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Why 2012 is the Year of the Beer, and why West Sixth IPA is Kentucky's best

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The Foreshadowing…

Let’s face it everybody, the apocalypse is already here.

The Pope is tweeting, schools are unsafe, icebergs the size of Manhattan are falling off of the Arctic and …

Beer is now a sophisticated drink.

Put down your gin-and-tonics gents, and grab yourself an IPA, because micro-brew beer drinking was the biggest, yet subtle, trend in Louisville this wonderful year we have to call 2012.

Sorry Bud, Coors, Miller… you just aren’t cool. Take your rice water somewhere else, because Louisville is following suit with many other culturally rich cities, and developing a solid craft beer market.

Brewers from around the city, state, and region have seen success in selling their beer in the Fleur-de-Leis.

Don’t believe me?

Then you don’t remember some of the city’s finest, and most memorable events of the past year. Louisville Brewfest, Highland’s Beerfest, Brew at the Zoo (which sold out), 14 Nights of Oktoberfest, and so on were all tremendous events centered around good tasting beer.

With local music, food and townsfolk there to “soak” it all in, the events became living reflections of our city’s culture, interests and ideal of a fun time together as a community.

Louisville Brewfest was a celebration unlike any other, and symbolic of how Louisville’s social scene is shifting.

People were able to mingle with new faces while sporting their finest fashion, eat pizza from DiOrio’s, savor the best local/regional brews, and get down in one of the city’s biggest landmarks, Slugger Field. After the beerfest was over, everyone spilled over into NuLu, and Garage Bar became the final stop for those wishing to extend a memorable night.

Still not buying it?

Well, you must not have noticed the uprising of local/regional beers in the trendiest of bars, liquor stores and restaurants.

No longer does BBC stand alone as the cliché “local option.”

Consumers and drinkers now have, and can expect viable brew options from Against the Grain, New Albanian, Apocalypse Brew Works, Lore Brewing in Danville, Upland in Bloomington, Ind., Three Floyds in Munster, Ind. and many more, alongside local longtime favorites Cumberland Brewery and Falls City.

If a bar/venue/shop fails to sport some of these beers, they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Okay, now you believe me!

So, Louisville has influx of craft beer to get the party started at events, and to wash down your entrée.

But what beer is the best after all the foreshadowing? What beer has had success at an extraordinary level? What beer should Kentucky send to represent our beer making abilities to a country engulfed in a micro-brew craze?

That’s easy – the state’s king beer this past year was West Sixth IPA. Ain’t no doubt about that!

The King’s Story

West Sixth Brewing Company may not be able to predict the apocalypse like a Mayan King.

In fact, the company can’t predict worth a darn. In speaking with co-owner Brady Barlow, Barlow revealed that the owners were vastly off on their prediction in company growth, and profit.

We planned on doubling our capacity in three years. So when we were able to double our capacity in nine months, and add two new fermentors, we were thrilled.

That’s right. The Lexington based brewing company has doubled its brewing capacity in less than a year. West Sixth IPA went out in kegs and cans last April, and the demand curve has risen faster than a rocket to the moon.

Why?

Simply, it’s all in the taste.

West Sixth is a refreshing IPA, with a blend of flavor, a wonderful color and a pleasing aroma.

It’s like the beer danced with the fruit of the rainforest, then decided to marry off and settle in a nice 12 oz. aluminum can.

It really is to die for.

The main hop in the beer is Citra which, “Gives it that grapefruit taste,” said Brady.

You can surely taste the citrus flavor, but the beer avoids being a “flavored” beer. The beer is tasty, but rich with hops, texture and, well, a serious alcohol percentage.

Plus, look at the design work both on the website, and on the can.

Whoever responsible has one hell of an example for their online resume.

Some beer snobs with vests over their necks may be grumbling, “Me? Drink from a can? Preposterous!”

But grumble not, because the can is all part of the plan.

Why cans?

Mr. Brady laid out the following in order to answer the question:

The three primary reasons for canning our beer are:

  • Beer tastes better out of a can as it completely omits light and removes air.
  • Cans are better for the environment, as they are easier to and less costly to recycle.
  • It is better on the go! You can take it to swimming pools and other places that bar glass.

Better for the beer, better for the planet, better on the go… that’s West Sixth’s motto. While I am not entirely sold on the environmental aspect, I’ll take their word for it and give praise to a catchy three-swing punch that knocks any notion that craft-canned beer is preposterous.

West Sixth Brewing founders Ben, Brady, Joe, and Robin.

Plus, try it out, and tell me it’s not one of the best tasting beers you’ve had.

Ratebeer hosts plenty of positive reactions from fans, and 97/100 overall score.

The company is headed by four long term Lexingtonians: Brady Barlow, Joe Kuosman, Robin Sighter, and Ben Self. Sighter is the brew-master, and responsible for the beer’s ingredients that consist of four hops, once again, Citra being the primary hop.

Barlow told me the company gives 6 percent of revenue back into the community via events, and donations.

There are monthly events at the West Sixth Brewery, which give once again 6 percent of revenue back, and they are reportedly quite the good time.

It’s a company that is thriving, yet, making a conscious effort to help develop, and give back to the community in which they operate.

“We started this company for two reasons: to give back to the community, and to make good beer” A plan made possible via a leap of faith.

“We had to buy 100,000 cans, so it really was a leap of faith,” Barlow said.

The gamble paid off, and with the army of West Sixth IPA cans out and about, it has made finding the beer easier and easier… you can even get it at the Chevron on Barret Ave.

The beers have spread throughout the state, with Northern Kentucky being the Alamo of inadequate micro-brews in the face of oncoming Lexington-made dominance.

It’s only a matter of time before West Sixth spreads farther away from the state. The neon green sleek design and the rich taste will appeal to beach-drinkers in Florida, California, and the Carolinas. The Northwest won’t even know what hit them, if the can, with a solid plan, hits Portland and Seattle.

Once again, it’s only a matter of time.

The company plans to keep on canning while trying out new beers via kegging. West Sixth has brewed an Amber – popular in Lexington – and will soon find it’s way to events, such as many of the Louisville beer fests.

Our local/regional craft beers have fair prices, a better drinking experience, and provide a long-lasting drink that will have you savoring every last drop as you enjoy your company a mist thriving conversation.

Brewing is an art, it’s trendy – it’s a nu-age twist on an old drink that now makes the beer drinker equals with the wine and cocktailers.

Further evidence that 2012 was the year of the beer, and West Sixth IPA is taking home this year’s gold trophy.

Let’s hope we are around for next year’s prize ….

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