It’s time for the Louisville Brewfest 2016 put on by the Louisville Independent Business Alliance, also known as LIBA, now in it’s 8th year! The Louisville Brewfest celebrates all things local and beer related including our many breweries and their offerings, bourbon, wine, food and entertainment. Special brews have been created this year by our Hometown Beer-oes, one of which is our very own WFPK DJ John Timmons! The Louisville Brewfest will be at Louisville Slugger Field on September 23rd from 4-10pm. We interviewed the festival’s founder and LIBA’s director, Jennifer Rubenstein about this year’s Brewfest and its recent history.
Hi Jennifer! Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living and what is your involvement with the Brewfest?
I’ve been director of the Louisville Independent Business Alliance since 2008. We’ve grown to 850+ members in the area, so my time is dedicated to spreading the buy local message and engaging/supporting our members. After visiting family in Portland, Oregon and enjoying a couple of their beer festivals, I wanted to have a festival where all of Louisville’s local and independent breweries could showcase their awesome brews. Lucky for me I had just started working for LIBA! At the time (2009), we only had 4 brewers in the city (BBC Production and BBC, New Albanian and Cumberland Brews). Plus we invited Upland and Kentucky Ale, for a whopping 6 breweries at the Brewfest. Now we have 22 at the event – all the locals, and many from Kentucky and Indiana.
Now in it’s 8th year, why do you think the Louisville Brewfest has been so successful?
I think Louisvillians are very proud of their city, and they like to show it. And I think beer is a magical thing! Our tag line the last couple years has been “All Independent, All Your Neighbors.” Not only are all of our hometown brewers represented, but you’ll catch up with all your neighbors along with people you haven’t seen in years at the Brewfest. It feels more like a reunion than a Brewfest sometimes. And sharing food and drink with our neighbors is a great way to build a stronger community.
What’s a “Hometown Beer-o”?
We started this program in a small way last year when we invited the Mayor to collaborate with Goodwood Brewing to come up with a special edition beer that was rooted in all things Louisville. The result was 5-0-Brew, and the Mayor came to serve it at the event. We blew through that keg in no time – it was a unique experience to have a beer made and served by the Mayor! Ben Sollee also collaborated with Apocalypse to create an Oktoberfest style beer he named Kaytoberfest in honor of his cello, Kay.
This year we expanded the program and worked with the Hometown Heroes banner program to brand it our “Hometown Beeroes.” A portion of the proceeds will benefit the banner program. This year Mayor Greg Fischer worked with Falls City Brewing to create “Louis XVI Imperial,” a robust version of Falls City’s Kentucky Common which is a very historic beer that uses the same grains as the bourbons being made at the time. Chef Edward Lee worked with Monnik Beer Company to create “MW Saison,” a saison with ginger and Kaffir lime. John Timmons, Founder of LIBA and ear x-tacy (and WFPK DJ!), worked with Great Flood Brewing to create “beer x-tacy,” a “weird” ale made with passionfruit. JK McKnight worked with Goodwood Brewing Company to create “Capt. McKnight’s Rum Soaked Chocolate Blonde,” a blonde ale aged in a rum barrel with cocoa nibs.
What kinds of entertainment will be at the Brewfest?
We’ll have a soundtrack put together by the fine folks at Louisville Public Media! And an unplugged jam session from local bluegrass musicians by the rotating tap. And of course, there’s always the musical stylings of friends in full costume getting their pictures made at the Magnolia Photo Booth.
The venue for several of the Brewfests has been at Louisville Slugger Field. Why there and has it ever been anywhere else?
We had our first Brewfest at the Clifton Center, where we hoped to have 500 attendees, but ended up with 1500+! We outgrew the space immediately. As far as I know, there weren’t any other beer festivals in Louisville at the time. The following two years, we were at the Mellwood Arts Center, but again outgrew the space. We’ve been at Slugger in various formats since (the first year just in the Hall of Fame and then expanding to where we are now, all around the concourse). There’s a great old fashioned, hometown feel about having this festival at our ballpark. There’s such a variety of spaces there, it’s fun to explore. And you never have to worry about running out of seating!