Sometimes you have a week, sometimes you have a weekend and sometimes you have just one day to explore a craft beer scene. Last weekend in Lexington, KY was of the one day variety and we made good of the short amount of time we had by visiting four brewers in 7 hours. I don’t recommend this method but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!
In town for the annual Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon, we wanted to be sure to take advantage of the amazing craft beer scene that continues to grow in this city. We arrived late Thursday night and after a good night’s sleep, we were ready to start our adventure.
But first, breakfast.
I can’t recommend Doodles Cafe enough. Not only can you get local, farm fresh ingredients, you can also start your morning with fresh beignets and a beer. Although this morning we decided to kick things off with a fresh squeezed Mimosa. Yum!
After breakfast it was time to head to the race expo to get our stuff for the next day and then we were ready to explore the Lex. But before we headed out to the breweries, we had to gather our craft beer gifts we brought from Michigan. I can’t recommend enough being a “Beer Ambassador” for your area or state when you travel. Breweries love trying beer from other places (and sometimes it gets you a free one too)!
First stop on our list was West Sixth Brewing Company on, you guessed it, West Sixth Street. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) Housed in an old bread factory this is a small brewery doing mighty things. With 16 taps including five mainstays, you are sure to find something you like here. We opted for a flight of the mainstays and 2 “You Call It” flights of 4 beers each. Favorites included the Pay It Forward Cocoa Porter and the Ginger Bread Box Stout. And don’t forget to add an order of pretzel bites with beer cheese made from West Sixth’s own IPA.
Our next stop was a tour of the Lexington Brewing and Town Branch Bourbon distillery. The tour comes with four tasting tokens that you can use in the brewery or the distillery tasting rooms. The beer is good but the bourbon is even better!
We didn’t have a bad beer in Lexington and enjoyed all of our stops but Country Boy was by far the favorite. A small, casual taproom with 24 taps to choose from. Food trucks are regularly parked outside and there are TVs to play the night’s big game if needed.
I was excited to get to enjoy a Shotgun Wedding again, not only because the name cracks me up but also for the light vanilla and bourbon notes complimenting a perfect Brown Ale. Country Boy always has some interesting experimental or special release beers on tap. This visit we tried the two Dubbel’s on tap, a Sweet Potato and Diablo Campfire. The Sweet Potato had hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. I enjoyed it but a taster glass was enough. The Diablo Campfire was smoky, peppery and a hint of gumball. Not sure how I felt about that one but my travel companions liked it.
And our last stop for the night was a visit to check out the Lexington Distillery District and Ethereal Brewing. The Lex Distillery District is an old distillery that has been transformed into a bustling business district. Restaurants, bars, galleries, an ice cream shop, a distillery, the brewery and more. I’m not even sure how to describe the area, more than once I exclaimed “I feel like I’m in a movie!” as we wandered around the open air space. At the back of the district sits Ethereal Brewing. Utilizing an old warehouse for a beautiful tap-room, a space for some pool and darts and, of course the brewing area in the very back, the brewery offers 16 beers including 2-3 guest taps.
While this concluded our Lexington Craft Beer tour, Ethereal Brewing is also the official craft brewery of Run the Bluegrass. So after running 13.1 miles the next morning, we were able to enjoy their beer again at the finish line. With help from the race staff, the brewery brewed a special release Kentucky Cream Ale for the race named “Run the Bluegrass Runner’s High”. It was a perfect, light but flavorful beer to celebrate being finished with 13.1 miles and conclude our Kentucky road trip.
Have you been to any Lexington breweries? Tell us about your favorite in the comments! We will be back next year for the race and already plan to visit the breweries we missed this trip.