White Squirrel Brewery: crafting Bowling Green’s nightlife

Customers take advantage of the open air patio at White Squirrel Brewery on Broadway in Bowling Green on Tuesday. The bar and restaurant opened over four months ago and is finding its taps flowing and seats occupied on a nightly basis. 

Andrew Critchelow

Bowling Green beer enthusiasts are enjoying a new microbrewery with macro ambitions. Opened in May, White Squirrel Brewery on Broadway Avenue is quickly becoming one of Bowling Green’s premiere places to grab a drink.

Founded by WKU alumni Damon Wilcox, Sean Stevens and Jason Heflin, the brewery has attracted both craft beer enthusiasts and novices alike. The drink menu currently includes seasonal beers such as blueberry and pumpkin ales, as well as year-round fixtures such as nut brown and pale ales. 

Since opening, White Squirrel has been busy with food specials that rotate weekly, frequently changing guest taps and in-house brews that are sometimes so small they only last one night. 

“We have been booming since we opened the door,” Heflin said. “Most nights we are on a wait from 6-9 p.m.” 

Heflin said Bowling Green’s demand for craft beer has risen in the last three to four years, and White Squirrel aspires to meet those demands. 

“Our goal is to give Bowling Green and WKU students their own local craft brewery that listens,” he said. “If someone makes a suggestion on a beer, we pay attention.”

According to Kevin Gibson, author of “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft,” Kentucky is making progress in growing the craft beer business, and Bowling Green should see a growing demand as well.

“As more and more young people come to appreciate well-made beer, [Bowling Green] will become ripe for more breweries to open and thrive,” Gibson said. 

Gibson also said acquiring a taste for craft beer is a “process for everyone’s palate” that many WKU students will likely undertake.

“If a WKU student who has never had, say, an IPA or a sour beer, is willing to make the leap from Bud Light to Blue Moon, that person also might one day be persuaded to try one of the beers at White Squirrel,” he said.

When it comes to providing guest tap beers, Stevens said White Squirrel’s focus is on regional craft beers. These include beers such as Carson’s, Tin Man, West Sixth, Against the Grain and Country Boy.

“We try to keep Kentucky and Indiana breweries on rotation as much as possible,” he said. 

In addition to selling beers, White Squirrel also serves as a restaurant that offers a variety of menu items. Some of these items include hot chicken, brisket tacos and a cup of bacon drizzled with cane syrup. Stevens describes the addition of a restaurant menu to the brewery as a “happy accident.”

“I had no intention of opening a restaurant, but I’m so glad we did,” he said. “It’s allowed us to really be successful.” 

Justin Wolf, a regular at White Squirrel and a junior from Lexington, said the bar stands apart from other hangouts in the Bowling Green area based on the food selection alone. 

“[White Squirrel] provides an exceptionally unique menu that in itself is unlike anything in Bowling Green,” Wolf said.

White Squirrel has also become a venue for frequent live music and for events such as Oktoberfest. On October 17, Oktoberfest will include a variety of beers, food and activities. 

“We’ll have 30-40 German Oktoberfest beers, pumpkin beers including our own house-brewed pumpkin ale, live music, schnitzel, wurst on the grill and plenty of activities,” Heflin said. 

White Squirrel has a variety of merchandise for sale, including t-shirts, pint glasses, ball caps and koozies. 

“Merchandising is important to us because we feel the White Squirrel brand is something students and locals can really be proud of,” Heflin said. 

As for future ambitions: The White Squirrel staff is not stopping here. They plan to expand their brews to other businesses that focus on craft beer taps and to acquire a new facility that will focus solely on production brewing. 

“The next year should see that production brewery become a reality, and then we can start employing WKU students and grads to help build a regional brewery that ships kegs, bottles and cans all over the Southeast and Midwest,” Heflin said. “We want to send a little piece of Bowling Green out to the world.”