White Squirrel Brewery and Blue Holler Brew Supplies Join the West Kentucky Brewery Hop.

by | Apr 2024

BOURBON DISTILLERIES have been a staple of Kentucky for decades, but craft breweries have begun to become more popular as well. There are now dozens of breweries across the state, and Bowling Green can boast two: White Squirrel Brewery and Blue Holler Brew Supplies. While both businesses are relatively new, participation in the West Kentucky Brewery Hop is sure to bring craft beer enthusiasts to Bowling Green.

The West Kentucky Brewery Hop is a trail of craft beer experiences made up of 13 breweries spanning nine communities across Kentucky. Currently, over 500 people are participating, earning points and prizes for each location they visit. In addition to those rewards, the two Bowling Green locations have a lot to offer.

White Squirrel was originally opened in 2019, but the brewery had to close during the COVID-19 pandemic and only recently reopened. Despite this, owner Sean Stevens said there are constant plans to grow.

right now — we’re constantly trying new beers, we’ve got live music, we’ve got food trucks,” Stevens said. “We’re just constantly trying to find new ways to get our name out there.”

The new warehouse where White Squirrel is located gives the brewery a lot of room to grow, Stevens said. Recently, a new tank was bought to raise the capacity as well. The brewery does events with a firetruck and pop-up TVs. The business itself is kid-friendly and dog-friendly, and Stevens said he considers it “Bowling Green’s living room.” White Squirrel’s customers have supported the brewery in turn.

“They supported us a lot before we shut down, and they’ve come back just as strong,” Stevens said. “Bowling Green’s been great to us.”

While Blue Holler has been in Bowling Green for a few years longer, it, too, has had to deal with unexpected closure. Not long after the brewery reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic, a tornado hit the building and tore it down. Like White Squirrel, Blue Holler has been welcomed back by the community, and the business has many plans to expand, owner Chris Karracker said. His brewery focuses on the community side of beer drinking rather than entertainment, and his events work to make lifelong friends out of simple customers.

“Right now, I’m having a hard time making enough beer to keep all of my taps full,” Karracker said. “Before COVID, I was in about 30 different restaurants in a three-county area… so we’re going to expand back up to that first and foremost. And then I’ve got a company that’s going to come in with a mobile canning line; we’ll start canning beers.” 

Joining the West Kentucky Brewery Hop has allowed White Squirrel and Blue Holler to reach enthusiasts across Kentucky. The commerce it brings is beneficial to Bowling Green as well, Karracker said. 

“It helps the brewery enthusiasts. Even some people who aren’t enthusiasts can see it online somewhere and go, ‘Hey, that sounds good — something I never would have thought of,’” Karracker said. “In Kentucky, we’re not exactly known as a ‘craft beer community.’ Out west, northeast — a lot of those little towns — they’ll have 15, 20 breweries, and they don’t really have to advertise. People just know to go there if they want a good beer, and I think [the West Kentucky Brewery Hop] kind of helps bring some of that mentality into this area.” 

While the trail is state-wide, the West Kentucky Brewery Hop itself is organized by the Henderson Tourist Commission. Executive Director Abby Dixon said that the primary reason for creating the trail was to support small businesses in Henderson County and other cities across Kentucky. 

“Like most communities, ours struggled in the height of the pandemic,” Dixon said. “We know that our small businesses make up the personality of our town, so propping them up was key. We also know that visitors aren’t looking at county lines. They’d rather experience full itineraries and road trips throughout regions. What better way to boost the growing craft beer scene, which we know is a driver of visitation, in our part of the state than by collaborating with other tourism offices to create a robust experience?” 

Initially, the West Kentucky Brewery Hop operated through passport-style booklets and stamps, but the booklets ran out quickly. To keep up with demand and keep in touch with participants, it recently changed to a digital pass. That demand is reflected in the breweries involved. As Dixon said many have noted increased foot traffic. 

“Our breweries have noted the collaborative spirit of the hop, which fosters regional connections and supports the growth of craft beer here in Western Kentucky,” Dixon said. “We’re definitely seeing the goal of cross-promoting these unique breweries come to fruition.” 

For craft beer enthusiasts in Bowling Green, White Squirrel Brewery and Blue Holler Brew Supplies are an excellent place to start. GN 

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