Celebration Of Ohio Craft Beer Returns To Athens This Week

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Athens will be the epicenter for all things related to Ohio craft beer starting Friday as the ninth annual Ohio Brew Week kicks off with dozens of events celebrating the state’s beer brewing industry.

Brewers from around the state will converge on the city to give Athenians and visitors a taste of their specialty beers paired with food, live music and other activities. More than 40 breweries will be featuring over 200 craft brews in the Athens bars and events.

This year marks the first under new leadership for the popular summer event. Weston Lombard is serving as executive director and Lisa Heinz is the new marketing director for Ohio Brew Week. Although the faces at the helm of the festival are different this year, many of the OBW signature events are returning.

Ohio Brew Week will begin with the annual Rock-N-Roast held at the Ohio University Inn on Friday at 5 p.m. There will be beer provided by the Elevator Brewing Company and live music by classic rock band Backwords.

The official keg tapping ceremony will be held July 14 at 5 p.m. at Jackie O’s Public House. This year’s keynote speaker is Joe Tucker, CEO of Ratebeer.com, which is based in California. Tucker will speak at 5:30 p.m.

“We’re excited to get him to sample and rate a bunch of our Ohio beers,” Lombard said.

Ohio Brew Week will host the Ohio Hop Production Symposium on July 16 at 2 p.m. at Casa Nueva. Local hops growers will be on hand to discuss their craft and the impact it has on the economy and craft brewing.

A new event that will be held on July 17 is the Sponsor Mixer at Jackie O’s Tap Room on Stimson Avenue at 2 p.m. This event is for past, current and future sponsors of Ohio Brew Week. OBW is a nonprofit organization, so organizers rely heavily on sponsors and volunteers to make the events happen.

“We want to get an early start for next year’s 10th anniversary,” Heinz said.

The Backyard Brew Fest will be held on July 18 at the train depot on West Union Street from 4-10 p.m. This event will feature a beer garden, food, live music and The Plains Lions Club’s classic car show.

Rounding out Ohio Brew Week will be The Last Call celebration on July 19 from 1:30-10:30 p.m. The music festival will be held on Court Street between Carpenter and Washington Street. Several local bands will perform, including headliners the Wild Honeybees and Dave Rave. The event will feature beer from 30 Ohio breweries.

In addition to the events put on by the Ohio Brew Week board, bars, restaurants and other Athens businesses are hosting their own OBW events. Lombard said there are an average of 10 events per day throughout Brew Week.

Ohio Brew Week is even spilling outside of the city limits this year as Kiser’s Barbeque at Eclipse (located at the former Eclipse Company Store in The Plains) will host the Kiser’s Jammin Hog Music and BBQ Festival Friday through Sunday. The music festival will feature craft beer, barbecue and live music each night.

For those looking for information and OBW merchandise, there will be an Ohio Brew Week information station housed at And Beer, located at 10 S. Court St. (next to Big Mama’s Burritos). Heinz said a mobile merchandise cart will also be at several events throughout the week.

Programs will be available at area bars and pubs. However, Heinz emphasized that several events have been added since the programs were printed. For the most up-to-date schedule, visit www.ohiobrewweek.com.

This year also marks Ohio Brew Week’s return to the month of July. The event was held in June the past couple years, but when Ohio University changed its freshmen orientation to June, Brew Week organizers pushed the event back to ensure there would be plenty of lodging accommodations available for visitors.

“People are excited that it’s back in July,” Lombard said, adding that July is also 30 Mile Meal Month in Athens, which focuses on local food.

“Ohio craft beer fits with that theme,” he said.

Lombard said that Ohio Brew Week is a unique eight-day event that demonstrates Ohio’s craft brewing talents.

“It’s supporting Ohio products and the Ohio economy,” he said.

For the full schedule of events, list of breweries and other information, visit www.ohiobrewweek.com.