Loading in the brewing equipment at BBC St. Matthews, circa fall 1993. Photo courtesy of David Pierce.
Loading in the brewing equipment at BBC St. Matthews, circa fall 1993. Photo courtesy of David Pierce.

Bluegrass Brewing Company in St. Matthews turns 21 on Saturday, Nov. 1, and that night the brewpub is going to party like it’s 1993.

The best part is, with BBC turning 21, it is now old enough to drink one of its own beers. Or something like that.

What it means for everyone else is that pint prices will roll back to opening day at just $2.25 a pint all day. In addition, BBC will release its Anniversary Ale, based on the brewery’s longtime staple Nut Brown Ale.

In addition, a number of menu items from the past will return for a day, including Shark Bites, Jamaica Jerk Pork Brioche, Apple Pizza and possibly even the Jalapeno Poppers.

The original Wort Hog statue will attend BBC's 21st birthday party this Saturday.
The original Wort Hog statue, his head reattached, will attend BBC’s 21st birthday party on Saturday.

There will also be plenty of memorabilia from the past, including old photos, menus, coasters and newsletters. Perhaps the most surprising appearance will be made by the original Wort Hog statue — which, of course, was the original mascot of sorts for BBC’s Wort Hog Club.

The Wort Hog character has long appeared on glasses and T-shirts for members who get special discounts on beer, food and events. The statue has been out of commission for many years but is being partially restored by Wort Hog Wayne Ferguson.

“Poor guy didn’t age well,” said BBC marketing director Kathy Ogburn. “He lost his head and arm over the years.”

There will also be a name-the-beer contest, which is another throwback BBC staple; one such contest took place 14 years ago and was won by Alex Baird, original Wort Hog No. 128. There’s a good chance Baird will be there on Saturday, sipping from his official Wort Hog mug.

The day caps off with music by the Allmanacs, an Allman Brothers tribute band. A $5 cover begins at 9 p.m.

When Bluegrass Brewing Company opened, only 300 microbreweries and brewpubs existed in the United States; today there are more than 2,800, and that number is growing.

Wort Hog and name-the-beer contest winner Alex Baird at BBC, circa 2000.
Wort Hog and name-the-beer contest winner Alex Baird at BBC, circa 2000.

That BBC is the torch-bearer for Louisville is significant — it has maintained its stability and popularity for more than two decades despite a changing brewing landscape.

The loyal customers and Wort Hogs are a big part of that; it has achieved an almost Cheers-like persona, maintaining its familiar atmosphere while St. Matthews has changed so drastically around it. When BBC opened, it was flanked by Bacon’s furniture store, Plehn’s Bakery, Dutch’s Tavern, BW3 and Maier’s Tavern; today, there’s Mellow Mushroom, Molly Malone’s and The Tin Roof.

Regardless of change, expect to see plenty of familiar Wort Hog faces from the past, including Baird and Ferguson, on Saturday.

“It’s great to see such loyal customers,” Ogburn said. “I’m surprised at the number of people still coming who were there for the pre-opening or opening. Everybody’s coming; everybody’s excited about it.”

 

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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]