Saturday’s Fest of Ale will be more ‘comfortable’ for second year in New Albany

With more than 250 beers and a new shuttle service, the Keg Liquors Fest of Ale is set for Saturday, June 3. | Photo by Tony Bennett

When the 12th annual Keg Liquors Fest of Ale returns to the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater on Saturday, June 3, expect a little more room to roam.

Last year was the festival’s first at the location after spending most of its run in a lot adjacent to a Clarksville church, and founder Todd Antz says this year the layout will be a bit more relaxed.

“We kept things pretty tight,” he says. “Tighter than we wanted to. We’ve got a lot of space to utilize there.”

Keeping lines short is a key goal for Fest of Ale. | Photo by Tony Bennett

Whereas some tables, draft trailers and the stage were packed pretty close together in 2016, there will be more space this time around.

There also will be 10 more breweries — 110 instead of 100 in last year’s event, and topping 250 beers in total, from American craft to imports, ciders and others.

And while the festival has always been successful, there was a run in which three years in a row attendance was hurt due to meteorologists predicting rain. But hoped-for good weather and the new setting have ticket sales well ahead of last year.

“There’s something about having the river in the background,” Antz says.

Still, he plans to cut off ticket sales at about 2,000, which is fairly standard. The reason?

“Shorter lines,” he says. “That’s always the goal. Keep things comfortable.”

Taking a cue from Tailspin Ale Fest — which Antz’s cousin Tisha Gainey co-founded — Fest of Ale this year partners with Mellow Mushroom to provide $15 shuttle service to and from the festival. The price not only includes a ride, but also a pint and an appetizer at the respective Mellow Mushroom location. This partnership is not just for convenience, but also for strategy, thanks to that big natural barrier.

And remember, there are no tolls on the Sherman Minton Bridge. | Photo by Tony Bennett

“It’s actually more important for us than for Tailspin because it gets people to come over the river,” Antz says.

And for those who do choose to drive from Louisville, Antz notes, there’s no toll when taking I-64 West.

It will be worth the drive, and possibly even a toll if absolutely necessary, to partake of the diverse beer selection, which includes a tapping of Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout at 5 p.m., followed by a 5:30 tapping of Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead the 5th Imperial Stout.

Breweries that will be present include sponsor breweries Sun King, Falls City and Alltech, as well as a number of Indiana and Kentucky breweries, from Central State to Mile Wide.

There is always a fine contingent of national and international breweries as well, this year including The Bruery, Anchor, Stone, Delirium, La Chouffe, Samuel Smith and more. For those who may not be all-in on craft beer, there are 10 wineries and 21 cider and flavored beverage vendors as well. Food trucks will also be on hand.

As always, Fest of Ale benefits the WHAS Crusade For Children. Antz, who owns Keg Liquors, is a former firefighter and grew up watching the crusade telethons and seeing firefighter donation roadblocks. Last year, Fest of Ale donated more than $16,000 to the Crusade.

“When I started this fundraiser more than a decade ago, I had no idea what we’d be able to accomplish so much while having so much fun,” Antz says.

The festival is 3-7 p.m., with an after-party just a couple of blocks away at Gospel Bird. Tickets are $40 in advance or $50 at the gate, and they can be purchased online or at either Keg Liquors location: 617 E. Lewis & Clark Parkway in Clarksville, or at 4304 Charlestown Road in New Albany.