The opening weekend of Ohio Brew Week 2017 (OBW) demonstrated that the 12th year of this popular festival is another good one. The area’s growing number of breweries has accelerated the fun of this always festive statewide showcase of Ohio craft beer.
With now four brewery licenses in Athens, one in Pomeroy, one in Nelsonville, and one in Jackson, this region of southeastern Ohio is really coming into its own. And there is local cider, mead, wine and distilled spirits too.
From Little Fish Brewing’s release of three collaboration beers to the big OBW Homebrew Competition, things were hopping on Saturday.
Homebrewers get competitive
For the Ohio Brew Week Homebrew Competition, entries came from as far away as Israel, Nebraska and Hawaii. Homebrewers entered 329 brews in all. Competition organizer Jody Grenert and his crew did a great job this year with the competition.
The all-day judging exercise took place on the campus of Ohio University, and included BJCP certified judges from around the region, mostly provided by local homebrew clubs.
The competition awarded one of its top prizes to a beer we rarely see today: Sahti. Jennifer Ihms of Rocky River, OH, brewed this sweet, juniper-infused beauty, which received the Brewer’s Choice Award, sponsored by Little Fish Brewing Company. Later this year, the brewery will reproduce this Sahti and and put it on tap.
The competition’s Best of Show prize went to a dark, rich Munich Dunkel from homebrewer Brad Pausha of Chicago.
Greater Huntington Hombrewers Association member Wayne Palumbo of Ashland, KY, took home three medals (a gold, a silver and a bronze).
“Athens is a craft beer destination now, and folks from around the country love sending their beer to us for feedback,” said Jody Grenert, who is also the overall president of Ohio Brew Week.
For judges and beer entries, Grenert recruits participation from numerous brewing clubs ands guilds around Ohio and the region. Some of those who sent judges this year included Athens Homebrew Club, Scioto Olentangy Darby Zymurgists (SODZ), Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, Society of Northeast Ohio Brewers (S.N.O.B.), Society of Akron Area Zymurgists (SAAZ), and Greater Huntington Homebrewers Association (GHHA).
To see a complete list of medal winners from the competition, go to www.obw.brewcomp.com.
Devils Kettle provides free pig dinner
Saturday evening, a Free Pig Roast was hosted by Devil’s Kettle Brewing for homebrew judges and the general public. The pig and fixins were fantastic. The pig was raised by Widcat Ridge Farms and fed spent grain from Devil’s Kettle Brewing.
Plates of barbecued pig and sides were washed down with many pints of Devil’s Kettle draughts on the hot summer evening. One brew folks especially enjoyed was the Fuller Nelson IPA.
Little Fish–Seventh Sun collaboration a hit
A collaboration between Little Fish Brewing Company and Seventh Sun Brewing of Columbus produced three tasty variants of a farmhouse style beer, which were all released for sale on Saturday. The series, called My Many Smells, started off as a base farmhouse ale split three ways and then fruited and dry-hopped in three versions.
- Vol. 1. Mango-Kumquat-Nelson Sauvin-Galaxy (750 ml, $14.99, 340 bottles total)
- Vol. 2. Pineapple-Lime-Equinox-Simcoe (750 ml, $14.99, 340 bottles total)
- Vol. 3. Kiwi-Passionfruit-Citra (375 ml, $8.99, 400 bottles total)
Also released was a special barrel-aged version of Sunfish, their popular honey saison. As of Sunday afternoon, bottles of all four beers were still available, but they won’t last.
Hop growers meet
The Ohio Hop Growers Guild (OHGG) held their semi-annual meeting Saturday at Little Fish Brewing and had a big turnout. The guild promotes Ohio hop production and provides education and information sharing for its 60 members.
The guild brings together people serious about reestablishing a hops industry in Ohio to support Ohio brewery growth. According to a guild report, over 30 breweries used Ohio-grown hops in 2016.
West End Cider House offers cider, beer events
West End Cider House rolled out a variety of products for Brew Week, both their own and guest taps. Their Botanical Series Cider included hibiscus, boysenberry, cranberry, chicory, blackberry leaf, and lemon verbena flavorings. they also had a Gin Barrel Aged, and a Winesap Cider on Nitro. Their Circle B Apiary Mead was very popular.
On Saturday, a rep from Urban Artifact Brewing in Cincinnati was on hand for the tapping of Pinwheel Kumquat Gose.
The weekend’s great weather drew Cider House patrons outdoors to sip some cider on the establishment’s front patio.
Coming up on Tuesday evening is the Brew Week Bawdy Spelling Bee. Cider House describes it as back by popular demand, the debauched and downright indecent spelling bee for grownups! Words will be chosen from Merriam-Webster, the world of fermenting and brewing, the official Scripps Spelling Bee dictionary, and the bathroom walls of gas stations and dive-bars. Prizes! Drinks! Sign up starts at 7 and the bee starts at 8 pm sharp.
Jackie O’s Brewery has fun on Sunday
Jackie O’s Taproom and Brewery began its festivities with arts and brew events. The weekend saw the release of bottled Scrip, their new Grisette-style ale aged in wine barrels. The brewery describes Scrip as primarily fermented with saison yeast strains and brettanomyces, with no souring bacteria added. After 2 months in stainless, it spent 9 months in oak wine barrels. The taste is crisp and refreshing with notes of tart citrus and pineapple.
It’s always fun to try flights of samples at Jackie O’s because there are so many beers to choose from. For Brew Week, they offer a great range of brews. You can go with a summery series of series of four tart ales, none with an ABV above 5.2%, or you can hit the high-test brews with five or six options logging in at 10% or higher. If those aren’t your cup of tea, you can try dozens of others brews somewhere in-between.
A Sunday Funday art show at the brewery featured the work of label artist Chris Monday. He is the one responsible for all the intriguing designs on Jackie ‘s beer cans and limited bottle releases. Live music was provided by local bands.
Ohio Brew Week 2017 continues
These are just some examples of the kind of activities that continue all week, through July 22. There’s plenty of time to get over and join in the fun. For a complete list of events go to this Brew Week events listing.