Whew. The first annual Tailspin Ale Fest has come and gone and what an event it was. Beers were had, laughs were shared, and people seemed to have a blast. There are tons of things I can talk about after watching it all unfold, and I’ll hit on several, but the biggest point I’m taking away from the event is this; folks, the Kentucky beer scene is strong and it’s going to be exciting to watch it grow even more over the next few years. I’ll expand upon this later, but just be excited about what’s to come. I know I am.
It’s hard to really know where to start when writing about Tailspin. I have a thesis of sorts I want to talk about but there are numerous other things that need to be noted as well, so let’s start with the easiest/most obvious first. Big thanks to all who helped make Tailspin happen. Tailspin, even though there are a few tweaks that can be made for next year, was a massive success. A beer fest of this size may not seem like too much work, but countless hours go into the planning/organizing of the event, not to mention the numerous hours for set-up/running/clean-up. To all involved, thanks again for making Tailspin click. Now a few quick-hitters .
1) The Local breweries brought it. I didn’t get out and about too much during the event (someone had to hold down the LouisvilleBeer fort and we all know Scott isn’t that guy), but I did try much of what the KY brewers were offering and loved it. West Sixth’s Lemongrass Wheat is an easy drinking, surprisingly hoppy wheat ale that will be in my fridge a lot over the summer, Country Boy’s Sexual Dracula is a monster of an imperial stout that is one of the best beers I’ve had this year (hard to beat that name as well), and my favorite of the entire event was Against the Grain’s Harvester of Ryes run through a randall filled with Amarillo hops. Combine that with the fact that our table was right beside Falls City who happened to be flowing Hipster Repellent IPA (I had several) and I was extremely happy with the showing from the local boys. And it wasn’t just me. I spoke with many folks that were extremely impressed with the KY breweries and what they were pouring. People tend to flock to booths from the more known breweries (we all see you 3Floyds), but Tailspin proved that the KY breweries (and our friends just across the river) can hold their own with anyone.
2) Speaking of KY brewers, Great Flood Brewing Company will be here soon. We had some stickers and a few growlers on the table from Great Flood, and I had approximately 8 million people ask me if we were pouring anything of their brews. No, they aren’t pouring yet, but the time is near. Keep an eye on their Twitter feed for more information.
3) The Go-Pro cams. One of the Johns (not sure which) came up with the idea to have a few Go-Pro cams floating around the event. Looking past the fact that two Go-Pros were going to be used in a room full of revelers in some stage of inebriation, this was a fantastic idea. Check out the video highlights here. Be sure to list the time of your favorite snapshot in the comments below and bonus points for finding yourself. Check out our very own Mr. Wurth at the 2:54 mark and John King taking a bathroom mirror selfie at the 4:10 mark. They are personal favorites of mine.
4) The Bowman Field Hangar. I had never been to an event at any of the hangars at Bowman Field, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect on Saturday. Needless to say, I was impressed. The room was the perfect size and the set-up was right-on as well. The old plane in the corner was an added bonus. A few tweaks and Bowman Field could be one of my favorite venues I’ve been for a beer festival. It was that good.
There are many other things I could hit on, from Drew Johnson climbing a chain hanging from the ceiling (which John King could not do, I might add) to Andrew Dimery lifting me above his head like I was a small puppy (the guy is a freak as I’m certainly not a light weight) to Scott continually evolving my new nickname depending on how much he’d had to drink (is it Lil’ Beau Walker or Lil’ Mo Walker or Lil’ Beau Peep? I can’t keep up). But what I came away most impressed with is how close-knit a group the folks around the local beer scene are.
I’m in a unique spot in that I’m around a lot of these folks and events but not “in the industry”. I don’t have to worry about my own personal business/place of employment at events like this. I don’t have to push my brand above others. I get to simply take it all in and observe. And even though you have 7 or 8 or 9 local breweries all competing for the same buck, so to say, you never get the sense they are out to get each other. You were just as likely to see DH from Country Boy shooting the shit at the BBC table or Brady from West Sixth enjoying a brew with Adam from AtG as you were to see them chatting up their own brews. The row of Kentucky breweries across the back wall felt more like a celebration of what the local beer scene has to offer as opposed to individual breweries trying to one-up the next guy.
That exact attitude is what made the event great in my mind and what makes me so excited about the future of the local beer scene. Yes, in the truest sense of the word all of these breweries are competitors. Each dollar spent at one of the breweries is a dollar not being spent somewhere else. But seeing so many good breweries all having a good time together, helping grow this beer scene they all compete in, that’s what will make it special. Tailspin was a fantastic event in its own right, and the sense of camaraderie between these competitors is what really stood out to me and also points to a bright future for those of us on the outside looking in. I think that is something we can all raise a pint to.