Tailspin Ale Fest returns with its biggest vending space yet. | Courtesy of New Belgium Brewing

Going into year five, Tailspin Ale Fest once again has become bigger and better. For a festival that for two years now has been named to USA Today’s list of America’s Top 10 beer festivals, there’s no room for standing still.

A massive expansion on the outside of the Louisville Executive Aviation Hanger, where the festival is held every year, will include a 14,000-square-foot heated tent, half again as much exhibitor space as in the hangar itself. That’s a lot of beer, and the full list for next Saturday’s festival is available for the first time at the bottom of this article.

Interestingly, co-founder Tisha Gainey said that only about 45 percent of tickets sales are to locals, making it a regional and national destination that, as Gainey terms it, puts “heads in beds,” contributing to Louisville’s tourism. It’s sort of the Forecastle of beer, if you will.

Tailspin Ale Fest is in its fifth year. | Courtesy of Tailspin Ale Fest

What makes Tailspin such a success? Opinions vary.

Cincinnati-based Rhinegeist Brewery is a sponsor of the festival, and sales representative Omar Eleyan has been involved with the festival all five of its years, including year one as an attendee. He credits Gainey and co-founder Trevor Cravens for the success, but also points to the beer list.

The fact that a high percentage of the beers are special to the festival, hard-to-find releases, new seasonals or reserve batches, attendees walk into Tailspin knowing they’ll be tasting beers they likely can’t get anywhere else.

“That makes the festival more exciting,” Eleyan said.

Brittany Donohue, a representative for New Belgium Brewing, another sponsor, said the fact the festival has raised more than $40,000 over the last four years for Dare to Care is a key reason she wants to remain involved.

“Last year, I worked 13 beer festivals in this state,” she said, “and one of the reasons I go the extra mile for Tailspin is the commitment to Dare to Care Food Bank. One of our core values is to use business as a source for good. That makes me work harder.”

Gainey said that while she works hard to get the most interesting beers for Tailspin, it’s a collaborative effort between breweries, distributors and the festivals to make the beer list offer something for everyone. In other words, they can’t all be rare, barrel-aged imperial stouts.

“In coming up with the beer list, yes, I want all the incredible beers,” she said. “I have the beer geeks coming to Tailspin, but I also like to have some palate cleansers. I have a cream ale this year. It’s a balance.”

Meanwhile, features such as the cider and sour bar will offer options for those who aren’t into the high-gravity beers or heavy hops.

New Belgium Brewing will have a hat press at the festival. | Courtesy of New Belgium

It’s a benefit for both attendees and breweries. While ticket holders get the opportunity to taste from hundreds of beers, the breweries get to offer their beers and swag to a whole new audience.

Sure, the craft beer veterans might already know about most of the breweries at the festival, but out of roughly 4,000 attendees, there will be plenty of new faces.

For reps like Donohue and Eleyan, who spend plenty of time doing small promotional events at bars and liquor stores, a festival the size of Tailspin becomes an enormous opportunity.

“It’s really tough getting face to face with consumers,” Donohue said, and the festival offers five hours of doing just that, nonstop. “Something like Tailspin, I literally can barely move the next day.”

“It’s like speed dating,” added Eleyan.

People come because of the beer, but there’s plenty of other attractions to keep people entertained, from live music (which will be outside this year) to photo ops with pinup girls. This year, Drake’s St. Matthews will sponsor a silent disco.

Rhinegeist will have what amounts to a portable taproom made up of wood blocks that can be positioned in various ways for sitting and conversing while enjoying beers. Six food trucks will be on site, and the Get on the Bus, Gus transport program will operate again this year.

Donohue will be screen-pressing logos onto hats. And there will be a huge New Belgium mural on the “urination station.”

“We’re sponsoring the urinals, yes,” she said. (That’s not an official sponsorship, just making use of open space.)

VIP tickets are sold out, but general admission tickets still remain. There will be no gate sales.

Note: Gainey urges attendees to dress for cold weather, as the hangar doors will be open throughout the event. “Tailgating wardrobe recommended,” she said.

2018 TAILSPIN ALE FEST BEER LIST

3rd Turn – Double Haze Variant – Baltic Porter
3rd Turn – Freak Show Cranberry Sour
3rd Turn – Nasty Momo Rum Barrel Aged Amber
Abita Brewing – Mardi Gra Bock
Abita Brewing – Peach Lager
Ace Ciders – Blood Orange
Ace Ciders – Perry
Against the Grain – London Balling BA Barleywine
Against the Grain 35K
Against the Grain Pile of Face
Akasha – Fehr’s
Akasha Gimili Wild Fermented Stout
Akasha Liquor Barn Collab
Akasha Red Rabbit Wild Fermented IPA
Alltech – Bourbon Barrel Stout
Alltech – Old Fashioned
Alltech – Vanilla Cream Ale
Anderson Valley G & T Sour
Angry Orchard Rose
Angry Orchard Crisp
Apocalypse Bourbon Barrel Braggot
Apocalypse Chai Tea Winter Ale
Apocalypse Cream Ale
Apocalypse Official Tailspin Ale “Gimme S’more”
Argus Ginger Perry Cider
Avery Brewing Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Stout
Avery Brewing Raspberry Sour
Ballast Point – Barrel Aged Victory at Sea
Ballast Point – Sour Wench
Ballast Point – Victory At Sea
Ballast Point – Watermelon Dorado
Barrel Aged Hoptimus
Bearded Iris – Homestyle IPA
Bearded Iris – Off Beat Double IPA
Bell’s Beer – Amber
Bell’s Beer – Hell Hath
Bell’s Beer – Larry’s Latest Sour
Bell’s Beer – Titania
“Blackberry Farm – Cigar City Collab – “”Southern Fellowship”” Dry Hop Belgian Pale”
Blackberry Farm Abbey Rauch
Blackberry Farm Classic Saison
Blake’s El Chavo Mango Habanero
Blake’s Grizzy Pear
Blake’s Wake Fire Cherry and Orange
Blue Stallion Cama Sumatra Coffee Brown
Blue Stallion Patch Kids
Blue Stallion Weissenbock
Boston Beer Co – Sam 76
Boston Beer Co -Cold Snap
Boston Beer Co -NE IPA
Boulevard – Cran Orange Radler
Boulevard – Whiskey Barrel Stout
Boulevard BA Quad
Boulevard Jam Band
Boulevard Kolsch
Boulevard Love Child
Boulevard Tank 7 Saison
Braxton – Rum shovel
Braxton Barrel Aged DC Mole
Braxton Graeter’s Collaboration
Braxton Kiwi Berliner Weisse
Braxton Pear Berliner Weisse
BROOKLYN – Black Chocolate Stout
Brooklyn Bel Air Sour 1/6
BRUERY DFT Passion Frucht
Central State Balder Dark Amber Farmhouse
Central State Brewing Evicted Rustic Blonde
Central State Garden
Ciderboys – Grand Mimosa
Ciderboys – Strawberry Magic
Cidergeist – Bubbles
Cidergiest – Berry Bubbles
Cidergiest – Semi Dry Cider
Country Boy – Blueberry Cider
Country Boy – Heart of Dankness Imperial Black IPA
Country Boy – Legend of Wooley Swamp Imperial Stout
Country Boy – Skullbuster Barrel Aged Quad
Crooked Stave Origins RW Barrel Aged Sour
Crooked Stave Petite Sour Rasp
Dark Horse – Barrel Aged Plead the Fifth
Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree
Dark Horse Raspberry Ale
Dark Horse Tres
Deschutes Black Butte Porter (on a Randal)
Deschutes Fresh Squeezed
Deschutes Pear Bergamont Sour
Dogfish Head – 61 Minute
Dogfish Head – Flesh and Blood IPA
Dogfish Head – SeaQuench
Dogfish Head – Siracurza
Dry Ground – Smoke Shack Smoked Beer with Blueberries
Dry Ground Adam’s Beard Trippel
Dry Ground Kirschoff
DuClaw Sweet Baby Java
DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus
Ethereal – Gose
Ethereal – Coffee Baba Yaga
Ethereal – Sea Salt Baba Yaga
Falls City – Streetlamp Porter
Falls City Hipster Repellant IPA
Falls City Liquor Barn Collaboration – Box Stall Imperial Brown Ale aged in Bourbon Barrels
Falls City Ned Ryerson (Golden Rye)
Falls City Rope a Dope (Imperial Porter Aged in Rye Whiskey Barrels with Vanilla Beans)
Falls City Turning Lane (Brown Ale brewed with Coffee)
Fly Wheel – Decapitated Monkey
Fly Wheel – Hey porter
Founders – All Day IPA
Founders – Azacca
Founders – DKML
Founders -Sumatra Mountain Brow
Goodwood – APA
Goodwood Double IPA
Goodwood Drake’s ale
Goodwood Imperial stout
Gordon Biersch – Barrel Aged Maibock
Gordon Biersch – Czech Pils
Gordon Biersch LAGERS ProAm IPA
Gravely – DIPA
Gravely – Export Stout
Gravely – Pilsner
Great Flood – 37 Coffee Porter
Great Flood – Citra Saison
Great Flood – Toasted Brown
Great Flood – Tribulation
Great Lakes Brewing – Barrel Aged Blackout Stout
Great Lakes Brewing – Conways Irish Ale
Great Lakes Brewing – Holy Moses
Great Lakes Brewing – Rye-o-Rye Can’t I win Rye Brown Ale
Hefeweizen
Hi Wire – Asheville
Hi Wire – Asheville
Hi Wire – Asheville
Highland – IPA
Highland – Mandarina
Highland – Pilsner
Highland – Thunderstruck
Holsopple – Cider
Holsopple – Err’Day Hoppy APA
Holsopple – Hoppy Dark ale
Holsopple IPA
Jolly Pumpkin Roha De Kriek
Lagunitas – French Oak Aged Chocolate Vanilla Fudge Stout
Lagunitas – Gnarlywine
Lagunitas – Willetized Coffee Imperial Stout
Laungitas – Lil Sumpthin Easy
Left Hand – Fade to Black
Left Hand – St. Vrain Trippel
Lemon’s Mill – Mangeros
Lost Coast – Tangerine Wheat
Mad Tree – PsycHOPathy IPA
Mad Tree – Rubus Cacao (Stout with raspberry/dark chocolate)
Mad Tree -Cinq Saison (MadTree 5th Anniversary beer/Saison blended with brett and white wine barrels)
Mile Wide Brewing – BUKU Imperial Stout
Mile Wide Brewing – Catalina Breeze Catalina Ipa
Mile Wide Brewing – Mango Tessie IPA
Mile Wide Brewing – Tessie NE IPA
Mill Creek – Imperial Stout
Mill Creek – Lil Darlin
Mill Creek – Wishing Well Coffee Stout
Mirror Twin – KY
Mirror Twin – KY
Mirror Twin – KY
Moerlein – Doppel Bock
Moerlein OTR Pale Ale
Monnik Basic Bourbon Barrel Baltic Porter
Monnik IPA
Monnik Never be Gold
Monnik Noel Tripel with Lavendar and Ginger
Moonlight Meadery Berry me Alive
Moonlight Meadery Cider – Little Apples
Moonlight Meadery Thirteen 5
Mt. Carmel – Hibiscus Blueberry
Mt. Carmel – Obey – Sour Ale Collaboration Lemon Lime – Urban Artifact
New Albanian Copper and Kings Barrel Aged Frankensteiner
New Albanian Fireside Tales (Eng Barleywine)
New Albanian Tafelbier
New Belgium Brewing – Citradelic
New Belgium Brewing – Fat White
New Belgium Brewing – Honey Orange Tripel
New Belgium Brewing – Juicy Haze IPA
New Belgium Brewing – La Folie
New Belgium Brewing – Sour Saison
New Belgium Brewing – Tartastic Rasp Lime
New Belgium Brewing – Voodoo Red IPA
New Day – Gin Barrel Shelby Blue
New Day – Shelby Blue
New Day – Washington’s Folly
New Day- South Cider
New Holland – Blue Sunday
New Holland – Dragons Milk Blueberry
New Holland – Dragons Milk Chai
New Holland – Poet
New Holland – Xtra Time
New Holland -Tangerine Space Machine
North Coast Brewing – Alt Nouveau
North Coast Brewing – Pranqster
North Coast Brewing – Scrimshaw Pils
Nowhere in Particular – Batch 17 Mango Vanilla Milkshake IPA
“Nowhere in Particular – Batch 18 Imperial Stout with Vanilla, Chocolate and Graham”
Nowhere in Particular – Peachy Pants Berlinerweisse
O’Fallon – Chinook IPA
O’Fallon – Dunkel Down
O’Fallon – Smoked Porter
Ommegang – Fruition
Ommegang – Lovely Dark and Deep
Ommegang – Pale Sour
Ommegang- Brunetta
Oskar Blues – Mama’s Little Yella Pils
Oskar Blues – Pinner
Paducah Beer Werks – Irish Red
Paducah Beer Werks -Pale Ale
Paducah Beer Werks -Porter
Quaff On – Common Necessity Sweet Stout w/ Hazelnut coffee
Quaff On – Hare Trigger IPA w/ Citra and Mosaic
Quaff On – Six Foot Strawberry Blonde
Rhinegeist – Andromeda (Galaxy Hopped Pale Ale)
Rhinegeist Barrel Aged Big Willy Drake’s Collaboration
Rhinegeist Juicy Truth IPA
Rhinegeist Barrel Aged Ink
Rhinegeist Nitro Grandma Oatmeal Stout
Rhinegeist Press Tart
Rhinegeist Truth IPA
Rhinegseist Mushushu
Rogue – Hazelnut Brown
Schlafly – Double Bean Blonde w/Coffee & Chocolate
Schlafly NE IPA
Schlafly Coffee Stout
Shacksbury Cider
Shiner – Ruby Redbird
Shiner Blonde
Shiner Golden
Sierra Nevada – Hazy Little Thing
Sierra Nevada – Narwhal
Sierra Nevada – Pale Ale with Habanero Mole Ole
Sierra Nevada – Southern Pecan
Sierra Nevada – Ten Belgian Quad
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Trip in the Woods Barrel Aged with Ginger
Sierra Nevada Hop Bullet
Southern Tier – Imperial Bluberry Tart
Southern Tier – Raspberry White
Southern Tier – Thick Mint
Stone Brewing – Arrogant Bastard
Stone Brewing Tangerine Express
Sun King Brewing – Bourbon Barrel Aged Timmy
Sun King Brewing – LUPULIN ASTRONAUT
Sun King Brewing – Mango College Ave
Sun King Brewing – SKB IPA
Sun King Brewing – SUNLIGHT
Sun King Brewing – Sympathy for Devil
Sun King Brewing – WEE MAC
Sun King Brewing – Whipfight Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch Chocolate Pecan
Sun King Brewing -PACHANGA
Sun King Brewing -Soul Shake Down
Sweetwater – Going Coastal
Sweetwater 420 pale ale
Sweetwater Grass Monkey
Sweetwater North East IPA
Sweetwater Pit and Pendulum with Cherries
Sweetwater Sinner’s Son BBS coffee
Sweetwater Triple Tail
Taft’s Ale House – Gavel Banger IPA
Taft’s Ale House – Nellie’s Key Lime Lager
Tennessee Brew Works – Basil Ryman
Tennessee Brew Works – Beet Farmhouse
Tennessee Brew Works -1927 IPA
Terrapin – Hopsecutioner
Terrapin -Beyond the Galaxy
Terrapin -Hi-5
Terrapin -Luau Krunkles
Terrapin -Moo Tella
Terrapin -Rasp Choc Wake n Bake
Terrapin -Wake N Bake
Three Floyds Brewing – Lazer Snake
Three Floyds Brewing – Oil of Gladness – Barleywine
Three Floyds Brewing – Zombie Dust
Tin Man – Damascene
Tin Man Barrel Aged Csar
Tin Man Forbidden
Traveler Beer Co. Grapefruit Traveler
Traveler Beer Co. Lucky Traveler
Uinta – Hop Nosh
Uinta – Hop Nosh Grapefruit
Uinta – Park Golden
Upland – Petal to the Kettle
Upland -Juiced in Time
Upland -Peach Lambic
Upland -Wheat
Victory – Winter
Victory – Sour Monkey
West Sixth – Cerveza
West Sixth Blackberry Berlinerweisse
West Sixth IPA
West Sixth Pennyrile
West Sixth Sixfold II Cherry sour aged in angel envy
West Sixth Slap Happy BA Brown
West Sixth Snakes in a Barrel
West Sixth Tall Dark and Barrel Aged
White Squirrel – Kolsch
White Squirrel – Nut Brown Ale
White Squirrel – Roho Grande
Wooden Cask – 7th Street Run Off English Brown
Wooden Cask – Corruption Scottish Stout aged in Buffalo Trace Barrel

*Beer List subject to change

Kevin Gibson covers everything from food to music to beer to bourbon. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono (pissed her off a little, too). 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 co-hosts a local radio show and plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies. Check out his blog, 502Brews.com, or feel free to call him names on Twitter: @kgramone.


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