There’s a new beer on the block.
Which is making Kentucky’s second-largest city quite the brewing Mecca.
But Blue Stallion, at 610 W. Third St. downtown, is different from the established breweries.
Blue Stallion focuses on European beers primarily, as Nico Shulz – originally from Hamburg, Germany – is the master brewer. In addition, Shulz attended the Siebel Institute of Technology, which is a technical school in Chicago focusing on brewing science, according to the Blue Stallion website.
He’s concocted quality brews including a Smoked Lager, German Pilsner, Scottish 70, Munich Dunkel, Hefeweizen, and a We Heavy.
Jim Clemons is operations manager and manages the 7,000-square-foot facility that holds six, 15-barrel fermenters.
And it’s quite a facility.
Part of it, of course, is a huge brewery. But there’s also the bar, which is a new Lexington hangout for beer connoisseurs.
A converted warehouse space, there’s a heavy European architectural design at Blue Stallion, with the draft bar being nearly six feet high and five feet wide.
The bar has a polished bourbon barrel-like paneling. German, Irish and United States flags hang from what began as an early 1900s metal shop.
There’s a billiards room, dart boards, leather couches, huge garage doors to a patio and a perfect view of the brewing facility. The private mezzanine at the entrance was a surprising perk for the 2013 brewery.
All this is located fairly close to where the action is in central Lexington.
Blue Stallion is located on the east side of downtown, close to Transylvania University, and a short drive from Rupp Arena, the University of Kentucky, Bourbon N’Toulouse, Two Keys Tavern and other weekend/game night hotspots.
As with the other breweries, Donnelly and company see potential in being a landing zone for people in Lexington for big events – games at Rupp or the thoroughbred racing meets at Keeneland – as well as spot to host their own parties and special events.
The brewery is in an historical old industrial part of town, which is being redeveloped; a community that wasn’t even there when I was a UK student. And that was 2011.
Blue Stallion is micro-brewery, but a big microbrewery that takes advantage of altered Kentucky laws allowing in-house brewing and serving. It’s capacity is no where near West Sixth, which is closer to a regional brewery, or BBC in Louisville.
Blue Stallion is more like Against the Grain and Apocalypse Brew Works here in terms of their brewing capacity. That said, compared to the craft brewing culture here, Blue Stallion is arguably more business focused.
There are five founders: Nico Schulz, Jim Clemons, and brothers Xavier Donnelly, Kore Donnelly and Zac Donnelly.
Blue Stallion CEO is Kore Donnelly. Xavier Donnelly is a partner, handling the social media. Both he and Kore hold MBA’s from the University of Kentucky. Zac Donnelly is Stallion’s graphic designer and in-house art manager.
Jim Clemons has brewed beer since the 80’s. He has an engineering degree and decades of experience with designing fertilizer, explosives and petrochemicals. Clemons, Schulz and the Donnellys are all investors.
Community Trust Bank assisted financially. The Pikeville-based bank won “the Gold Lender Award” by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) in 2012 as Kentucky’s top SBA 7a lender.
Business started well, with around 500 people showing up on opening day, Wed., July 17. No food is available yet, but food trucks were parked outside when I was there, with others literally waiting at the bar to sign a deal.
Kore Donnelly said the company was “looking to import local food makers” for small plates in the near future.
There has been a lot of feedback on the Smoked Lager,” he said, adding that the “Munich Dunkel has sold tremendously.” Twelve drafts will be made available as it was the five European originals as well as five additional regional crafts on an opening week visit.
The brewery has a deal with distributor Kentucky Eagle, but is currently doing its best just to meet the in-house demand. Donnelly said it will be at least six weeks before the beer ventures out to selling to other bars.
“Being from Oregon, I’ve been waiting for this to happen in Lexington for years,” said Liam Albrich, a thirsty patron who was accompanied by his wife the day I was there. The bar’s main room seats were all taken by 5:30 during my visit.
If they can continue to supply the demand, the future looks bright for the Stallions as a community college campus is set to open up near by.
“There’s a lot going on in the corridor, and its walk and bike friendly,”said Donnelly.
Looks like it’s happening in quite the developing town.