It is no secret that bourbon dominates this state, but the craft beer industry is growing in Kentucky. I want to shed light on this amazing industry and what it means for Kentucky.
Craft beer is booming in Kentucky.
There were only five breweries in Kentucky in 2009. Eleven breweries opened in 2016. Thirteen opened in 2017. And today there are 50 active licenses (some breweries have two) with anywhere from 12-16 breweries opening by the end of 2018.
“It’s really a good time to be in the beer business in Kentucky,” said Derek Selznick, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers.
Not only is it a good time to be in the business in the state, but it’s a great time to be a craft beer lover in the state. Not only are breweries popping up all over the state, but next Saturday is the biggest craft beer festival of the year in the state, the Kentucky Craft Bash.
The Kentucky Guild of Brewers is hosting the 2nd annual Kentucky Craft Bash on Saturday, June 23rd at the Louisville Waterfront Park. Over 30 breweries from across the Commonwealth will be present, turning Louisville into Kentucky’s taproom.
So what’s different from going to the breweries or buying beer at Kroger than going to the Kentucky Craft Bash?
“We kind of sat down and we said, as brewers, what do we want out of this event?” Selznick said. “So we sat down and what we came up with was one of the things we hate as you go to a beer festival and, you know, 75 percent of the beers that are offered to people are stuff that you can find in our fabulous retail partners.”
The Kentucky Guild of Brewers wanted to “blow people sock’s off” with this year’s event. So this year they came up with the idea to have each brewery bring a beer that you can’t get anywhere other than the Kentucky Craft Bash.
“Well, this year we kind of upped our game even more,” Selznick said. “We said not only do we want to do something that everyone brings a flagship and taproom-only beer, but what we’re gonna do is we are going to partner with the wonderful people at Willett Distillery. So we have 28 of our breweries that all are barrel aging something in an 80th anniversary reserve that’s just for our festival.“
“We really want to give people a unique view at Kentucky beers. Give them something that they’re never going to be able to replicate any place else other than this festival.”
One thing that will be similar will be the intimate experience that you have when going to a brewery.
When you got a taproom, it’s a different experience than going to a bar. This year the Kentucky Guild of Brewers condensed the space of the festival to make the festival more intimate.
“Really what we wanted to make sure the absolute star of the show is our beer,” Selznick said. “We really want to give to that experience of being able to sample over a 100 unique styles and talk to the people that are making them and know what is the intention and what’s the passion that goes behind each of those beers.”
But where did this craft beer phenomenon come from?
“Well you know one of the wonderful things that craft beer does it adds to the experience of a place,” Selznick said.
The Kentucky Guild of Brewers has worked to enhance the craft beer experience by partnering with the department of tourism, Go To Louisville and Visit Lex, among others. Their goal is to promote how breweries help the state and local businesses.
People in the beer industry in Kentucky aren’t afraid of getting bigger. They want current breweries to grow and new ones to open.
The great thing about the breweries in this state is they don’t care if new breweries open right across the street. It’s all about growing the industry as a whole.
“We will fight to the death about whose liquid is the best in the state of Kentucky,” Selznick said. “However, you know, you opening up next door to me is not a competition I fear. I fear bad beer. I don’t fear more breweries because all it’s going to do is enhance that experience going to something, going to something local and really drive to traffic to an area.”
That’s something you don’t see in other states and other industries.
“I think that’s really one of the keys to our success is that we look at all of each other and we say how can we make each other succeed,” Selznick said. “I think that’s really a unique place to be in.”
The craft beer community in Kentucky is like nothing else. You can see for yourself on June 23rd in Louisville. Go buy your tickets right now!
To purchase your ticket, click HERE.
TICKET GIVEAWAY: The first person to message me on Twitter (@kindseybernhard) will win 2 free GA tickets.
Thank you Kentucky Guild of Brewers and your love for KSR readers! You all rock!