Ohio Brew Week celebrates a return to in-person events in 2022< < Back to
Three years have passed since the annual beer festival in Athens has been able to take place at its full potential because of the pandemic. Brandon Thompson, executive director of Brew Week, is full of excitement for the return this year of the festival’s most popular events.
“We didn’t do Brew BQ or Last Call last year because of the pandemic,” Thompson said. “We didn’t want people to get together.”
Although the festival was held last year, the events that visitors especially look forward to were shut down. Even the keg tapping event, which launches the festival, was done remotely.
“It was all virtual,” Thompson said. “I did the keg tap from my house.”
During Brew Week, people from all over Ohio travel to Athens to celebrate 30 to 40 breweries. It’s a way for people to honor small businesses, which was the event’s original angle. Jon Sparhawk, creator of Brew Week, saw that bars and restaurants in Athens lost business during the summer once students weren’t around. This sparked the idea for Brew Week, and this year is its 17th celebration.
Thompson said he likes to show Athens a good time and create events he would like to go to.
“Events where craft beer or something I love is everywhere,” he said. “Everybody’s happy, there’s music, there’s good food. That’s what I’m most excited about, and being on Court Street to see all those bands live.”
Thompson said Brew Week is like a homecoming. Returning visitors like Doug Saling are never disappointed.
“I’ve been here many years, and many times,” Saling said. “After three years of Covid, we finally get to have some fun again.”
The ambience is a big part of the event. Saling said the college atmosphere at Ohio University is appealing, and returning visitors like Lesa Sceinbrunner agree.
“The people that live here and work here, they’re so amazing,” Sceinbrunner said. “It’s just such a great town where people just love each other. We met people earlier and I feel like they could be my best friends.”
The festival draws in thousands of people throughout its nine days. David Matheny, a devoted visitor, said he can’t get enough.
“I’ve been here every year that they’ve had it,” Matheny said. “It’s great. It’s always great beer, great people, and I get to see a lot of people I know.”
Popular events like Brew BQ and Last Call are back this year. Brew BQ, at the Athens Train Depot Friday night, is hosting three bands and eight breweries. And the event most people associate Brew Week with, Last Call, is taking place on Court Street again on Saturday. The street will be closed off for visitors to enjoy beer tasting and live music. Thompson said it’s their signature event.
Thompson said that this year they have it all. “That’s what I’m most excited about,” he said. “Once it’s happening and it’s on the street, people are just happy, sharing beers and high fiving.”
For more information on the festivities, visit ohiobrewweek.com.