The 2nd Derby City BrewFest will feature 100 beers from 28 local and regional craft brewers. Photo courtesy of Derby City BrewFest.
The second Derby City BrewFest will feature 100 beers from 28 local and regional craft brewers. | Photo by Elliott Carter

Going into its second year, Derby City BrewFest will graduate to the next level — this year, in addition to beer tastings and live music, the Oaks Day festival also will hold a bourbon barrel beer competition.

This competition, which will be judged by certified BJCP judges, will include 20 area brewers who have created a beer and then aged it in Four Roses bourbon barrels. (Four Roses is the sponsor of the contest and this year’s BrewFest.) Beers will be judged prior to the festival, but attendees will be able to sample the beers and vote in a People’s Choice category.

“The bourbon barrel competition seemed to be the next logical step,” Pat Hagan, Derby City Brewfest founder and Bluegrass Brewing Company (BBC) owner, says of the May 6 event. “Few things are more representative of Kentucky than bourbon, and to do it on a weekend when the world is focused on Louisville thanks to horse racing makes it even more logical. We even have Four Roses Bourbon as a sponsor.”

“We are honored to play a role in BrewFest again this year, and we’re really excited to taste the Four Roses Bourbon-inspired beers the brewers create,” said Brent Elliott, Four Roses master distiller, in a press release.

The festival, which takes place on the KFC Yum! Center Plaza, also will pay homage to Kentucky Common, a beer style that was invented in Louisville in the 1800s and was the brew of choice for 80 percent of Louisvillians for decades. Several breweries will have their versions on hand for tasting.

In addition, the event will feature more than 100 beers from 28 local and regional craft brewers, including all Kentucky Guild of Brewers (KGB) members. Wine samples will be available to attendees from Little Kentucky River, and Four Roses will provide bourbon sampling. Once again there will be live local music all evening, including Quiet Hollers, Jericho Woods, Carly Moffa, the Uncommon Houseflies, Hot Brown Smackdown and Whiskey Bent Valley Boys.

A near-finished trophy for the bourbon barrel beer competition. Photo courtesy of Wayne Ferguson.
A near-finished trophy for the bourbon barrel beer competition. | Courtesy of Wayne Ferguson

Another addition to Derby City BrewFest this year will be locally made trophies for bourbon barrel contest winners by local artist Wayne Ferguson, whose work ranges from Gallopalooza to brewery tap handles. Ferguson also designed and sculpted the Worthog mascot for BBC, which is on display at the brewery’s St. Matthews location.

Hagan points out that Derby City BrewFest is one of the more affordable beer festivals in the region, with ticket prices starting at $15 for general admission. Tiered pricing goes as high as $75 for VIP tickets, with the varying levels including different perks — from a souvenir glass to varying numbers of food and drink tickets. For example, the online order special for $20 includes admission as well as $20 in food and drink tickets along with a tasting glass and souvenir lanyard.

Hagan calls it a “party for the people.”

“Not only is Brewfest a great way for people to sample some of the region’s finest craft beers,” Hagan says, “it’s an Oaks night party for the people, where they can relax after a long day of racing, drink some really good beer, listen to great music, and enjoy a laid-back, casual evening.”

For those wanting the full-bodied experience, the VIP package will include access to two VIP areas, 50 drink tickets, indoor and outdoor seating, plus indoor restrooms, with early entry at 4 p.m. (general hours at the festival are 5-11 p.m.). Food in the VIP area will be provided by World of Beer, and there also will be tastings of limited-edition and pre-release beers, wine and spirits.

There is a “Thurby” kick-off party on Thursday, May 5, at BBC Bourbon Barrel Loft, 300 W. Main St., featuring an evening of food, drinks and live music. The party will feature hard-to-find beer, Four Roses bourbon and Little Kentucky River wines, plus a door-prize drawing.

Kevin Gibson

Kevin Gibson

Kevin Gibson tackles the 3Rs — retail, restaurants, real estate — plus, economic development. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono. Check out his books, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft” and “100 Things to do in Louisville Before You Die.” He has won numerous awards for his work but doesn’t know where most of them are now. In his spare time, he plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies.Email Kevin at [email protected]