Home Features Winchester Welcomes Beer Cheese Food Week

Winchester Welcomes Beer Cheese Food Week

Say Cheese!

May is Winchester KY’s Beer Cheese Food Week 

by Chad Walker

“It’s the cheesiest week of the year!” is the familiar battle cry of Winchester Chamber of Commerce Director Cindy Banks. She is, of course, referring to the upcoming Winchester Beer Cheese Food Week, an annual May event that precedes the world-famous Beer Cheese Festival in June.

Every June, culinary aficionados, cheese enthusiasts and festival go-ers descend on downtown Winchester for the Annual Beer Cheese Festival.  While this citywide festival may be the main event for Kentucky’s favorite snack, locals know the real treat is Beer Cheese Food Week.  Local restaurants and stores feature one-of-a-kind limited Beer Cheese dishes for a single week each year.  If you miss it, you have to wait until next year to satisfy your Beer Cheese cravings.

We started this event during the Pandemic as a sort of boost for businesses that were hit the hardest.”  The event features 12 restaurants and while the main ingredient is beer cheese, creativity is a close secondary ingredient.  “It’s just so much fun to see the crazy creations these places come up with,” said Banks.  “They really outdo one another each year, with more interesting combinations and funny names.  It’s just a blast!”

Participating establishments go head-to-head in a digital duke-out, where restaurant goers can vote for their favorite dish, via a QR code, assisting in crowning the Cheesy-Champion for 2024.  Past winners were Hall’s on the River (2020 Champion), The Engine House Pub and Pizza Parlour (2021) Woody’s (2022) and JayK’s @ Forest Grove (2023).   The only set parameter is that the dish offered must contain Beer Cheese and must cost $12.99.  Recent offerings have included a Beer Cheese Burger from Loma’s, Beer Cheese Pulled Pork Waffle Fries served at Smokin’ Howards BBQ and Bell on Wheels Beer Cheese Smoked Brat.  

“We look forward to participating in Beer Cheese Food Week every year.  It’s a chance to really get creative with dishes and incorporate beer cheese.  It’s a great warm up heading into Beer Cheese Festival.  And it’s nice to have a little friendly competition with our fellow restaurant owners,” said Jill Walker, Co-Owner of The Engine House.  “The Chamber makes this event fun, and it gives us a chance to see everyone out before the festival really gets going.”

“You wouldn’t believe some of the dishes we have come up with that didn’t make it to the Beer Cheese Food Week,” said Stacey Lisle, Owner of Woody’s.  “I mean, my staff is a little nuts.  If they had an idea, we’d try it.  Some would be too spicy; some wouldn’t be spicy enough.  Some were just a little too weird.  Then we would land on one, and we’re like, that’s the one!”  

The “week of cheese” was originally created by former Chamber President Lauren Mink, whose idea came during a tough time for restaurants.  “During the pandemic, we were looking for a way to help local Chamber restaurants. So, we came up with the idea of a Beer Cheese Food Week. Each restaurant could come up with their own unique twist on how to incorporate beer cheese into a featured plate.”  

She goes on to explain how this event may have even swayed her to the level of cheese-fanatic.  “Even though I am not a beer cheese fan —I’m aware I’m in the minority here —I thought this would be such a fun way to drive patrons to the restaurants, encourage some fun competition for restaurants, all while promoting what Winchester is famous for: Beer Cheese! I tried every dish and they were all amazing — turns out I do like Beer Cheese! I documented trying each dish to promote each restaurant on social media. This was such a successful event that attracted not only Winchester residents, but people from all over Kentucky.”

All the dishes can be viewed via the Chamber’s website and on social media, so a “flight plan” is advised by veterans of the event.  “Order the menu item ‘as is.’  The chefs curate each item with the best ingredients for the outcome,” says City Commissioner Hanna Toole with sage advice for the event.  Toole also highlights the charm of the event. “The city is filled with rich history and stunning architecture, as well as a vibrant arts and culture scene.  Its picturesque downtown area is lined with local shops, restaurants, and our newest art gallery, inviting visitors to explore and discover.  Come see for yourself!”  

Although the event is still relatively new with just four years under its belt, the Beer Cheese Festival, occurring two weeks after the Beer Cheese Food Week, is in its fourteenth year.  Whether you’re coming to town to sample beer cheese poppers, delicious cheeseburgers, bacon beer cheese chicken sandwich or drunken turkey pizza, the Beer Cheese Food Week is an event uniquely Winchester.

Beer Cheese Food Week 2024 

Enjoy 2024 Beer Cheese Food Week at these participating Winchester Kentucky locations 

Local Winchester Restaurants will make a dish featuring beer cheese as an ingredient. The public votes for their favorite.

The celebration is scheduled for May 20-26, 2024. 

Amy’s Asian Kitchen 
Bell on Wheels 
Engine House 
Full Circle Market
Hall’s on the River   
La Trattoria 
South Main Grocery 
Smokin’ Howards 
Tacos Luna y Mas 
The View 

This article appears on pages 10-11 of the May 2024 print edition of Ace Magazine. Click here to page through the digital edition of the May 2024 issue of Ace. To subscribe to digital delivery of Ace’s print edition each month, click here. Click here to join the Ace Eats Out Facebook.