8 Kentucky Breweries Every Beer Lover Should Visit At Least Once
Mention a tour of Kentucky’s finest craft facilities, and most people will think of its famous bourbon distilleries—it is, after all, widely thought to be the birthplace of bourbon. But the Bluegrass State has a robust collection of breweries, too. The concentration of breweries is especially high in bigger cities like Louisville and Lexington, where there’s even a "Brewgrass Trail," modeled in the style of Kentucky’s beloved bourbon tours. It’s a good place to be a beer lover.
Ready to visit some of Kentucky’s best breweries? Head to one (or more) of these eight, where you’ll find delicious microbrews and inviting atmospheres.
1. AGAINST THE GRAIN BREWERY & SMOKEHOUSE
Louisville’s Against the Grain brews the three highest-rated beers in Kentucky, as ranked by the popular beer review site Beer Advocate, so you know it’s good. They brew many types of beer, so there’s something on the menu for all kinds of beer palates, from hoppy to smoky to dark to malty. Conveniently tucked in the corner of Louisville Slugger Field, the former train station’s industrial architecture lends itself to a night on the town. As the name implies, Against the Grain also boasts a full (and excellent) food menu, including fun starters like smoked beer cheese and BBQ Crimini mushrooms.
2. COUNTRY BOY BREWING
Founded in 2012 by four "Kentucky boys," Country Boy Brewing has locations in Lexington and Georgetown. Its beers’ irreverent names—“Shotgun Wedding,” “Cougar Bait,” and “Half Way Home,” among others—are a perfect indicator of the brewery’s friendly vibe and amusing sense of humor. The Lexington location has a gorgeous patio, complete with string lights and hanging vines. There’s a rotating cast of food trucks at both locations. Find this weeks' schedule for Georgetown or Lexington.
3. WEST SIXTH BREWING
West Sixth Brewing has the distinction of being the first craft brewer in Kentucky to put its beers in cans, but that’s not the only thing that sets it apart. It’s a major part of the local beer scene, set on building Lexington’s beer culture, as well as a company committed to giving back to the community. West Sixth donates 6 percent of its net profits each year to philanthropic causes. Its four flagship beers are brewed in a century-old bakery, and you can find them across Kentucky, too. (There’s also a Greenroom "nano brewery" on Main Street, where small-batch creations are brewed.) West Sixth is also on the Lexington Brewgrass Trail, and its hour-long tour includes free samples of its mainstay beers.
4. PADUCAH BEER WERKS
Located just a few blocks from the banks of the Ohio River in an historic Greyhound station, Paducah Beer Werks has been serving up its four regular beers, plus an ever-changing section of small batches, since the spring of 2015. And it’s made a name for itself in that short time - Paducah’s Irish Red won a silver medal at the Alltech Commonwealth Cup in 2015. Its beers are served alongside a full menu of homemade foods in a relaxed, casual setting, and there are regular events, including live music, comedy nights and open mics.
5. MAIDEN CITY BREWING COMPANY
Billed as Cynthiana’s hometown brewery, Maiden City Brewing Company prides itself on its "small town charm, with big city flavor." In addition to its own delicious beers, the brewery regularly features guest taps from around the state of Kentucky. Maiden City holds events throughout the weekend, including trivia nights, live music, and Friday food trucks. The brewery’s warm atmosphere and its touch of classic Southern hospitality make it a spot you’ll want to visit again and again.
6. ROOSTER BREWING
Belgian-influenced Rooster Brewing resides in downtown Paris, Ky., in an historic commercial building, just two blocks from its gigantic brewery (the cellar space can hold more than 3,000 gallons of beer). Its bourbon barrel-aged farmhouse ales draw influence from French and Belgian brewing styles, and the taproom offers guests a taste of its own eight taps, a seasonal selection and a variety of guest stars in bottles and cans. If you’re into IPA's, head to Rooster, which is open on Thursdays, Fridays, and during the summer, Saturdays.
7. HOFBRAUHAUS NEWPORT
Who says Oktoberfest only comes once a year? Hofbrauhaus Newport’s sprawling beer garden draws influence from Munich’s Hofbrauhaus Royal Brewery, which, after 400 years, knows a thing or two about beer. The entire brewery is authentically decorated, right down to the staff, who wear traditional Bavarian garb, and there’s live entertainment on nights and weekends. The beer is brewed using the Duke of Bavaria’s own tried-and-true recipes, and the light (less than 5% ABV) beers are incredibly refreshing. This is good news, since it’ll allow you to leave room for Hofbrauhaus’s hearty German fare.
8. BRAXTON BREWING COMPANY
Covington-based Braxton Brewing Company was designed with a specific setting in mind: the garage. Braxton was born in a garage, and its atmosphere still evokes that feeling, where its founders have fond memories of solving problems, tinkering, and, of course, drinking beer. The 1,000-square-foot garage in the middle of its taproom is the perfect spot to try one of Braxton’s five year-round beers, each of which has a name reminiscent of its biggest value: hard work. If you can’t get enough of Braxton, there’s also a second innovative location, Braxton Labs, in Newport.
Originally written by Emma Walker for RootsRated in partnership with Kentucky Tourism.