Xavier Donnelly, Kore Donnelly, Nico Scholz, Zac Donnelly and Jim ClemonsPhoto by Robbie Clark
Lexington, KY - Five home-brewing buffs have turned in their amateur status as they tapped the keg on Lexington’s newest craft brewery in mid-July.
Brothers Kore, Zac and Xavier Donnelly, along with Jim Clemons and Nico Schulz, opened Blue Stallion Brewing Co. at the corner of Newtown Pike and West Third Street, in a 7,000-square-foot building the team had been renovating and fitting with equipment for nearly nine months.
Kore Donnelly, who has been interested in home-brewing beer for 10 years, said plans for the brewery began to ferment 18 months ago when he met fellow brewers Clemons and Schulz. Along with a passion for quality, hand-crafted beers, they all shared a common goal of eventually wanting to open their own brewery. A business plan was put in the works.
While the business owners did a substantial amount of work to the brewery’s interior, including building a long, custom bar, they also installed the necessary plumbing and pipework for the large, industrial brewing equipment. The team purchased the fermenters and tanks from Big Rock Chophouse, a brewery just outside of Detroit that was in the process of replacing its system as it expanded its brewing capacity.
Currently, Blue Stallion’s system is designed to brew 15 barrels at a time. Donnelly said that kegs carrying Blue Stallion beers should begin to appear in restaurants and bars locally after the team has a feel for how much brew they need to keep on hand at the brewery. Ultimately the owners would like to install a bottling line so they can make Blue Stallion beers available for retail.
“We need more tanks before heavy distribution is feasible,” Donnelly said, “but that’s in the plan.”
Combined, the Blue Stallion owners possess decades’ worth of brewing experience; Schulz, a native of Germany, where he worked for a time at a regional brewery, has even had a formal education in the field at Chicago’s Siebel Institute of Technology, the oldest brewing school in the country.
“He’s known exactly what he’s wanted to do since he was 16,” Donnelly said of head brewer Schulz, who has concocted a number of recipes the brewery utilizes.
The beers Blue Stallion will be producing will have a decidedly international emphasis and will focus on German-style lagers and British ales, though not exclusively. As the brewery opened, beers on-tap included a Munich dunkel, a German pilsner, a Scottish 70 shilling, a smoked lager and a hefeweizen.
Blue Stallion is the third brewery to open in Lexington since the beginning of last year and comes at a time when the popularity of local and craft beer in town is spilling over. Donnelly said the local beer landscape is exceedingly different than when he was first old enough to drink, more than 10 years ago.
“The palate in Lexington has changed so much since I was 21,” he said. “Back then, you could only buy Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams anywhere that wasn’t Liquor Barn. So there wasn’t much of an opportunity for anybody to learn what they like outside of Miller Lite and Bud and all that.
“Nowadays, 21- and 22-year-olds are switching to craft beer early, which wasn’t the case when I was growing up,” he said.
And in a bit of serendipitous location-scouting, Donnelly pointed out that soon a lot of drinking-age college students will be in Blue Stallion’s neighborhood, with the opening of Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s Newtown Pike Campus, located a few blocks north at the former site of Eastern State Hospital. Donnelly said he and his partners weren’t aware of the new college when they decided on the West Third Street spot — the owners were looking for a space downtown with the proper zoning requirements needed for a brewery to be able to distribute beer — but the development is welcome news, and the new brewer is looking forward to being a part of the reshaping of an area of town he has known his whole life.
“It should be an exciting time for this corridor,” Donnelly said. “I grew up across the street from where West Sixth Brewing is now, so I love this area. I rode my bike by this area all growing up. That was another reason we wanted to stay in this area. I always loved it.”