Ah, spring, when the death of bleak winter doldrums gives birth to happiness anew: sunshine, flowers, baseball.
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
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
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 Festival
Saturday, May 16
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.