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Kentucky Ale Brew-Off Judges Choose Black IPA as Top Brew; Beer Created by Lexington area Homebrewing Trio

[LEXINGTON, Ky.] – Craft beer fans, prepare to start salivating. A Black India Pale Ale recipe created by three local homebrewers will hit the local market later this summer for a limited time after it is scaled up and produced by Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company. The dark, hoppy brew pleased the judges’ palettes for the 7th Annual Kentucky Ale Brew-Off.

Homebrewers Alex Brenner of Lexington, Matt Armentano and BJ Saunders, both of Georgetown, collaborated to create the brew that was announced as the winner of the 7th Annual Kentucky Ale Brew-Off Tuesday night. The Black IPA trumped 16 other brews created by homebrewers around the region on its flavor, appearance, aroma and mouthfeel.

Three Central Kentucky homebrewers won the 7th Annual Kentucky Ale Brew-Off Tuesday night with their Black India Pale Ale. From left, BJ Saunders of Georgetown, Alex Brenner of Lexington, Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. master brewer Ken Lee, and Matt Armentano of Georgetown.

“This limited edition Black IPA is a unique, great-tasting beer so we know our fans are going to love it,” said Ken Lee, master brewer at Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.  “It means a lot to our brewery to be supporting the local homebrewing community and to help talented brewers like Alex, Matt and BJ get their product out to a wider audience.”

Runners up included Ben Shelton of Lexington with his American Amber Ale, as well as Patrick Bolzenius of Lexington for his American Pale Ale. Several past winners and runners-up of the Kentucky Ale Brew-Off have established their own breweries or other beer projects in recent years.

Brew-Off winners Armentano, Brenner, and Saunders have brewed together as a hobby for three years, but by day the three friends work together as physical therapists. They all said they were surprised to win the Brew-Off, and elated to receive such positive feedback.

“Whenever you brew your own beer you never know if it’s good,” said Brenner. “So it gives you confidence to win this and to finally know your beer is as good as you think it is.”  

According to one judge’s review of their Black IPA brew, the “IPA character is front and center. Toast, char and chocolate all support hops but don’t compete for balance.”

Homebrewers’ entries were all brewed onsite in mid-May within specified guidelines and then judged by local brewing experts last week. The Kentucky Brew-Off competition is held each spring at Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. to kick off American Craft Beer Week. Homebrewers provide all equipment and materials, except water and yeast, which are provided by Alltech.

While the champion brewing team gets the chance to showcase their beer to a wider local audience, they also win a trip to Denver to enter their winning brew in the 2013 Pro-Am Competition at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver in mid-October. The nationwide festival draws visitors from all over the world with the opportunity to sample 2,800 different American beers from 600 breweries. More than 100 international judges evaluate the entries. In 2007, the Kentucky Ale Brew-Off winner Bill Caldwell received the silver medal in the nationwide Pro-Am Competition of the Great American Beer Festival for his Kentucky Hefeweizen.

An official name and logo will be chosen for the Black IPA before it is scaled up and produced by Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company in late summer for the local market.

Recent winning entries of the Kentucky Ale Brew-Off include the Hopfield and McCoy Imperial India Pale Ale, a full-bodied assertive bitter brew boasting a pine aroma and citrus aftertaste; the Kentucky Appalachian Ale, a hopped American Amber Ale, and the Kentucky Coal Porter, a rich, dark robust Porter style beer.