Holler festival returns to celebrate Kentucky craft beer and spirits

Holler festival returns to celebrate Kentucky craft beer and spirits
Posted at 11:00 AM, Apr 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-11 11:00:50-04

BELLEVUE, Ky. – When the Holler festival returns to New Riff Distilling on Saturday after a year's hiatus, fans of Kentucky craft spirits will have plenty to celebrate, organizers said.

“This festival has grown a little bit,” said Hannah Lowen, New Riff’s general manager. “The number of people participating has increased ... about a third of them are new this year.”

Holler, a showcase for Kentucky-made craft beer and spirits, will feature 25 breweries and distilleries this year; the inaugural festival, which New Riff hosted in November 2015, included 19 participants, Lowen said.

“There are a lot of new breweries and distilleries opening in Kentucky,” she said. “We’re inviting all those smaller breweries and distilleries in Kentucky (to the event).”

RELATED: See photos from Holler 2015

Kentucky currently has 52 working distilleries, according to an economic impact study that the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and University of Louisville published in January. The state has added 21 licensed distilleries since the KDA published its last report in 2014.

New distilleries at Holler this year will include Boone County Distilling, Wadelyn Ranch Distilling, Rabbit Hole Distilling, Casey Jones Distillery and Jepthra Creed Distillery. They join returning spirit-makers Wilderness Trail Distillery, MB Roland Distillery, Old Pogue Distillery, Limestone Branch, Corsair Distillery, Barrel House Distilling, Hartfield & Co. Distillery, Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. and Ludlow’s Second Sight Spirits.

New participating breweries Gordon Biersch, Apocalypse Brew Works, Mash Cult and Newport’s Wooden Cask will join returning beermakers Country Boy, Against the Grain, Alltech, Goodwood, Covington's Braxton Brewery and West Sixth.

The increase in participating distilleries and breweries is not the only new aspect of this year’s Holler festival. Second Sight will serve new spirits it has produced since the last festival. 

“I know that the apple pie moonshine will be there for sure,” said Dan Gibson, sales manager for Second Sight.

Gibson launched his Villa Hillbillies line of moonshine in March 2016 after partnering with Second Sight founders Carus Waggoner and Jeff Couch. Couch and Waggoner also have added a variety of bourbon-barrel aged and spiced rums to the distillery's menu since 2015, and Gibson said they will use some of the rums to make cocktails at Holler.

Lowen said New Riff put Holler on hiatus in 2016 with plans to make it a recurring spring festival going forward.

“We essentially had a long break,” she said. “It feels like there are about three bourbon and beer festivals every day in the fall. Having Holler in the spring makes it a little more unique.”

For Holler 2018, Lowen said people can anticipate tours of New Riff’s new whiskey campus, which is currently under construction in Newport. The campus will include a rickhouse to age bourbon barrels in, a tasting room and an event space.

Holler Festival

When: 6-10 p.m. Saturday
Where: 24 Distillery Way in front of the Party Source in Bellevue
Tickets: $50. General admission includes 10 drink tickets, a tasting glass, light bites from McHale’s Catering and live music by Lauren Mink. VIP passes are sold out, Lowen said.