I went to school in Athens, Ohio for four years, yet even though I committed to trying all the different cuisines the town had to offer, I never managed to make it out to Ohio Brew Week. Athens is known for a lot of big parties throughout the year, but Brew Week is the one you’ve probably heard of the least. It’s held at the height of the summer when the students are gone and attracts not Natti Light-guzzling frat boys, but craft beer fanatics from all over the state.
In spite of the unbelievable storm weather this weekend, which knocked out power in virtually all of southeast Ohio, Brew Week went on undaunted. It was a real shame that the storm knocked out power to the local bars from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday, but the street festival, this year called “Brews on the Block” still brought out local microbreweries of all sizes, from bigger local names, like statewide favorite Great Lakes Brewing Company of Cleveland and Columbus’ well-known Elevator Brewing Company, to small operations and startups like Toledo’s Granite City Brewery, Zanesville’s Weasel Boy Brewing, and Lockland’s Rivertown Brewery. Still more breweries from around the state sent cases and kegs of craft beers to Athens’ many bars, which then had them on tap for a week celebrating the artful craftsmanship of good brews.
What particularly surprised me was how numerous the beer types were. Everyone had an IPA on tap, everyone had a Lager of some kind, and I saw a lot of ales. But the brewers went in all directions; from Willoughby Brewing Company‘s Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter with a dark, rich and lingering flavor, to Great Black Swamp Brewing‘s Mosquito Red, which has a flavor and body almost like iced tea.
Microbreweries seem to be all the rage these days, and with all the new places opening up around the state, it absolutely rocked. Every hotel in town was sold out for the final weekend, and in spite of the confused results from the storm, it was a great time to be had. Reviews are coming for the beer-only microbreweries. This is definitely the event of the year to try if you’re a beer snob.