BY KEVIN GIBSON | PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN WATSON
Joe Phillips nearly gushes when he talks about Pints & Union, his forthcoming project that will soon open in downtown New Albany.
As someone who longs for the European-style pub – not the local bar or brewery featuring tap takeovers and weekly craft beer releases – he will find escape within the environs of the new public house. He believes others will too.
It will be a place of reflection and conversation, with twice-weekly beer discussions over pints of Guinness and Fuller’s London Pride with beer director Roger Baylor, other discussion groups, art and more.
“It will be a public house – like, a real one,” Phillips said.
The circa-1880 space certainly will look the part, with exposed brick and wood accents, ornate chandeliers, mix-and-match furniture, and even a vintage pay phone (yes, it works). An upstairs loft will overlook the main bar area, complete with ornate railing. The bar is 30 feet long, while the space totals roughly 2,000 square feet.
Originally a general store known as the Yankee Doodle store, the building was for years a bar called Love’s. The space has been completely gutted and renovated, so it won’t bear a resemblance to its predecessors.
There will be traditional bar and pub-style seating upstairs and down, but there also will be lounge areas, not to mention a fire place, a true staple of a European public house. House music will lean toward British, with themed playlists on weekends. Upstairs, there will be a small library for those who want to simply sit and read. The collection of décor and seating will be organically eclectic.
“I’m spending a ridiculous amount of time at auctions, finding chairs like you’d see at grandma’s house,” Phillips said. “Pub seating should be personal, not impersonal.”
He said the menu will be succinct, with six to nine core items and other rotating specials based on season and availability. As many ingredients as possible will be sourced from the nearby farmers market.
“We want to go down there and grab a handful of stuff, and when it’s gone, it’s gone,” Phillips said. He wouldn’t reveal the core menu but described it as “internationally-inspired street food.”
In fact, Pints & Union will be open on Saturday mornings while the market is open for the stray shopper who wants to step inside for a pint. Sundays will feature a “hangover menu” – “Our version of brunch,” Phillips said – while Wednesdays will feature $10 select bottles of wine and raclette, a Swiss dish made up of seasonal pickles, bread, vegetables and sausages, topped with warmed cheese.
“It’s approachable and no one is doing it,” Phillips said. “You can’t lose. It’s (really) good.”
Baylor’s beer list will feature staples Anchor Porter, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Pilsner Urquell, Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier, Upland Champagne Velvet and Thomas Family Winery cider, as well as the aforementioned Guinness and Fuller’s. Several rotating tap lines will be filled by seasonal craft and import beers. About 20 or so import bottle selections will be available as well, and there will be a full bar for those who prefer an Irish whisky or some other spirit.
When it’s all said and done, Pints & Union will strive for accessibility to anyone who happens to step inside. Not a place to watch the big game, the public house will cater to those who want discussion and education.
Phillips said he expects to do a soft open sometime in mid-June, with a public opening immediately afterward. Hours will be 4 p.m.-midnight Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to whenever on Sunday.
“If it’s banging at 10 (at night) on a Sunday, we’ll stay open,” Phillips said.
Pints & Union is located at 114 E. Market St. in downtown New Albany, not far from the city’s bustling restaurant and bar scene, such as the popular Gospel Bird, Exchange Pub + Kitchen, Hull and High Water and more. But Phillips promises his new establishment will be a different animal.
“We’re just going to do fun stuff, have fun,” Phillips said. “Be Bohemian.”