Over the weekend, I was granted a +1 to attend the Tailspin Ale Fest, Louisville’s Winter Warmer which was held at Louisville Executive Aviation Center at historic Bowman Field. A packed house filled the hangar and surrounding outdoor venue as the event had been sold out to a very eager and welcoming crowd. We couldn’t have asked for a better day weather-wise, as a beautifully, sunny, warm day arrived in late February to truly warm up winter for the festival.
We arrived to a very large line, which moved very smoothly and quickly through the checkpoint, where many event personnel were on hand to scan tickets and police officers were checking IDs. I commend the staff and volunteers for also reminding people as they entered: “do you have your designated driver assigned for your group yet?” Excellent. The line moved along to the fenced in area of the hangar, and we were greeted by event staff through the gates where we picked up our souvenir tasting glass and a card that was used to mark off each beer we were going to sample.
We scanned the outdoor area, which was a very large space with some outdoor high table tops set up with seats, and four food trucks were parked there to provide event goers with some grub. The local food trucks included Grind, Holy Mole Tacos, & Johnny’s Diner Car. At the start of the event, people were already in line at the food truck counters to grab some bites to eat. We saw many beer enthusiasts who already had their pretzel necklaces hanging around their shoulders, ready to cleanse their palette after each sample. There was a table set up with trays of pretzels and rope to make your own necklace as you arrived.
We proceeded inside the hangar, where all 40 of the breweries had their beer stands set up to hand out samples of over 150 kinds of craft beers and brews. We first spotted Louisville’s own local Rooibee Red Tea and another vendor handing out water bottles and samples of fresh coffee. To our right was the stage for local musicians, which were headlined by Moonlight Peddlers and Whiskey Bent Valley. Our first stop was at Sweetwater, where we sampled the Sweetwater Blue, a blueberry infused beer with a splash of taste that matched very well. We made our way over to New Albanian (from New Albany, Indiana), where we tried their Hops and their Black. At Highland (which was out of Asheville, NC), we tried the Gaelic Ale, which was a pleasant brew. Each brew we tasted had its own distinct flavor and bite, and it was impressive just how different they each tasted. I personally am not a huge fan of darker lagers, but did give several a shot.
In the back of the venue, there was a Kentucky Heritage Section which was serving local, Kentucky-made brews from several areas of the state. We sampled Falls City Irish Red, Lore’s German lager Das Fest, Beer Engine from Danville, KY, West Sixth’s (from Lexington, KY) Lemongrass, Apocalypse’s Porter, Against the Grain’s Hop, BBC’s malt liquor, and Cumberland Brews’ Winter Warmer. The Kentucky breweries who were representing were Against the Grain, Alltech, Apocalypse, BBC Clay and Main, BBC ST. Matthews, Beer Engine, Blue Stallion, Country Boy, Cumberland, Falls City, Lore, and West 6th.
Some other favorites of ours from around the country were Bell’s (from Kalamazoo, MI) Sweet Potato Stout, Dogfish Head (from Delaware), Oscar Blue’s Stout (Colorado and NC). Click here for a complete beer list. Many of these brews can be found locally in stores around the area. Be sure to frequent the Kentucky locals, as they are excellent. If I had to pick a favorite from the entire afternoon’s selection, it would be the Sweetwater Blue or Bell’s Sweet Potato Stout; Falls City is always a favorite of mine. Louisville will be seeing nine new breweries opening up in the near future.
This experience at Tailspin Ale Fest was really spectacular. I was privileged to be able to represent Louisville.com and give you a rundown. Keep up with them on Facebook. Looking very forward to the event coming again next winter!
Photos by Erin Nevitt