Rooster Brew: Beer Pioneer of Bourbon County

Rooster Brew: Beer Pioneer of Bourbon County

I had never ventured into Paris, Kentucky until the other day. I don’t tend to leave the city that often unless I’m making the trip back home. The drive out there was absolutely gorgeous. The slow winding curves of Paris Pike take you through miles of farmland with barns that are probably nicer than my house. It’s winter time and I thought it looked nice. I can only imagine it during the spring and summer. I didn’t take this trip for the view, though. I headed out of town to stop by Rooster Brewing (or Rooster Brew as it’s now called by its patrons) and chat for a few minutes with the owner, Ralph Quillin. Rooster Brew is the first brewery to ever operate in Bourbon County.

The place wasn’t very hard to find, you simply stay on Main Street until you see the rooster sticking out of the side of one of the beautiful old buildings that line each side of the street. I parked and made my way up to the door where I saw Ralph sitting inside behind the bar. It was just him in there. The brewery wasn’t officially open but he was nice enough to meet me anyway. We exchanged our hellos and how do you dos and he told me all about his place as I sat at the bar and tried my best to keep one eye on him while I scoped out the beer list with the other. He had six of his own concoctions on tap and a couple more from other breweries. There was a cooler full of all different makes and bottles of beer and behind me was a wall of bottles for you to choose from to take home.

The whole place had a nice, open and mellow vibe to it. He told me that they pretty much gutted the entire space when they bought it, to open it up like it is and show the beauty of some of the original architecture of the building. Which revealed the original ceiling from when it was built in the late 1800s. The place certainly doesn’t lack any charm. The bar itself is made from reclaimed doors with knobs still intact and all of the tables and chairs proudly display handmade renditions of the signature red rooster. Even the metal tap handles are molded into rooster shape.

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DSCF1090You can sit at your typical high-top tables, rest your elbows on the bar or cozy up next to the fireplace. There’s no wrong choice.

We kept talking for a while and I asked the question that I’m sure he gets asked all of the time, “Where’d the name Rooster Brewing come from?” He said before he opened the brewery, he would brew with family and friends and they did their brewing out on a farm. About the time they would get everything going, a big rooster that was missing his tail, would come check everything out. So, when he decided to open up his own brewery he needed a name for it. He didn’t want the name to be anything too personal, no family names tied to it or anything. So his wife, Donna, came up with the name Rooster Brewing in honor of that old rooster that used to watch them brew on the farm and it just seemed right. She was is also to credit for naming one of the beers. Fittingly she called it “No Tail Ale.” Speaking of beer, while we were talking I got around to trying a few. Not only did he know how to make a brewery look nice and make you feel at home, he figured out the most important part of owning such an establishment: how to make good beer. Better yet, how to make damn good beer. Like I mentioned earlier, he had six of his own on tap, I only tried a couple of them but that’s fine. It gives me a reason to go back and try the rest.

DSCF1087Whether you’re a fan of sours, ales, IPAs, or saisons they are bound to have something on tap to wet your whistle.

When I left I was excited that I had found myself another brewery to add to my rotation of places to visit when I want to go out for a beer. Rooster Brew truly is a one of a kind micro brewery. Tucked between other shops and businesses, you really get that downtown feel but with a small town charm. The atmosphere there is incredibly welcoming and not intimidating in the least bit. You don’t have to be a beer connoisseur to fit in, you just need to come looking for good beer and a good time. It may be a few miles out of Lexington but it’s worth your drive to go pay Ralph a visit. They’re open Thursday through Saturday from 4:30 til the Rooster crows or 11:00. Whichever comes first. Trivia takes place on Thursdays and there’s usually a food truck there on Fridays. When Saturday rolls around, you can catch some live music.

I’m glad I got to meet Ralph and talk to him one on one but I’m looking forward to going back when the place is a little more lively and I can mingle with some of the locals. The lucky folks that have already known about this Bourbon County gem longer than me. I think he said the Gastro Gnomes food truck was going to be there within the next week or so. I may make plans to go that night, I think those two would pair nicely together.

Follow Rooster Brew on Facebook so you can keep an eye out for all they’ve got going on now and all that they have coming up this year. Because I’ve caught wind of a rumor that Lexington may be getting a new edition. And if all goes as planned, it could be one of the best new spots in town.

Cody S. Decker