It hasn't taken long for Danville to write some history since going wet last year.
In fact, the owners of the town's second and newest brewing operation will tell you last month's opening makes Danville the per-capita capital of microbrewing.
According to the state office of Alcoholic Beverage Control, there are currently 15 breweries of any size in Kentucky, with nine of those in either Lexington or Louisville and four in northern Kentucky. With the opening in August of Lore Brewing Co. on Whirlaway Drive, Danville now has the only other two in the state.
A total of two breweries may sound like a token distinction, but Ashley Rossman said it was not a big surprise that Danville has been the place outside of more metropolitan areas where craft beer has had success.
"When the law changed, I think the demand was there and there is an unusually high proportion of craft beer drinkers here," Lee Rossman said. "You have a lot of people here who seek out that kind of product in stores and on tap in restaurants."
Like fellow microbrewer Brian Holton of Beer Engine, the Rossmans honed their skills through several years of brewing beer themselves. About the time the town went wet, they came to Danville from Tampa, Fla., to be closer to family with hopes of starting a small business.
The Rossmans said doing what they enjoy is a coincidental benefit of the alcohol election. They saw the opportunity to not only manufacture beer, but also open a retail store for the growing number of people who appreciate the do-it-yourself process of making their own brew.
"Everyone told us when we started brewing and getting better at it we could probably sell what we made," Lee Rossman said. "We started doing this because we weren't really interested in what the major beer companies had to offer. We don't want people to tell us what we want to drink or what to make."
What Lore currently makes is three main beers: Derby Brown Ale, Freya's Stone Amber and Toolbox Cream Ale. They also have seasonal beer called Intergalactic and are working on an India Pale Ale. Ashley Rossman said most of their beers are both sophisticated enough for the connoisseur and acceptable enough to surprise those used to only lighter, domestic beers.
Currently the beer is mostly available in two liter “growlers” at the store, but Lee Rossman said they are filling keg orders for local restaurants and will soon begin selling the beer in bottled form. Production is currently 31 gallons a day, seven days a week, but will increase to 15 barrels a day by early next year when new equipment comes on line.
While many kinds of businesses, let alone small breweries, take several years to show a profit, Ashley Rossman said Lore has been able to get there in close to six months. The business already has doubled its planned brewing capacity.
The name for the business wasn't necessarily their first choice, but after finding some other ideas were already trademarked, they are running with the moniker.
When the bottled beer hits the shelves, there likely will be a story on all of the labels, including the one about the namesake of Freya’s Stone Amber, a Norse goddess whose falling tears were said to turn to amber.
Instead of viewing the town’s other microbrewery as competition, the couple said they have a sort of camaraderie with Holton and other small breweries that harkens back to when most of them began making beer at home. Ashley Rossman said the hobby lends itself not only to socializing, but making gifts of batches each brewer is most proud of.
The couple say the rarity of breweries in the state and many parts of the country is due in part to three-tier laws that require breweries to sell their product through a distributor, no matter how small the order or close to location where they are selling it. Along with the love of making one-of-a-kind creations, Lee Rossman said the difficulty of existing in a world controlled by large beer companies also bonds small brewing operators.
"With people who make craft beer, I think there is definitely 'us against them' attitude," he said.
The breweries and local economic development and tourism officials have jumped at the chance to promote the town's unique cottage industry.
"Since transitioning to wet status last year, Danville has positioned itself as the craft beer capital of Kentucky," said Charlie Cox, spokesman for the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership. "With V-the Market, and now Beer Engine and Lore, we get inquires in the EDP and CVB on a daily basis from beer lovers and those with a passion for brew."
Cox said people who come into the visitors center downtown are directed to Lore and Beer Engine. Beer Engine, which adopted the tongue-in-cheek "Danville's Oldest Brewery" when it opened earlier this year, has become a destination for those who want to sample both Holton's own creations and craft selections from around the country. Ashley Rossman said people interested in craft beer and the brewing process already have started coming in every day, which gives the couple the opportunity to recommend restaurants and other points of interest.
There also has been an effort to capitalize on brewing culture during events such as Oktoberfest, where Lore’s beers were featured prominently. Beer Engine is hosting an event called N.A.B.Cieged on Oct. 22 in conjunction with Indiana’s New Albanian Brewing Co.
With the resurgence of craft beer around the country, the Rossmans want to continue making the beers they enjoy for people locally while also branching out around the state and eventually the country.