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.

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Falls City Hipster Repellant Debuts at Liquor Barn

louisville beer - liquor barnI cruised by Liquor Barn out at Springhurst yesterday after work to (again) try Falls City Beer‘s Hipster Repellant IPA and to snag one of those cool Falls City mason jars. I hadn’t been to Liquor Barn in a while, however, and had forgotten just how much great beer they have on tap.

Of course, if you know what you’re doing and you have 40 lines at your disposal, you’ve got a pretty good head start.

I started off with a pint of the Hipster Repellant ($4, keeps the pint, a special deal yesterday evening), and perused the draft list as I enjoyed it and chatted with some of the staff and others on hand to get their beer on.

A great feature of the tap/tasting bar is that you can get two-ounce pours for 75 cents and six-ounce pours for $1.75 before deciding on a growler to take home. I didn’t get a growler this time around, but I did taste a couple of extra brews while I was there.

One was a beer I’ve been curious about for a while but had not gotten around to trying: Country Boy Brewing Jalapeno Porter. All I can say is that if you haven’t had this stuff, you need to. Like, today. It has such an intriguing depth to it — it possess all the characteristics you’d expect from a good porter, and adds a light jalapeno flavor, and just the tiniest bit of a spice kick that lingers on the palate. Nicely done.

I also had a six-0unce pour of Green Flash Brewing Company Symposium IPA at the recommendation of one of the Liquor Barn employees. I’ve had Green Flash beers before, but I don’t recall ever having the Symposium IPA. According to the Green Flash website, this is the third go-around for the beer since 2008, and I can see why they keep bringing it back. It has a floral and citrusy nose, and the flavors explode once you take a drink.

The beer description at the site notes that Green Flash placed a “profound emphasis on hop extravagance” — that’s putting it lightly. Apparently, the brewers added hops at every step of the brewing process, and the result is a highly complex and unique flavor in a beer that is still light bodied and crisp. Highly recommended.

Yeah, I’ll be going back to Liquor Barn again soon. Hope to see you there.

A Falls City Sneak Peek: Hipster Repellant

louisville beer - falls city hipster repellant

The “Hispter Repellant” IPA was, indeed, a little angry.

I took my dad to the Falls City Beer tasting room over the weekend and got a nice surprise: As if free samples of good Louisville beer wasn’t enough, we also got a tour of the brewing facilities and a sneak-preview taste of a new IPA that is, at least internally, being dubbed “Hipster Repellant.”

Hipster Repellant (which may or may keep its name when released to the public) is a special brew made to be available at Louisville-area Liquor Barn locations. While it had just been kegged and therefore was a tad over-carbonated when Falls City’s Rob Haynes poured the samples, the nose on this beer is outstanding.

“It’s a little angry,” he said, referring to the over-foam. When I mentioned the nose, he said, “I just want to huff it.” Indeed. It has less of a hop bite than the nose suggests, but there is still plenty there — I’d guess it at around 60 or 65 IBU. It’s crisp and smooth, with a creamier mouthfeel than I expected — although that very well could have been pushed along by all the foam.

We also tried a couple of other new-ish ones now on tap at the tasting room:

Kentucky Waterfall APA (6.6 percent ABV, 40 IBU): Straw-colored, mildly cloudy and crisp, this drinks like a great summer beer. My dad isn’t what you’d call a hop-head, and he really liked this one. It’s surprising this one is 6.6 percent alcohol, because on the palate and nose it could pass for a session beer. It’s a solid entry.

502 APA (5.5 percent  ABV, 55 IBU): Of course I had to try this one, simply because of the name; maybe this can be the official beer of 502Brews.com. Made with Amarillo hops, this one is a brilliant orange color, very dry on the finish, crisp and lager-esque. I could drink this stuff all day.

Here are some pics I shot of the brewing equipment and other odds and ends: