One way to get around drinking age restrictions: brew your own beer. At least, that’s the (fairly genius) method 2014 Rising Star Brewer Sam Cruz came up with at the ripe young age of 17, when he realized he’d like to start drinking beer but his country didn’t (yet) agree with him. Unfortunately for Cruz, his ability to innovate outpaced his talent for it, so the results were less than a budding beer geek’s dream come true.
Fortunately for Cruz, and now beer geeks everywhere, he didn’t give up. In fact, once he made it to college, he got much more officially, and legally, into the consumption of quality beers. An Indiana native, Cruz attended Indiana University, studying political science—a pursuit that never quite overtook his ongoing passion for brewing. Cruz kept his beery savvy in tandem with his academics, continuing to hobby brew and doing keg washing for a Bloomington brewer, all the while.
An “official” job followed Cruz’s graduation, not to mention a pivotal move to Kentucky. But exposed to higher tiers of beer, he knew it wouldn’t be long before he was pursuing his real passion, and turning that old hobby into a profession. Like many brewers getting into the professional game, Cruz worked his way up the brewery ranks before eventually opening his own brewery with some brewer-partners—and that’s how Against the Grain was born. A brewery restaurant, ATG prides itself not only on its brewer’s perspective (it’s one of just a few brewer-owned breweries in Louisville), it actually never reproduces the same beer twice, but instead replaces beers within larger categories (think “Hops,” “Dark,” “Smoke,” etc.). Meaning beer geeks and beer amateurs alike—over 21—can sample the constantly evolving roster of Cruz’s creativity.