It's only May, but spring beer is busting out all over Lexington.
In honor of the second annual Lexington Craft Beer Week, which will culminate with the Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fest on Saturday, four local breweries have collaborated on a variety of special releases.
■ There's Kentucky Boy, from Country Boy Brewing and Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. This chocolate-and-coffee-flavored heavy stout is almost a beer truffle, it's so rich. And strong: 10.5 percent alcohol.
It's a blend of Alltech's coffee-steeped Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout that has been aged for two years in bourbon barrels and Country Boy's award-winning Black Gold Porter, which is seasoned with cocoa nibs and also aged in bourbon barrels.
The beer debuted last weekend at the prestigious SAVOR Craft Beer event in Washington, D.C., to great reviews, the brewers said.
Limited quantities will be available at the food fest on Saturday as well as at Country Boy's tap room on Chair Avenue.
■ But if you miss that gem, there's still Country Boy's second annual collaboration with West Sixth Brewing, called Country Western Volume Two. This brown ale was brewed with Kentucky Proud farmer Danny Townsend's sorghum, giving it a molasses-like aroma and flavor. It's the official beer of Craft Beer Week, and it was aged a couple of months in bourbon barrels from Jim Beam and Buffalo Trace. Last year's Country Western sold out in days so they made more this year. Although they used one recipe, the on-tap version was brewed at Country Boy, and the canned version was brewed at West Sixth, said Country Boy partner Jeff Beagle.
The cans went on sale Thursday at 5 p.m., for $10.99 for four, at West Sixth and at Country Boy, where fans were lined up to buy the limited release. ABV about 8.5 percent.
■ Blue Stallion Brewing Co., on West Third Street, has another Alltech collaboration on tap: Kentucky Stallion Bourbon Barrel Maibock. A maibock is a bridge between the heavier winter beers and the lighter summer beers, said Nico Shulz, co-owner and head brewer. But this one's pretty strong, at 10 percent alcohol by volume, he said.
"It was one of our best-selling beers last year, so what we did with Alltech was use our recipe, then use their (Town Branch) bourbon barrels to barrel-age it for a few weeks, which give it a great combination of those. Really nice bourbon aroma," Shulz said. How's it taste?
"Really amazing. One of my favorite beers so far," Shulz said.
■ Then there's Alltech's newest seasonal, a Peach Barrel Wheat, released just in time for the fest. Made with fresh peaches, this crisp, light ale has a sultry sweet peach scent but also packs a punch at 8 percent alcohol by volume.
"I think this is our first opportunity to really reach out to female beer drinkers," said Nate Canavera, brand manager for Alltech.
The Peach Barrel Wheat will be on tap at the festival and at area craft beer bars and in stores in bottles. Suggested retail price of $14.99 for a four pack.
The Craft Beer Week has drawn enthusiastic reviews from fans and from brewers, which lead Alltech to move its beer tasting event from the fall to the spring.
And that inspired the local brewers to experiment and come up with some fun things to do together, said Ken Lee, Alltech's master brewer.
"Brewing's a fraternity. We're competitors on the shelf or in the tap, but we enjoy doing this stuff," Lee said. "It's part of the creative leg of being a brewer. It's good fun, and I'm glad we have the support of the people actually work for in saying, 'yeah, go ahead, do it.'"