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Brew week kicks off, will have new events

With this year’s ninth annual Ohio Brew Week just getting started, Athens restaurants, hotels and pubs are ready to welcome in brewers and beer drinkers for an even bigger blowout than ever before.

The celebration kicked off Friday with the Rock ‘n Roast at the Ohio University Inn, 331 Richland Ave. Attendees sipped craft beer and kicked back to live music. More than 200 craft beers from 40 different Ohio microbreweries will pour into Athens during the nine-day celebration.

In addition to featuring more breweries, the festival will offer new events, including a historic walking tour of Athens pubs and taverns, the Haunted Hocking Tour and The Last Call for 2013, a craft beer celebration on Court Street at the end of the week.

“We put on some excellent events that are interesting, unusual and unique to Athens,” said Melody Sands, Ohio Brew Week marketing director.

Some events on this week's agenda: beer tastings, a roller derby tournament, a keg-tapping ceremony, an Athens cuisine showcase and a distiller’s forum.

“It’s the one event in the state that brewers can get together, try each other’s beers and relax,” Sands said. “The people that come here are older and set the tone for a well-behaved crowd. It’s a good time.”

As a result of the quarters-to-semesters switch, last year was the first time the event was spilled over into June. Despite the date change, Sands said almost 22,000 students, alumni and out-of-town guests flooded into Athens to join the party; but, a majority of attendees last year left town before the end of the week because of a massive statewide power outage.

“Last year, Brew Week had an (economic) impact, but it wasn’t as busy,” said Bruce Reede, sales representative at Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery. “The storm knocked out power during what should have been the highlight of brew week, and that really hurt a lot of businesses in town.”

But attendance for this year already seems promising, said Ralph Mordocco, general manager of the OU Inn. Almost all the rooms at there are booked for the next two weekends.

“We expect to see all kinds of students, residents and out-of-towners—just a jubilant bunch of beer-loving folks,” Reede said.

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