Events worth attending are somewhat more rare here in Lexington, KY than they might be in larger cities. Recently, we had the opportunity to attend the Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fest down at the Lexington Convention Center which turned out to be quite a good time.
What was it?
This event was a craft beer celebration to bring a fitting end to Lexington's 2nd annual Craft Beer Week celebration. The venue featured 40 or so individual craft breweries as well as 10-15 food vendors. We purchased tickets for ~$32/each which got us entry into the event, a souvenir tasting glass (3oz.) and 15 tasting tickets which we exchanged with the breweries for a 3oz glass of their featured products.
The "food" at the event was perhaps the most disappointing aspect. Don't get me wrong, there seemed to be great vendors there, but they served very little "food" and for an event primarily centered around alcohol consumption that was a bit of a bad thing. It is true that you could purchase larger amounts at many of the stations, but the samples were tiny and even full plates were very small. I personally think it would have been more successful to have the event somewhere there could have been actual food trucks for these vendors to create and sell full on meals or at least larger portions, in addition to offering small tastings for those who might partake. In our case, my girlfriend isn't really a beer drinker so the big motivation for her to attend with me was that there would be food. She was sorely disappointed in the selections. To be clear, though, there was some standout food in terms of quality, it was just the quantity and overall setup that was lacking.
There was live music throughout the day which I had mixed feelings about; as I think our whole group did. In a closed venue the music was overpoweringly loud at times. Considering you are essentially at a beer tasting event where discussing the various flavors of beers with your cohorts is often the most fun, the music was more of a mild annoyance sadly. I would say the highlight was Ben Lacey who is an incredibly talented musician, but again I found myself more interested in focusing on beer and conversation than any live music offerings. Perhaps an outdoor would have been more conducive to a balance between tunes and conversation.
In opposition to our disappointment with the food was our elation at the beer selections. There was SO. MUCH. BEER. at this thing. Seriously, it was insane. From Stout to Pale Ale and everything in between. There was a fantastic representation. I discovered the Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA from Stone which I had never before tried but ended up loving. It was probably my favorite "new" beer to discover. I also tried a New Holland Black Tulip which wasn't bad at all; to my surprise. I'm not much of a Stout beer drinker, but a friend of mine that came with us is and he tried the North Coast Old Rasputin and seemed to really enjoy that offering. He mentioned something about having to swallow three times with each sip just to get it down, which apparently is a good sign for a stout? While I can't stomach many Stout beers, North Coast does make a favorite ale of mine (belgian style abbey ale); Brother Thelonius. My girlfriend and I both tried Alltech's special tapping of the Peach Barrel Ale. It was a little disappointing. Since she's not a big fan of the "beer taste", something with some real fruity overtones makes it easier for her to drink. She enjoyed the Rubeas featured by Founders Brewing, for example. The Peach Barrel Ale, however, smelled like peaches and then didn't carry that smell into the taste of the beer in any meaningful way. There were so many others I can't even recall them all. Some of the breweries who made an appearance:
Although the Lexington Center venue is a little small, the space was laid out efficiently and unlike Lexington Comic and Toy Con back in the fall, we were able to get from booth to booth as well as line to line without too much trouble. The lines moved quickly and the beer was always to proper temperature. I think we were all a little surprised with how quickly you can get a buzz drinking 3oz beers. We managed to settle at a small table near the center of the action. This seemed to be the perfect spot for those exiting the event to dump their unused beverage tickets. By the time we left I had only used maybe 8 of my own tickets and passersby had given us at least 20 additional tickets. Again, perhaps this was a side effect of the limited food availability.
Ultimately, I think our group ended up having a fantastic afternoon. In a city like Lexington you don't often have enough reasons to be downtown. I think what I find when I do attend an event like this or the Lexington Comic and Toy Con is that downtown is actually great. There is a lot of rejuvenation and change happening and we don't always see it in a suburb focused city like ours. I love the downtown scene for a change of pace and look forward to seeing more events like this in the future.
Did you attend? What were your favorite beers or foods? Share your thoughts in the comments!