A limited run of Fehr’s XL six-packs will be available Sunday at Akasha Brewing. | Photo by Tom Guy

Alert your grandparents: Fehr’s XL, a Louisville beer brand that dates back to the 1870s, will soon be available in cans for the first time since 1964.

The can release happens Sunday, April 7, at Akasha Brewing Company.

The release commemorates not only the second year since the beer has been available to the public on draft at the brewery, but also the 175th birthday of Frank Fehr (March 31), a German immigrant who originally started the brewery on Green Street (now Liberty) downtown.

The brewery became one of the city’s largest, while the flagship Fehr’s XL was one of the more popular beers in the city and around the region, particularly after Prohibition. The brewery finally closed in 1964. The beer was brewed and canned in Cincinnati for a short time afterward, but its popularity never revived.

Fehr’s XL has been available on draft since 2017. It hasn’t been canned in Louisville since 1964. | Photo by Tom Guy

Jeff Faith now owns the Fehr’s brand and brought the beer back to life with the help of a brewer’s guide dating to the early 1900s. The modern version of Fehr’s XL, Faith believes, is quite similar to what people in Louisville were drinking in the first half of the 1900s.

The 5.1 percent ABV lager is a golden color with a crisp, clean body and flavor, and a subtle bitterness on the finish.

Faith was part of a four-person assembly line that filled, sealed and packaged the cans by hand this week.

“It’s exciting,” Faith tells Insider. “I was literally rinsing and wiping off cans, and it was exciting. I joked that we were one step closer to being available in bowling alleys.”

Six-packs of Fehr’s will be available in limited quantities, at least to begin with. Faith says a barrel and a half of beer was earmarked for canning, and that made 444 beers or 74 six-packs that will be for sale for carryout at a price of $10.99 at the event.

Future batches will be canned, but Faith calls the process “a very manual endeavor” that took the team of four nearly five hours to complete. Each can had to be filled and individually weighed before being sealed, then collected into six-packs.

The can design was done by local designer Brian Diehl and closely resembles classic Fehr’s XL cans, while a short history of the beer appears on the back of the cans. Faith purchased 3,500 cans and 5,000 labels, ensuring future six-packs will be released.

But, Faith says, the popularity of the beer on draft at Akasha and other spots around the city means more beer must be reserved for draft sales.

Vintage Fehr’s memorabilia will be on display at the release event, and merchandise such as T-shirts, caps, patches and temporary tattoos will be for sale. The first 50 people to buy a six-pack of Fehr’s also will receive a free sticker.

“I think it’s cool that they exist again,” Faith says, while looking over a freshly canned Fehr’s beer. “I think it’s just a cool flashback.”

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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]