Under the alcohol legislation sent to Gov. Matt Bevin last month, Alltech will be able to open taprooms at its Lexington brewery and two others in Kentucky.
By legal standard, Alltech, the state’s only brewery, will qualify under an amendment to Senate Bill 11 that will let a brewery in wet territory sell directly to customers on the premises as long as it is in the taproom attached to the brewery. “Growlers” — refillable jugs of as much as two liters — also are allowed.
Mark Coffman, master distiller for Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co., said breweries in Lexington, Bowling Green and eventually Pikeville will have taprooms.
“No question about it,” Coffman said. He said the Lexington brewery’s taproom could be operational as early as mid-July.
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“Now tourists can come in, do a tour and tastes, and sit down and have a drink,” Coffman said. “I’d say it should be pretty successful.”
The move comes as Lexington microbreweries are in the midst of expansions: Country Boy broke ground on a 23,000-square-foot brewery in Georgetown, with a 4,000-square-foot taproom and 3,000-square-foot patio. And West Sixth Brewing announced plans to open a nanobrewery on Main Street in conjunction with a bakery next door.
The growth in Kentucky’s beer and alcohol industries is likely to accelerate with the signing of several key alcohol reforms that will allow distilleries to sell cocktails and liquor by the drink, to sell more bottles directly to visitors, to give out larger samples and to allow precinct-based wet-dry votes to make it easier for distilleries in dry counties to win the right to serve alcohol. Breweries will be able to get bigger without risking their taprooms and will be able to sell directly to customers at small festivals.
Spokeswoman Susanna Elliott said in a statement that Alltech expected to hire at least 20 people per taproom and that the taprooms would have an expected economic impact of $13 million a year once all three are open.
“Alltech is fully committed to both the brewing and distilling sides of our business in the state of Kentucky. We see this as a wonderful way to export to the more than 120 countries around the world in which we do business,” said founder and president Pearse Lyons in a statement. “With a new brewery on Cross Street, an expansion on Angliana Avenue, the new Dueling Barrels brewery and distillery being built in Pikeville, and a further one in Bowling Green, this means we can move forward with our export drives.”
Coffman said that it wasn’t certain where the Lexington taproom would be, but there are several spots on the Cross Street campus that could be used.
The newly opened brewery in Bowling Green also has a space for a taproom; the Pikeville brewery and distillery is in the planning stage, so a taproom can be incorporated into the design, he said.
Microbreweries around Lexington and in other parts of the state have been able to have taprooms where they serve their products, including many that are not available anywhere else, but Alltech has been too big to qualify under state law.
Even the expanded cap for microbreweries in the recently passed legislation would have allowed Alltech to qualify only until the Pikeville brewery/distillery opens next year.