A road trip over to Lexington, Kentucky can pay unexpected benefits to craft beer drinkers. In recent years, the city has experienced a brewery explosion to add to its long-time stalwart Alltech Lexington Brewing Company. Newer operations such as Country Boy, West Sixth, Blue Stallion, Ethereal, Pivot, Mirror Twin, and Life Brewpub have heated up the competition in this university dominated city of the Bluegrass State.
Country Boy Brewing for the road trip
This week we shine our spotlight on Country Boy Brewing. In recent years, their core beers have taken the market by storm. Now, if you like barrel-aged and sour beers, their foray into that arena will not disappoint. A real treasure trove awaits you at their Lexington brewery.
For a road trip, it is a great place for a relaxed visit or an informative tour. You won’t find a friendlier brewery anywhere.
At the Country Boy barrel aging facility you will find a crazy variety of things going on. High-proof Bourbon-barrel products and mellow foeder-soured specialties occupy different parts of the building.
Being located next door to the Bourbon Whiskey Trail, you would expect many of those barrels to be of the whiskey variety. Currently, they have over eighty 50-gallon whiskey barrels in storage, plus a few larger ones. Many of those barrels produce the big, revered barrel-aged specialty ales, such as Papaw’s Imperial Red, Wild Red, Sinkhole Stout, or Double Barrel Shotgun Wedding.
Sour beers come of age
The newer end of their barrel program is the sour end. Country Boy calls its sour program The Living Proof Series.
“We have anything from a golden, to IPAs, to browns, to reds going wild over here,” says Country Boy’s Daniel “Sink” Sinkhorn. “They’ve all been dosed with our proprietary blend of yeast strains and certain bacteria.
“Some of them are locked away in American oak Bourbon barrels; some of them are in French oak wine barrels. We’ve got some sherry buttts and puncheons. We recently added our first 30-barrel, American oak foeder. We’re really excited about this program.”
The foeder is reserved for making their Golden Wild Sour Ale, which has proven very popular on its initial release. Every time they remove 10 barrels for bottling, they replace it with 10 barrels of fresh beer, then rest it while it sours and blends with the remaining beer in the foeder. When bottled, the average age of the beer using this system will be somewhere around six months old.
And it is not only the barrel-sours, but also the kettle-soured varieties that stand out. Their Gose is a nice example of that style.
Visiting the taproom
Their original brewery building, which also houses the brewery taproom, sits on one side of the street. A larger building across the street houses the barrel room and storage area.
The taproom is lush with 24 taps, most all filled with Country Boy brews. Each visit can find new one-offs, specialties, and test batches for tasting. Rest assured that a few of the items will be available nowhere else in the world. Look for single-hopped and fruited-up versions of their popular brands. This is also the place to find unique barrel-aged specialties that never make it to the bottle distribution. Of course, all the popular regular Country’s Boy brands are there too.
The taproom is home to a themed event about every two weeks. A representative of Lexington’s vibrant food truck scene serves food there daily. Watch their Facebook page for updates.
Maxed out at current location
Evan Coppage, head of brewing operations and a Country Boy co-owner says they are totally maxed out at their current downtown Lexington location. The four and a half year old brewery is brewing seven days a week, with multiple shifts, just trying to keep up with demand.
County Boy is constructing a new brewery nearby in Georgetown, KY, which will have just under 30,000 square feet, according to Coppage.
“We’re putting in a 50 barrel brewhouse,” he says, “and installing 100- and 200- barrel fermentation tanks. We hope to reach 25,000 barrels (of production) within the first year.”
Target date to open new brewery is February 6, 2017, and it will also include a spacious taproom. Once open, it should alleviate the production crunch and allow the boys to catch up with demand for their popular core brands like Cougar Bait, Shotgun Wedding, Halfway Home, and Cliff Jumper.
With the core brands switching over to the Georgetown facility, the downtown brewery will be able to focus on more specialties, seasonals, sours, and barrel-aged products. That should make a visit to the Lexington taproom even more fun.
Brewery website link
436 Chair Avenue