Surrounded by case after case of Falls City Beer, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer proclaimed March 1 as “Falls City Beer Day” in recognition of the brand’s new product line and look. The announcement was made a press conference at the brewery in Portland.
The announcement includes two new immediate releases in Kentucky Common and Easy Goer Session IPA, as well as three other new seasonals that will be sold in bottles and taps: Heather Ale, which will be available in late winter; Harvest Ale, available in the fall; and Red Rye Lager, available near the end of the year. In addition, Falls City representatives introduced redesigned packaging.
Fischer talked of his youth growing up in Louisville when Falls City was still a widely available beer. The original Falls City was founded in 1905 in response to a local monopoly on brewing, but it folded in 1978 following the failed release of Billy Beer. In 2010, it was revived by a local businessman, and last year was sold to a group of investors who also owns Old 502 Winery and Over the 9, a restaurant in the brewery/winery complex at 120 S. 10th St.
Kentucky Common is a beer style that is indigenous to Louisville and was being brewed here by the mid- to late-1800s. A dark, cream beer, it was a cheap and fast beverage to produce and take to market. It also was easy to drink and contained low alcohol, making it a favorite in Louisville’s taverns. It is estimated that about 80 percent of beer-drinking Louisvillians prior to Prohibition drank what became known as “common beer” or “komon beer.”
Fischer called it “a real milestone” that Falls City is rolling out the beer style as part of its core product line, pointing to a craft beer committee he formed two years ago to help promote brewing in Louisville. He noted that one of the key initiatives was to “reconnect Louisville with its distilling roots and its brewing roots.”
Falls City brewer Dylan Greenwood talked briefly about the history of the beer, which is made with similar ingredients used in distilling whiskey.
“We’re happy to bring it back to the masses,” he said. “Not only does it have a good history, but it’s a good beer.”
Easy Goer Session IPA is a lower-alcohol version of a currently popular beer style. Made with Palisades and Citra hops, it is less bitter than most standard IPAs and checks in at just 4.5 percent alcohol by volume.
“At 4.5 percent ABV, you don’t have to feel bad about drinking more than one,” Greenwood said.
These beers join Hipster Repellant IPA, which by comparison is 6.3 percent ABV, and Falls City Pale Ale, which was the first new beer the brand released in 2010. Much of Falls City’s brewing is currently brewed out of state, but the local facility will continue to brew limited monthly releases as part of the Falls City 7-Barrel series. These will be available only on draft at Over the 9, beginning with a Maibock, a malty German-style beer, and another beer style that was historically popular in Louisville.
While versions of Kentucky Common can be found periodically at other area breweries, Falls City CEO Cezary Wlodarczyk believes making it part of the brand’s base product line puts the brewery in “a unique position.” He specifically stated his goal to make the beer available at Churchill Downs and other iconic spots that are uniquely Kentucky.
“Falls City Beer is a brand that is totally connected to Louisville,” Greenwood said, “so not only is this a huge day for the brewery, but for the city as well. You can still see old Falls City signs on buildings around town. With new bottled beers like our Kentucky Common, we’re saluting local history but also producing well-balanced craft beer with the quality and variety beer fans now expect.”
Fischer added, “Falls City is iconic to Louisville, and watching its growth in the last handful of years is very exciting and meaningful to our city’s Renaissance of craft beer and spirits.”