Opinion: In approval of ‘Beer Bill,’ Kentucky finally rights a wrong

Brewers at StatehouseAll the controversy and scuttlebutt the past few weeks over House Bill 168, aka the “Beer Bill,” bordered on ridiculous. I found myself confused over the entire issue, because, to me, it came down to one simple question: Do we have a three-tier system of alcohol distribution, or don’t we?

If we do, then the obvious action was to block A-B InBev (or any brewery) from being able to distribute its own products in Kentucky. That’s why there is a separation between supplier, distributor and retailer in the first place (thanks, Prohibition). If we don’t have a three-tier system, well, then it’s open season — all Kentucky breweries should be empowered to sell and distribute their products as they see fit. But a long-existing loophole enabled out-of-state brewers to distribute in Kentucky while in-state breweries could not.

So, the Kentucky General Assembly’s approval of HB 168 — which the Senate passed yesterday and will become law once it reaches Gov. Steve Beshear’s desk — was tantamount to lawmakers righting a longstanding wrong. A sort of political “Oops, our bad.” If Kentucky’s breweries were David armed with right versus wrong, then Goliath never had a chance. It just took awhile.

In 1978, Anheuser-Busch opened a distributor in Louisville thanks to the aforementioned loophole. That distributing company has done business here for nearly four decades without a peep of dispute. But when A-B InBev (Anheuser-Busch was acquired by foreign-owned InBev in 2008) bought a distributor in western Kentucky back in the fall of 2014, it sparked a new round of examination.

Why? One simple reason, as far as I’m concerned: the soaring popularity of craft beer. In 1978, beer was beer — nearly every American thought of beer as being fizzy yellow liquid that almost had a flavor. Why? Because thanks to companies like Anheuser-Busch, Schlitz and Miller, that’s what it had become. It was a thoroughly homogenized commodity. So, it’s 1978 and A-B is going to distribute beer outside the three-tier system thanks to a careless loophole in the law? Who cares? Falls City closed that same year, leaving Louisville without any local breweries.

It’s a different world now. Kentucky breweries have the Kentucky Guild of Brewers. They have leverage and support as state-owned and operated businesses. The playing field may not be level, as A-B InBev has a hell of a lot more money and clout than the barely funded KGB, but the Kentucky Guild had one thing on its side going into this standoff: It was right. When A-B InBev bought the distributorship near Owensboro and then Cincinnati brewery Rhinegeist Brewing formed its own distributorship, River Ghost, to take advantage of the same ridiculous loophole, in-state breweries spoke up, and lawmakers finally recognized it was time to close that loophole. It simply wasn’t fair.

The passage of HB 168 wasn’t easy. For one, ranks in the KGB split, with a handful of local breweries taking an “if-we-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em” stance and urging others to withhold support for HB 168 in an attempt to gain self-distribution rights. That notion was not without merit, as more than half of U.S. states have some form of self-distribution for small breweries, including Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee.

But early on in the struggle, Kentucky lawmakers reportedly drew the line on that possibility. And so, the remaining KGB members took up the fight. A-B InBev employed more than a dozen lobbyists in Frankfort and spent upwards of $2 million in an attempt to convince lawmakers and the public that their special privileges should not be taken away. Like a petulant child that had long been getting away with something, the mega-brewing conglomerate stomped its foot and whined about fairness.

The giant spent money on social media (@KYBudFacts) to spread its story. It referred to the in-state brewers as “greedy special interests” intent on killing Kentucky jobs. It insisted that craft beer had still thrived in spite of 40 years of A-B self-distribution in Louisville. It whined that it had had its special privileges for almost four decades and didn’t want to give them up.

But in the end, Kentucky brewers had one important trump card: They were right. The three-tier system was not being upheld. The loophole was unfair, and the brat had to finally start playing by the same rules as all the other kids on the playground. The brewers turned out in force to plead their case to lawmakers. Lawmakers listened and agreed. In this case, right made might.

During a text exchange with KGB executive director John King yesterday while he was in Frankfort, he relayed that one A-B InBev rep commented, “Maybe if we grow beards and wear jeans, we can get meetings with legislators.”

Spoken like a truly entitled brat.

Personally, I’m glad this thing is almost over — well, except for the inevitable lawsuit which A-B InBev is already threatening. Who knows how ugly that might get? But the three-tier system is the three-tier system, and it sounds like Kentucky has made its decision on the long-open loophole: It’s closed for business, at least for now. Perhaps if it ever reopens, it will open for all brewers — not just those from outside Kentucky. That never made any sense to begin with, and Kentucky lawmakers are finally acknowledging the fact.

So, congratulations to Kentucky brewers on this win, which we can hope will be the first of many. New breweries are opening all the time; Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse just made RateBeer’s Top 100 Breweries on Earth list. Good things are ahead.

King also passed along a quote from Against the Grain co-owner Adam Watson that perhaps sums it all up: “This three-year-old group of ragtag brewers just beat the largest brewer in the world.”

Goliath, meet David.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

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KGB Happy H.B. 168 Gets Through Committee

KGB LogoI’m sure you already heard the news, but the Guild issued this press release to go with it:

The Kentucky Guild of Brewers is pleased with the passage of House Bill 168 during Thursday’s meeting of the House Economic Development Committee. 15 members voted in favor of passing the bill over the 4 members voting no.

House Bill 168 creates an even playing field for Kentucky craft brewers. At this time a loophole exists in Kentucky’s alcohol regulation policies that allows mega brewers to distribute their own products to the detriment of independent beer distributors and local craft brewers. Local brewers depend upon independent distributors to get their products to market.

“We make great beer here,” said Daniel Harrison of Country Boy Brewing during his testimony in the committee meeting. “We cannot let the world’s largest beer makers squeeze our markets and deny us access to the people who want our products.

Kentucky’s entrepreneurial craft brewers employ local workers, buy local products, and support local charitable causes. Without the passage of House Bill 168, ABInBev and other mega brewers will be able to control more distribution, undercut pricing, and drive Kentucky craft beers off of retail shelves.

Passage of HB 168 will close this inequitable loophole so that free market competition and consumer choice is maintained. “House Bill 168 is now on its way to a full vote by the House of Representatives,” said Adam Watson, President of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers. “We encourage Kentucky’s craft beer fans and supporters of local businesses to call their legislator and urge them to support House Bill 168.”

Beer and Loathing in Louisville: Gonzofest gets a companion event

Beer-and-Loathing-291x451Louisville’s own Hunter S. Thompson was a fan of good beer. That’s why Dennie Humphrey thought a local craft beer fest would be another fitting tribute to the gonzo journalist.

And thus, Beer and Loathing in Louisville was born as a sort of halfway-to-Gonzofest companion event to the local annual tribute to Thompson that was created in 2010. Beer and Loathing will take place Nov. 28 at the Ice House.

Gonzofest organizers are working with the Kentucky Guild of Brewers to make the event happen; expect plenty of local and regional craft beer, wine by Old 502 Winery, food, live music by BoogieJuice Funk-n Horn-Band and plenty more. The proceeds will help fund Gonzofest; in addition to honoring Thompson’s legacy with the events, the hope is to ultimately create a statue of Thompson.

Humphrey, Gonzofest co-founder and owner of The Monkey Wrench, believes this can happen by growing Gonzofest.

“I see people getting their picture taken with it,” Humphrey says, adding that he hopes the statue can be placed somewhere of importance, like the waterfront or someplace downtown. “Someplace it can be seen.”

Another attraction at Beer and Loathing will be a Hunter S. Thompson look-alike contest, with the winner getting two free tickets to Gonzofest 2015 as a grand prize. Imagine an Ice House filled with Hunter S. Thompsons — tipsy ones, at that.

Beer and Loathing has another goal of sorts as well, and that is to entice Bill Murray, a friend of Thompson who portrayed the writer in the 1980 film “Where the Buffalo Roam,”  to attend Gonzofest 2015. Mention the wild possibility of Murray showing up to the festival dressed as Thompson, and Humphrey appears to get chills.

“Awww, man,” he says.

“That would be amazing,” adds Lauren Hendricks, who in charge of promoting Beer and Loathing.

Humphrey wants to grow Gonzofest for the obvious reasons, but he also knows it can be huge culturally, which helps the city in addition to honoring Thompson’s legacy. At the same time, he doesn’t want to upset the grassroots nature of the festival and how it began, which basically was just a group of friends deciding to do it.

So, the talk of sponsorships and such must be handled delicately.

“Hunter would not be down with anything like this,” Humphrey says. “We know this.”

At the same time, the festival and its intentions have outgrown its previously small environs: “It’s way bigger than The Monkey Wrench,” Humphrey says. “I don’t mind my name being related to it, but it’s way bigger than this little spot.”

With assists from the city and the Louisville Downtown Development Corp., Gonzofest looks poised to see more growth. Beer and Loathing is a step in that direction. At the 2015 event, Humphrey hopes a rendering of a Thompson statue — possibly with fist raised and a typewriter under one arm — can be unveiled. And hey, maybe Bill Murray will even show up.

Meantime, we have one more way to honor the father of gonzo journalism and  another reason to drink local beer.

“We’re behind any event that helps promote Kentucky beer,” says John King, executive director of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers. “And this particular event is unique.”

Beer and Loathing in Louisville will run from 5-8 p.m. on Nov. 28 at the Ice House. General admission tickets are $45. VIP tickets are $75 and include 4 p.m. entry, special beer tastings, food vouchers and a VIP lounge. Designated driver tickets are $10 and included unlimited non-alcoholic drinks. The Monkey Wrench will host an official after-party featuring the music of Johnny Berry.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Report aimed at growing Louisville’s craft beer industry

Mayors_Beer_Report_2014_ver_2-1Saying “the pint glass is more than half full,” Mayor Greg Fischer this morning announced a report containing recommendations for furthering the rapid growth of Louisville’s craft beer industry.

The Local Brewery Work Group, appointed by Fischer earlier this year, developed the recommendations and strategies to maximize the local craft beer industry, increase its impact on jobs, culture and tourism, and renew the strong beer heritage Louisville once boasted. (Editor’s note: The author of this post — an expert on local beer — is part of the Work Group.)

The five recommendations range from developing an official beer trail and map of local breweries to changing beverage control laws to be more beer friendly to creating an internationally recognized event to spotlight beer that is aged in bourbon barrels.

“Like bourbon, the craft beer industry is red hot, nationally and locally, with new breweries and restaurant operations opening throughout our city and just across the river,” Fischer said during a press conference at Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse. “Our goal is to accelerate this growth and maximize the benefit to our economy, culture and tourism.

“Also like bourbon, craft beer is an increasingly vital part of our culinary scene and a key ingredient in our goal of making Louisville the best food and beverage city in the world.”

Fischer also noted that, nationally, sales of craft beer rose by 18 percent in 2013, while overall beer sales actually declined. The growth has happened locally as well; currently, the Louisville Metro area is home to a number of breweries, with several new ones in the process of opening.

“The growth of the brewing industry in the Louisville area coincides with the locavore food movement we are seeing now,” said John King, executive director of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers, in a press release distributed at the press conference. “Our growth as an industry is a direct result of our determination to put Louisville on the map as a top beer destination in the United States.”

The five key recommendations are:

  • Develop an official beer trail/beer map/website/video combination to help promote all local breweries and offer both residents and visitors information on what sets the breweries apart, where they are located, and offer virtual and printed maps that can be seen/distributed at the breweries and other places around town. A bike trail would also be developed with local artists and breweries creating bike racks in front of each brewery.
  • Change Alcohol Beverage Control laws to be more beer friendly. Currently, it is a difficult and winding process to open a brewery, and with the brewing community growing in Louisville and around the state, breweries feel the process should be more intuitive and organized. In addition, it remains difficult for breweries to hold special events, conduct tastings and other promotional activities.
  • Represent local breweries and their products in more city events, functions and venues. Since alcoholic beverages must run through distributors as part of the post-Prohibition three-tier system, it can be difficult for smaller, local breweries to be represented at large events. The goal is to bring down the walls that have blocked local breweries so they can be represented, specifically in city-affiliated events and venues.
  • Create a bourbon-barrel event that will be recognized nationally and internationally. Bourbon is a natural draw, which makes bourbon barrel-aged beer a logical and national way to represent Louisville’s brewing community. Growing such an event not only promotes beer hand-in-hand with the state’s signature spirit, it also draws attention from around the U.S. that Louisville is, indeed, a worthy beer destination as well as a bourbon and dining destination.
  • Reconnect Louisville with its brewing heritage. Many in the city are unaware of the rich history of brewing in Louisville, and the rich heritage in beer culture in general. Louisville was once not just a thriving brewing hub, but also filled with lush, German beer gardens and beer celebrations that can and should be revived today to help promote local brewing culture.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer chats with ATG's Sam Cruz following Monday's press conference.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer chats with ATG’s Sam Cruz following Monday’s press conference.

Sam Cruz, a co-owner of Against the Grain, spoke at the well-attended press conference as well, and presented Fischer with a growler of My Old Kentucky Common, which is based on a beer style created in Louisville in the 1800s.

Fischer said the city will work with the Kentucky Guild of Brewers, the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the breweries to implement and refine the report’s recommendations. He said the report already is having an impact in the form of ReSurfaced, which transformed a vacant area at 615 W. Main St. into a pop-up plaza for craft beer, music and art. Local breweries helped develop the project.

The work group included representatives from area breweries including Against the Grain Brewery, Apocalypse Beer Works, Beer Engine, Bluegrass Brewing Company, Falls City Brewing, Gordon Biersch and New Albanian Brewing Company, the Kentucky Guild of Brewers, representatives from the city and Convention and Visitors Bureau and other consultants.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Mayor Fischer to announce initiative to promote Louisville beer at press conference Monday

Photo by Cassie Bays.

Photo by Cassie Bays.

Just under a year ago, Mayor Greg Fischer announced an initiative to boost Louisville’s bourbon and dining culture as a major tourist draw.

“They think of Napa Valley for wine,” Fischer said at the time. “We want them to think of Louisville for bourbon.”

The committee charged with driving the initiative was made up of representatives from the bourbon, dining and tourism industry. Even the coffee segment was represented. Brewing was not. And many in the brewing scene took exception.

Not long after, John King was appointed executive director of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers, and one of his first orders of business was to right this perceived slight that had left the brewing community scratching its collective head.

King “pissed and moaned” – his words – to Fischer’s office, managed to set up a meeting, and the Mayor’s Beer Work Group was born. The committee brought together King, area brewers in Louisville and Southern Indiana, brewery representatives and others in the growing local beer community to enlighten Fischer on what’s happening and what’s needed, and to make some recommendations.

King, which has called bourbon the “big brother” to Louisville’s brewing scene, said, “Sometimes I check Twitter and it’s ‘bourbon this, bourbon that’ in regards to Louisville.  I wish I could reach through the screen and hand those people a Louisville-made beer as an eye opener to what else is going on in the city.”

The group convened in early summer and met several times. It reached a conclusion on five goals to pursue; the full findings and recommendations will be revealed Monday at a 10 a.m. press conference at Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse, located at Slugger Field. The public (supporters of local beer especially) is invited to attend and have a beer with the work group.

Here is a preview of the five goals:

  • Develop an official beer trail/map that will help promote all of the breweries in the city. This project also involves creating a web presence with promotional videos for each brewery. There also will be printed versions distributed at the breweries and other places around town.
  • Work toward changing Alcohol Beverage Control laws to be more beer friendly. Most don’t realize it, but currently it is a difficult and complicated process to open a brewery and for established breweries to hold special events, conduct tastings and pursue other promotional activities.
  • Represent local breweries and their products in more city-owned and city-sponsored events, functions and venues. Since alcoholic beverages must run through distributors as part of the post-Prohibition three-tier system, it can be difficult for smaller, local breweries to be represented at large events.
  • Create a signature bourbon-barrel event that will be recognized nationally and/or internationally. This helps marry beer to its “big brother” and tie brewing into what Louisville and the rest of the state is primarily known for, and further establishes the city as a beer destination as well.
  • Reconnect Louisville with its brewing heritage. Many in the city are unaware of the rich history of brewing and beer culture in Louisville. Louisville was once a thriving brewing hub, and a beer style was actually invented here in the 1800s. Paying tribute to this history can help further promote current breweries and beers.

More than anything, this initiative is a step toward raising the awareness across the city that the brewing culture in Louisville is thriving. There are currently seven breweries operating in the metro area (more, depending on how you count the various Bluegrass Brewing Company locations, which have varying ownerships), with several more in the works. And this also helps bring the beer full circle to join the local bourbon and dining scene as draws to the city.

“The growth of the Louisville metro brewing industry coincides with the locavore food movement we are seeing now,” King said. “We, as brewers, want to show our Louisville residents that we can provide world class beer in their own back yards. Kentucky may be bourbon country, but our limestone water makes pretty damn good beer too.”

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Against the Grain Brewery announces major expansion in Portland

ATG expansionA brewery only three years old that has expanded into 38 states and several countries in Western Europe will now expand physically. Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse will open a brewery operation in Portland, increasing its production by more than 400 percent by 2015, according to an announcement this morning.

Currently, the brewery’s operation at 401 E. Main St. at Slugger Field produces about 1,500 barrels of beer annually. The off-site brewery location is 25,000 square feet and will not only expand the amount of beer produced, but will allow the brewery to increase the amount of barrel-aged beers, a staple of Against the Grain, by more than 10 times.

“So you will see more production of barrel aged favorites like Kentucky Ryed Chiquen, Bo & Luke Imperial Stout, and Mac Fanny Baw Salted Rauchbier,” co-owner Sam J. Cruz said in a press release.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.7 million, Cruz said, with brewing potentially beginning as soon as December. The first phase of production will be focused entirely on draft beer. After that, 22-ounce “bomber” bottles will be added, followed by a canning operation for certain AtG brands sometime in 2015. But when the brewery opens, it will be brewing at close to 100 percent capacity. Cruz said he expects the expansion to create approximately 20 new jobs.

“The approach and direction AtG has gone since they started is impossible to characterize,” said John King, executive director of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers. “Their confidence, innovation and work ethic has made them an established name in Kentucky and now worldwide.”

“We don’t and haven’t ever operated in first gear,” Cruz said in an interview with Insider Louisville.

The new addition is located in a warehouse at 1800 Northwestern Pkwy. in the Shippingport/Portland neighborhood, not far from Nelligan Avenue and 16th Street. It was formerly occupied by FischerSIPS, which builds and distributes structural energy panels.

Soon, however, the structure will hold a new three-vessel, 30-barrel brewhouse, along with an undetermined number of 30- and 60-barrel fermenters/tanks, which will provide capacity for an initial annual production of 6,500 barrels of beer. The equipment will be manufactured by W.M. Sprinkman, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer that has been in business more than eight decades.

“We have chosen to work with Sprinkman as we share core values relating to a commitment to quality and the fact that all of the materials and fabrication will be done in the U.S.A.,” Cruz said in the release. “As much as we are committed to Louisville and supporting the quality of our local economy, we must also carry this commitment when choosing our global suppliers.”

Further expansion will include a centrifuge and packaging lines for kegging, bottling and even canning Against the Grain beers.

The expansion follows a trend of local companies taking their business to the Portland neighborhood, including Peerless Distilling Co., Gelato Gilberto and Hillbilly Tea. In addition, there’s the nearby 502 Winery on West 10th Street; Falls City Beer recently moved its tap room and base headquarters to the winery’s facility as part of a merger and plans to re-open its brewing facility there sometime in the future.

“Ultimately, it was by chance” that Against the Grain chose Portland, Cruz said. “We weren’t really looking for any particular neighborhood. It just so happened that, frankly, the perfect space for what we were going to do was in the Portland/Shippingport neighborhood. There were a few other equitable options in Louisville, but none fit the bill quite as well as that did.”

Specifically, he said, the size of the existing bay doors and the access to I-64 were key factors in choosing the location.

Additionally, part of the expansion plan is to eventually open a tap room and retail space at the new production facility, although a timeline has not been decided.

“It doesn’t make sense to develop that portion of the plan until the neighborhood can sustain it,” Cruz said, adding that if the situation dictates it, the consumer-facing portion of the new facility may come sooner rather than later.

The press release notes that the forthcoming expansion actually marks the second such expansion for the brewery – the first was an unannounced “annexation” of the old Park Place restaurant at Slugger Field for the installation of more product tanks as well as a production increase via contract brewing at Pub Dog Brewery in Westminster, Md.

The new expansion has been in the works for some time, with owners Cruz, Jerry Gnagy, Adam Watson and Andrew Ott working for several months to secure the right location and funding. Against the Grain touts itself as Louisville’s first brewer-owned and operated brewery; Cruz, Gnagy and Watson are brewers who have worked at other breweries, while Ott is a veteran restaurateur.

“With the recent expansions of West Sixth and Country Boy (in Lexington), AtG’s new production facility is another progressive movement by a Kentucky brewery,” King said. “Their new facility will allow them to get more beer out to more people and also open up for more experimentation at their Slugger facility. What AtG has accomplished in three years is what every home brewer dreams about. Except, AtG just accomplished their goals in a lot faster manner.”

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.

Meet Kentucky’s new King of beer …

KGB LogoWhen nine Kentucky breweries got together nearly two years ago to form the Kentucky Guild of Brewers, the goal was a unified organization that would provide a singular voice with which to promote their beers, breweries and events.

They’ve found that voice in John King, who recently was named executive director to lead the guild’s board. And his voice speaks to the very unity Kentucky’s breweries seek. It isn’t about who can sell the most beer, King says, it’s about helping each other.

“People think [Bluegrass Brewing Company] is competing against Against the Grain,” he says. “The breweries are working together. It’s a good ol’ boy system where, if they run short on malt, they get malt from another brewery.”

But King has longer vision for his – for now – unpaid position, and that is to organize the breweries around the state into action.

It’s a hell of a good time to be doing it because there are new craft breweries springing up everywhere. Louisville alone is awaiting the launch of roughly a half dozen, with Great Flood Brewing set to open in the Highlands soon and Danville-based Beer Engine eyeing a summer opening in Germantown.

King points to Mayor Greg Fischer’s initiative to make Louisville a bourbon and dining touring destination as all the motivation he needs. When Fischer’s announcement came down at a bourbon-drenched press conference, many brewers in the city were left wondering, hands open and mouth agape, why no brewer (beer or coffee) was asked to join in on the action plan.

“I took it as a kick to the balls,” King says. “For beer geeks, Kentucky is a craft beer destination.”

And so, priority No. 1 for King is to build relationships with Fischer, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Danville Mayor Bernie Hunstad, to help raise the profile of the state’s breweries. Priority No. 2, he says, is to increase membership – and not just to include breweries, but suppliers, retailers, distributors and anyone else involved in the business of beer.

Ultimately, King wants local businesses of all kinds to be more connected to local breweries.

And priority No. 3 is to connect with the people who make it all possible, the enthusiasts. Or, as King puts it, “The common beer drinker that loves to drink Kentucky-made beer.”

John KingInterestingly, King, 31, insists he came by all this beer business mostly by accident. His “real job” – his words – is in education. He also makes furniture hand crafted from oak and bourbon barrels.

His path to becoming a craft-beer aficionado started with enjoying non-Kentucky craft beer, by way of Dogfish Head, a brewery based in Delaware. Next came Sierra Nevada Harvest, a wet-hop ale. He would get away from hoppy beers for a while, and then it was a local beer that snagged him and reeled him back in. That beer was Hoptimus, brewed by New Albanian Brewing Company in New Albany.

“As soon as I had it, I kind of fell in love,” King says.

Not long after, he began home brewing. Not long after that, he began communicating with New Albanian head brewer David Pierce, who also is involved with the guild.

From there he began testing his palate, finding out what he liked and what he didn’t. He began to plan his vacations around beer (and who doesn’t?). And soon he was blogging and podcasting for LouisvilleBeer.com.

“It was,” he says, “sort of a snowball effect.”

He was named executive director of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers at the guild’s first official meeting in January. The upcoming Halfway to Louisville Craft Beer Week, April 16-20, will be the guild’s “coming out party,” King says. That’s when things will truly begin to ramp up, and a membership program will ultimately be put in place.

His vision is that for a membership fee, beer enthusiasts will get a VIP card good for discounts at every guild-member brewery. Members will also get a T-shirt and a regular newsletter.

“And you can celebrate the fact you are paying tribute to the great beer that is made in Kentucky,” he says. “I am personally going to sign every membership card and mail out all the T-shirts, so people can become members of what we call ‘the KGB.’”

He even envisions that one day, instead of corporate mega-beer sponsoring mega-events around town, it will be local breweries, and asks the question, “Why are we drinking Coors when we should be drinking BBC?”

It’s a question he hopes to answer in due time; make way for the new King of beers, Kentucky.

This post was originally published by Insider Louisville.