Buckeye Brewing Co. owner and brewer Garin Wright took a chance years ago and decided to participate in the first-ever Ohio Brew Week in Athens. He recalls the college town, home of Ohio University, being dominated by Coors Light and Budweiser drinkers, and not much going on.
Oh how things have changed. Athens now has a vibrant craft beer scene and it will be on full display starting Friday for the eighth annual Ohio Brew Week. The nine-day festival focuses on Ohio craft beer and provides one of the best opportunities in the state for beer drinkers to sample Ohio-made brews and meet brewers. The festival has become a premier beer event in Ohio, Wright says.
Ohio Brew Week is filled with tastings, educational events, beer pairing dinners and concerts at venues around the community, which is home to one of the most respected breweries in the world, Jackie O's. More than 30 Ohio breweries are participating this year and their beers are found at bars and restaurants throughout Athens, meaning you have to bar hop around town to sample all the offerings.
"Ohio Brew Week is the state fair of the Ohio brewing industry," Director Dan Gates said.
Here are some highlights:
-- Monday at 3 p.m.: Hop growers will discuss hop growing and production in Ohio at Jackie O's Pub & Brewery.
-- Monday at 5:30 p.m.: The official keg tapping ceremony at Jackie O's Public House. The event will include keynote speaker Bill Metzger, the publisher of the Brewing News newspapers.
-- Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.: Buckeye Brewing Co. brewer Garin Wright will meet with people for a tasting and talk about his beers at Sol Restaurant.
-- Wednesday at 5 p.m.: Indigo Imp Brewery owner and brewer Matt Chappell will meet with people and talk about his beers at Broney's Alumni Grill.
-- Wednesday at 6 p.m.: Brewers from Buckeye Brewing, Mt Carmel Brewing, Weasel Boy Brewing, Great Lakes Brewing, Elevator Brewing, Jackie O's and The Brew Kettle will sit down together for a "Brewer's Forum." at Casa Nueva.
-- Wednesday at 7 p.m.: Greg Hardman, owner of the Christian Moerlein Brewing Co., will meet with people and sample beers at the Cat's Eye Saloon.
-- Thursday at 3 p.m.: Great Lakes brewer Luke Purcell will meet with people and sample beers at Casa Nueva. The cost is $20.
-- Thursday at 7 p.m.: The annual Miss Plumbers Crack competition at the Smiling Skull Saloon. It features women vying for a chance to appear on the label of Black Box Brewing Co.'s Plumbers Crack Ale.
-- Thursday at 7 p.m.: Eric Bean, owner and brewer at Columbus Brewing, will meet with people at Lucky's Sports Tavern.
-- Saturday from 2 to 10 p.m.: The Brews on the Block, a beer and music festival, held on Union Street.
For a full rundown of events, click here.