Almost 18 years ago, Doug Tackett, an Army veteran previously stationed in Germany, decided that because Lexington had no beer he wanted to drink, he would open his own bierstube, or beer bar.
The focus would be imports, not domestic brands or even microbrews. He would make it social, too, with indoor ”sports“ like pool and darts. He would establish a drinking club. (The record holder sampled 300 beers in 17 days, and his name is now memorialized on the ceiling.) In the summer, the patio would be open, and friendly volleyball tournaments would be held on the adjacent sand bar.
Thus, Marikka's, named for Tackett's wife, was born, and since March 1, 1991, it has been committed to offering the largest selection of international beers in the Bluegrass.
You would think that a global niche would lead to snobbery, but nothing could be further from the truth. Although the elite do appear from time to time — the ambassador from Brazil is a regular during the horse sales, for example — the clean but unpretentious interior keeps the attitude casual and laid back. So does a loud backdrop of mostly rock music, courtesy of a jukebox stocked with tunes from the 1960s to the present day, appealing to this diverse crowd ranging from just legal drinking age to senior citizens.
The beer list is enormous, numbering about 500, with some rotation, depending on availability.
”We have six distributors, but we buy lots of cases, not pallets, so some things we just get in small amounts. We drop, add, drop, add,“ Tackett says.
Choices range from the high-end stuff, like a 25.4-ounce bottle of Belgian Diabolique Golden for $12, to everyman's brews like Bud and Miller for less than $3. The local top five fall in between: Stella Artois, Hoegaarden lager, Newcastle Brown Ale, Spaten Lager and Magic Hat from Minnesota.
But Marikka's is not exclusively about beer: It offers a full range of spirits, a modest wine list well-matched to its hearty Teutonic fare, a hard-to-find maize-based schnapps called Doornkaat, as well as limoncello, the lusciously sweet lemon liqueur from southern Italy.
After almost two decades, Lexington's only bierstube is getting remodeled this year, but the process appears to be totally unobtrusive. Everyone seems to be having the same good time they have always had. Frankly, I was amazed, because that kind of work is usually so disruptive.
Tackett just grinned and said, ”We take care of business.“