Cincinnati beer baron Greg Hardman will headline the seventh annual Ohio Brew Week in Athens. The nine-day event is filled with beer talks, special tastings and dinners with a focus on Ohio breweries. It begins Friday.
Ohio Brew Week attracts more than 20,000 people to Athens, the home of Ohio University. There are expected to be more than 200 beers to sample from 37 breweries.
“It’s growing every year,” organizer Dan Gates said. “We’re constantly pushing it and pushing it with new ideas.”
Hardman, who used to work in the community as a beer distributor years ago, now runs a beer empire out of Cincinnati. He helped revive famous brands such as Little Kings, Hudepohl, Burger and Christian Moerlein. He also is managing partner of the new Moerlein Lager House, a brewpub in Cincinnati.
Hardman will make numerous appearances throughout the week, including a speech at 5:30 p.m. Monday during the official keg tapping ceremony at Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery.
Other highlights include:
• A free “Brewers’ Forum” at 6 p.m. June 27 at Casa Cantina. The event features Luke Purcell of Great Lakes Brewing, Brad Clark of Jackie O’s, John Najeway of Thirsty Dog Brewing, Chris McKim of The Brew Kettle, Vic Schiltz of Elevator Brewing, Jay and Lori Wince of Weasel Boy Brewing, Randy Schiltz from Rivertown Brewing and Vergil Roessel from Mt. Carmel Brewing Co. They will discuss craft brewing and answer questions.
• A special “Ohio Agriculture for Brewing Symposium” will be at 10 a.m. June 27 at the Ohio University Grover Center. Panelists will discuss growing hops, rhizomes and grains for brewing in the state. Panelist Steve Patterson, an associate professor of psychology at Ohio University and an Athens city councilman, said he hopes the symposium will lead to a new agricultural alliance or association that supports the craft brewing industry in the state.
• The Miss Plumbers Crack Competition is at 8 p.m. June 28 at the Smiling Skull Saloon and features women competing to appear on next year’s label of Black Box Brewing’s Plumbers Crack Ale.
• West Union Street, from Congress to Court, will be transformed into a giant beer garden from 2 to 6 p.m. June 30 for “Brews on the Block.” It’s a new event. “We’re going to take over the street and serve beer outside and have live music,” said Melody Sands, who handles marketing for Ohio Brew Week.
There also are plenty of formal tastings featuring brewers, which provide a great opportunity chit chat:
• Matthew Barbee, owner and brewer at Rockmill Brewery, from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Village Bakery.
• Patrick Clark, assistant brewer at Mt. Carmel, at 2 p.m. Monday at Casa Cantina.
• Jay Wince, owner and brewer at Weasel Boy, at 2 p.m. Monday at The Oak Room.
• Garin Wright, owner and brewer at Buckeye Brewing, at 7 p.m. Monday at Broneys Alumni Grill.
• Jay Taylor, representative at Elevator, at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Casa Cantina.
• Randy Schiltz, co-owner and assistant brewer at Rivertown, at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Casa Cantina.
• Jay Taylor from Elevator at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Sol Restaurant.
• Luke Purcell, brewer at Great Lakes, at 2 p.m. Thursday at Casa Cantina.
• Jack Kephart, brewer at The Brew Kettle, at 3 p.m. Thursday at The Oak Room.
• Brad Clark, brewer at Jackie O’s, at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Ohio University Inn.
• Jay Taylor from Elevator at 6 p.m. Thursday for a special barrel aged tasting at Abrio’s Brick Oven.
• Paul Traver and Bob Morris, owners and brewers at the Great Black Swamp Brewing in Toledo, at 5:30 p.m. Friday (June 29) at W.G. Grinders.
For a full rundown of events -- yes, there are plenty more -- click here.