Beer festivals abound in Ohio this year

By Rick Armon
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Art of Ale at the Akron Art Museum in 2011.

Get out your calendars, beer drinkers.

Ohio is filled with beer festivals to attend this year. Some such as Brewzilla in downtown Cleveland will draw thousands. Others such as Art & Ale at the Akron Art Museum will attract hundreds.

Festivals are the best opportunity for beer fans to taste a wide variety of styles and brands to figure out what you like — and don’t like. That’s important because many craft beers are topping $10 a six-pack, or even four-pack.

“Craft beer isn’t cheap. It’s a big investment,” said John Najeway, one of the owners of Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. in Akron and organizer of the annual Blues & Brews festival in Akron.

He recommends festivals because “there’s no better place to sample.” Beer drinkers also get to hang out with other beer geeks and chat with professional brewers.

Beer festivals continue to pop up everywhere and have been a big hit with nonprofit groups.

“Every charity is trying to find a unique way to have an event that’s fun and draws people in, and craft beer is something that people are interested in right now,” said Michael Taylor, who is organizing the second annual MSD Brew Ha-Ha fundraiser for the Montessori School of Dayton.

Here’s a rundown of major Ohio beer festivals. This list is incomplete, as some organizers couldn’t be reached, or a date hadn’t been selected yet. For more details, including hours and ticket information, visit the websites:

• Friday-Saturday: The third annual Columbus Winter Beerfest at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus. www.columbusbeer

• Jan. 26: The second annual MSD Brew Ha-Ha at the Montessori School of Dayton in Kettering.

• Jan. 26: Wood Aged Event at the Buckeye Beer Engine in Lakewood.

• Feb. 2: AleFest Columbus.

• Feb. 7-14: The second annual Cincinnati Beer Week. Events throughout the community. www.cincinnati

• Feb. 15-16: The sixth annual Cincy Winter Beerfest at the Duke Energy Convention Center Cincinnati.

• Feb. 23: The Winter Warmer Festival at Windows on the River in the Powerhouse in Cleveland.

• March 1: The seventh annual Glass City Beer Fest at the Lucas County Recreation Center in Maumee.

• March 1-3: Bockfest at Bockfest Hall, also known as the Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. events center, in Cincinnati.

• March 2: AleFeast Dayton.

• March 8: The sixth annual Art & Ale at the Akron Art Museum in Akron.

• March 23: Starkbier Fest at Listermann Brewing/Triple Digit Brewing in Cincinnati (strong beers with more than 7.5 percent alcohol by volume).

• April 19: The seventh annual 420 HopFest at the Buckeye Beer Engine in Lakewood. www.buckeyebeer

• April 20: The fourth annual Big Tap In at the Shepherd Event Center in Boardman.

• June 14-15: The eighth annual Jungle Jim’s International Beer Fest in Cincinnati.

• June 21-29: The eighth annual Ohio Brew Week in Athens. More than 200 Ohio-made craft beers served at 33 venues around town.

• July 26-27: Burning River Fest at the Historic Coast Guard Station on Whiskey Island in Cleveland, featuring beer from Great Lakes Brewing Co. www.burningriverfoundation.

• July 27: The ninth annual Blues & Brews at Lock 3 in downtown Akron.

• August (date TBA): The fourth annual Columbus Summer Beerfest at the LC Pavilion in Columbus.

• Aug. 9-11: The third annual Rivers, Trails & Ales Festival in Marietta.

• Aug. 17-24: Dayton Beer Week. Activities throughout the community.

• Aug. 24: AleFest Dayton.

• Aug. 30-Sept. 2: Cleveland Labor Day Oktoberfest at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea. Includes a microbrew competition.

•  Sept. 13-14: The fifth annual Cincy Beerfest at Fountain Square in Cincinnati.

• Sept. 13-15: The 15th annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival in Albany, celebrating the native Ohio fruit and beers made with pawpaw.

• Sept. 13-15: The North Market Microbrew Festival at the North Market in Columbus.

• Sept. 20-22: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati in Cincinnati. Celebrates the community’s German heritage and includes the world’s largest Chicken Dance.

• Oct. 5: Big Beers & Barley Wines in Dayton. www.bigbeers

• Oct. 18-26: Cleveland Beer Week. Beer-related events around the city.

• Oct. 26: Brewzilla at the Galleria in downtown Cleveland, concludes Cleveland Beer Week. www.cleveland

• Nov. 16: Holiday Beer and Breweriana Extravaganza at the Moerlein Lager House in Cincinnati. Holiday beers from around the world and beer experts appraising breweriana for free. www.moerleinlager

This list will be updated throughout the year at

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or Read his beer blog at

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