Kentucky’s Beloved Ale-8 Soda Has Been Around Over 90 Years—But You Probably Have Never Heard Of It

A gingery, citrusy Prohibition-era concoction that makes a darn good bourbon mixer.
Kentucky Ale-8 Soda

It’s not often that you find yourself running into a glass bottle of Coke anymore. In Kentucky, certainly not—because you’ll run into Ale-8.

After being in Kentucky for, I don’t know, three hours, I came across my first one inside a cooler fridge at Wallace Station Deli, one of Kentucky chef Ouita Michel’s restaurants. I asked the cashier, “What’s that?’ while pointing to the green longneck bottle with the old-school logo. She looked at me like I’d just fallen off the turnip truck. “That’s Ale-8.” I said I’d take it.

Ale-8-One—called Ale-8 for short—is a gingery, citrusy little number that tastes like a crisper, more mellowed (read: less spicy) take on ginger beer, and it’s the only Kentucky-invented soft drink still being produced. The first batches were bottled in 1926, making it over 90 years old.

It’s one of those phenomena that once you’ve seen one, you start seeing them everywhere. My first was at a tucked-away restaurant on the side of a quiet country road near Midway, Kentucky. Later that night, I was at a rooftop bar in downtown Lexington, and there it was—this time in a swirling machine mixing up frozen bourbon slushies with Maker’s Mark and Ale-8 at Belle’s Cocktail House. Similarly, a cocktail made with Maker’s and Ale-8 is known as a “Kentucky Gentleman.”

While most stay true to the classic, Ale-8-One Bottling Company also offers Diet Ale-8, Caffeine-Free Ale-8, and a specialty Cherry Ale-8 (can you say perfect for ice cream float?). You can find it throughout Kentucky, as well as in all 600-plus Cracker Barrel restaurants. It’s also carried in select locations throughout the Southeast, including Fresh Market and Kroger.

If you can get your hands on them before they’re gone, that is. This Prohibition-era soft drink knows how to be sneaky.


A gingery, citrusy Prohibition-era concoction that makes a darn good bourbon mixer.

Beer + cheese. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Kentucky concoction

, Louisville Courier JournalPublished 6:25 a.m. ET Sept. 3, 2019 

Beer. Cheese. Objectively two of the most beloved food items in the world. Both span centuries, continents and cultures.

But beer cheese? It’s a Kentucky thing.

Nearly every brewery and brewpub menu around Louisville has an iteration of the mouth-watering appetizer: most traditionally a combination of cheddar cheese, beer, cayenne pepper, paprika and some garlic.

Kentuckians feel strongly about their beer cheese — its serving temperature, whether it’s accompanied by a soft pretzel or chips, the best cheese to use and the beer you should never use.

And they should, since Winchester, Kentucky likes to take credit for inventing the modern pub-food concoction. It’s all about that good ol’ Bluegrass State pride!

Beer cheese is rarely seen outside of central Kentucky, or if it is, it’s usually a bastardized version, not what’s found in Winchester, Lexington or here in Louisville. And it’s so popular that the exact beer cheese recipe is kept a secret at nearly every local establishment.

We know you love it. So we’ve put together the ultimate Louisville beer cheese guide so you can get your fix on all things beer + cheese.

Temperature debate: cold vs. hot

Temperature is by far one of the most controversial issues surrounding beer cheese locally: Is it best served hot or cold?

Many Kentuckians have a strong opinion about the temperature of their beer cheese but one thing is for certain — beer cheese is definitely not the same as nachos or the processed cheese served with pretzels at high school football games. And the version of beer cheese invented in Winchester, Kentucky is served cold.

To read the full article click here.

Kentucky resort parks serve up authentic, regional eats along the state’s culinary trail

JUL 26, 2019 | 8:23 AM

As the server set my main luncheon course before me, I had to resist the urge to wrinkle my nose in distaste. After all, I thought of goetta the same way I thought of haggis, Rocky Mountain oysters and eel pie — all food items I would gladly pass on.

I had tried goetta once before and didn’t like it. However, since I was here specifically for the purpose of eating it, I bravely picked up my fork and cut off a piece. Expecting the worst, I found instead that it was quite delicious — nothing like the tasteless blob of meat I had tried before. I kept cutting off pieces until, to my surprise, the goetta was gone.

To those who may not be familiar with goetta, it’s a meat and grain sausage, composed mainly of meat, pork, peppers, onions, pin oats and spices, and cooked for several hours. It’s a common dish in Cincinnati, thanks to the city’s German heritage, and by extension, across the Ohio River in northern Kentucky as well.

So, you might ask what is a German dish that many in the Commonwealth of Kentucky have never heard of — let alone eaten — doing on the menu at a Kentucky State Resort Park?

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Southern Hospitality Magazine-Traveler

Southern Hospitality Magazine-Traveler

June 4, 2019

#TravelTuesday Today is #NationalCheeseDay, and in the South there are plenty of places where you can sample local and regional cheeses.

From Belle Chevre ( in Elkmont, Alabama, to Udderly Cool Creamery( in Roopville, Georgia, to Orrman’s Cheese Shop( inside 7th Street Public Market ( in Charlotte, North Carolina
and points in between, it’s easy to make every day a national cheese day.

And did you know about the NC Cheese Trail? Learn more at

Little Rock, Arkansas, is home to the annual World Cheese Dip Championship (this year’s date is Oct. 5;

Winchester, Kentucky, is the birthplace of Beer Cheese and home of the Beer Cheese Trail ( The destination also holds a Beer Cheese Festival(, scheduled for June 8 this year.

American Cheese Society is holding its annual Festival of Cheese and Cheese Sale in Richmond, Virginia, on Sat., Aug. 3. For more information, including ticket costs and purchasing, visit

Visit North Alabama Sweet Home Alabama Carrollton Area Convention & Visitors BureauExplore GeorgiaCharlotte’s got a lotVisit North CarolinaLittle Rock, Arkansas
Arkansas State TourismWinchester-Clark County Tourism
Kentucky TourismVisit Richmond VAVirginia is for Lovers


Kentucky State Parks Culinary Trail Now Open for Second Year

Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet

Kentucky Department of Tourism

Contact: Angela Blank
502-892-4001/[email protected]

Kentucky State Parks Culinary Trail Now Open for Second Year

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 22, 2019) – For the second straight year, guests can sample some tasty regional fare at nine Kentucky State Parks on the 2019 Kentucky State Parks Culinary Trail.

This highly successful trail is part of the Better in the Bluegrass culinary tourism initiative that showcases one-of-a-kind restaurants and chefs specializing in local ingredients and distinctive cuisine. Better in the Bluegrass was highlighted by the last season of Top Chef that took place in Kentucky.

“We are extremely excited to continue the culinary trail for a second year,” Don Parkinson, Secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet said. “This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for visitors and locals to have a unique culinary experience at one of our state park restaurants while enjoying the great outdoors and scenic beauty all our parks have to offer.”

“The Kentucky State Parks Culinary Trail is a fun way for our guests to experience local dishes all across Kentucky,” Parks Commissioner Donnie Holland said. “Our partnership with the Kentucky Department of Tourism helps guide tourists to our parks and other culinary destinations in every region.”

A Kentucky State Park restaurant in each of the nine tourism regions offers one of these signature meals. Pick up a culinary passport at any state park where guests can receive stamps after trying the featured meals at all nine parks along this culinary trail to receive a gift. Meals will be served May 19 through Oct. 31, 2019 and local producers will be utilized for portions of each regional meal.

State Parks Featured:

Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park, Dawson Springs

Bluegrass Blues & Barbecue Region

Rough River Dam State Resort Park, Falls of Rough

Bourbon, Horses & History Region

Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Slade

Bluegrass, Horses, Bourbon & Boone Region

Barren River Lake State Resort Park, Lucas

Caves, Lakes & Corvettes Region

Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, Prestonsburg

Kentucky Appalachians Region

Pine Mountain State Resort Park, Pineville

Daniel Boone Country Region

Blue Licks Battlefield State Park, Carlisle

Northern Kentucky River Region

Lake Cumberland State Resort Park, Jamestown

Southern Shorelines Region

Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park, Gilbertsville

Western Waterlands Region

To learn more about each region’s cultural heritage, signatures dishes, recipes, and the Kentucky State Parks Culinary Trail, please visit

To plan your next vacation or getaway, visit For information about Kentucky State Parks, visit


Abettor Brewery plans grand opening this week!

The Winchester Sun

By Lashana Harney

After a successful soft opening this past weekend, Abettor Brewing Company is officially opening this week.

Abettor, located at 301 W. Lexington Ave., offers local beers, ranging from $4 to $6, such as Blond Ale, Abettor IPA, Pale8, Raspberry Wheat and Rocco’s Coffee Stout. The beers are made with local hops, Owner Tyler Montgomery said.

Abettor also offers wine and soft drinks.

Questionable Activities Trivia will kick off the grand opening week at 7 p.m. Thursday for the start of weekly Thursday trivia nights.

Day one of Abettor’s official grand opening begins at 11 a.m. Friday. The El Jaibo taco truck will be on site at 5 p.m., and Singer-songwriter Eric Bolander will perform from 8 to 10 p.m.

Day two begins at 11 a.m. Saturday and the taco truck will again be on site at 5 p.m. Musician Aaron Boyd will perform from 8 to 10 p.m.

“It should be a fun time,” Montgomery said.

Later this month, Abettor will host performances by The Ox-Eyed Daisies, Jason Howard and Mason McCord.

For more information and updates about Abettor, go to

To see the full article click here!


This Beautiful Hike In Kentucky Has A Mouthwatering Restaurant Right Along The Trail

This Beautiful Hike In Kentucky Has A Mouthwatering Restaurant Right Along The Trail

Kentucky is great for doing many things, but two of the best are hiking and eating. Our state has countless trails to experience and just as many delicious restaurants to try, and there is one spot in the Bluegrass where you can do both, and practically at the same time. Halls on the River is a well known restaurant in Winchester, which also happens to be home to the trailhead for the John Holder Trail. This beautiful hike is perfect for exploring anytime of year and you can even fuel back up at the mouthwatering restaurant right along the trail.

To read the full article please click here!

Staircase to the secrets of Ale-8-One

The only soft drink invented in Kentucky still in existence

CEO Fielding Rogers prepares the secret formula used to create all small-batches of Ale-8s. Photo: Tim Webb

“The spiral staircase leads to my secret batching room where I mix up the family recipe,” says Fielding Rogers, CEO and great-great-nephew of G.L. (Lee) Wainscott, founder of the Ale-8-One Bottling Company.

Begun in 1902 in Winchester, Ale-8-One remains the oldest, privately held bottler in the United States still owned and operated by the founding family. It is the only soft drink invented in Kentucky still in existence.

Rogers is a fourth-generation family member to run the business, appointed at the age of 28 in October 2009, and was later named CEO in 2013. Every Ale-8 that is sent out into the world originates in small batches from his hand.

In the beginning, Wainscott bottled flavored soda waters that he called Wainscott’s Flavors, and in 1906 he launched Roxa-Kola—named after wife Roxanne—a popular rival to the cola drinks of the day.

Wainscott later sourced recipes for ginger-blended drinks while on travels to northern Europe, developing a drink described as “a combination of ginger and citrus” that is “not too hot and not too sweet.”

What better way to introduce his newest formulation than with a taste testing at the 1926 Clark County Fair, along with a name-that-drink contest. A young girl submitted the winning entry, “A Late One,” slang in the 1920s for “the latest thing.” The name later changed to the pun “Ale-8-One.”

The first longneck returnable bottle appeared in 1949 bearing the familiar Ale-8-One shield with the company’s first logo inside.

Today, fans simply refer to the drink as Ale-8.

“It’s a powerful legacy that I take seriously, and I am very protective of the ingredients. I still have the original notes in Uncle Lee’s handwriting,” says Rogers.

A new Wainscott worthy flavor: Cherry Ale-8
With the family-owned company competing with industry giants, Ale-8-One strives to stay relevant.

In addition to the Ale-8 Original, there are two other varieties: Diet Ale-8, introduced to loyal fans in 2003, and Caffeine Free Diet Ale-8, which debuted in 2011. The only new flavor to be introduced since the Original is Cherry Ale-8, which launched in April 2018.

Photo: Ale-8-One Bottling Company

Rogers admits, “Launching a new product, especially a new flavor, after 92 years of the classic formula was certainly a risk, but a risk we were willing to take. We had heard several flavor recommendations from fans over many years, but cherry was the most popular and the one that we started with. This was a brand new creation and we tested the recipe over a span of two years to ensure it lived up to Uncle Lee’s legacy which we call ‘Wainscott worthy.’”

The company also taste tested the final recipe with numerous Ale-8 fans before production started.

“Uncle Lee had notoriously high standards, and we feel sure he would be proud of what we have created with Cherry Ale-8,” says Rogers. “It’s made using real cherries, real sugar and no artificial colors.” A 12-ounce serving has 120 calories.

Rogers says, “As the soda category changes, it makes sense for the company to appeal to broader audiences. We looked back to our heritage for inspiration,” to Wainscott’s introduction into the beverage industry with Wainscott’s Flavors. “In the ’60smy father and grandfather chose to focus solely on Ale-8 since that recipe was our family’s creation. Today, as the company expands our product line, we want to ensure all recipes remain unique by incorporating the secret formula.”

Cherry Ale-8 was added to the Louisville market in January, and the company has plans to distribute to other areas soon.

Rogers adds, “Cherry Ale-8 has been a good addition to our product line. Sales have exceeded our expectations.”

Ale-8’s devoted fans
One naturally expects the CEO of the company to be a huge fan of Ale-8, but it’s interesting to hear which are his favorites.

“For me, there’s nothing like drinking an Ale-8 from a longneck returnable bottle,” says Rogers, “but as I’ve gotten older, I’ll admit that I drink my fair share of Diet Ale-8 now too. It tastes great and doesn’t have any calories which is nice when you are watching those. And yes, I drink them every day, including Cherry Ale-8.”

When asked about Ale-8-One’s devoted fans, Rogers shares the following story that demonstrates how beloved Ale-8 is.

“One of our fans was a soon-to-be-groom, who wanted to include Ale-8 in their wedding in Texas to represent his ‘Old Kentucky Home.’ Our staff put him in touch with the nearest Cracker Barrel. In turn, the Cracker Barrel Country Store manager drove around and collected Ale-8 from all of the Cracker Barrel locations in the area,” says Rogers. “He reported that Ale-8 was a smash hit with Kentucky and Texas guests of the wedding.”

Stepping up
Ale-8-One is a partner with many groups in the state and in their local community of Winchester. The company is dedicated to the environment and its employees, and also supports military stationed overseas by donating the product with the person paying only for shipping.

For a number of years, Ale-8 has worked with environmental non-profits and 1% for the Planet to give back 1 percent of longneck returnable glass bottles and tallboy can sales. “Our partnership with 1% for the Planet allows us to directly help the Red River Gorge, a beautiful Kentucky sanctuary, and all those who enjoy it,” says Rogers.

Ale-8-One Bottling Company is an eight-time winner of the KEMI Award for Safety. Rogers explains: “Ale-8 is the only policy holder out of some 20,000 Kentucky Employer Mutual Insurance (KEMI) customers to have received this award eight years in a row. We are most proud of this accomplishment because getting our folks home at the end of the day is our most important job.”

More Ale-8-One facts
• Free tours are offered at the Ale-8-One Bottling Company. They are 45-minutes in length, for all ages, given on Thursdays and Fridays at 9 a.m., 10 a.m.,  and 11 a.m. Reservations required; sign up online or call. Every guest receives an ice-cold Ale-8 in the famous green, longneck returnable glass bottle at the end of the tour.

• All glass varieties of Ale-8-One including Diet Ale-8 and Cherry are produced in the Winchester plant, where they employ just over 100 full-time employees.

• Ale-8 is widely available in Kentucky, available nationwide online, available in Kroger stores throughout the Southeast, and can be found at most Cracker Barrel, Fresh Market and Harris Teeter stores.

• Ale-8-One is a Kentucky Proud member and a three-time winner of Kentucky Living’s Best in Kentucky awards for Made in Kentucky Product.

• Recipes for drinks made with Ale-8-One are available online. In the near future, recipes for savory and sweet recipes—some developed by Kentucky chefs—will be added. Watch for them at

• The online Ale-8-One store and gift shop at the bottling plant in Winchester offer lots of fun logoed merchandise, for all ages, including a variety of t-shirts to onesies. Food items made with Ale-8-One include salsa, barbecue sauce, even suckers! Other popular items include art prints, huggies and bottle sweaters, and seasonal merchandise.

Contact information
Ale-8-One Bottling Company
25 Carol Rd, Winchester, KY 40391
(859) 744-3484

Everything You Need to Know About Beer Cheese, Including How to Make It

Everything You Need to Know About Beer Cheese, Including How to Make It

Illustration By Danielle Grinberg

Every June, thousands of people gather in Winchester, Ky., for the annual Beer Cheese Festival. The family-friendly fest has brought out Kentucky locals and tourists around beer, music, arts and crafts, and competitions for 10 years. The spread that keeps everyone coming back? Beer cheese.Beer cheese is prevalent in the Bluegrass State. Made here for some 50 years, it’s available at restaurants, grocery stores, and Super Bowl tailgates.

Now, the versatile spread is expanding its cheesy reach to breweries and high-end gastro pubs across the country. The Kentucky staple is served at Louisville craft breweries like Against the Grain, Bluegrass Brewing Company, and Holy Grale, and is on the menus of restaurants like San Antonio, Texas’s Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery and New York’s Randolph Beer.

Best of all? The crowd-pleasing living legend is easy to make at home.

Cheese lovers gather at “Beer Cheese Blvd.” at the Beer Cheese Festival in Winchester, Ky. Photo credit: Beer Cheese Festival /

Making A Legend

Traditionally, beer cheese is served cold and consists of sharp cheddar cheese (or processed cheese with cheddar flavor), beer, garlic, and pepper, preferably cayenne. Some recipes call for additional zingy hot flavors like dry mustard and horseradish. Heat is both the name of the game and the operative word with beer cheese: Variations can range from mild to hot in flavor, cold to hot in temperature, and spreadable destinies spanning vegetables, crackers, crudités, and cheeseburgers.

Kentucky River originals are served cold and tend to use German lager for its light malt and hop flavors. (It also works as a nod to Kentucky’s German heritage.) Holy Grale, for example, uses its pilsner in its housemade beer cheese, served with fresh-baked pretzel bread.

Lots of beer cheese recipes play up the umami flavors with nutty brown ale and Worcestershire sauce. A smoky meat-lovers’ version calls for gouda and bacon. Still others cool down the heat and play up the sweet, fruity flavors, like Against the Grain, which uses its Sho’ Nuff Belgian table beer in a cold-served dip with kettle chips.

Basically, beer cheese can be whatever you want it to be, is almost guaranteed to be delicious, and it only takes 10 to 15 minutes to make.

Thousands of people attend the Beer Cheese Festival each June. Photo credit: Beer Cheese Festival /

Sticky History

Exactly where beer cheese comes from varies depending on whom you ask, but most trace its origins to Clark County. The Kentucky locale was officially recognized as the birthplace of beer cheese in 2013. Winchester, Ky., the county seat of Clark County, is home to the world’s only Beer Cheese Festival and Beer Cheese Trail, the latter of which takes dairy lovers on an eight-restaurant beer cheese journey.

By some accounts, the spread was invented in the 1930s by Chef Joe Allman for the Driftwood Inn, located alongside the Kentucky River near Boonesborough. The inn was owned by Joe’s cousin, Johnnie, who served the spicy dip as a complimentary snack to keep beer drinkers thirsty. In the 1940s, the restaurant moved to a new location along the river in Winchester, where it remains today under a new name.

Legend has it Johnnie lost the restaurant (and its precious beer cheese recipe) to a bet with a man named Carl Johnson in the 1960s. In 1965, the restaurant and its recipes were acquired by George and Gertrude Hall, who renamed the restaurant Hall’s on the River. The Halls introduced Clark County to the now-famous Hall’s Snappy Beer Cheese that year. The spread is now sold in Sam’s Clubs across the Midwest and eastern U.S.

Although Hall’s claims to have the original beer cheese, Johnnie was a serial restaurateur and brought his beer cheese with him to several businesses throughout the 1970s. The final location, Allman’s Restaurant, served the last Allman’s beer cheese in 1978, when it burned down.

However, at present, Johnnie ’s grandson Ian Allman is now proud owner of Allman’s Beer Cheese, which also claims to be “the one and only original.” Another brand, River Rat Beer Cheese, produced by Bob Tabor, a former employee of Johnnie Allman, uses the tagline “Just Like Johnny’s [sic].”

Although not proven, Hall’s and other Clark County beer cheese enthusiasts claim Queen Elizabeth II is a fan of the stuff. She, an avid horse enthusiast, was allegedly seen snatching a tub of the spread after one of her many visits to the Bluegrass State’s thoroughbred horse farms.

No matter which beer cheese was the first, many have come since. We are excited to see where beer cheese goes next.

The Beer Bitty’s beer cheese recipe calls for smoked gouda and bacon. Photo credit:


Brooklyn Brew Shop, a brewing supply company based in NYC, shared its recipe for stellar, spiced beer cheese. It recommends using flavorful beer that isn’t too hoppy, such as blonde or brown ale, or wheat beer.


  • 3 bottles of beer (see note above)
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ⅔ cup whole milk
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 10 ounces (approx. 2 heaping cups) grated cheddar


  1. Combine beer, shallots, garlic, and peppercorns in a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer until the beer reduces to ⅓ cup (approximately one hour).
  2. When liquid is reduced, strain into a heat-safe bowl and let cool.
  3. When your beer reduction is cool enough to handle, combine milk, cream cheese, cheddar, and beer reduction in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is somewhat smooth, but stop before it becomes a paste.
  4. Transfer cheese mixture to a large pot and heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until cheese is completely melted (approximately 10 minutes). Whisk until smooth.
  5. Remove from heat, let cool, and cover. Refrigerate for at least four and up to 24 hours to marry flavors. Enjoy.