On a recent Friday evening hike there were no salamanders to be found in the stream running through West Sixth Farm but butterflies fluttered in the meadow and a baby turtle hunkered down near the path.
It’s not quite the scene that “taproom” brings to mind but the West Sixth organization has created a unique, inviting world on 120 acres near Frankfort.
It’s a bar, yes …. West Sixth is, after all, a brewery, but it’s also a place where a Friday evening hiking club takes to the trails through the property, goats are available as yoga buddies, mountain bikers carom along trails, disc golf enthusiasts can try their skill on an 18-hole course through the woods and kids (and adults) can enjoy catch and release fishing in a small pond.
West Sixth bought the acreage in 2016 to “showcase that making beer is an agricultural act,” explained Delia Gibbs, a nine-year veteran at West Sixth who has been the Tap Room Manager at the Farm since 2019.
In the 20 acres near that taproom the farm has a hop yard producing hops that go into West Sixth ales (although most of the hops are sourced from the Yakima Valley in Washington state, a more congenial environment for hop growing) as well as an apple orchard that contributes to their ciders and a large patch of raspberries and blackberries that add to flavor profiles in their brews. Raised beds also produce basil and other herbs that go into special brews.
The taproom opens out onto a pavilion with picnic tables that overlook the hop yard and orchard. Smaller pavilions are scattered nearby, inspired to some extent by COVID restrictions so that people could mask up to get their beers in the tap room and then retreat to covered open spaces to enjoy drinks with family and friends. During that difficult, isolating era, Gibbs said, the scene at the farm could be heartening, if unusual for the times. “It felt insane,” she said, “if you looked in the right direction, it looked normal.”
Now, normal on the weekend days when it’s open (although the trails are always open dawn to dusk) is adults balancing a beer in one hand while playing corn hole with their kids, dogs eyeing each other warily as their humans socialize as other people wander through the landscape or sit in easy chairs to enjoy the view. Last June The West Sixth Cantina food truck joined the scene, serving tacos, burritos and similar fare. “We just keep adding things,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs said the Farm draws regulars from nearby farms, as well as from Frankfort and Lawrenceburg. There’s also some cross-fertilization when patrons from the original location in Lexington and the West Sixth NuLu taproom in Louisville are looking for a more rural setting that includes their favorite brews.
In 2019 the Farm hosted its first wedding, that of a staff member, and has now become a venue for weddings and other events, like office picnics.
And there are special events open to all throughout the year, like the monthly Horse’s Mouth storytelling that features six storytellers waxing on a specific theme (in February the theme was “love stinks,”) a dog costume contest held near Halloween, regular farm tours, a fly fishing tutorial and occasional live music.
“I like it because it’s so family-friendly,” said Brent Irvin of Versailles, a regular on the Friday evening hikes. Irvin always stays after for a beer, both to enjoy sitting with friends and taking in the beauty but also to support West Sixth. “It seems to me they give the most back to the community,” he said.
West Sixth Farm
Where: 4495 Shadrick Ferry Road in Frankfort
Summer hours: Thursday 5-9 p.m., Friday 4-9 p.m., Saturday 12-10 p.m. and Sunday 12-8 p.m. Trails open sun-up to sundown every day.