Firkin Fest turns out big crowd for craft beer

On a hot day in mid June, Firkin Fest brought a big crowd to downtown Ashland, KY. Beers fans from the Tri-State region downed plenty of cold golden, amber, and brown liquids in an attempt to beat the heat  The over 100 draft beer selections and five Firkins appeared to satisfy the thirsty throng.

You saw lots of UK, Marshall, and OSU t-shirts in the crowd, which told you the fest turned out a good representation of folks from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio. Lead festival organizer Whitney Lowe said she was very pleased with the big turnout.  All profits from the festival go toward downtown development projects of event sponsor Ashland In Motion.

The festival even spawned a number of after-fest beer events and bottle shares at local restaurants and private residences and other venues.

Brews from Kentucky

Goodwood’s Scott Lykins

As in past years, a good selection of Kentucky breweries was in attendance. Lexington breweries Country Boy, West Sixth, Alltech, Ethereal, and Blue Stallion were there. Louisville had better representation than in the past with Goodwood, Mile Wide, Against the Grain, and Apocalypse representing Kentucky’s largest city. While it would have been good to see a few more firkins and more  local brewery representatives there, the overall quality of the Kentucky beer was very good, and it was very popular with attendees.

Firkins at the festival were:

  • West Sixth Brewing: Key Lime Pie IPA and Spicy Serrano  Ale
  • Country Boy Brewing: Kiwi Cougar Bait and Blueberry Summer Pale Ale
  • Goodwood Brewing: Hoppy Lager

Brews from the around the region

Ashland Firkin Fest
West Sixth’s Matt Mullinax

The Cincinnati delegation was led by Rhinegeist’s five selections and also a beer each from Rivertown, Bad Tom Smith, and Christian Moerlein. Appalachian Tennessee brewery Blackberry Farm was a welcomed addition and poured two beers: Saison and Fenceline.

Some of the other beer lines poured that are not yet available in West Virginia included offerings from Boulevard, Shorts, New Holland, Uinta, Deschutes, Avery, Anderson Valley, Ballast Point, Stone, and North Coast. While some of these brands will soon be coming to the Mountain State, the Firkin Fest provided a good preview of them.

Firkin Fest attracts beer fans

Among the 1,100 or so attendees, West Virginia beer fans came as both volunteers and patrons. Charleston-area K.R.A.Z.E. members Rob Absten and Yogi Dean both pulled shifts pouring draft.

Rob Absten volunteered to pour beers all day.
Ashland Firkin Fest
Yogi Dean, Dave Zalewski, and Allen Gawthrop of GHHA.

A strong contingent of Greater Huntington Homebrewers Association members were in attendance too, including club officers Jane and David Zalewski of Chesapeake, OH.

Mile Wide beer Company is one of Louisville’s newest craft breweries.

Overall, this was another beneficial marketing opportunity for craft beer in the Tri-State region. The area’s next big sampling opportunity will be Huntington’s Rail & Ales Craft Beer Festival coming up on August 12.

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