Kentucky-area brewers will revisit the past as part of the Derby Eve Derby City BrewFest on May 1, 2015 as they will be serving up their own versions of Kentucky Common – a beer style that was invented in Louisville in the mid 1800s. The festival will be held outdoors on the plaza in front of the KFC Yum! Center with 15 brewers and over 60 craft beers.
The historical beer style, which is a light-bodied, dark-colored cream ale, was the beer of choice for most Louisvillians in the late 1800s through Prohibition. At one point, historians estimate, about 80 percent of the beer consumed in Louisville was Kentucky Common, which then was usually simply referred to as “Common Beer” or “Common Cream Ale.”
Because Kentucky Common is arguably even more Louisville than the mint julep, the bourbon drink associated with the Kentucky Derby since 1938, local brewers and Louisville brewing history enthusiasts decided to showcase this unique beer style to the visiting Derby crowd, while also providing natives a chance to partake on the style which is infrequently brewed today.
“This is a beer style we have brewed several times since we opened in 1993,” Pat Hagan, founder and owner of Bluegrass Brewing Company, said. “It’s uniquely Louisville in that it’s such an important part of our city’s distinguished brewing heritage. And it’s an accessible beer that anyone can enjoy, with a tart finish.”
Other breweries expected to brew variations on Kentucky Common beer include Louisville-based Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse, Apocalypse Brew Works, Cumberland Brews, Great Flood Brewing and Falls City; Lexington’s West Sixth Brewing and Country Boy Brewing; and southern Indiana’s New Albanian Brewing Company and Flat 12 Bierwerks.
The beers will be served at the respective breweries during Derby Week festivities, culminating in the event in front of the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville. The festival will include booths by each brewery with several beer styles (50 plus local craft beers) available in addition to Kentucky Common, as well as food and other refreshments for purchase. There will also be a merchandise area, including local beer history author Kevin Gibson’s book, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft,” which features nearly an entire chapter on Kentucky Common.
In addition, live music will be provided, featuring the Villebillies, along with the Uncommon Houseflies, Whisky Bent Valley Boys, Grateful Derby, and Jericho Woods. The festival begins at 5 p.m. and lasts until midnight. Admission is $10 with special pre-order packages available.