A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Twenty-five Kentucky craft brewers partner with Willett Distillery for barrell-aged beer showcase

By law, a charred oak barrel can only be used once to create Bourbon whiskey. But there is life after Bourbon for used barrels and recycling has never tasted so good. now, Kentucky’s craft brewers are partnering with the historic Willett Distillery for an exciting barrel reuse experiment.

Twenty-five craft brewers from across the Commonwealth assembled at Willet’s Bardstown distillery Monday to collect used charred oak barrels for a special barrel-aged beer showcase to be released in summer 2018.

“Barrels that once housed America’s native spirit are highly sought after for aging everything from Scotch to pancake syrup and soy sauce,” said Willett Master Distiller Drew Kulsveen. “Today marks an exciting rebirth for these select barrels.”

Once aged, beer and Bourbon lovers will be able to sample this distinctive collection of barrel-aged beers at the second annual Kentucky Craft Bash on Saturday, June 23, at Louisville Waterfront Park’s Festival Plaza.

Organized by the Kentucky Guild of Brewers in partnership with Hopcat, the event will feature 35 Kentucky breweries highlighting more than 90 different beers, making it Kentucky’s largest showcase of beer in the Commonwealth.

“This is a thrilling opportunity to partner with Willett Distillery and use their barrels to make over 30 exclusive, experimental beers,” said Derek Selznick, Executive Director of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers.

“By working with one brand’s used Bourbon barrels, folks attending the Kentucky Craft Bash will be able to distinguish the impact of Willett whiskey lingering deep in the barrel staves across a wide flavor spectrum of unique beers.”

Founded in 1936, Willett remains a true independent family-owned business. You will find the family scattered across the property – in the distillery, gift shop, office and bottling line every day.

Under the leadership of parents Even and Martha Willett Kulsveen, the fifth generation of family distillers, siblings Britt and Drew Kulsveen, are continuing the family tradition of spirits excellence, generosity and genteel Southern hospitality.

Willett’s diverse portfolio of renowned, award-winning brands includes Willett Pot Still Reserve, Johnny Drum, Old Bardstown, Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Kentucky Vintage, Pure Kentucky and the Willett Family Estate Collection.

The picturesque distillery, nestled atop the highest point in Nelson County, hosts nearly 50,000 visitors each year for tours and tastings and is a founding member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. For more information, visit Willett online at www.kentuckybourbonwhiskey.com.

“There is a tradition of collaboration and hospitality in Kentucky’s Bourbon industry,” said Britt Kulsveen, Vice President of Willett Distillery. “It is something our parents and grandparents have always emphasized. Today we see how this longstanding tradition is expanding and are proud to honor the storied heritage of our family and the brewing industry. We are thrilled to welcome our brewery friends to Willett and can’t wait to taste these beers.”

Participating brewers include:

• Against the Grain Brewery, Louisville
• Alexandria Brewing Co., Alexandria
• Alltech Lexington Brewing Co., Lexington
• Akasha Brewing Company, Louisville
• Bircus Brewery, Ludlow
• Braxton Brewing Company, Covington
• Country Boy Brewing, Lexington
• Darkness Brewing, Bellvue
• Dry Ground Brewing Company, Paducah
• Ethereal Brewing Co., Lexington
• Falls City, Louisville
• Goodwood Brewing, Louisville
• Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Louisville
• Holsopple Brewing, Lyndon
• Hopkinsville Brewing Company, Hopkinsville
• Jarfly Brewing Co., Somerset
• Lemons Mill Brewery, Harrodsburg
• Mile Wide Beer Company, Louisville
• Monnik Beer Company, Louisville
• Old Louisville Brewery, Louisville
• Pivot Brewing, Lexington
• Rock House, Lexington
• West Sixth Brewing, Lexington
• White Squirrel Brewery, Bowling Green
• Wooden Cask Brewing, Newport

Visit www.kycraftbash.com for more information and to sign up for pre-sale ticket notifications.

Proceeds from the Craft Bash support the non-profit Kentucky Guild of Brewers for the protection and promotion of the craft beer industry in the Commonwealth and its charity partner, Cure CF. Learn more at www.kygbrewers.org.

From Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd.

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