Craft beer enthusiasts from all over have the chance to experience the best Ohio-made beers all in one convenient place for a whole week.
Athens has been the epicenter of Ohio Brew Week (OBW) since its beginning in 2005. Now in the non-profit’s 14th year, the celebration aims to educate and promote craft beer as well as highlight the town that makes OBW possible. This year’s brew week features over 200 different events happening throughout the week, including brew tours, keg tapping and live music at various venues.
New to OBW is First Call, a block party to kick off the week where people have a chance to try different craft beers from breweries that are new to OBW.
What: Ohio Brew Week
When: Fri., 11 a.m. — Sat., July 20, 10 p.m.
Where: Court Street
“We thought this would be a good way to get different breweries involved, and show them what brew week is like,” Brandon Thompson, director of OBW, said. “And with craft beer, everyone likes something new, so it’s good to have something different and special.”
OBW is bringing back the popular Brew Choo Choo, hosted by Fifty West Brewing Company, a train ride on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway where riders are given six different beer tastings and a brief local history lesson by Pat Quakenbush.
“People really like that, so we brought that back,” Thompson said.
OBW also honors the inspiration for brew week, Jon Sparhawk, by having an entire day for him and his dedication to supporting the local businesses of Athens.
“(Sparhawk) basically encouraged people to patronize local businesses while they’re here,” Thompson said. “These are the businesses that allow us to do brew week, so without them, we wouldn’t have brew week.”
Upward to 10,000 people make it out for the nine-day craft beer celebration, which makes for booming business and exposure for Athens during a time where the small town doesn’t see much activity. With the spark in attendance, it’s no surprise that many events unrelated to craft beer take place during OBW for people to check out.
“I think there’s a lot of events people choose to do for a reason during this week, and that’s what we really like about brew week,” Thompson said. “It’s not just about beer. It just allows the town to grow around those few days. I think it’s really cool people embrace this event.”
Beau Nishimura, the taproom manager of Little Fish Brewing Company, is looking forward to Little Fish’s collaborations with Market Garden and Branch and Bone breweries as well as experiencing different brews from across Ohio.
“The brewing community is absolutely amazing,” Nishimura said. “We love having the opportunity ourselves by getting to try all the other breweries’ beer. It’s an amazing thing for Athens that has been going on.”