Bourbon Industry

Alltech expanding brewery, adding honey ale

Alltech is planning a major expansion of its brewing business in Lexington and are 
coming out with another seasonal, a honey barrel beer for the winter photographed on Monday November 10, 2014  in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Alltech is planning a major expansion of its brewing business in Lexington and are coming out with another seasonal, a honey barrel beer for the winter photographed on Monday November 10, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

Alltech is planning a $7.5 million expansion of its beer operations in Lexington to eventually quadruple its brewing capacity.

The Nicholasville-based company plans to renovate its existing brewery in the triangle of Maxwell, Pine and Cross streets, beginning next Monday.

The finished structure — to be built over the existing building — will have Kentucky fieldstone and glass walls so the new 25,000-barrel Krones-Steinecker brewhouse will be visible from passing vehicles.

The design will mimic the look of Alltech's Town Branch Distillery, which is behind the brewery, said Deirdre Lyons, wife of Alltech co-founder Pearse Lyons and the company's design guru.

"We'll open it all up, so people coming toward town either from Newtown Pike or from the airport will be able to see right into the brewhouse, see all the stainless steel tanks and see what's happening," Deirdre Lyons said.

This is unlikely to be the last addition: "Pearse is really crazy to do a small cooperage there, too," she said. "So people on a tour can see another component of making bourbon."

Nearby, on Angliana Avenue, where Alltech ages its beer in bourbon barrels, the company plans to add a 100,000-gallon German-made brewhouse to produce the company's flagship Kentucky Ale and Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.

The smaller brewery on Cross Street would make all seasonal releases and the company's specialty beers, including kolsch, stout and IPA.

The two breweries are expected to be completed by the end of 2015. Eventually, they will have a combined capacity of about 140,000 barrels.

"Our barrel-aged seasonal series has a pretty big success, and there's a lot of things we'd like to try," global sales manager Hal Gervis said.

The larger capacity will mean Alltech can keep the four seasonals and have the flexibility to try more things, he said. The latest seasonal, Honey Barrel Ale, will come out on draft this week and in stores next week.

The nut brown ale is made with 1,700 pounds of honey from Midway beekeeper Richard Hosey and with hops from Boyd's Bottom Hop Farm outside Lexington.

"We want to capitalize on Kentucky ingredients, like the local pumpkin in our Pumpkin Barrel Ale, and the peaches in our Peach Barrel Wheat, and now the honey in the nut brown ale," Gervis said.

The first release of the Honey Barrel Ale will be limited. The malty ale, highlighted with ginger and honey notes, was aged in bourbon barrels for six to eight weeks.

At 10 percent alcohol by volume, or 20 proof, it will retail for $14.99 for a four-pack.

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