage during this time, with some closing their doors entirely. But one business in the Clifton neighborhood has had a rather unusual opening, welcoming customers in for carryout for the first time ever. 

 About a week after opening on April 30, there was a constant stream of people walking into Gallant Fox Brewery Thursday afternoon to pick up beer to-go. 

"For us, it's part of our story now," Owner Roger Huff said. 

Huff said he and co-owner, Patrick Workman, have been building out their space at 2132 Frankfort Ave. for over a year and a half now and were prepared to open their doors Mid-May. 

"When COVID hit, we scaled back production a little bit because we didn't want to be ready to go with a lot of beer and no way to sell that beer," Huff said.

After lots of discussions, Huff said the two decided not to wait and instead a choice to open this Derby week. 

"We thought what better week to open our doors to the public," Huff said. 

It's only fitting for a brewery named after a 1930 Triple Crown winner. Both Huff and Workman are native to Louisville and wanted to ensure their brand would be connected to Kentucky. 

"We thought what better way than to align our self with a Triple Crown winner? Gallant Fox was the second Triple Crown winner but he was the first Triple Crown winner they called a Triple Crown winner." Huff said.

The co-owners are new entrepreneurs, so they knew it would be a gamble opening amid a pandemic. 

"We have had a fair number of people ask us like why are doing this now? Don't you think you should wait?" Huff said. "We don't know how long this is going to go on. We had beer ready. We were ready to open our doors and we just kind of decided to approach it head-on, you know?"

It could've been a lost bet, but it paid off like they wouldn't have imagined. Selling out within the first four hours of its opening day last week and going on to sell to about 500 people its first weekend. 

"It was crazy, we still did our social distancing," Huff said. 

Its 48 seat taproom has to stay empty for now, but the taps sure aren't as the Gallant Fox brewers embrace the new normal. 

"We don't know what normal is for other breweries and taprooms," Huff said. "Normal for us is wearing PPE 100% of the time and having X's on the floor and social distancing."

As a nano-brewery with only four barrels, Huff plans to mix up the brews regularly. They have 20 taps, half of which will feature other Kentucky beers, while half will be their own brews. The goal, he said, is to cater their beers to what customers want. 

"What beers they love, what beers we should brew again, what beers we should try to brew next," he said. "We have the benefit of being smaller. We have the benefit of not doing distribution whatsoever, so all of the beer we sell will only be sold inside this taproom."

Huff said they have the space to expand, should the demand ever be there. But, for now, they are just looking forward to welcoming customers in for a pint when they can fully open. 

"It'll be wonderful for us when we're able to have people crowding around our bar, this place is alive with people sitting and drinking pints the way they're meant to," Huff said. 

Gallant Fox plans to have a grand re-opening once they can officially open their doors. They plan to be open Wednesday through Sunday. 

"This city means so much to us and the love that they've shown us has been humbling and has just meant the world," Huff said. 

Until then, they are open for to-go beer, or curbside pick-up. 

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