When Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. launched the Blues & Brews beer festival in Akron 15 years ago, there were fewer than 50 breweries in Ohio.

Today, there are more than 300.

That giant increase hasn't gone unnoticed by event organizer and Thirsty Dog co-owner John Najeway.

"Our focus is on Ohio craft beer this year," he said. "We have so many new ones."

Among the breweries making their inaugural appearance are: Missing Falls from Akron and McArthur's from Cuyahoga Falls.

Blues & Brews, Akron's longest-running and biggest beer event, runs from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at Lock 3 in downtown Akron. Each year, it attracts between 1,000 and 1,500 people.

It will showcase between 60 and 70 breweries serving up nearly 300 beers. There will be live music by Chris Casalinuovo and The Smithtones.

Blues & Brews also is welcoming back a longstanding food partner. The Winking Lizard Tavern, after a short hiatus, is returning as a major sponsor and food provider.

General admission tickets are $35 in advance, while VIP tickets are $60.

For more details or to purchase tickets, go to: www.lock3live.com/event/blues-brews-2019.

Medina Brewing

Avon Brewing Co. plans to open a new brewery and taproom at the renovated Medina Farmers Exchange Co. building in Medina.

The brewery will be called the Medina Brewing Co.

“We look forward to bringing some of our craft to their city and just be a part of who they are and what we feel to be a beautiful little town,” co-founder Mathias Hauck said. “We’re excited about it.”

The 40,000-square-foot Medina Farmers Exchange building, which is more than 100 years old, is being converted into restaurant and retail space, along with 33 apartments on the upper floors. It’s located at 320 S. Court St.

Last year, the Ohio Development Services Agency awarded $545,000 in tax credits for the $5.5 million project. It’s the first Medina project to receive historic preservation tax credits.

The owners of PJ Marley’s Restaurant & Pub already have announced plans to open the Carnivore Restaurant and a coffee/pastry shop at the building. T.L. Keller Meats also is opening a butcher shop there.

Medina Brewing will feature a five-barrel Portland Kettle Works brewing system and a beer hall-style setup similar to Masthead Brewing in Cleveland. Unlike Avon Brewing, the new location won’t serve food.

The Medina brewery will make exclusive beers for the location, as well as feature some favorites from Avon.

Hauck said the family-operated brewery wasn’t looking to expand, but was persuaded by the developers to open there.

“We really fell in love with Medina and the project,” he said. “This is a place where people want to be and be part of downtown. … Very welcoming across the board. It’s a really good fit for us as a family to move into a city that is very family-oriented and close knit and bring what we did with Avon into Medina.”

Medina Brewing hopes to open in December.

Medina Brewing is the second new brewery project to be announced in the city this month. Franklin Brewing Co. plans to relocate this fall from Elyria to the Foundry Social, a 30,000-square-foot entertainment complex anchored by High Voltage Indoor Karting and located at 333 Foundry St. Planted Flag Brewing also is in the process of building a 10-barrel brewpub at 3594 Pearl Road in Medina Township.

Happy anniversary

Magic City Brewing Co., which recently moved to its new location at 2727 Manchester Road, Akron, will celebrate its two-year anniversary Friday and Saturday.

The brewery will release Birfday Suit #2 and a special variant of OG Barber at 4 p.m. Friday. The first 50 people to buy Birfday Suit on both Friday and Saturday will receive a free limited edition glass.

New offerings

Paradigm Shift Craft Brewery, 128 North Ave. NE, Massillon, will start offering cider, wine and liquor starting Thursday thanks to getting a state A1A license.

The brewery, which won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival last year for its Neighbor Girl, also recently added a small kitchen.

Black beer fest

Looking for a little diversity with your beer? The second annual Fresh Fest — an event that showcases black-owned breweries and brewers — runs from noon to 9 p.m. Aug. 10 at Nova Place in Pittsburgh.

Three Ohio breweries will be there: Flatrock from Napoleon, Black Frog from Holland and Alematic from Dayton.

Chris Harris, the owner and brewer at Black Frog who attended last year, said the crowd is a healthy mix of races, as opposed to being dominated by white men like other beer fests.

As a black brewer, he said that's refreshing to see. "Beer is color blind," he said.

For more details or tickets, go to: https://freshfestbeerfest.com.

 

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Read his daily beer blog at www.ohio.com/lifestyle/beer. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.