Hemp Ale Anyone?
Last year, I approached several breweries in Lexington about brewing a Hemp Ale. Every brewer smirked and kindly passed on the opportunity given the harsh stigma associated with hemp. But, one night, while out with some friends, I met a guy named Danny Haddad. He mentioned that he was opening a new brewery in North Limestone called Rock House Brewing. My eyes lit up. I asked brightly, “did you know North Limestone was one of Lexington’s historic hemp districts? Any interest in brewing a hemp ale?” He loved the idea. They were sold.
In 1919 E.F. Spears & Sons of Bourbon County erected a warehouse at North Limestone and Loudon Ave for the handling of hemp, particularly fibers. By WWII the area was a bustling fiber manufacturing hub that prepared rope and parachute webbing for war. Rock House Brewing is situated at 119 Luigart Ct, directly behind Spears & Sons’ main hemp processing facility. While they aren’t tapping the hemp rope roots, they are tapping into a hemp ale.
The brewery’s tap room is a beautiful stone building with a centerpiece fireplace and rickety old wooden floors. ‘Lexington Quarry Co’ is chiseled into the exterior stone. The tap room offers guest taps alongside Rock House Brewery’s beers which include: “Riot Act,” a red rye IPA; “Roadie,” a pale ale; “Groupie,” a cream ale and their hemp ale called Uncle Jon’s Brown, named after their Master Brewer, Jon Brown.
Jon brews the ale in their brew house – a massive warehouse detached from the tap room. The brew house services eight fermentation tanks and a large mashing tub and boiling kettle. For now, the warehouse is an open floor concept, but in time, a bar will separate the brewery from their large seating area, complete with games like ping pong, pop-a-shot, cornhole, foosball and kid’s air hockey and tables surrounding a large projector screen. Their tap room also has several TVs. March Madness anyone?
The brew house’s garage door opens to outside where daily food trucks are scheduled like Gastro Gnomes, Rolling Oven and Go Go Burger and patrons can enjoy the outdoors on the deck or gather around their patio’s fire pit. They not only work with local food trucks but look forward to hosting events with non-profit organizations and helping the community in any way possible. They source as many grains as possible from Kentucky and after brewing, they give their mash to Windy Hill Farm in Crab Orchard, Kentucky who feed it their Black Angus Cows. They are kid-friendly and dog-friendly. They also host a cornhole league, have live music every Thursday night and a trivia every Wednesday nights at 7PM.
Taste the Hemp Ale
Rock House Brewing ran a test batch of Uncle Jon’s Brown last fall and it was wildly well-received. So the brewery is pushing out a bigger batch, in perfect timing for March Madness, St. Patrick’s Day and the Kentucky Hemp Industry Association’s hemp happy hour following their annual conference on March 21st. If you’d like to visit Rock House Brewing you can find them at 119 Luigart Court in Lexington’s NoLi District. Uncle Jon’s Brown will be available by next week, March 13th.
Hours of operation:
Monday – Thursday: 4-10ish
Find Rock House Brewing on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @RockHouseBrewing and Snapchat at rhbrewing
Rock House Brewing uses toasted hemp seeds processed by Victory Hemp Foods with sales support provided by Think Hempy Thoughts.
Photos by Adam B. Photo