J-town Beer Festival takes the taste outside I-264

Jun 27, 2018 at 10:01 am
Against the Grain

Jeffersontown, east of Louisville proper, is a town of about 27,000 people that has been around since the late 1700s. It’s a classic example of an American small town, with plenty of local businesses, a chamber of commerce and people who raise families.

J-town also has its own beer festival and it’s now going into year four. Heck, the town has only one brewery — 3rd Turn Brewing — yet it has its own festival?

No surprise, said Tisha Gainey, one of the organizers of the Jeffersontown Summer Craft Beer Fest, which this year happens on Saturday, July 7.

“There are people who like great beer outside of I-264,” Gainey said.

Fair enough. One brewery?

It’s true, but Gainey pointed to plenty of other businesses that make their hay, in part, with robust selections of craft beer: Recbar, Mac’s Dough House, Impellizzeri’s Pizza and a Feast BBQ location that is slated to open soon, are a few.

The Jeffersontown Chamber of Commerce created the festival; HB Productions, owned by Gainey and Trevor Cravens, were brought in thanks to their experience in creating and operating the popular Tailspin Ale Fest, which takes place every February.

“Look at Elizabethtown,” Gainey said. “They started a beer festival, and they didn’t have any breweries.”

E-town, now, does have Flywheel Brewing to its credit, but Gainey’s point is made — there are plenty of willing palates out there, away from The Highlands or NuLu, that are ready to try something other than Bud Light Lime.

It’s working.

The first year of the festival, Gainey said, an estimated 700 people attended. Last year, it was up to 1,500 and this year the hope is to attract 2,000.

And that’s why the growing throng of curious palates will get a chance to try some new stuff on July 7. The festival’s footprint will expand this year, with the Lager Lounge added in a shaded parking lot adjacent to city hall. In addition, close to 20 Kentucky breweries, including Braxton, Against the Grain, Gravely Brewing Co., Goodwood Brewing Co. and Great Flood Brewing Co., will be highlighted in the Kentucky Corner, behind 3rd Turn Brewing.

The expansion is a response to the explosion — the festival was so packed last year, that Gainey said they knew it was time to spread out a bit.

“Nobody likes those long lines,” she said, and she’s right. This year, much of that congestion should be alleviated, with the festival remaining downtown to maintain that street festival charm. (There was a consideration to move it to a different space.)

A second stage for live music also will be added this year, with Les LeMaster performing on one and Hot Brown Smackdown on the other. Also, attendees will be able to buffer the beer with food from on-site food trucks Blue Crab, Moe-licious BBQ, El Mambo, All Thai’d Up and others.

Perhaps more important, attendees can expect the beer to match the weather. Whereas late winter’s Tailspin tends to focus on winter warmer beers — high-gravity stouts and porters, stuff like that — Jeffersontown Beer Fest will lean more toward summer seasonals, lighter styles and fruited beers. That also helps acclimate the uninitiated who are more versed in lighter beers. Let’s face it, not everyone wants to drink a double IPA in July.

In the process, those exploratory efforts might lead to a bit of beer education, Gainey said: “You’re getting people to expand their palates.”

Admission to the Jeffersontown Summer Craft Beer Fest is $35 in advance and $45 at the gate. Advance tickets are available at any Cox’s Smokers Outlet and Spirit Shoppe locations, at the Chamber Jeffersontown office or online at jtownbeerfest.com. The festival is located at 10434 Watterson Trail and takes place 4-8 p.m.

Kölsch it up right at Holy Grale

In Cologne, Germany, there exists a fun tradition of drinking the region’s native beer style, Kölsch, a light-bodied lager/ale hybrid. The tradition involves drinking the beer from a small vessel called a stange. Dedicated wait staff, known as köbes, survey the scene for empty glasses with the job of refilling them. They are armed with trays, or kölschkranz, of fresh, new glasses of Kölsch to replace the empty ones quickly.

When a beer is delivered, a mark is made on the customer’s coaster, and when the Kölsch drinker has finally had enough, that person places the coaster over the empty glass, signaling it’s time to pay the bill and summon Uber. (Chances are, the Uber tradition didn’t come along until later.)

Anyway, you can enjoy a night of traditional Kölsch consumption at Holy Grale this summer and fall (through October) in the Gralegarten out back. Kölsch service begins at 5 p.m. and happens every Wednesday and Thursday evening. It’s $2.50 per stange and the rule is always “keep ’em coming” — so, be sure to keep count of the ounces. And have your Uber app running in the background.