Most people attend beer festivals to sample tasty beer and have a great time. I go to work sniffing out beer news — along with sampling tasty beer and having a great time, of course.
I spent nearly five hours Saturday at the Rubber City Beer Fest at Lock 3 in Akron helping judge the best of show competition and chatting with brewers to uncover and share as much news as I can. The event, organized by the Society of Akron Area Zymurgists (SAAZ) homebrewing club, focuses on smaller and regional breweries so it's an excellent place to taste the best from the Akron/Canton area.
So here you go, I’m emptying my notebook of news:
Masthead Brewing Co. from Cleveland took home the top prize in the best of show competition with its Tire Swing Hazy Pale Ale, a new seasonal beer.
Tire Swing was considered the clear winner by the three judges: SAAZ President Brian Bostaph, Greg Irving and myself. Twenty-two beers were entered.
Here's the rest of the top five:
• Second: Akronym BBA Pervasive, a barley wine.
• Third: Canton Deja Vu, a white stout.
• Fourth: Missing Mountain Tarte a La Cerise, a cherry gose.
• Fifth: Maize Valley Silo Killer, a farmhouse ale.
Wadsworth Brewing Co. co-founder/brewer Ernie Joy is planning to release a raspberry pale ale to celebrate Pride Month, which honors the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. June is Pride Month.
The beer will be called "Born This Way." Joy and Ericha Fryfogle-Joy, whose son Liam is transgender, want their brewery to be welcoming and hope that everyone feels comfortable while visiting.
He's also looking to brew an all-Medina County beer using hops from Barn Talk Hops in Wadsworth and West Branch Malts in Brunswick.
Paradigm Shift Craft Brewery will officially open its new kitchen on Friday. (April 19)
The Massillon brewery also is planning a special beer release Saturday featuring a new Russian imperial stout and three variants named Collusion Illusion. The special part is that owner/brewer Mike Malinowski collaborated on the beers with award-winning brewer Rick Seibt, the former brewmaster at Willoughby Brewing Co. in Willoughby.
Paradigm also is releasing a New England-style IPA called 2FF on Saturday.
HiHO Brewing Co. is hosting a trail cleanup Saturday (April 20) as part of Earth Day activities.
The Cuyahoga Falls brewery and volunteers will be cleaning up Glens Trail, which runs along the Cuyahoga River. The group will meet at 11:45 a.m. at the brewery.
HiHO also will release Glens Trail Pale Ale to mark the occasion.
Lock 15 Brewing Co. is now selling Crowlers. The Akron brewery recently added the Crowler machine and it's been popular with customers, co-founder Colin Cook said.
The brewpub, which is releasing its new spring/summer menu, also is in the process of making improvements to its outdoor patio. The patio is being extended and a pergola is being installed.
"We're pretty much rocking and rolling down there," Cook said.
The Brew Kettle has produced a beer in honor of the baseball season. It's called Major Lager — a play on the famous film "Major League" that chronicled a fictional Cleveland Indians baseball team.
Brewer Jack Kephart described it as "a clean-drinking, American premium light lager." It's only 4.5 percent alcohol by volume.
Theology on Tap
Two Monks Brewing Co. will host the Theology on Tap Akron group at 7 p.m. May 8.
The event includes a talk on religion and faith, and, of course, craft beer. Admission is usually $5.
Akronym co-founder/brewer Shawn Adams said the Akron brewery is planning a big party for its one-year anniversary in June. Details will be coming.
Meanwhile, the brewery has released its first sour, a Berliner weisse, and a double New England-style IPA is coming soon.
Maize Valley, the combined winery-brewery in Marlboro Township, is releasing a raspberry Brut IPA soon as a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen organization, which fights breast cancer.
The beer will have a pink hue and be called Save the Tatas, brewer Jake Turner said.
Lockport Brewery in Bolivar plans to open its new brewpub in July.
Co-founder/brewer Andrew Marburger said he's already brewing at the new location, which is practically across the street from its current brewpub.
"We want to be prepared for when we pull the trigger," he said.
Missing Mountain Brewing Co. recently released its first 16-ounce cans as part of a limited run.
The event went over so well that co-founder Keith McFarlane said the Cuyahoga Falls brewery is interested in doing periodic special can releases.
Missing Mountain also is gearing up for its one-year anniversary celebration the weekend of June 7-9.
"We're going to try to plan a bunch of stuff," McFarlane said.
R. Shea update
R. Shea Brewing is still shooting for a "July-ish" timeframe for opening its new production brewery, tasting room and restaurant at Canal Place in downtown Akron.
The floor has been poured and the bar is being built, founder and brewer Ron Shea said.
The Akron brewery also has released a new beer called Rose Grenade, a pomegranate ale designed to mirror the taste of Brut champagne. The beer, developed with homebrewer Greg Irving, was created to appeal to people who don't like beer and don't even like fruity shandies, Shea said.
Shale Brewing Co. in Jackson Township is teaming up with MadCap Brew Co. in Kent to create an American wheat for the North Canton Craft Beer Fest, a new beer festival set for May 18 at the MAPS Air Museum in Green.
The beer will be a hoppy American wheat, Shale brewer Jason Gasper-Hulvat said.