The grass in outlying areas was way soggy along the sidewalks, the freshly thawed mud waiting to snatch unsuspecting victims in ankle-deep muck, and the bog of it all was a precursor of the sneezy spring that is sure to come. Talk of the weather, especially the long, snowy winter we’ve had were conversations rapidly giving way to thoughts of pure, unabashed glee at washing one’s palette with the savory goodness of all things grog on the walk leading up to the entrance of the Tailspin Ale Fest yesterday at Bowman Field in Louisville.
While the beer samplings were available inside an airplane hangar, the unexpectedly beautiful weather could have facilitated the event just as easily being held outdoors–60-plus degree temps, while impossible to count on in February, could not have come timelier for the sold out extravaganza of barley pop. The doors to the hangar were wide open and the masses were filing in, spirits both literally and figuratively high over sudsy goodness being favored and the weather prompting the first sightings of spring like attire and the accompanying smiles of people watchers of all ages.
We live in great times for beer lovers. This was the first of its kind for friend and event Co-founder Tisha Gainey and mates, who did a superb job of bringing countless craft beers from all over the country to our corner of the Bluegrass State.
After checking in and getting our punch cards and passes, we proceeded through the security gate and joined the buzzing throngs inside the hangar—the band greeting us and every new arrival just inside the entrance to this nationwide mecca of beer in our lovely little neighborhood.
As a relative newcomer to events of this kind, I took my little sampling glass and eagerly made my way to the back of the hangar with my lovely wife Rhonda—pleased with the sun streaming through the high-ceilinged ale edifice–adding to the robust energy of this harmonic convergence of beer. As a still relatively new to Louisville person, I was delighted that my former home Colorado was well represented at Tailspin. We made our way through the lines for Oskar Blues, Left Hand and Avery Brewing Companies’ offerings—more than ecstatic at tasting a little bit of the familiar brews regularly enjoyed by the lucky folks of Colorado.
Speaking of lucky…Kentucky has long been the leader in all things bourbon, but craft beer is now coming on strong as well. Several new breweries are slated to open this year that will add to the already solid foundation of craft beer in the state. For beer lovers, the growing number of choices is never a bad thing as there is surely a variety either already here or to come, that will please even the most discerning of ale and lager palettes.
While the weather contributed to the feel-good atmosphere, the only criticism that could be levied was the long wait time in the lines for the food trucks. While it could be said that the food was worth waiting for, if the weather had not been so accommodating, the wait might have been detrimental in more typical February weather as the food choices were available outside the hangar. All in all, not a problem, as people were patient, jovial and came up with unique ways to pass the time—sending members of their party back inside the hangar with accompanying punch cards for more samples of beer.
The food line wait had me thinking of a possible solution that may or may not be tried at future editions of Tailspin. I thought it would have been cool to have “beer people” sporting pony kegs or some sort of ale vestibule to dispense beer to patrons waiting in food lines. While this may not be feasible, it occurred to me I would have fully appreciated this innovation yesterday.
All things considered the event had to be termed a huge success. People were ready to have fun, enjoy themselves and they really did. As people’s names were called out to pick up their food at the truck we ordered from, those still waiting for their names to be called began good-naturedly cheering and clapping for those receiving their food.
Since I tend to roll with my more formal first name when giving it out on food orders, I would have to say hearing, “Yay, Robert!” never sounded as good as when I finally secured our fare. As the sun began setting on cue, we happily headed inside once more to enjoy our delicious fish tacos and another round of frothy nightcap brews with more like-minded people.
Cheers and beers to you, Tailspin!