Country Boy Brewing Company in Lexington, KY just had their second birthday in February. We missed it by a couple of weeks, but we still had a pretty great time with some awesome brews. We went on a Friday night pretty early, around 7 pm, and the place was packed.
Since the brewery is right off UK's campus, the throngs of college coeds shouldn't have surprised me, but I'm just not used to seeing it in a brewery. As you'd expect from a place with a name like Country Boy, right from the get go you feel at home. Everyone in the bar is friendly and the bartenders really know their beer. You get to taste some really cool and unique things, all served with a heaping pile of southern hospitality.
The inside looks like a country bar and a barn had a love child in a college town. It has a great rustic vibe with the bar and tables all made out of beautiful reclaimed wood. Two huge chalkboards flank the bar and they are full of different options. When we were there, they had over 18 of their own beers on tap and a few guest taps. Beers ranged from Russian imperial stouts to smoked porters to IPAs and all sorts of fun creations in between. There are two TVs directly behind the bar that patrons can check out, but for the most part everyone was at tables talking with friends. We met our friends from Brewmanity and had a couple pints. They don't serve food but we were able to bring pizza in with us and we saw a lot of people taking advantage of the food truck parked outside. The room is a little bit dark, but that just makes it a perfectly intimate place to have a drink and good conversation.
My favorite regular beer they had on tap was Shotgun Wedding. It's a big malty brown ale that's been aged on vanilla beans just long enough to get a subtle flavor. It's a very dark brown beer with an off-white head. The beer has a medium to medium-heavy body. The beer smells like vanilla and baker's chocolate. The flavor follows that nicely with big chocolate flavor followed up by a really smooth nuttiness. The vanilla beans compliment this in a way that almost makes the beer take on the taste of cake or other delicious baked goods. This brew is so good, I can barely believe it's a standard offering. So many brewers focus on IPAs, so it was great to see someone focus on something malty with a little twist. I give it an enthusiastic 4. We tried more than a half dozen of their beers and were impressed by almost everything.
This is a little off topic, but seeing how cool Country Boy's atmosphere was made me think about one of my biggest gripes about the Indy craft beer scene, which is the lack of brewery bars. I'm a big fan of the beer by Bier and Sun King, but I wish there was a place we could sit down and drink it. I love Flat 12 but their "pub" is lack luster when you can't use their wonderful outdoor space.
The good thing is, a lot of our newer breweries are doing a good job addressing this problem. Tow Yard, Outliers, Indiana City and Union have all brought us great hang out spots to drink their beer. I hope we keep up with the trend, and if the guys at Sun King are reading this, I would love to be able to get a pint when I do my growler fills, wink wink.
Walking into a brewery called Country Boy you have certain expectations. You expect a relaxed and comfortable environment, friendly people and traditional beer styles. Country Boy delivered on all of this. The Lexington craft beer scene is just a bit newer than Indy's and its awesome to see it taking off so well.