Akasha Brewing revs up Pintwood Derby charity event Jan. 24

Logo created by Kentucky Brushes.
Logo created by Kentucky Brushes

If you were ever involved with Cub Scouts, chances are you had the Pinewood Derby experience wherein you built your own miniature car, painted it and raced it against other Scouts in your region.

My car didn’t win a thing, but being involved in an actual race was quite a thrill. Hey, I was 9. And if you share a similar childhood memory, Akasha Brewing has just the thing: the Pintwood Derby, which will happen Sunday, Jan. 24.

Just imagine your childhood Pinewood Derby, but with craft beer. Not bad, eh?

Here’s how it works: Any local business, club or organization can sponsor a car in the Akasha Pintwood Derby for a mere $20. The sponsor then builds and decorates its own car from a kit supplied by Akasha, and the top three finishers receive monetary donations for a charity of their choosing based on the total amount of the entry fees. Winners also get a commemorative trophy.

The idea for Pintwood Derby came from Paul Young’s own experience with Scouts.

“I thought this would be a fun idea for local businesses,” says Young, who coordinates events for Askasha. “I wanted to do a twist on an old concept.”

Akasha is teaming up with Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA) for the derby, which Young hopes will become an annual event. In addition, expect at least one, maybe two, food trucks, and possibly guest beers from other local breweries such as Monnik Beer Co. Young has been organizing special events on Sundays at Akasha, from local brewing history to game nights to movie screenings.

“That little pocket of NuLu is not very active on Sundays, so we wanted to do something to help draw people over to us,” he says.

Competitors for each heat will be randomly drawn, with double elimination, and races will continue in elimination fashion until the top three remain. Donation prizes will be 50 percent of entry fees for first place, 30 percent for second place and 20 percent for third place.

The entry deadline is Friday, Jan. 15, and teams are responsible for bringing their own cars to the Pintwood Derby. Teams may design their cars however they like, but each car’s weight must not exceed 5 ounces, the overall width of the car should not exceed 2¾ inches, and the overall length of the car should not exceed 7 inches (they must be able to fit on a standard Pinewood Derby track).

As far as modifications, entrants can modify as much or as little as they want. The Pinewood Derby car kits come race-ready other than paint and/or decals. Of course, there are ways to make the cars faster, if an organization wants to get competitive.

“I think it’s more about making the car part of the organization’s identity,” Young says. “If they want to do faster cars, there are probably people they could talk to in engineering who might know more about the aerodynamics. I think the main focus is to have fun and make a car that is identifiable to their organization; really, beyond that, people can shape it however they like it.”

Young, who previously owned and operated My Old Kentucky Home Brew, now works at both Akasha and Monnik. He wanted to remain active in the local beer scene, and he’s carved out a new niche.

“I spent seven years selling hypothetical beer, so it’s really nice to be able to say, ‘Here, taste this,’” he says.

Akasha is located at 909 E. Market St. in NuLu; doors will open at 1 p.m. on the 24th, with races beginning at 2 p.m. To enter or for more information, contact Young at paul@akashabrewing.com. Entries should include the following information: business, club or organization name; street address (for car kit delivery); phone number; email address, and charity.

Akasha Brewing opens for test run; regular hours coming soon

Akasha peopleThe latest Louisville brewery opened its doors Saturday for a NuLu Fest soft opening. Akasha Brewing Company co-owner Rick Stidham said he anticipates the brewery will begin opening for regular hours this coming weekend.

Akasha, located at 909 E. Market St., had four house beers on draft Saturday along with a few guest taps. The spacious taproom is an inviting space, with plenty of tables and about 18 bar seats at a long, L-shaped bar.

A window looks into the brewery, trimmed in barn wood provided by Kentucky Wisewood and installed by Drunkwood; the body of the bar and other trim is also made of reclaimed barn wood, which is an interesting contrast to the otherwise modern decor.

Akasha opened at 11 a.m., and by 1 p.m. the bar seats were full and several people had gathered around a few of the tables in the bar area. Some even brought food to eat at the bar from nearby Feast BBQ.

The entire wall behind the bar is a chalkboard, where bartenders scribbled the available beers along with a list of available merchandise, from growlers to glasses. The four beers available on Saturday included an American pale ale, a gose, a saison and a sour-meets-hoppy “American Pale on Brett.” All Akasha beers were $5; most were 16-ounce pours, but higher gravity beers come in 12-ounce pours.

The American pale ale is a moderately hoppy, crisp and easy to drink beer with an unexpected hint of tartness; balance-wise, it was right on the money for the style. Meanwhile, the gose is another tart, easy-to-drink beer with a mildly earthy tone to it. The saison is a classic Belgian-style ale with plenty of fruit character. All the beers I tried were crisp, clean finishers.

Akasha glassBut the American Pale on Brett was the talk of the taproom. It had a beautiful aroma and an acidity to the lightly sour flavor that had the place buzzing — including Stidham, who said the beer was simply a batch of the American pale that was moved into a tank that had held a bretted beer, which refers to a beer that has been brewed with brettanomyces, a form of yeast that tends to create a sour or “funky” flavor. (These beers are also sometimes called “wild ales.”)

While the beer was a single batch, Stidham said, “We’ll have something like it again.”

He also said likely the next beer to be tapped will be a cherrywood smoked porter, he has a pair of dark saisons currently aging in barrels, and another gose is on the way. Stidham has said he will focus on funky beer styles as a way of differentiating Akasha.

The brewery has 24 taps, so there is plenty of room for more beers. One of the guest taps available on Saturday afternoon was a Moody Tongue Sliced Nectarine IPA, and later in the day the Akasha Facebook page reported several others, including a Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout.

Stidham said Akasha will likely be closed every Sunday and Monday, with weekday hours probably being something like 4:30-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, the brewery will be open until 11 p.m., and Stidham said he anticipates opening earlier on Saturdays as well (possibly 1 p.m.).

However, don’t expect Akasha to be open again until Friday at the earliest.

“We’re playing it by ear,” Stidham said. “We still have some work to do on the brewery.”

Nevertheless, Akasha makes one more place in town where beer lovers can get a fresh brew. The brewery’s location in NuLu is almost a sure bet to make it a well-traveled location for NuLu diners.