By Rick Armon

Beacon Journal staff writer

West Point Market owner Rick Vernon made an interesting observation about his beer customers after the upscale Akron grocery started offering draft beer last year.

Many, it turns out, are passionate home-brewers.

Knowing that they are the foundation of the craft beer movement, Vernon wanted to reward them. So he’s holding the first West Point Market Home Brewers Competition.

The winner will receive not only a “significantly cool trophy” but also will have his or her beer brewed commercially by Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. in Akron. The winning beer will be sold on draft and in six-pack bottles at West Point Market in Akron, and on draft at Winking Lizard Tavern locations.

There also will be prizes for the second- and third-place beers.

“When you think about it, a lot of these microbrewers were all home-brewers and started brewing in their garage or basement,” Vernon said. He praised their entrepreneurial spirit.

“Talking to them, I can see the passion in their eyes,” he said. “It’s just awesome.”

The competition is open to any amateur home-brewer in Ohio. Each contestant must provide two labeled, bottled beers to the West Point Market by July 11. The fee is $5 per entry. Entry forms are available at the grocery.

The beers will be put through a couple rounds of judging, and the winner will be announced at a West Point Market beer tasting in October.

John Najeway, co-owner of Thirsty Dog, said the plan is to brew the beer in December or January so it’s available next year.

“As a brewer, your dream is to put your beer in a bottle,” he said. “This is a way to make the dreams come true for a home-brewer.”

Vernon said that he’d like to make the competition an annual event.

West Point tasting

Speaking of West Point Market, the grocery will hold a beer tasting to kick off St. Patrick’s Day celebrations from 7 to 9 p.m. March 16.

The event will feature food pairings and beer from Thirsty Dog, Cellar Rats, Samuel Adams, North Coast, Elevator, Southern Tier, Founders, Goose Island and Hoppin’ Frog.

Nearly every brewery is bringing five beers. (A full list can be found at www.beer.ohio.com.) The cost is $25 and reservations can be made by calling 330-864-2151, ext. 129.

I’ll also be there to chat about beer or sign my book Ohio Breweries.

Event reminder

The fifth annual Art of Ale beer tasting is 6 to 9 p.m. March 9 at the Akron Art Museum.

The art galleries will not be open during the event. Tickets are $35 for museum members and $50 for others. For details or to buy tickets, call 330-376-9186, ext. 222 or ext. 225.

New beer arrival

Sixpoint Craft Ales, a Brooklyn brewery that sells its craft beer in 16-ounce cans, is moving into Ohio.

The brewery will hold some special events around the state as it launches its brand here. Mustard Seed Market in Bath Township will host a Sixpoint tasting from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Other local launch parties are Friday: 5 p.m. at Lizardville in Bedford Heights; 5 p.m. at the Tremont Tap House in Cleveland; and 7 p.m. at the Buckeye Beer Engine in Lakewood.

New brewpub

The Moerlein Lager House — the state’s newest brewpub — opened Monday to the public along the Ohio River in Cincinnati. The $10 million restaurant seats up to 1,400 and features three kitchens and a Cincinnati Beer Barons and Brewers Hall of Fame.

Samplers

•?For the seventh year, the Brewers Association will recognize American Craft Beer Week (May 14-20), a celebration of U.S. craft brewers across the country. Last year, there were 1,500 events at more than 1,300 breweries and retailers.

•?Listermann Brewing Co. in Cincinnati has a new brewer — and a whole new brand, too. Kevin Moreland, a home-brewer and former beer buyer in northern Kentucky, has taken over the brewing operation at Listermann and has launched Triple Digit Brewing Co.

•?The Frozen Falls Beer Festival originally planned for Saturday at Main Street Grille & Brewing Co. in Garrettsville has been canceled.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Read his beer blog at www.beer.ohio.com.