West Sixth Brewing + Elmwood Stock Farm = Compost

Robin Sither, left, West Sixth Brewing, and Mac Stone, Elmwood Stock Farm It might seem that (a) buying and bringing back to life a 90,000+ square foot building that had not been used in years would be an adequate challenge. If not, then add in the design, construction, and launch of a new brewing company and taproom in just a few months—shouldn't that do it?

Not for the guys who just opened West Sixth Brewing at 501 W. Jefferson, in The Bread Box, a former Rainbo Bread factory. They did all the above, and added "Be green" to their multi-page to-do list, right from the start. This means they could partner well with the fine people responsible for the certified organic and sustainable operations at respected Elmwood StockFarm, in nearby Scott County.

I had the good fun of tagging along as Elmwood Stock Farm owner Mac Stone picked up the very first barrels of spent grain after the first West Sixth brewing run: seven big blue barrels, each weighing, Mac guessed, about 100 pounds. Into Mac's handy big pickup truck they went, topped off by brewmaster Robin Sither's apple core, then away to Elmwood's major composting operation.

It always makes me like a business better when it composts and recycles. Aside from a few conversations with restaurant owners about the challenges involved, though, I had not thought much about the work behind that feel-good information. Just the little bit I saw in 15 minutes at West Sixth Brewing made me think: Someone had to call someone to initiate this composting arrangement. Then, when we arrived, Robin had to leave his brewing tasks and go to the construction area to forklift the barrels into Mac's truck. Mac and West Sixth co-owner Joe Kuosman had to load them. Mac had to take the big heavy barrels to the farm, unload and spread them, and return the barrels to West Sixth. It took all that work just to get to the start of the composting process, which will result in the West Sixth grain nourishing plants and animals—including me— through Elmwood's fine production practices.

West Sixth's opening adds a spectacular new "third place" to Lexington, and foretells a wave of new possibilities for Lexington's Northside, the Jefferson Street corridor, the areas near Transylvania University and the new campus of Bluegrass Community and Technical College. Long may they brew! And compost.

Watch a 90 second clip of the action here: