History of the Beer Cheese Festival

The Beer Cheese Festival has been celebrating this tasty local treat since 2009 and it has quickly grown into a favorite!  Each year, thousands of festival goers descend on Beer Cheese Boulevard to taste beer cheese from all over the country, shop, and enjoy all that beautiful, historic downtown Winchester has to offer.

Proceeds from the festival are reinvested in downtown Winchester.

See our past winners here.

History of Beer Cheese

Beer cheese has a history as spicy as its flavor. According to legend, it all started in the late 1930s on the banks of the Kentucky River near Winchester. The unique salty, spicy spread was created by Chef Joe Allman for his cousin Johnnie, owner of the Driftwood Inn, who served it as a complimentary snack to increase his customers’ appetite for beer.   Johnnie allegedly lost the restaurant, along with his recipes, in the early 1960s – and the debate about who has the original recipe has raged ever since. Traditionally, sliced veggies were used for dipping. Today, beer cheese has evolved into more of a cheese spread appetizer that’s served with hard and soft pretzels, crudités, or as a condiment on everything from burgers to fries.

These days, the popularity of beer cheese reaches far beyond Clark County. You can find beer cheese on menus from South Carolina to California – each with their unique twist! And the Queen of England was spotted boarding a plane in Lexington with several tubs in tow after a recent visit.

Clark County was officially recognized by the Commonwealth of Kentucky as the birthplace of beer cheese in 2013.