Fest-of-Ales organizers make changes to improve flow of beer, people

August 29, 2012 


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    Lexington Fest-of-Ales

    What: A beer sampling festival boasting 175 beers from 60 breweries

    When: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 31

    Where: Fifth Third Bank Pavilion at Cheapside Park

    Cost: $25; includes a tasting glass and 20 samples. Tickets available at Lexington-area Liquor Barn locations, Pazzo's, The Beer Trappe, Thursday Night Live and Downtown Lexington Corp. office at 101 E. Vine St.

    Learn more: Lexingtonfestofales.com

The Lexington Fest-of-Ales beer festival is back Friday for its fourth year, and organizers say it'll be an improvement over last year's affair, which saw long lines and beers that ran out quickly.

"Every little tiny detail that could hiccup kind of did" last year, said Chris Vandergrift, who is helping to organize the event with Downtown Lexington Corp. "This year, I think everything is nailed down."

Among the many changes is that beer samples will be served primarily from kegs.

"Previously, it was almost all bottles," said Vandergrift, a member of the Brewers of Central Kentucky home-brewing group. "In the past, we had gotten one or two cases of bottles of each beer."

This year, 60 percent to 70 percent of the 175 beers will be coming from kegs, which "will give us a whole lot more volume," he said.

"I'm sure the more popular ones will run out, but it won't be anywhere on the scale it was last year," he said.

The organizers also have made certain that all brands of beer to be served from the 60 breweries represented have been registered properly with alcohol officials. Last year, some tables sat empty from the beginning because proper paperwork hadn't been filed.

"There were probably some 40 brands that had to be put on the truck before it started," Vandergrift said.

To spread the lines around, organizers are setting up a staggered keg-tapping schedule for special beers from local and regional breweries.

"The idea is to move the crowd a little bit to keep the lines moving," Vandergrift said.

The event, at Cheapside Pavilion, also will extend more into Short Street.

One thing that isn't changing is the strict limit of only 1,500 tickets being sold; each person will 20 beer samples.

The event sold out in advance in 2009 and 2011, so Vandergrift encourages people to buy in advance.

"It should be a really good time," he said.

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