Forty-five Ohio craft breweries are visiting Athens during Ohio Brew Week, July 10-18. (Photo courtesy of Ohio Brew Week)
Forty-five Ohio craft breweries are visiting Athens during Ohio Brew Week, July 10-18. (Photo courtesy of Ohio Brew Week)

At a Glance: Ohio Brew Week 2015

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Craft beer lovers, mark your calendars. Starting tonight, Athens is celebrating the 10th annual Ohio Brew Week (OBW).

From July 10 through July 18, uptown Athens bars and restaurants will feature more than 250 unique brews from 45 Ohio craft breweries. As in past years, it’ll be a packed week of beer, food and music.

In 2005, local restaurateur Jon Sparhawk inspired the celebration with the words “Craft beer is the way to go… take this idea and run with it.” Since then, Ohio has become a hotbed of quality beer production, according to Mary McDonald, director of the Ohio Craft Brewer’s Association.

“One-hundred-twenty craft breweries are open today compared with 58 in 2012,” said McDonald in a press release. “Small breweries are opening in towns and neighborhoods, large and small, across Ohio, providing jobs and local flavor around our great state.”

For eight years, Dan Gates, OBW’s first director, built up the week-long celebration alongside the growing craft beer industry. Ohio embodied that burgeoning craft beer tradition, and continues to expand to this day. In addition to Jackie O’s brewery, two new breweries plan to open in Athens this summer. Devil’s Kettle and Little Fish breweries will each bring their own unique spin to the Athens beer scene this week.

Local food and craft beer: A match made in Athens

Besides serving up uniquely local beers, OBW is teaming up with the 30 Mile Meal and local restaurants to offer one-of-a-kind farm-to-table meals during the nine-day celebration.

“Overlapping with 30 Mile Meal Week, expanding our scope into wine and spirits, and getting other local-centric businesses involved with the event is a great evolution for Ohio Brew Week,” said OBW Executive Director Weston Lombard. “It helps to promote some of the best of Athens culture. Ohio Brew Week is the ideal time to come see what Athens is all about.”

Great stories, Great Lakes

To continue its tradition of hosting influential craft beer industry speakers, OBW is welcoming Pat Conway, co-founder of Great Lakes Brewing Company. Conway will give an extended keynote speech, along with a beer tasting, on Monday, July 13 from 7-8:30 p.m. in Ohio University’s Grover Center (E 303 Dean’s Conference Room).

“For our 10th year we wanted to bring someone who had experience and helped to shape the rise of craft beer in Ohio,” said Lombard. “Great Lakes has long been a supporter of Ohio Brew Week and has been a force in the craft beer industry nationwide.”

Founded in 1988, Great Lakes Brewing Company was the first microbrewery in Ohio, and their products are some of the most consumed craft beers nationwide.

Craft brewing is a growing industry in Ohio, with 120 breweries in operation. (Photo courtesy of Ohio Brew Week)
Craft brewing is a growing industry in Ohio, with 120 breweries currently in operation. (Photo courtesy of Ohio Brew Week)

Hit the trail

Discover why Athens has become the destination for Ohio craft beer by exploring the city’s three breweries–Jackie O’s, Little Fish and Devil’s Kettle–on Tuesday, July 14 from 1-5:30 p.m., starting at Jackie O’s. Guided tours will be provided with an opportunity to sample each brewery’s unique ales.

Local music on tap

Local music has always been a component of Ohio Brew Week, and this year is no exception. To kick things off, “Athens’ oldest band,” Backwords, will perform on July 10 during “Rock-n-Roast” at the Ohio University Inn. The event, scheduled for 5-9:30 p.m., will include barbeque and a special “Rock & Roast Session” IPA from Elevator Brewing Company in Columbus.

You can catch a variety of local acts throughout the week, such as MojoFlo (Jackie O’s, July 10), DJ Barticus (Jackie O’s, July 11), 6:5 Quartet (Jackie O’s, July 12), Boys of the Hock (Jackie O’s, July 14), Nick Dzuban and Joe Etgen (Jackie O’s, July 15), The Lennon Orchestra (Jackie O’s, July 16), the “Craft Beer and Heavy Riffs Showcase” (Casa Cantina, July 17), Pink Floyd tribute act Any Colour (July 17, Jackie O’s) and DJ George Brazil (Jackie O’s, July 18).

Athens’ New Orleans-style R&B combo The Wild Honeybees will perform during the “Brew BQ,” scheduled for Friday, July 17 from 4-10 p.m. (the band plays from 6-9 p.m.) in the parking lot across from The Smiling Skull Saloon (4 Depot Street). In addition to a beer garden, the event will include local food carts, kids’ games and a classic car cruise-in.

Last Call

Presented by The Athens Messenger and The Athens News, Ohio Brew Week’s street festival is back for its 10th installment on Saturday, July 18.

Guests will be able to choose from dozens of Ohio Craft Breweries, pouring more than 75 unique beers. There will also be 12 food vendors lining Court Street.

Of course, a street festival wouldn’t complete without entertainment. This year’s lineup includes:

2 p.m. Five Foot Forward
3:30 p.m. The Summoners
5 p.m. Uncle Larry
6:30 p.m. Mrs. Helen Highwater
8 p.m. Keesey
9:30 p.m. DJ Barticus

Court Street will be closed from Washington to Carpenter Streets starting at 2 p.m. For more information, and a complete schedule, visit the Ohio Brew Week website.

Ohio Brew Week's annual "Last Call" street festival is scheduled for Saturday, July 18. (Photo courtesy of Ohio Brew Week)
Ohio Brew Week’s annual “Last Call” street festival is scheduled for Saturday, July 18. (Photo courtesy of Ohio Brew Week)