Cincinnati is not the only city in our neck of the woods to be seeing a profuse blossoming of craft brewers. Lexington, Kentucky is becoming a beer town in bourbon country and at a pleasant 90 minute drive away and it is well worth the trip for a beer lover. So if you have exhausted the independent brewers of Cincinnati I encourage you to head south and give it a try. You can purchase beer from all over the world at The Beer Trappe but head over to Country Boy Brewing and you can have some great beer that’s as local as they come.
Country Boy is one of several brewers and distillers that are reinvigorating the area north of campus in Lexington, but what sets this brewery apart is quality and the DIY aesthetic. If you don’t know what you are looking for it is very easy to pass by Country Boy’s brew house and taproom, although if you see a food truck parked outside it is a safe bet that you are in the right place. The beer is the key here. We interviewed Evan Coppage, one of the co-owners, and he explained that in the year they have been in business they have consistently reinvested any money into the brewing process rather than the building. The result is a tap-room that feels more like your cool uncle’s garage than a bar but the speakeasy feel is all part of the charm.
There are 24 tap handles at Country Boy and while they sometimes fill all of them with their own brews most often about half of them are dedicated to other independent brewers. Not only do the owners of Country Boy want to encourage and support other independent brewers, Evan pointed out that with the demands of running a small business they can’t take the time to hunt down all the beer like they used to. Selling it is the easiest way for them to be able to get their hands on a pint they are eager to sample. Although they don’t serve food, Country Boy encourages outside food and has developed a close working relationship with many of the food trucks that are operating around Lexington so you will have a chance to have a local craft taco with your local craft beer.
As for the beer itself, I was impressed. For one thing Country Boy offers a wider variety of brews than I am used to seeing at a micro brewer. In addition to the traditional styles like IPAs and brown ales, they often do more creative brews like a Jalapeno Porter or a Rum Barreled Double Brown (using the rum barrels from Barrel House Distillery right down the road.) The variety and quality attract beer geeks and casual drinkers alike. Offering a wider variety of beers with a smaller number of standbys seems to be part of their over all philosophy of attracting loyal fans to the brewery, not just a particular beer. Which is not to say that the beer isn’t important. Country Boy makes their beer using fresh ingredients and never filters or pasteurize the beer. This is a technique I have only recently become familiar with but since it’s been brought to my attention I do feel like I can taste an added dimension of complexity to the flavor. I would say that based on the reviews, a lot of critics agree with me.
Leaving the beer unfiltered reduces the shelf life but that doesn’t stand in the way of Country Boy’s plans for growth. Evan explained that even as they expand their ultimate goal is to serve high quality beer to Lexington and the state of Kentucky. For now if you want to try some of this beer yourself you will have hunt for a bit. You can find it on tap around Lexington and Louisville and a few other places but the easiest way is to head down to Country Boy and try some yourself. If you do you can be sure of having a some great beer with some good people.