Fest of Ale Moving to New Albany

NA Amphitheater

Thanks to this post by Roger Baylor, I found out that Fest of Ale will move to the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater beginning this year. Here’s a press release with the details:

New Albany, Ind. (February 2016) – After 10 successful years in Clarksville, the Keg Liquors Fest of Ale is changing venues. The 11th Annual Fest of Ale will be held on June 4th, 2016 at the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater.

“Moving the event was a tough decision, but we felt that we had outgrown the space we were using at St. Anthony’s,” said Todd Antz, owner of Keg Liquors. “St. Anthony’s has been very generous with their facilities and support over the years, and we could not have grown the event to the size it is today without their help.

“We felt that the event was becoming a bit too taxing for their neighbors and parishioners, and that it was best for both parties if we moved on. We’ve always had a great relationship with St. Anthony’s and look forward to working with them in any future opportunities that may come up. I can’t thank everyone at St. Anthony’s enough for their support over the last 7 years of hosting our charity event. We could not have done this without them.”

The New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater, located below East Main Street at the foot of Pearl Street, is home each spring and summer to numerous free concerts, productions, festivals and other events.

The move to the Riverfront Amphitheater will allow the Fest of Ale to expand in size, provide more parking, as well as having access to all of the great restaurants and businesses in downtown New Albany.

“The Fest of Ale has always been a grassroots festival that promotes independent breweries and businesses, so moving the event to an area that has reinvigorated itself with all of the great shops and restaurants made perfect sense to us,” continued Antz. “The City of New Albany was very excited to help us with the event, and we look forward to working with them to make this the best Fest of Ale ever.”

Tailspin Ale Fest turns 3 with more beer and more charity

crowd-shot-tailspinTisha Gainey and Trevor Cravens hope to donate $10,000 to Dare to Care following this year’s Tailspin Ale Fest, set for Saturday, Feb. 20, at Louisville Executive Aviation Hangar. That would be roughly triple the donation made the first year the festival was held.

Of course, there will be beer, as always. Lots of delicious, craft beer. But one of the key focuses of the festival continues to be on maintaining its local flavor. For instance, the first Tailspin featured seven Kentucky breweries. This year, there will be up to 20. Throw in local food trucks and other vendors, and a whole lot of local artisans and businesses are benefiting, in addition to the charity.

Other Louisville beer festivals operate similarly, from the Fest of Ale to Highlands Beer Festival to Brew at the Zoo. By contrast, a number of people likely will attend Louisville On Tap this Saturday. While there will surely be plenty of beer to sample, this festival is one of more than 80 “On Tap” events produced by a Connecticut-based company called Townsquare Media, which primarily owns radio stations in mid-market cities and does live events.

There is no charity beneficiary; profits go to the parent company, so in essence, it is an out-of-town cash grab. For example, Louisville On Tap has its own Groupon. When I tried to contact the umbrella America On Tap asking for media info about the Louisville version of the event, I found no contact name or info. I filled out a website form asking for information, and the response was simply, “Who do you work for?” When I responded “Insider Louisville,” I received no further communication.

west-sixth-TailspinMeanwhile, as I sat talking with Cravens and Gainey about the 2016 Tailspin, I could barely type quickly enough to catch all the new features and hard-to-find beers. First off, the founders have configured efforts to make sure there is a sizable donation when it’s all said and done. Whereas the first year, the final donation was dependent upon the festival’s success, now that is not totally the case.

“We’ve expanded our efforts just by working with sponsors and distributors to find ways to raise money,” Cravens said. “We’re connecting the dots between nonprofits and people in our circle. We’ve created other avenues.”

One such avenue, which started last year, is Paper Stein, a project with Tailspin’s title sponsor, Liquor Barn. It enables customers to donate in advance without going to the event. Meanwhile, breweries now have the option to easily donate the money they make from the sales of their kegs to the festival, Gainey said.

By raising cash, rather than, say, having a can drive at the door, it enables Dare to Care to purchase fresh food, she added.

Meanwhile, new sponsors Yum! Brands Foundation (a Dare to Care supporter) and Middleton Reutlinger Law Offices are community-focused and will help maximize the funds raised at the festival itself. And with the festival’s continued growth and success, more and more sponsors are interested in getting involved.

“It’s so nice that it’s all falling into place,” Gainey said. “We’re just tweaking things to make it better.”

Of course, let’s not forget the beer. Gainey rattled off a long list, and quite a few will have hardcore beer nerds salivating. Here are several Tailspin attendees should get a chance to sample:

Founder’s Kentucky Bourbon Stout, a highly desirable brew all beer nerds know; Country Western Vol. 3, a collaboration between Lexington breweries West Sixth and Country Boy not readily available in Louisville; New Belgium Transatlantique Kriek, a cherry sour; Sweetwater The Pit & Pendulum, an apricot American wild ale; and Great Lakes Brewing/Oskar Blues Brewery/ Lagerheads Brewing collaborative called Mash Appeal, which is a Kentucky Common that is usually only available on premise.

This represents just a small fraction of the list.

And since beer festivals are affairs in which beer samples can quickly sneak up on people, this year Tailspin Ale also will unveil a phone app. Not only can you rate the beers as you try them, you can get info on the brewery and also see the timed tapping schedule.

Meanwhile, Lou’s Brew Bus and World of Beer will team up to provide a $10 pint-and-ride by bus, as well as shuttles to and from the parking lot. Cravens noted he has conducted research to find out the best way to handle the gate so that people will be able to get into the festival with minimal waiting time. Add to that music, pin-up girls, a photo booth and more, and it sounds like another successful festival is on tap.

Finally, for those upset with the bathroom situation from last year, that has been reconfigured to mirror year one, Gainey said. She also suggests to all attendees that they dress warm; it’s an airplane hangar in February, after all. (There are plenty more features and details at the festival’s website.)

As for Louisville On Tap, the Tailspin folks hold no ill will, but it bears noting that a festival like that one is aimed at a different demographic. In other words, it might not be as desirable for the hardcore beer lover.

“It’s kind of a beginner’s beer festival,” Gainey said, echoing a promotional video on the America On Tap website.

“They get to an audience we’re probably not reaching,” Cravens agreed, noting that Louisville is simply a city that enjoys staying busy, which makes it attractive for out-of-market companies. “It’s hard to look at Louisville and not think it’s an opportunity to do something.”

Tailspin Ale Fest tickets are $75 for VIP, $45 for general admission and $15 for designated driver. The festival is 3-7 p.m., with VIP ticket holders admitted at 2 p.m.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Photos from Fest of Ale 2015

Another Fest of Ale is in the books, and it was another good one. The Sour Shack was a hit, there was plenty of unusual beer to sample, and none of the tents blew away in the intermittent rainstorms. All in all, a success. Todd Antz of the Keg Liquors knows how to put on a shindig, I’ll tell you. He noted on Facebook that he’ll be posting the amount of money raised for Crusade for Children sometime this week.

Meantime, here are some photos. Many thanks to Debbie Hannon, who contributed the bulk of these.

Spring brings sunshine, flowers, baseball — and beer festivals

Derby City BrewFest posterAh, spring, when the death of bleak winter doldrums gives birth to happiness anew: sunshine, flowers, baseball.

Beer festivals.

No, seriously, Louisville has become quite the hot spot for local beer festivals, and this spring is looking like a good one, with some returning favorites bearing happy new wrinkles and a new entry making its debut into the lexicon to coincide with Derby.

It’s still a bit early, but we figure it’s never too early to welcome spring’s sudsy bounty. Get your calendars (and your livers) ready.

Craft Beer Extravaganza for Thunder Over Louisville

Saturday, April 18

2-10 p.m.

Don’t just have a festival — have an extravaganza. This annual event returns with its prime Jeffersonville view of Thunder Over Louisville (at Rocky’s Sub Pub and Buckhead Mountain Grill), plenty of space and lots of great beer.

Of course, the Craft Beer Extravaganza also features food, restrooms that aren’t phone-booth-shaped and made of hard plastic, a private viewing area and live music from Juicebox Heroes.

The cash bar will feature dozens upon dozens of craft beer including Stone IPA, BBC’s Louisville Lager, Alltech Kentucky Bourbon Ale, Flat 12 Walkabout IPA, Founder’s All Day IPA and lots more. And don’t forget that this event is just a few blocks away from Flat 12 Bierwerks’ new Jeffersonville taproom, not to mention Red Yeti Brewing on Spring Street.

Tickets start at $50 for general admission. Beer on.

Derby City BrewFest

Friday, May 1

5 p.m.-midnight

New this year is the Derby City BrewFest, which will focus on local and regional beers, particularly celebrating a beer style that was invented in Louisville known today as Kentucky Common. This is a beer that was created in the 1800s and was the brew of choice for 80 percent of Louisvillians for decades.

Twelve breweries will brew their versions of this unique beer style for the festival, and they’ll set up on the concourse at the Yum! Center on Derby Eve. Food and merch will be available, and visitors will be able to get a history lesson in the form of a “brewseum” — featuring Louisville brewing artifacts — and more.

In addition to the Kentucky Common, breweries from Against the Grain to New Albanian to West Sixth will have their brews available. There also will be local music featuring the Villebillies, Whiskey Bent Valley Boys, Grateful Derby, Jericho Woods and the Uncommon Houseflies. Admission tickets are $10 and drink tickets will be $2 each.

Highlands Beer FestivalHighlands Beer Festival

Saturday, May 16

3-7 p.m.

This event has been successful to the point that its digs in Mid-City Mall were getting a bit confined. Luckily, the little mall smack dab in the middle of the Highlands also has plenty of parking, and that’s exactly the new destination for the Highlands Beer Festival: the side lot just across from the Back Door.

The festival, hosted by ValuMarket, again will feature 200-plus beers from breweries all across the region and beyond (seriously, this fest has an impressive list every year). Admission is $5, two-ounce pours are $1 each, and proceeds will go directly to the Bluegrass Center for Autism, a worthy cause to be sure. The first 500 admissions get an official Highlands Festival 2015 pint glass.

This is the same night as the Bardstown Bound Beer Tour (no, this is not a coincidence), which starts at noon at ValuMarket, hits Dragon King’s Daughter and O’Shea’s Irish Pub, crosses the Ohio River to touch down at Flat 12 and Buckhead’s Mountain Grill, returns to Gordon Biersch and then lands back at the beer festival in time for riders to enjoy the last couple hours. Tickets for the tour are $25 in advance or $35 day of.

Oh, and following the festival, there’s an after party at the Back Door. This could get ugly.

Keg Liquors Fest of Ale

Saturday, May 30

It’s a special edition of Keg Liquors’ Fest of Ale this year: the 10th anniversary. That’s right, for 10 years now, Todd Antz and friends have been serving up the best beer and wine while also raising money for the WHAS Crusade for Children.

Each year, this fest gets just a little better, and Antz says to expect a couple extra features this time around as well. He’s still planning, but he says the Sour Shack — an area featuring sour and funky beers exclusively — will be back. And visitors will also get to enjoy a high-gravity area with beers packing 10 percent ABV and higher, in honor of the 10th year.

Food will be available, as always, and the laid-back setting never changes. Ticket prices and details will come soon, Antz says, so hit the link above to follow the updates on Facebook.

Fest of Ale 2014 sets new attendance record

fest of ale 2104 cupThe final ticket tally for Fest of Ale 2014 was 1,600, according to organizer Todd Antz, breaking last year’s record of 1,500.

Update: Antz reports that this year’s Fest raised $13,000 for the WHAS Crusade for Children, well above last year’s $10,000.

The ridiculously beautiful weather sure didn’t hurt things. It was a warm (but not too warm), sunny day, and the thirsty crowds drank plenty of beer and had plenty of fun. The House of Hops returned, still in the Miller Lite and Bud Light trucks (oh the irony), and was joined this year by a next-door neighbor, the Sour Shack.

I tried so many different beers of so many different styles from so many different breweries that palate fatigue was unavoidable. But a couple that forced me to take note were Quaff On’s Crosshair Double IPA, Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Noire (from the Sour Shack) and Fat Head’s Head Hunter IPA, which came by way of recommendation by Tim Furnash, who was pouring at the House of Hops. I need more Fat Head in my life.

And, as usual, the crowd was a familiar one, which only makes the event better.

As for the record attendance, that’s obviously a good reason this year’s donation eclipsed last year’s mark of more than $10,00. Antz said last year the donation, which goes through the Clarksville Fire Department, was at least a third of the department’s total donation to the WHAS Crusade for Children. Antz said he expects to announce this year’s donation total sometime this week.

Meantime, enjoy the photo gallery …



How can Fest of Ale be nine years old?

fest of ale logo - louisville beerTodd Antz was selling a ticket to the 2014 Fest of Ale recently at Rocky’s Italian Grill in Jeffersonville. The woman buying the ticket noted that she could barely believe how long the annual festival has been going on.

“This is the ninth year,” Antz said with a chuckle.

Wow. Nine years. It’s like watching your child grow up — one day your baby is a small get-together with a couple of tents and a few dozen beers, and now it’s full-on event, with 100-plus brews, wine and spirits from breweries and such from all over the U.S.

I think there are a few good reasons this festival has succeeded and grown:

  • Even with a national list of beers, it is very much a local event, with local volunteers and attendees that all seem to know each other and enjoy interacting.
  • It serves a great charity in the WHAS Crusade for Children that locals want to help. (I know I’m not the only one who remembers his parents and grandparents having “the Crusade” on all weekend.)
  • It has become a social event. As in, I have family members who will text me to ask specifically if I am going. I know I’m not alone in this (see the first bullet point).
  • It is well organized, affordable and DDs get in free.
  • Todd Antz is very good at promoting the festival; it doesn’t hurt that he is known and respected as a community-minded guy, which prompts others to help with said promotion.
  • Pretzel necklaces.
  • There’s lots of beer.

Anyway, I’m going, and you should too. You can still get tickets, and the price goes up the day of the event. See you there.


Take THAT, Magic Hat

the keg logo - louisville beerTodd Antz over at The Keg Liquors in Clarksville, Ind., has taken a stand – with the annual Fest of Ale and Wine just one week away, he has decided not to pour Magic Hat products at this year’s festival, in response to the brewery’s lawsuit threats against Lexington-based little guy West Sixth Brewing.

“Due to popular demand (i.e., my demand), we will no longer be pouring Magic Hat beers at this year’s Fest of Ale,” he wrote on the Keg’s Facebook page. “As one of the little guys in business myself, my heart is obviously with our friends at West Sixth, and we do not want to support Magic Hat and their parent company picking on a little guy like us.”

Three cheers.

While this isn’t going to stop corporate bullying by Magic Hat’s parent company, it will at the very least make a statement, one that should resonate with local breweries and wherever you find home-grown Louisville beer. Good for Todd, I say.

Meanwhile, I’ll be looking forward to sampling everything BUT Magic Hat beer next weekend. (I don’t much like their wussy beers anyway …)

What are your thoughts on Antz’s decision? Leave a comment …