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Beer Cheese Week showcases local flavor

BY Matt Cizek

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While many businesses were understandably hurt during the COVID-19 pandemic the ordeal did produce an unexpected event that organizers hope to be a yearly tradition.

For the third straight year, Winchester restaurants are participating in Beer Cheese Week from Monday, May 23 through Sunday, May 29.

“This started during COVID when no one could go into the restaurant,” said Winchester-Clark County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cindy Banks. “[We thought] ‘How could we support our members?’ What better way than to [have customers] call in and order and we can bring it out to your car?”

Fourteen restaurants from across town that are members of the Chamber of Commerce created their own authentic beer cheese dish, meant to delight the taste buds of customers. They are Bell on Wheels, Corner Cupboard, DJ’s Steakhouse, Engine House Pizza Pub, Full Circle Market, Gaunce’s Deli & Cafe, La Trattoria, Loma’s at the Opera House, Pilot View Market, Reggie’s Bar & Grill, Smokin’ Howard’s Sports Bar and Grill, South Main Grocery and Grill, Wildcat Willy’s Distillery and Grill, and Woody’s Sports Bar and Grill.

The application of beer cheese differs at different establishments.

At Smokin Howard’s Sports Bar and Grill along Main Street, you can find it with pulled pork and waffle fries.

“We melt the beer cheese and swirl it on top of the pulled pork, then put barbecue sauce on it,” said manager Molly Carter. “This is Winchester and everybody loves beer cheese.”

Meanwhile, Wildcat Willy’s Distillery includes it as part of their patty melt sandwich.

“It comes on sourdough bread, with Mt. Folly Farm beef, grilled onions, [and] a heaping amount of beer cheese, golden brown,” General Manager Stacey Wilhoite said.

Information pertaining to the hours of each individual restaurant can be found on the home page of the Winchester Chamber of Commerce’s website. From there, you will have a simpler time planning accordingly to make sure you get to enjoy each client’s offering.

“Each dish costs $9.99,” Banks said.

After downloading the correct QR code, customers are able to cast a vote regarding which dish and – by extension – restaurant they feel has offered the most top-notch beer cheese-themed dish.

Each vote is valuable, as every individual is only allowed to do so once.

The winning restaurant earns bragging rights throughout Winchester.

“New people [come in] to try our burgers, and we get a lot of compliments,” said South Main Grocery and Grill owner Heather James, whose beer cheese burger finished in third place last year.

However, the rewards don’t stop there.

A voter of the winning restaurant will be chosen via raffle and their name announced on the Winchester Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page on Tuesday, May 31.

The result will be a pair of free tickets to the 12th Annual Beer Cheese Festival on June 11, along with a $50 gift card to the restaurant that finishes at the top.

As word of mouth and experience help make Beer Cheese Week more familiar, additional individuals can be expected to partake.

“I’m sure there’s going to be more,” Banks said. “With everyone understanding what it is this year, it should go full blast.”