In this edition of Perspectives, a podcast series produced and published by Lenihan Sotheby's International Realty, Tisha Gainey and Trevor Cravens are here to talk about the upcoming Tailspin Ale Fest being held on February 18th, 2017 at Bowman Field. Ten years ago, Gainey was a craft beer distributor in Kentucky and Indiana. She met Draft Magazine publisher Cravens eight years ago at an event. The two got to thinking: “Well, isn’t it time Louisville had a winter warmer festival?” Thus, Tailspin was born.
This will be the festival’s fourth year running. The higher alcohol content (usually around 8%) is typically what constitutes a “winter warmer” beer, explains Gainey. It’s a craft beer that really “warms the body and warms the soul,” she says. From Cravens’ perspective, Louisville was ripe to become the next “beer-centric” city because we’re nationally known for our support of local businesses and farm-to-table restaurants. We only had a handful of craft breweries in town, which represented a void that needed to be filled. Since the festival first started, the number of local breweries increased to 11 with a few new ones on the way. “There’s a burgeoning beer scene here now and still room for more,” says Cravens.
A decade ago, Gainey’s work as a craft beer distributor involved representation of about 60 different brands from around the country and the world, trying to educate the public on the different styles of beer. “If you know you don’t like bitter qualities, you don’t want an IPA or a hoppy beer. If you like that bread-like and toasty quality, you want a malty beer,” she would tell people. The evolution of the craft beer industry has taken us way, way beyond basics, of course. Independent, small-batch beer producers are pushing the envelope with their ingredients and Gainey confesses, the expert that she is, even she is learning about emerging flavors and styles coming out. It’s their hope that the status of beer will be on par with wine or cocktails in restaurants, where meals are served.
This year’s Tailspin Festival will feature over 70 breweries with reps coming in directly from each brewery to answer questions and put a face to the brand. More than 200 beers will be on tap for tastings. Brewers are traveling to Louisville from 16 states, including California, New York, Florida and Michigan – thanks, in large part, to promotion through Draft Magazine.
“Something new and fun we have for this year is the Liquor Barn Bourbon Barrel Beer Bar – quite a mouthful to say!” Gainey admits. This hub of activity will bring all Bourbon-aged beer to one location for people who love “the other great liquid from Kentucky.” There is also a Cider and Sour Bar – two styles that are on the rise across craft breweries in America. “Kentucky Heritage” is new exhibit in a 100x60 ft. tent, which pays homage to Kentucky and all the great things local brewers are doing in town.
The festival takes place on February 18th, 2017 at the Louisville Executive Aviation Center, a 28,000-square-foot hangar on Gas Boulevard at Bowman Field. This year, they’ve doubled the amount of outdoor space in front of the hangar to an additional 30,000 square feet. You can expect to see the Vintage Warbirds on display and flying over the event (weather permitting). Tailspin features all the usual festival fanfare -- five or six food trucks, live music, and retail vendors.
Though it’s considered a “winter warmer” festival, Gainey says that all beers aren’t 8% ABV and higher. There are lighter German beers, lighter selections from out-of-town breweries, and wide-ranging samples from new local brands that haven’t formally launched yet. “There’s something for everyone,” she assures. Better get your tickets at www.TailspinAleFest.com soon, though – the event sells out every year, we’re told!
On the Tailspin website, you’ll notice a few different options. You can buy shuttle tickets from Mellow Mushroom, Liquor Barn, Drakes in the Paddock, or New Albanian Brewery for $10, which includes a ride to the event, a small appetizer, a pint glass. Drakes is doing a $15 gift card and a ride. The VIP Experience tickets include early entry to the festival with about 300-400 other people, giving you “pick of the litter” in trying your favorite or rare beer selections. You also get a food voucher and a special surprise souvenir. General Admission tickets include entry into the festival, a tasting glass, and a tasting card
Another point worth mentioning is that part of the proceeds from Tailspin goes to Dare To Care, a charitable organization in town that delivers fresh produce and canned goods to the needy. Last year, the festival raised a little over $12,000. The group hopes to make a bigger donation this year. Festivalgoers can also support Dare To Care by purchasing a paper stein for $1 from Liquor Barn, which puts your name up on the wall with 100% of the proceeds going directly to Dare To Care. You can also participate in a raffle at the festival where you can enter to win $500 to Liquor Barn. “We call that a mountain of love,” Gainey says. “You get a mountain of beer, alcohol, and great gourmet foods out at Liquor Barn.”