J.K. McKnight with wife Holly Weyler McKnight and pup XXX
J.K. McKnight with wife Holly Weyler McKnight and pup Dexter

J.K. McKnight is a man of many hats. He’s an activist, entrepreneur, music lover, dreamer, captain, brewer (more on that below), environmentalist and one brave soul who decided to put on a little music festival called Forecastle in 2002. What started as a decent spread in Tyler Park now stretches throughout Waterfront Park, drawing more than 75,000 attendees from all over the world.

This year’s Forecastle Festival takes place July 15-17 and features headliners like Alabama Shakes, the Avett Brothers, Ryan Adams, Brandi Carlile and Death Cab for Cutie.

McKnight tells Insider he’s looking forward to seeing Washed Out, one of his favorite performers of recent years, as well as partaking in an adult beverage or two with friends in the Bourbon Lodge and Gonzo Bar. First up, however, is Thursday’s “90 Days to Forecastle Barrel Roll Out” event at Mellow Mushroom in the Highlands. The evening serves as both a fundraiser for McKnight’s Forecastle Foundation and a meet, greet and drink party with Sierra Nevada brewmaster Steve Dresler.

Sierra Nevada is a top sponsor of Forecastle, and it turns out both entities have similar interests when it comes to sustainable energy. Since Day 1, Forecastle has championed for environmental issues including sustainable energy, recycling programs, etc. The national brewing company also supports similar causes, having recently installed more than 13,000 solar panels at two of its breweries to help power the buildings and use heat recovery systems, microturbine technology and more.

Forecastle“We couldn’t ask for a better beer partner for the festival and foundation than Sierra Nevada,” McKnight says. “Their clean energy goals and environmental aspirations match ours, and we are thrilled to have them back again for the third year.”

McKnight was invited by Sierra Nevada to create a one-of-a-kind beer that’ll be sold at Forecastle, with proceeds being donated to the foundation. His Close Call Kolsch is so named because he accidentally poured two barrels of hops into the kettle too soon, resulting in a more hoppy Kolsch varietal.

At the countdown event — on Thursday, April 21, from 5-10 p.m. — McKnight promises some unique bourbon-barrel selections to sample, as well as the various beers from the Sierra Nevada catalog. But before he toasts Louisville, beer, Forecastle and pizza, the captain answered some very important questions …

What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?

Skydiving.

What poster was on your wall in junior high?

Nautical taxidermy?
Nautical taxidermy?

No posters I can recall (I had an odd-shaped room with a bunch of fish and nautical taxidermy hanging from the ceiling), but there was a quote from Radiohead’s OK Computer I drew up on the wall … obviously feeling rebellious.

If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?

My good friend Jason D’Mello, as I think he epitomizes what young people should aspire to in terms of social entrepreneurship and giving back daily to causes greater than one’s own self-interests. The world needs more of that.

What are your preferred pizza toppings?

Pineapple, mushrooms and tomatoes.

Bryce Dessner awaits his moment in the elevator.
Bryce Dessner awaits his moment in the elevator.

If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?

25 was pretty epic. It’s the last year you think and feel invincible.

What famous person do people say you resemble the most?

Oh wow, I heard quite a few over the years. Let’s see — Jimmy Page, Brian May, Bradley Cooper (hair only), list goes on …

Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?

Hmmm … I hung with Bryce Dessner (The National) three weekends ago at our Big Ears Fest in Tennessee. He’s an interesting dude and could definitely conjure more topics to chat about if we had more time on our hands.

Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville. She's known around town as the Bar Belle and updates her blog (barbelleblog.com) daily. She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."


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