Ohio Brew Week (OBW) always provides a good blend of tried-and-true activities along with a few new twists. This year was no different.
Recurring events like the Beer with the Brewers at the Ohio University Inn were as good as ever this year. The new midweek offering of two Bus Tours— one to wineries and one to breweries— was a welcomed addition to the calendar of events.
A busload of brewery tourists
As you might guess, Brilliant Stream participated in the brewery tour bus.
The bus made morning stops at the major hotels to pick up riders, who then spent the next six hours learning and enjoying the breweries around Athens. (The winery bus schedule was similar.) The groups contained a nice mix of OBW tourists and locals.
The brewery tour made stops at Multiple Brewing in Nelsonville, and at Little Fish, Devil’s Kettle and Jackie O’s breweries in Athens. Each stop included one 4 oz. beer sample of your choice and a brewery tour. You could purchase more beer of your choice, and most people did just that.
At Multiple Brewing, owners Jason and Michelle Warren were super hosts. Their small brewery had a lot of spirit and some good brews.
Brewer Jason Warren had a most unusual beer on tap called Experimental Cheese Hazy IPA. It was reminiscent of a well-aged cheese, a bit stinky and sharp.
He obtained the cheesiness by using a hefty dose of well-aged hops. The hops also provided some earthy flavors which added to the cheese comparison. It was a most interesting beer.
The Bailey’s Platonic Pale Ale is named for the brewery dog Bailey, who was also the assistant bartender that day. Multiple also offered its porter, amber, and a New England-style IPA to the bus tourists.
Tour participants learned that Warren will soon no longer brew in his repurposed dairy equipment (pictured above). He said his new 5-barrel brewing system has been delivered and will soon be in operation. The new system will allow him to at least double his distribution from the 30 accounts he services now.
The second stop was Little Fish Brewing Company.
The group was impressed by all the offerings on the beer board. many folks sampled the various farmhouse ales and sours that Little Fish specializes in.
Little Fish Brewing co-founder Jimmy Stockwell led the tour of his creative, locally-focused brewery. He said that much of their grain and ingredients such as fruits come from Ohio sources. In addition to rustic styles, Little Fish produces popular standard styles such as IPA, stouts, and lagers.
Next, was the visit to Devil’s Kettle Brewing Company.
If your interest leans toward malty brews or traditional lagers, this is a place you will love. The cozy taproom and outdoor seating area are a great atmosphere to sample their wide-range of beer,
Owner and brewer Cameron Fuller explained that their biggest seller by far is Spider Silk Imperial Blonde Ale. He said they distribute their beer to bars and restaurants from Athens to Columbus.
The final stop was Jackie O’ Brewery and Taproom.
Brad Clarke, director of brewing operations, turned tour guide for the group’s behind-the-scences look at the area largest and most successful brewery. The tourists learned that Jackie O’s has two primary focuses. First is their canned beer program . It has five flagship beers that are in wide distribution in Ohio. Second is the barrel-aged beer program. The output is divided between spirit-barrel aged imperial-style beer and barrel-aged sour and funky beers. These beers are bottled and sold at the brewery and a few are also put into distribution.
Overall, the bus tour was a super new Brew Week activity. Participants all gave it a thumbs up. Jody Grenert said he hoped to learn from this first year, make a few improvement, and then offer it again next year. Let’s hope so.
Unexpected brews at Beer with the Brewers
Arriving back at the Ohio University Inn following the tour, I immediately looked up the Inn’s bar manager Lucy Sharp, who had a Beer with the Brewers activity going on.
That day, the featured brewery was Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company. The guys brought their pub-exclusive Glockenspiel Weizenbock, which was great to find at the Inn, since this beer is in very limited distribution. Bar manager Sharp also had brewer events with Maple Lawn, Kindred Artisan Ales, and Platform breweries during the week.
At Beer with the Brewers events you really get a chance to pick the brains of some top pro brewers. You can taste their beer and have them explain how they got those flavors in there. For a beer fan, that’s a lot of fun.
Last Call closes festival on Saturday
Ohio Brew Week continues Saturday with its most popular event: the Last Call Street Festival. Kicking off at noon and running until midnight, They block off Court Street in the heart of Athens and take over the bricks. Last Call features over 30 Ohio breweries and several vendors. Eight live bands on the Main Stage will provide music all day long. There is also an Acoustic Stage with fi ve performers.
Entrance is free and beer is available for purchase.