September 10, 2012
I put up a rant the other day on Beer Advocate about restaurants needing to promote local or “localish” beer more. Doing so raises overall awareness. Portland and Asheville are two great examples of cities that promote the local. Most places you eat at in such cities have local beer on tap. Here in Lexington, that is not the case. More places are putting West Sixth on tap, but overall, few support the sort of local beer scene that I’d say runs from Munster down to New Albany over to Louisville, down to Danville, into Lexington, and up to Cincinnati and Akron. Instead, we are stuck in what Roger Baylor has long critiqued as a situation in which people thinking they are drinking American (Bud) really are people who aren’t.
Local Beer Guy in residence at Lexington’s The Beer Trappe and cicerone, Kevin Patterson, had a very nice breakdown of the local beer scene the other day. Kevin is the first beer person I met when we were still visiting Lexington prior to moving here. We visited the Trappe a week after it opened during one of our “let’s scout houses and schools for the kids” trip. I bought some Goose Island Coffee and Vanilla to take back to Missouri, where I still was. I came back to the Trappe a year later, and he remembered me. That is how craft is supposed to be. Good relationships. Kevin keeps the good relationships going strong. His post is all about relationships, showcasing various local places to share a beer or two.
A few local options, though, were missing from Kevin’s breakdown and I should add them here, not as critique, but as supplement. These, too, are worth noting if we are to have conversations about Lexington and the local:
- Shenanigans. From the outside, you may think this is just another college kid liquor store. But inside, you will find eight taps (the other day, Three Floyds/Mikkeller Risgoop, Mikkeller Invasion, and Three Floyds Alpha King were among the beers on tap) and a giant cooler full of regional beers, some of the best imports in town (Shelton Brothers, some 12 Percent, some great sours including 3 Fonteinen), and a solid selection overall. Shenanigans may be the best kept secret in Lexington for craft beer. Good for me – I can hang out and drink Risgoop at noon on a Saturday without being bothered by people. But not good for those who don’t know about this place.
- Good Foods. Co-ops may be for hippies, but conservative folks like me join as well. Good Foods is another craft beer secret in town. For about two weeks after its last release, Bourbon County Stout was available at Good Foods (everywhere else it went in a day). Lolita is still available right now. Always a solid Three Floyds/ New Albanian selection not to mention the Goose Island/Dogfish Head displays. Saw some new New Holland Envious today as well as a solid selection of Schlafly 750s. If you go, remind them of the long delayed growler station; planned but not yet implemented. Everything is ready to go. They just need to set it up.
- Liquor Barn. Ok. Now we see a pattern. No mention of the retail competition. I get that. I understand. Still, awareness is just that: awareness of the various options available in town. The craft beer logic is that competition helps everyone (such as Stone offering guest taps; or closer to home, Country Boy offering guest taps and tap takeovers). Liquor Barn, though, should come with a buyer beware tag. Find yourself in the wrong Liquor Barn (we have several across town), and you may be purchasing a two year or older beer that should have been discounted or tossed long ago. Some Liquor Barns still have rows of two to three year old imports. Of course, I enjoy seeing those Great Divide Fresh Hop bottles on the shelf two years after Great Divide left Kentucky. But pity the beer lover who buys one without knowing. In many of the stores, folks aren’t really aware of the beer they are selling, and don’t try to find out when some new release might arrive in Lexington. No one usually knows. Liquor Barn’s big plus are the growler stations which, surprise surprise, they seldom advertise so you don’t know what’s on at any given moment. Choices, though, tend to be good. And Liquor Barn is a Kentucky chain, and we do believe in Kentucky proud. Plus, the Chevy Chase Liquor Barn is occasionally a spot for pleasant finds.
Keep it local. Kentucky proud. If you live in Lexington, tell the owners of restaurants you eat at to put local beer on tap. I was back in St. Louis in March after a year away. I was downtown and almost every place I stopped in, I found 4 Hands, Urban Chestnut or some other Missouri beer on tap. Even in the hotel, Urban Chestnut was on tap. In a hotel! This is in St. Louis, the town that once defied Schlafly to dare compete with the industrial monolith present. And even now St. Louis can boast local on tap. Surely, we in Lexington can do as well. No? Make the relationships be beer relationships.