Beer notes: Ohio craft brewers plan to release free magazine

By Rick Armon
Beacon Journal staff writer

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The Ohio Craft Brewers Association is getting into the publishing game.

The group is teaming up with Great Lakes Publishing in Cleveland to release a free 40-page magazine this summer promoting the state’s craft beer industry.

Called the Ohio Craft Beer Guide, the magazine — contingent on selling enough advertising — will include articles, listings of breweries and a centerfold map highlighting Ohio beer trails.

About 100,000 copies are expected to be printed and available at breweries, festivals, retail outlets and beverage stores around the state. It’s planned to be released to coincide with Ohio Brew Week, which runs July 11-19 in Athens.

Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. co-owner John Najeway said the goal is to raise public awareness of Ohio-made beer and “to make it known we’re a force in Ohio.”

“Every time I drive from Akron to Cleveland I see a billboard that says,” he said, referring to a recent advertising campaign in Ohio that promoted Michigan craft breweries. “It pisses me off.”

The Ohio group won’t be the first state craft organization to publish a magazine. The Michigan Brewers Guild has put out Michigan: The Great Beer State for several years.

Great Lakes Publishing produces Cleveland Magazine, Ohio Magazine, Lake Erie Living and Inside Business Magazine.

Craft rising

Business just keeps booming for craft brewers.

The Brewers Association reported this week that the craft industry saw an 18 percent increase in volume and 20 percent jump in retail dollar sales last year.

Meanwhile, the craft segment controlled 7.8 percent of the total U.S. beer market by volume in 2013, up from 6.5 percent the previous year, the trade group said. The retail dollar share rose to 14.3 percent and totaled $14.3 billion, up from $11.9 billion in 2012.

The association also reported that the number of breweries in the U.S. last year hit 2,822, with 2,768 of those considered craft. The count includes 413 new breweries opening and 44 closing.

The group estimated that the industry provided 110,273 jobs, an increase of almost 2,000 from the previous year.

Art awards

Hats off to Main Street, Black Box and Hoppin’ Frog.

The three breweries — from Garrettsville, Westlake and Akron, respectively — took home awards at the Akron Art Museum’s seventh annual Art and Ale beer tasting last week.

A panel of three judges — museum Executive Director Mark Masuoka, museum Board of Trustees member Rory O’Neil and Cleveland Plain Dealer writer Marc Bona — chose Main Street Ma Barker’s Birch Beer, Black Box Abbey Ale and Hoppin’ Frog B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher as the top beers of the evening.

Judges were asked to select the three best beers, with no first, second or third place.

The event, held in the museum atrium, featured more than 10 brewers and locally produced foods.

Masuoka said he enjoys the effort craft brewers put into their labels. “The art side of it has gone wild,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

‘Game of Thrones’

Winks Bar and Grille, 1301 E. 9th St., Cleveland, will host an exclusive launch party for Brewery Ommegang’s new Fire and Blood Red Ale, a beer inspired by the HBO drama Game of Thrones and character Daenerys Targaryen’s three dragons.

The event is from 6 to 10 p.m. March 29. The beer won’t be released nationally to retailers until March 31.

Tickets are $35 and include a Game of Thrones commemorative glass, pours of both Fire and Blood Red Ale and Take the Black Stout, a bottle of Fire and Blood Red Ale signed by Ommegang brewmaster Phil Leinhart, and “a feast fit for a king.”

Tickets are available at

Ohio rocks IPAs

The Buckeye State rocks when it comes to imperial IPAs.

Ohio breweries dominated the recently concluded National Imperial IPA Competition, with the Brew Kettle in Strongsville taking home the crown and three of the final four beers hailing from the state.

The annual competition, sponsored by the Brewing News in Buffalo, N.Y., is run similar to the NCAA March Madness tournament with beers being pitted against each other in a judged tasting until there is only one standing.

The Brew Kettle’s El Lupulo Libr topped Fat Head’s Hop JuJu in the finals. Cleveland’s Great Lakes Chillwave Double IPA also made the final four.

Fat Head’s Brewery, located in Middleburg Heights, also had a strong showing in the National IPA Competition, with its IBUsive making the finals but falling to La Cumbre Project Dank.

Both events were held simultaneously. How tough was the competition? Fat Head’s Head Hunter IPA — a perennial winner at national events — was knocked out in the first round by Big Dog’s Dirty Dog IPA.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or Read his beer blog at Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.

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