Braxton Brewing winter block party highlights growth in Northern Kentucky

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COVINGTON, Ky. — Thousands of people are expected to visit Covington over the weekend. The main attraction? Beer — a bourbon barrel-aged beer, Dark Charge, to be precise.

Braxton Brewing Company is hosting its eighth Annual Dark Charge winter block party Friday and Saturday. For the first time in the event’s history, it will be held over a period of two days.

“My favorite event we do. We call it our Super Bowl,” Braxton Brewing co-founder Jake Rouse said. “To see everyone come out for the event, line up, enjoy the bottles and beer. It’s why we started the business. To see that year after year, after year. We challenge ourselves to what can we do to make the event better every time. It’s been a really fun ride.”

Rouse said he’s proud to see how far Covington and the Northern Kentucky region have come over the past eight years.

“Downtown Covington has grown up right in front of our eyes. We were often laughed at when we told people where we putting Braxton. The addition of Hotel Covington, the amazing distilleries, the Revival Vintage shops, Wenzel Whiskey just a few blocks down the road,” he said. “There’s a great urban heritage and culture in Covington that’s roll up your sleeves and create something special. You get to see that in beverage. There aren’t many cities in America that you can do that.”

This year’s Dark Charge lineup includes a bourbon barrel-aged stout, and eight different variants. Among those variants are collaborations with Busken Bakery and the B-Line.

meetNKY President Julie Kirkpatrick said the collaboration between the B-Line and Braxton Brewing, a bourbon barrel-aged stout called chocolate pretzel bourbon ball, is exciting.

“We want a variant that takes into account our amazing bourbon heritage here,” she said. “That’s been aged in three different bourbon barrels: Boone County Distilling, Old Pogue Distilling, and New Riff distilling.”

The B-Line is a self-guided Northern Kentucky bourbon experience that features five distilleries, seven bourbon bars and six restaurants.

“When you look at what Kentucky is known for: horses, food, bluegrass music, bourbon. We decided we needed to do something to put more Kentucky in Northern Kentucky. Bourbon is the way to do it,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick said the region receives the angel’s share of tourism dollars by having its own unique bourbon experience.

“We’re bringing the bourbon culture back,” she said. “We’re planting a flag that we’re firmly part of the Commonwealth. But we bring the bourbon to the Cincinnati region to marry with the beer.”

Leaders said the marriage of beer and bourbon is a win-win for the region. Last year’s Dark Charge event brought more than 10,000 people to Covington.

“We want you to come down, enjoy the event, and then go to the local restaurants. Enjoy the community. That’s what this is all about,” Rouse said.

Saturday’s event hours (bottle sales/outdoor festivities) are from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., however, Rouse said the taproom will open at 9 a.m. Saturday to accommodate those wanting to watch the USA World Cup match.

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