First held in 2014, the Tailspin Ale Fest Winter Warmer has become a regional hit. Folks come from many states to attend this winter beer festival. Tisha Gainey and Trevor Cravens have created an event that is quickly becoming one of the “must attend” beer festivals in the southeast.
Saturday afternoon, February 20, 2016 the third annual Tailspin event took place at Bowman Field’s Louisville Executive Aviation hanger.
There were about 50 breweries represented, each pouring several different beers. Apocalypse Brew Works and Mark Robinson (a local home-brewer) were offering the official beer of the 2016 Ale Fest – Mexican Radio. This was an Imperial Milk Chocolate Stout with Ancho Chilies, Vanilla Bean, and Cinnamon. It was a creamy, sweet stout with just enough balanced spices.
West Sixth Brewing, Country Boy Brewing, and Rhinegeist, among others, were pouring top-notch bourbon barrel aged stouts. Several beers offered at the fest were not beers you can find at your neighborhood bottle shop; I always appreciate beer festivals that offer unusual or limited release beers. There were also plenty of styles other than stouts available. There were numerous IPAs, saisons, browns, Tripels, sours beers and many others, truly something for everyone.
Two bands – Hot Brown Smack Down and Hot Iron Skillet played music all afternoon. This is a working airport were you will hear and see small aircraft. I even spotted a three-plane formation flying over during the event. Every sense was stimulated on Saturday – the occasional smell of aircraft fuel and food trucks, the sounds of live bands and occasional airplane engines, the touch of sunshine and the gentle bumps of the friendly crowd, the sights of aviation paraphernalia and friends, and the taste of food and of course – great beers.
The VIP ticket holders were admitted at 2:00 while general admission ticket holders were welcomed at 3:00. All tickets were purchased in advance and the event sold out again this year. In the future, if you have the opportunity and funds and want to attend, I would recommend a VIP pass. The VIP crowd is much smaller and the swag is still there – if you are interested in gift bags, stickers, bottle openers, koozies, lip balm and other goodies. If you plan to attend next year please arrange a designated driver or use a taxi, Lyft or Uber.
In addition to the many beers, several food trucks were stationed between the traffic control tower and the airplane hanger. Outside there were numerous tables and chairs where you could sit in the slanted winter sunshine while you were refueling. There was a vintage airplane and several 1940s costumed women walking through the crowd for photo opportunities.
After a day of enjoyment, as people left the festival, Liquor Barn provided attendees with a Tailspin logoed 64 oz. growler for later use. Tailspin is also giving back to the community by donating a portion of the profits to the Dare to Care food bank.
Many in the crowd would have welcomed a list of available beers; and I know more toilets would have been very much appreciated by all. I would have loved to have seen more water stations and dump buckets (to dispose of unloved beer or glass rinse water). Another thing that would have made this event even better would be recycling bins. Every beer festival, even great ones can get better.
Overall the fest was a big hit and I would recommend it to any beer lover. This is a premier winter beer event where you can sample great local, regional, national, and international beers; mingle with local brewers, beer industry folks and other beer fans. I hope to see you next year.