Good things are happening at Bad Tom Smith Brewing.
One sign of growth at a brewery is physical expansion, when owners add equipment or expand the premises. Another is an increase in production and/or distribution.
And a third is the ability to throw a big party, like Bad Tom Smith's upcoming Bad Ass Beer Fest July 15-16 at the French House. The festival will feature beers from Blank Slate, Braxton, Ei8ht Ball, Mt. Carmel, MadTree, Rhinegeist and Urban Artifact in addition to five offerings from Bad Tom Smith itself.
Bad Ass Beer Fest
4-11 p.m. July 15-16
French House, 3012 Section Road
Pre-sale: $20; VIP: $50; Halfway to Hazard VIP: $75
Organizing a music and beer festival is something John Vojtush said wouldn’t have been possible last year when he and his wife, Sheryl, were still new owners of the brewery.
“I think the brewing community itself said, 'Let’s watch what is going on there,'” Vojtush said. “I feel like much more a part of the brewing community now."
This year, with the experience they’ve gained and the connections they’ve made, one can expect a truly badass party. Among those connections is Northside brewery Urban Artifact, which helped put together the music lineup.
"Since music is sort of our brand, we wanted to help others out with it, so we booked all the bands except the headliner," said Scott Hand of Urban Artifact.
Halfway to Hazard will headline both nights of the event and perform a special acoustic set for VIP ticketholders. Local favorites playing the festival include Zebras in Public, Go Go Buffalo, Lemon Sky and The Cliftones, among others.
A shuttle from nearby Amberley Village Golf Course will run all day to help with parking, and big tents will be on site to provide shelter from the sun. Part of the proceeds will go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Vojtush said.
A commitment to quality
Perhaps the biggest sign of growth at Bad Tom Smith is the commitment to quality that Vojtush and head brewer Sean Smith are putting into their products.
“We had to dump our batch of Brother Clement,” Vojtush said. The beer is a wheat beer brewed with 400 pounds of clementines, and it was a favorite when last brewed. “We noticed after a few days it didn’t taste right, but we took it all the way through the brewing process. But we said it doesn’t meet our standards.
“It hurts, but in the grand scheme of things, you have to do what is right — you have to be cognizant of quality.”
Part of generating more growth is upgrading the actual brewing system. Bad Tom Smith has new fermenters arriving soon and a new mash tun coming in September. Some of the old equipment will be removed, and one of the current fermenters will be used as a cool water tank, something that will make temperature regulation during the brewing process much easier.
“Today, we use earth water,” said Vojtush. “That is difficult to regulate, especially this time of year. The new equipment will allow us to get to the annual production we want, and we can do it without compromising.”
Back to Kentucky roots
Bad Tom recently started distributing in Eastern Kentucky, which makes sense, since its namesake is from that area. Not only does the character of Bad Tom (a distant relative of head brewer Smith) resonate there, but the beer, particularly Breathitt County Blonde Ale, does as well.
“Our distributor there is the most successful one for us, and that’s because it is tied to our story,” Vojtush said. “Kentucky is exceeding our expectations.”
Community is very important to Bad Tom Smith and factors into its plans going forward. The plan is to create other taprooms in tight-knit communities, like the one they have in Linwood, Vojtush said.
“Where we’re located, with anchor restaurants like Terry’s Turf Club and Bella Luna, we have good traffic and a nice, steady flow,” Vojtush said. “Our path in the future is not to can and bottle everything we have; our goal is to get more taps. We have around 30 in the Cincinnati area, and we want to own as many of those as we can, as opposed to trying to compete for shelf space.
“We want to take this taproom and have the same experience for customers and grow city by city,” Smith said.
Beers at Bad Ass Beer Fest
- The Lesser Path (India White Ale)
- Out and About (Crisp Wheat Ale)
- Pilsen Mosaic (Kölsch)
- Storm (Golden Cream Ale)
- Dead Blow (Tropical Stout)
- Twisted Bit (Dortmunder Lager)
- Half-Bite IPA (IPA)
- West Sixth IPA (IPA)
- Belgian Blonde (Belgian Style Blonde)
New Belgium Brewery:
- Heavy Melon Ale (Watermelon Lime Ale)
- Hibiscus Blueberry Blonde Ale (Blonde Ale)
- Oh My Darling, Saisontine (Saison / Farmhouse Ale)
- Wild Hunt Black IPA (IPA)
- Plum Street Wheat (Fruit Beer)
- Keypunch (Gose)
- Happy Amber (American Amber / Red Ale)
- Boysen The Hood (Belgian Pale Ale)
- Tarnished (Golden Ale)
- Hammock (German Hefeweizen)
- Prodigal Son (American Pale Ale)
Against the Grain:
- Sho Nuff (Belgian Pale Ale)
- Razz Wheat (Wheat Ale)
- Firefly (Amber Ale)
- Blueberry Lager (Fruit / Vegetable)
- Nice Melons (Berliner Style)
- Jeanneke Belgian Style Blonde (Belgian Style Blonde)
- Shawesome (Black IPA)
- Doom Pedal White Ale (White Ale)
- 50 West Lager (Lager)
- Rainbow Road Session IPA (Session IPA)
- Hustle (Rye Pale Ale)
- Puma ( Pilsner)
- Truth (IPA)
- Semi Dry Cider (Hard Cider)
Bad Tom Smith Brewing:
- Breathitt County (Blonde Ale)
- Bad Tom Brown (Brown)
- Fink (Red Rye)
- American Outlaw (IPA)
- Wickked Sheryl (Blush Pale Ale)
Beers served in VIP area:
- Saison 513 (Collaboration: Bad Tom, Blank Slate, Rhinegeist, Taft’s Ale House; saison with chili peppers)
- Fruits of Our Labor (Collaboration: Cellar Dweller, Fibonacci, Fifty West, Mt. Carmel; Fruited IPA)
- CINfully HOPnotic (Bad Tom Smith Brewing; Double IPA)