Ohio will be well-represented at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver next month, with about 20 breweries, including several new names, entered in the high-profile competition.
“If you have that competitive spirit, it’s like the Super Bowl for beer guys,” said Paul Fryman, co-owner and brewer at JAFB Wooster Brewery in Wooster. “I’m really excited. It’s a big deal out there. I look at it as the grand-daddy of all the American beer festivals.”
He’s attended the event while working for other breweries, but this is his first trip with his own brewery, which opened last year.
Fryman entered eight beers: a pale ale, India pale ale, wit, pilsner, kolsch, stout, alt and saison.
Other Ohio breweries going are:
• The Brew Kettle in Strongsville.
• Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. and Christian Moerlein Lager House in Cincinnati.
• Columbus Brewing Co. in Columbus.
• Fat Head’s Brewery in Middleburg Heights and Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon in North Olmsted.
• Four String Brewing Co. in Columbus.
• Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland.
• Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Co. in Akron.
• Lager Heads Brewing Co. in Medina.
• Listermann/Triple Digit Brewing Co. in Cincinnati.
• MadTree Brewing Co. in Cincinnati.
• Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland.
• Millersburg Brewing Co. in Millersburg.
• Rhinegeist in Cincinnati.
• Rivertown Brewing Co. in Lockwood.
• Samuel Adams, the Cincinnati brewery.
• Weasel Boy Brewing Co. in Zanesville.
• Willoughby Brewing Co. in Willoughby.
• Yellow Springs Brewery in Yellow Springs.
Hoppin’ Frog brewer and owner Fred Karm, who has won four medals, including three gold, since 2008, said he doesn’t remember so many breweries from the Buckeye State participating in the past.
“We’re always watching Ohio closely and I don’t think there’s ever been 19,” he said.
Ohio’s beer industry has exploded over the last two years, with the number of breweries climbing from 49 in 2011 to more than 80 today.
As for what it takes to bring home a medal, Karm said: “You have to be in style but you have to have vibrant flavor. It can’t be a run-of-the-mill, in-the-crowd kind of beer. What that equals is a damn good recipe.”
He declined to say which beers he has entered.
Winning a medal is still special, even for a brewery like Hoppin’ Frog that is ranked as the 17th best brewery in the world by Ratebeer.com.
“It’s one of the ways you can prove yourself in an industry flooded with people saying, ‘Look at us,’ ” Karm said.
Overall, there are 4,875 beers competing for gold, silver and bronze medals at the event and beer tasting, which takes place Oct. 10-12 at the Colorado Convention Center. About 49,000 people are expected to attend the festival this year.
Hoppin’ Frog will release its Oktoberfest Froggy Style in 22-ounce bottles starting at 10 a.m. Friday at the brewery, 1680 E. Waterloo Road. The beer will be available on draft at The Tasting Room beginning at 4 p.m.
“It’s a smooth, rich and malty German lager made with 100 percent German ingredients,” Karm said. “It’s a real superior sophisticated flavor.”
The brewery also will celebrate with a German Oompah band.
• The octoBREWfest craft beer festival is 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Shepherd Event Center in Boardman. The event will showcase cask conditioned beers as well as pumpkin, German and other seasonal craft beers. For details: www.octobrewfest.com.
• The JAFB Wooster Brewery in Wooster celebrated its one-year anniversary with a customer appreciation party last weekend. “There’s a lot more beer to be made,” co-owner and brewer Paul Fryman said.
• Black Box Brewing Co. in Westlake will release a caramel apple ale next month. “Our vision is for the old-fashioned caramel apple that you got at the carnival,” owner and brewer Jerome Welliver said. “You want that crisp apple character underneath and nice caramel malt and spices.”
• It’s never too early to plan for Cleveland Beer Week, which returns Oct. 18-26. More than 350 events are planned. For details: www.clevelandbeerweek.org.