Intermittent spatters of rain, combined with windy and cool conditions, threatened to put a damper on Tailspin Ale Fest 2017. The weather proved no competition, as craft beer lovers braved the elements and came out in force.
OK, so it wasn’t exactly a torrential storm, but it certainly wasn’t the 65-degree, sunny afternoon many weather pundits had predicted midweek. An unexpected cold front wiped out those plans, but little else.
Previous complaints were mostly about the portable bathroom situation which led to unnecessarily long lines in previous years, but I didn’t see any of that happening in 2017, thanks to a more intuitive configuration and added urinals to help keep the lines down.
Meanwhile, there was more beer than ever before, with quite a few gems to be found. One of the more noteworthy in my trek around Louisville Executive Aviation’s historic hangar at Bowman Field was from a new player to the market: Terrapin Beer Co. of Athens, Georgia. I’ve been impressed by Terrapin’s beers in the past, but they hit me right in the sweet spot — or maybe the heat spot — with a beer from the brewery’s Side Project series in the form of a habanero porter.
For me, the beer was so nicely balanced between roast and the citrusy heat of the peppers that it easily eclipsed Terrapin’s Hi-10 Habanero IPA. In fact, it might be the best habanero beer I’ve had yet, although I’ve not had as many as I’d like.
On a more local note: I finally got my first taste of beer from Great Flood Brewing’s new production brewery, and the Find-a-Way IPA sample I had was spot-on — a big improvement from the small system at the original taproom. Kudos to these boys for forcing me to come back around for seconds.
Also, keep an eye out for a new-ish brewery based in Florence, Kentucky, called Mash Cult Brewing, which made its Tailspin debut this year. The brewery started in the warehouse of a liquor store with a half-barrel home-brew setup, and word of mouth helped turn the side project into what is often referred to as a “nanobrewery.” If the smoked maple syrup coffee stout (say that five times fast) I had was any indication, these guys are onto something good.
Apparently, the Tailspin crowd agreed, because Mash Cult’s booth was out of beer by 6 p.m. Next time you’re in Florence, stop by Party Town to get the goods.
Apocalypse rolls out Kumquat IPA
I was at Apocalypse Brew Works in January 2016 when co-owner Bill Krauth handed me a piece of fruit that sort of resembled a small, football-shaped orange. He prodded me to try it.
“It’s a kumquat,” he said. “You eat it whole, skin and everything.”
Never one to resist a new taste challenge, I took a bite and was intrigued. I was no fan of the texture — it doesn’t feel right to eat fruit without peeling it first — but the tropical flavor definitely was a palate pleaser. That’s when Bill told me he’d been to the Annual Kumquat Festival in Florida, and had brought back a truckload of the tiny fruit to add to an IPA.
And now Kumquat IPA is back at Apocalypse for another year. This year’s version seems even more kumquat-y than the 2016 release, which makes me wonder if Krauth brought back two truckloads this year. If a typical modern IPA gets a bit of tropical note from the hops, this one goes over the top — but it’s a good fit, and makes for an interesting beer. It should be on tap for a couple more weeks at the Apocalypse Fallout Shelter on Mellwood Avenue.
Cheap beer at Bristol
Not really brewery news here, but Bristol Bar & Grille will celebrate its 40th anniversary with throwback beer pricing through April 31. A new spring menu will offer 10-ounce drafts starting at $1.50, 20-ounce drafts starting at $2.75, and craft bottles starting at $1.75.
These aren’t happy hour prices, either — those are good all day, every day until the end of April.
The list of breweries whose wares you can get on the cheap includes Goodwood Brewing, New Albanian Brewing Co., Ethereal Brewing, West Sixth Brewing, the aforementioned Apocalypse, and quite a few more. To paraphrase Billy Carter, “It’s going to be a fun spring.” •