The Louisville Independent Business Alliance has to be happy with the way the city’s – and the state of Kentucky’s – brewing industry is growing. Now in its eight year, LIBA’s annual Louisville Brewfest, set for Friday, Sept. 23, is growing right along with the number of breweries.
This year, the festival will feature 20 different local and regional breweries; last year, Monnik Beer Co. made its first appearance, while this year those who haven’t yet made it to the recently opened Old Louisville Brewery and 3rd Turn Brewing will get a chance to taste a couple of their beers.
Meanwhile, VIP festival attendees will have a chance to taste four beers created especially for this year’s event, from what LIBA is calling its Hometown Beer-oes program. Four local breweries brewed with four local “VIPs” — Mayor Greg Fischer, Forecastle founder J.K. McKnight, Chef Edward Lee, and WFPK DJ and ear X-tacy founder John Timmons.
Falls City Brewing Co. worked with Fischer to create a beer called Louis XVI Imperial Common, which, according to head brewer Dylan Greenwood, is simply its Kentucky Common doubled — twice the malts, twice the hops, which turns into twice the body and character.
At 8.5 percent alcohol by volume, it’s a big, hearty beer, with a surprising flavor profile that features the rye, giving it a spicy finish to balance the sweetness of the corn. The name refers to the 18th century French ruler for whom Louisville is named thanks to his aid during the Revolutionary War.
Asked what Fischer’s role in the brewing process was, Greenwood smiled said, “The mayor likes the Kentucky Common, and he wanted to do something historical to Louisville, so it was an obvious choice.”
Meanwhile, Great Flood Brewing worked with Timmons to create beer X-tacy, a “weird” ale made with passion fruit; Goodwood Brewing and McKnight collaborated on “Capt. McKnight’s Rum-Soaked Chocolate Blonde, a blonde ale aged in a rum barrel with cocoa nibs; and Monnik Beer Company worked with Lee on MW Saison, which is infused with ginger and Kaffir lime.
As for beer X-tacy, Great Flood’s Vince Cain said they collaborated with Timmons to create a beer that would “offer a completely unique experience, just like ear X-tacy offered to the Highlands for so many years.”
Passion fruit seemed to offer that opportunity, and the beer created blends refreshing crispness with plenty of citrusy flavor, Cain said. The brewers even played music for the wort as it began fermenting, Cain confirmed.
All four Beer-oes beers will be tapped at the Brewfest, and then will be available for a limited time at the respective breweries. Will we see more of these beers going forward?
“That’s the plan,” said LIBA director Jennifer Beaird Rubenstein, noting that the program began last year without an official name, with Fischer working with Goodwood on a beer and musician Ben Sollee collaborating with Apocalypse Brew Works. “This year we have four, and we hope to keep growing.”
One of the nice aspects of the Louisville Brewfest that returns this year is its ridiculously cheap $5 admission fee. For those who don’t want to plunk down $40 or more for dozens of or an unlimited number of samples, getting in cheaply and then paying a buck per pour makes plenty of sense. Of course, if you’re in it for the long haul, there are a number of admission packages available.
For instance, $15 gets you a 14-ounce souvenir mug and 10 tickets that are good for food or beverage, while $20 gets you the mug and 15 tickets. For $30, you’ll get a special Brewfest pint glass, plus two extra ounces per pour and 20 tickets. The $50 VIP package gets you access to the Beer-oes brews, a handmade ceramic Brewfest mug, 30 tickets and other special amenities.
Of course, people attend Brewfest for the beer, of which there will be plenty, including beers from highly regarded regional breweries like Dry Ground Brewing from Paducah and Ethereal Brewing from Lexington. Of course, plenty of the local favorites will be there, from Against the Grain to Great Flood, as well as a couple of Indiana breweries in Flat 12 Bierwerks and New Albanian Brewing Co.
For those whose palates prefer something different, there also will be local wines from Horseshoe Bend Vineyard & Winery and Old 502 Winery, along with bourbon from Heaven Hill Distilleries and brandy from Copper & Kings American Brandy Distillery. Food vendors include Joella’s, Buckhead Mountain Grill, Chef Maria’s Greek Deli, Comfy Cow and more.
Hours of the festival, which again will be held on the concourse at Slugger Field, are 4-10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23. Parking is $6, and Haymarket Whiskey Bar will host an after party beginning at 10 p.m. Tickets to Brewfest can be purchased at the gate or online, and advance purchase of VIP packages is encouraged due to limited quantities.