Move over bourbon and wine – serious beer is here

Lexington, KY – The Bluegrass is blessed with a wealth of wonderful events and festivals – particularly those focused on bourbon and wine. These events help underscore the region’s rich food and beverage cultural heritage. They also help define the region as a tourist destination with diverse attractions.

A new event is about to be launched that has the potential to be another noteworthy annual event for both locals and visitors to enjoy. On May 16, the first annual Lexington Craft Beer Festival will be held at The Red Mile from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. This event is presented by The Red Mile and the Brewers of Central Kentucky Homebrew Club. Attendees will be able to sample well over 100 craft beers from commercial breweries. There will be music by G. Busy and the Blues Review and great barbecue, jambalaya and roast pig by Bayou Bluegrass Catering. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to local charities ReRun Inc. and the Kentucky Equine Humane Center. The festival will be held rain or shine and can be moved indoors in case of inclement weather.

In conjunction with this event there will also be The Bluegrass Cup Homebrew Competition organized by the Brewers Of Central Kentucky, or BOCK ( Recently I had the pleasure of attending one of their meetings as they planned for this event and discovered a widely diverse group of very talented people who share the common bond of a passion for excellent beer, including brewing processes, recipes, food pairings for beer and other information. The organization’s genesis was in 1994 when a small group came together to create a home-brew beer making club. These brewing enthusiasts are true Zymurgists who use a scientific application of fermentation for making beer. The craft to making beer is part science and part creative art, in the culinary sense; some of their beer variations were quite intriguing. Their members have won many awards over the years. The president of the group is Chris Vandergrift. As an example of how serious the competition at this event will be, they plan to have at least one BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judge in each flight of the competition. The purpose of the Beer Judge Certification Program is to promote beer literacy, the appreciation of real beer, and to recognize beer tasting and evaluation skills. This is a worldwide program with various rankings of expertise. The Brewers Of Central Kentucky have 15 members who are BJCP certified.

Craft beer is beer made in limited production and using traditional processes. Generally these beers have a more complex taste and quality than typical light American lagers produced for mass consumption. In recent years, it is the craft beer segment that has been driving beer industry growth in the United States. In 2008, the craft brewing industry produced nearly 8.6 million barrels of craft beer in the United States. There are various segments within the craft brewing industry, and the fastest growing segment continues to be microbreweries, which is an indication of consumer support of local breweries. One local craft beer that will be represented will be Kentucky Ale ( owned by Alltech’s Lexington Brewing Company. According to Matt Cordle, brewery representative for Kentucky Ale, “As a local brewery, we take every opportunity to embrace the local home brewers. If it wasn’t for home brewers, the Craft Beer movement would never have gotten to where it is today. Craft beers are the fastest growing segment in all alcohol/beer categories. It is also fitting that this beer festival rounds out the American Craft Beer Week May 11-17.” Louisville-based Bluegrass Brewing will also be represented, as will other brands such as Abita, Black Fort, Dog Fish Head, Dos Equis, Magic Hat, Rogue Ales, Sunny Beaches and Woodpecker Lager.

There are other local businesses involved in this event. Sponsors include Kentucky Ale, Housewarmings, Samuel Adams, and the new Drake’s (the old Oscar’s) in Lansdowne. Tickets can be purchased at Saul Good Pub, Pazzos, The Red Mile and Liquor Barn. Rent a Driver ( will be there providing services for those needing a ride home. At the festival there will also be an opportunity to sample Ready to Dip Gourmet Cheese Delights.

As you can see this is a pretty comprehensive festival that can turn into a pretty cool annual event for Lexington. If you like beer, this is an event worth getting tickets for in advance since it could sell out.

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