Kentucky may be known for its Bourbon Trail, but it’s also home to a number of craft breweries, particularly in Lexington. If you’re sick of the strong stuff, stop by any one of these breweries for a tour or just a quiet pint at the bar. While I only explored the Lexington beer scene, I still wanted to share about the great breweries in the city.
Lexington Craft Breweries
For the best German-style beers in Kentucky, look no further than Blue Stallion Brewing Co., which opened in July of 2013 by three brothers and two friends. This brewery is more of a laid back brewpub than your traditional brewery.
The community space offers trivia and live music as well as billiards and darts. There are also food trucks outside in case you get hungry. The 20 taps feature selections like the German pilsner, hells, dunkel, hefeweizen, and doppelbock, amongst many others.
Beer to Try: The Smoked Lager was described to me as “barbecue in a glass” and I wasn’t disappointed.
Founded by self-proclaimed “country boy” Daniel Harrison, Country Boy Brewing started as an idea while he was teaching English in Japan. It was difficult to find good craft beer in the land of the big four (Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo, and Suntory, in case you were wondering), so he started a blog about his quest.
Upon returning home, he gathered up his fellow beer-loving bearded folks and founded Country Boy Brewing in February 2012. It’s one of the smaller operations in town but has a mobile canning and bottling line. Harrison originally planned to just open a taproom where he could sell the beers he produced as well as his favorite craft selections, but soon began distribution of the brews.
The tasting room is reminiscent of a man cave, complete with sports on the television and hunting-inspired decor. Choose from the two chalkboards, which list the in-house beers and beloved craft selections from elsewhere. There’s always a food truck parked outside for when you need a bite. The brewery doesn’t run tours, but you can stop by the taproom anytime.
Beer to Try: Nacho Bait is the jalapeño variety of the popular Cougar Bait American Blonde Ale.
Breweries tend to be in more industrial warehouse-type spaces and West Sixth Brewing is no different. But where they do differ is how they’ve revitalized an “area in transition” from a former Rainbow Bread factory built in the 1800s to a hip brewery popular with cyclists on the Legacy Trail.
The brewery opened in April 2012 and since has expanded into most of the block, where they have their canning operations and additional space rented to artists, a distillery and a hydroponic vegetable garden. On a Saturday afternoon, spend the day munching on beer cheese and sipping your chosen brew in their beer garden. West Sixth specializes in wheat beers, saisons, blondes, and IPAs.
Tours of the brewery are free and held twice on Saturdays and once on Sundays. They include samples of West Sixth’s most popular brews.
Beer to Try: The Meadoweisse Berliner Weisse is a sour wheat selection in the style of a saison or göse. If you can’t track down the seasonal beer, try the lemongrass American wheat or the cocoa porter.
Northern Kentucky Breweries
Bircus Brewing Co., Ludlow
It’s safe to assume that there’s nowhere quite like Bircus. Owned by a former circus clown, the brewery is located inside a former theater in the small town of Ludlow. In addition to its beer offerings, the space hosts circus events, wrestling, and live music as well as wood-fired pizza.
The beer offerings are vast, including stouts, lagers, IPAs, and even a special edition beer barrel-aged in casks from Four Roses.
Beer to Try: Cerveza 1862 is a classic Mexican lager with hints of lime.
Braxton Brewing Co., Covington
Braxton Brewing has a popular Covington brewery along with a Fort Mitchell barrel house and an outpost across the river in Cincinnati. The main brewery has three levels, including a rooftop bar with city views. The taproom has a little bit of everything from stouts to hard seltzers.
Beer to Try: Edge of Mysteries is a hazy New England-style IPA for easy drinking.