BELLEVUE, Ky. -- One of the best-kept secrets in the local craft beer scene is at Ei8ht Ball Brewing, if you can find it.
Beer fans will soon find more Ei8ht Ball cans on the shelves of local retailers, though, as the Bellevue brewery is ramping up to expand its circulation.
Ei8ht Ball's Tarnished Golden Ale will be available year-round in cans starting in April. A month later, Mike Czech, Ei8ht Ball's pilsner, also will be on shelves, although that style will be available only during the summer months. Those beers will join Prodigal, Ei8ht Ball’s IPA, which already has been canned and available.
“We are doing four big batches of Mike Czech,” said head brewer Mitch Daugherty. That means there should still be some left over to do Ei8ht Ball’s flavored variants, which would be available only in the taproom.
In its third year, Ei8ht Ball has developed a better understanding of what its customers want and the cycle of the craft beer world. The brewery shared its release schedule for WCPO Insider:
- Just launched: Barrel Aged Foursome, a strong (16 percent ABV) Belgian quad aged in bourbon barrels for 14 months; Little Richard, a berry sour; and Yoga Pants, a black IPA from brewer Vergil Roesel.
- This week: Gringo, a Mexican lager brewed with lime, and Preach, a double IPA.
- March: Tiny Pig, a saison made with kaffir lime leaves, and Queen, the spring seasonal English mild ale. Some of the Queen will be aged in rye whiskey barrels and will be available in roughly six months under the label Rye’ld.
- May: Mike Czech, including the new cans.
- June: Dalton’s Kriek, a cherry sour.
- August: Sell Out, a pumpkin ale, and Junior, an American Pale Ale.
- September: Fi8ht Like a Girl, a pink IPA made with rose hips.
- November: Bottle release of a barrel-aged version of K-Hole, an imperial mocha stout.
- Holidays: Home Alone, a milk stout that is expected to also be available in cans at that time.
“This is the first year we’ve mapped out our year in brewing,” Daugherty said. “We are going into our third year. The first two years, we were throwing stuff against the wall to see what stuck. Between what we like to drink ourselves and what the public wants, we have a better idea of what to do and when to do it.
“This makes it easy on everyone,” he added.
The brewery and taproom reside in the back of the Party Source in Bellevue. With space at a premium, Ei8ht Ball uses Buckeye Canning and its mobile equipment to package beer.
“We would love to can more, but it depends on their availability,” said Holli Redmond, sales director at Ei8ht Ball.
However, she believes this gives Ei8ht Ball a bit of allure.
“We’re not everywhere, but we’re in the market enough that people know us,” she said. “We’re kind of a treat when people find us.”
With more people finding Ei8ht Ball products, it should help them find the brewery for the big events it has planned for this year.
A benefit for testicular cancer is scheduled in April. Ei8ht Ball's annual Fight Like a Girl benefit for breast cancer will take place in October, complete with Fi8ht Like a Girl beer, a pink IPA. Ei8ht Ball also will host its third anniversary party in November, coinciding with a bottle release of a barrel-aged version of K-Hole, an imperial mocha stout.
In addition, Ei8ht Ball is going to participate in a brewer-swap/tap takeover with several other breweries this spring. In March, Daugherty will travel to Louisville and Sam Cruz from Against the Grain will come north with four of his brews. In April, plans are to do the same with Country Boy Brewing in Lexington.
“We hope this becomes an ongoing thing,” said Redmond. “It’s a fun way to put beer and brewers in new markets."