Prepare your beer-loving taste buds.
The ninth annual Blues & Brews beer festival returns Saturday afternoon to Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron.
The event, one of the oldest beer fests in the state, will feature about 200 beers from 80 breweries, and include several Ohio beers that aren’t available in the Akron area.
MadTree Brewing from Cincinnati — the first craft brewery in the state to can its beer — will be among those making its Northeast Ohio debut.
It will serve PsycHOPathy IPA, Happy Amber and Gnarly Brown not from a keg, but in cans. Of course.
Brady Duncan, one of the owners and a former Massillon resident, said he’s looking forward to the visit because it’s a homecoming.
“I’m excited just because I’m from the area,” he said.
Blues & Brews also will feature other newcomers such as Millersburg Brewing from Millersburg, Portside Distillery from Cleveland, 50 West Brewing from Cincinnati and Listermann Brewing from Cincinnati.
They will appear alongside Ohio mainstays such as Great Lakes, Hoppin’ Frog, Cornerstone, Buckeye, Willoughby, Fat Head’s and Weasel Boy.
The festival is sponsored by Thirsty Dog Brewing in Akron, Acme Fresh Markets and the Winking Lizard Tavern.
In addition to beer and food from the Winking Lizard, the event will include blues music by Freddie Salem & Lonewolf, the Billie Smith Band and the Juke Hounds.
There also will be a special “gnome” area dedicated to Belgian beers and Thirsty Dog will offer fruity firkins with its wheat beer infused with pineapple, mango, cherry and other fruits.
Thirsty Dog co-owner John Najeway noted that Blues & Brews is a great opportunity to sample many different beers you’ve never had before without investing in a six-pack.
“It’s just smart to come to Blues & Brews,” he said. “It’s getting smarter every year as craft beer gets more expensive.”
The event runs from 2 to 6 p.m. General admission tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the gate.
Brewer’s Circle tickets, which allow you into the event at noon and include special beers and food, are $55 in advance or $60 at the door.
Beer drinkers receive a commemorative tasting glass and 25 sampling tickets for three-ounce pours. The tasting glass is actual glass, as opposed to the plastic version given out at many festivals.
“It’s a sampling glass you’ll be proud to have at home at the end of the day,” Najeway said.
For more details, including a list of breweries and beers, or to buy tickets, go to www.bluesnbrews.org.