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I Left My Heart in Lexington

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We started our Kentucky day trip in a familiar fashion – running just a little late and heading towards the oldest and smallest distillery on the Bourbon Trail.  We made it in time for an 11:20AM tour, our fourth visit to the beautiful grounds of Woodford Reserve, and had a glorious time per usual.  However, this post isn’t about Woodford – that’s for another time.  This post is about the wonderment that is West Sixth Brewing.

I’ve long been a fan of West Sixth’s near perfect IPA, so when  Jason suggested we tack on a visit to West Sixth after Woodford I was on board.  Little did I know it’d be the highlight of the day.  With its super friendly and laidback staff, open airy bar, superior brews and community atmosphere I was blown away.

DSC02457Right away we were greeted by a helpful bartender who let us know the tour would leave from the bar at 2pm, and who then chatted us up about where we were from in Cincinnati.  While we waited for the tour, I enjoyed their Belgian Blonde and Jason had the Pay it Forward Porter, both great.  Right away we were both struck by what a community feel the place had, completely unpretentious.  Situated in what looks like a quaint neighborhood outside of the city center of Lexington, the bar was filled with families enjoying grub from the adjacent Smithtown Seafood, a few couples, and some lone drinkers.  It was super relaxed, and felt like a neighborhood joint.

DSC02433Our free tour started with some free samples of their summer perfect brew, the Lemongrass American Wheat.  Our group consisted of about 8 or 9  eager beer drinkers and the mood was convivial.  Our tour guide, whose name I am quite upset that I can’t remember, set the tone right away, giving us a brief overview of the tour and grabbing a snifter of brew himself.  With killer dreads, a great sense of humor, and a past career in coffee, he won our hearts right away as the perfect guide to teach us the ways of West Sixth. DSC02425West Sixth was started in a former Rainbo bread factory, and has the square footage to show for it.  Space seems to keep opening up as the tour continues, and each room seems to hold a new surprise.  Large concrete walls are covered with fun graffiti from a local artist, and palates of their colorful cans add to the bright atmosphere.

DSC02441I love the colors of their Lemongrass American Wheat Can.

DSC02446What it takes to make great beer – loud tunes, iced coffee, and good people.

Being a completely hip brewery alone is not enough for the good people of West Sixth — they also share their space with a growing number of not-for-profits including Broke Spoke Community Bike Shop, Cricket Press, and a local indoor farm that grows microgreens and raises tilapia.  They also rent their space to the local Roller Derby Girls, whose junior league we got to meet and watch practice.  One of their younger members, Peaches ‘N Screams, wiggled her way through our tour to praises from her coach as being one of the toughest girls on the team.  It was beyond charming.

DSC02454The tour convened back in one of the main brew rooms, where we enjoyed a sample of their Amber and IPA.  We also got to smell and chew on some grains, and chat more with our lovely tour guide.  It was a great group, and we all enjoyed ourselves and the amazing beer. DSC02455We returned to the bar for one final round, and to fill our bellies with some grub from Smithtown Seafood.  Right off of the taproom, you place your order at a counter and then they bring your meal to you.  While their seafood selections were immensely impressive, we went with the beer cheese fries, caesar salad, and their Kentucky beef burger. DSC02428 DSC02461Everything was delicious, and so reasonably priced.  This spread cost us less then 25 bucks, and did a perfect job of satiating us post beer tour.  Such simple items – a burger, a salad, fries – were all done incredibly well and had a distinct local flavor.  Jason and I made some crude jokes about the burger being made from Kentucky racehorses, but really it was 100% Kentucky beef and every bite was delectable.  DSC02460Our final two beers were the Castlewood Oaked Black IPA and Brogan’s Walkabout ISA (India Session Ale), both recommended by our tour guide.  The ISA was said to be a staff favorite and I can see why, with a citrus and slightly bready start and a dry finish.  And at 4%, it’s probably quite easy to sip on all day while manning the bar and tours. DSC02465 Jason’s BMW M3 was surprisingly comfortable on the cozy streets of Lexington.  Also it looks awfully pretty in front of West Sixth.  Check out a short video of our tour through Kentucky’s backroads below.  If you’ve got a great car, the trip to the Bourbon Trail or West Sixth is worth it for the drive alone.

West Sixth was an excellent experience and I highly recommend you make a visit.  It’s a brewery that feels like a super hip but low-key community center, and has just really superior brew and staff.  Thanks for the great Saturday, West Sixth.  We’ll be back!

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