By Lucy M. Pritchett

Tisha Gainey has become a craft beer connoisseur who gets joy from going to work each day.  Photos by Patti Hartog

This woman’s turning point occurred in a World War II-era airplane hangar at Bowman Field. No, she didn’t start taking flying lessons or become an airplane mechanic….

It all started with Tisha Gainey’s love of craft beer and a good party, which led to the founding of the Tailspin Ale Fest in 2013.

The success of the Tailspin Ale Fest gave Tisha the confidence to make a major career move.

Tisha has had quite a winding career path since she graduated from Purdue University in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.

“Growing up I was interested in graphic design, advertising, and marketing. That is what I focused on in college. Well, that and craft beer,” Tisha says with a laugh. “College is good for learning a lot of things not taught in the classroom. I didn’t really like the taste of domestic beers and developed a liking for Sam Smith, Sierra Nevada, and Cask Ale 85.”

The hard work and effort Tisha has put into the festival helped her gain a notable reputation. 

Her degree led her to a job as a project coordinator for Disney in Florida and as an advertising coordinator for a real estate company. Then her love of craft beer gave rise to a position as a craft beer distributor for World Class Beverages.

“That was in 2007, which was an exciting time to get people to try out brands other than just the mainstream beers,” she says. “I represented about 40 brands. It was great to have a job where I got to talk to people about something I really enjoyed.”

After five years in sales, she took a job as beverage director for a local restaurant.

It was during that time that she and Trevor Cravens, president of Draft Publishing, came up with the idea of Tailspin Ale Fest.

“I had worked beer festivals for other people, and I wanted to put on something a little different,” Tisha says. “We loved the idea of holding the event in the airplane hangar as it highlights some of the history of Louisville. Bowman Field is the oldest continually operating commercial airfield in North America. It was an important training base during World War II. It has a great history.”

Russian Yak warplane used in World War II
Choosing Bowman Field as the venue for the festival adds an unexpected twist to the event.

The success of the festival — it sold out to a crowd of 2,400 — inspired Tisha to spread her wings once again. In 2014, she opened HB Productions, a beer consulting and event planning business. (I am sworn to secrecy – you will have to ask Tisha what the HB stands for…)

“I knew it was risky to go out on my own, but the first Ale Fest confirmed for me that I can do this,” Tisha says. “I knew I had to go for it. I knew I would be unhappy if I didn’t try.

“I have always been a hard worker, but putting in 12- to 15-hour days is not so bad when it is for my own company. It has helped me learn to prioritize things in my life.

“I am happy working for myself. I am more disciplined because I know that if I don’t do something, it won’t get done. But I have also learned to ask for help and to know when I need to ask for help.”

The business’s first year has gone very well, Tisha says. She has had a hand in, among others, Jeffersontown’s Summer Craft Beer Festival and Casks for a Cause. The third Tailspin Ale Fest will be held this year on Saturday, February 20 at the Louisville Executive Aviation Hangar at Bowman Field. (

“I like to throw a good party and benefit a good cause.” Tisha says. “My tails just keep on spinning.”

In addition to organizing the festival, Tisha stays busy with her business and other projects.