Lexington Craft Beer Week returns foamier and hoppier than ever with special releases, tap takeovers and food and beer pairing events for beer lovers from May 13 to 22.
This year there are more than 50 events at about 25 different places, said Chris Vandergrift, one of the founders of Craft Beer Week. And there are new businesses involved this year, including HopCat, the restaurant with an enormous craft beer lineup, and Lucky’s Market, a new organic grocery.
The 10-day celebration — now in its fourth year — begins with what has become a signature release that many look forward to all year: the new collaboration between two of Lexington’s breweries.
Country Boy and West Sixth will bring out Country Western Volume IV bottles at 3 p.m. on May 13 at both breweries simultaneously. This year’s version is an IPA with mosaic hops and grapefruit, perfect for warm weather. On Saturday, CWV4 goes on tap at 11 a.m., and the breweries will have a limited edition poster, too.
Other Lexington breweries also plan special events.
“I was excited to see two other newer places release bottles this year,” Vandergrift said. “Blue Stallion has never released bottles before. This is a first for both them and Ethereal. And Blue Stallion is doing four different ones, all big barrel-aged beers, which is pretty neat.”
The releases are dubbed the Boss Battle Series and feature four of Blue Stallion’s favorite barrel-aged beers — their doppelbock, Equuleus Old Ale, Belgian Showers and Marzen — renamed for video game antagonists. Fans can buy up to two of each in 22-ounce bomber bottles.
And Ethereal Brewing is releasing Balious, an oak-aged old ale “cellared with Brettanomyces,” according to the Lexington Craft Beer Week schedule. Ethereal described it as “decadent layered with caramel, aged malty tones and a touch of dry fruits from the Brett.”
Vandergrift said that Brettanomyces is a wild yeast, so it could have a little sourness to it. Maybe.
There are loads of restaurant special events, including tap takeovers and dinners at HopCat, the third annual Beer Cheese Contest at Country Boy on May 15, experimental releases such as the Ethereal + Country Boy keg swap, the announcement of the winner of the annual West Sixth Brew-off homebrew contest at the new Greenroom at 109 West Main, a beer and bacon event at Lucky’s Market on May 18, the Alltech Craft Brew and Food Fest on May 21, and a barbecue and brew festival in Triangle Park on May 19 that benefits Lexington Humane Society. The full schedule is online at Lexbeerscene.com/lcbw.
Other restaurants and bars participating include Drakes, Street Craves, Southland Bowling, Nick Ryan’s Saloon, Parlay Social, Shamrock Bar & Grille, Lexington Beerworks, The Beer Trappe, Arcadium, County Club, Pazzo’s, OBC Kitchen, Pies & Pints, and Unlimited Spirit.
Next year the event could be even bigger, with these additional breweries:
▪ Life Brewpub, 2628 Richmond Road, may open the week of May 23, owner Nathan Harrison said.
“We’re going to do breakfast lunch and dinner, seven days a week, have house-roasted coffee and espresso, locally sourced food … and 12 taps of beer I brew,” he said. Plus a full bar, house-made soda syrup “to create family friendly environment,” and house-made bitters. Life also will have an outdoor beer garden.
▪ Mirror Twin Brewing, 725 National Avenue, just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000. It plans to partner with Rolling Oven Pizza, which would have the popular food truck serve pizza in the taproom.
The plan is to open in August and will have 10 beers on tap regularly, often “twinned” with almost identical recipes with just one ingredient different. “We’ll serve them side by side, so people can taste how the small tweaks make a profound difference,” said Derek deFranco, one of the partners.
▪ Rooster Brew, in Paris, is opening a brewery and restaurant on the Pepper Distillery campus with the Gastro Gnomes food truck chefs, Andrew Suthers and Kyle Klatka. Ralph Quillin, owner of Rooster Brew, plans to set up a small experimental brewhouse in a first-floor corner of 1170 Manchester, a former barrel warehouse.
▪ Pivot Brewing will open sometime later this year on Delaware Avenue. Owner Kevin Compton plans to make hard cider as well as beer.