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Have hops, will brew

About 15 home brewers competed Saturday in a brew-off sponsored by Alltech's Lexington Brewing Company.

They started batches of beer in the brewing company's parking lot, using their own hops and the house yeast the company uses to produce its Kentucky Ale.

The entrants, most of whom are members of the Brewers of Central Kentucky, took their concoctions home to ferment and will come back June 15 to have them judged by a panel of expert beer judges and local celebrities, said Jeremy Markle, a representative for the Lexington Brewing Co.

The winner and a guest will receive a free trip to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, where the winning beer will compete in the pro-am tournament.

Lexington's 2007 contest winner, Bill Caldwell, took second place in the festival.

"The big thing is that they brew your beers on a large scale," said Chris Vandergrift, president of the Brewers of Central Kentucky. The Lexington Brewing Co. will produce a commercial-size batch of the winning brew.

The brew-off, which is in its third year, serves as a sort of kick-off to American Craft Beer Week.

On Saturday, Central Kentuckians will have an opportunity to celebrate Craft Beer Week by sampling some of 210 commercial beers at the Lexington Craft Beer Festival.

The event, which also includes dinner, is from 4 to 7 p.m. at The Red Mile, though a home-brew competition will be held in the morning.

Tickets are $25 in advance, available at Liquor Barn, The Red Mile and Pazzo's and Saul Good restaurants. Tickets will also be available for $30 at the door.

"It's a good way to introduce a lot of people to a lot of good beers that they might not try on their own," said Vandergrift, one of the organizers of the festival.

For more information, visit www.lexingtonbeerfest.com.

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