Ahh, summer, a time when a young drinker’s fancy turns to beer festivals.
Ehh, who am I kidding ... a young drinker’s fancy is always thinking about beer festivals. Luckily, there are more than a few to choose from around Ohio this summer.
Want to drink alongside animals? There are several beer tastings at zoos, including the Akron Zoo.
Want to take in a boxing match? Fifty West Brewing Co.’s Punch Out: Round Three in Cincinnati combines boxing matches with a beer fest.
How about beers made with the native Ohio pawpaw fruit? The annual Pawpaw Festival is in Albany.
Or maybe you just want to bar hop and sample tons and tons and tons of Ohio-made beer? The 13th annual Ohio Brew Week has you covered.
"Beer fests continue to be a great educational opportunity to go with your friends or family and taste a plethora of beers," said John Najeway, the co-owner of Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. and the co-founder of the annual Blues & Brews beer festival in downtown Akron.
For new and even seasoned beer drinkers, the tastings offer a great chance to sample and compare different styles and brands.
"It’s cheaper than going to a brewery or a bar to do it," Najeway said.
Craig Johnson, who co-organizes major winter and summer beer festivals every year in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and other cities as part of Festivals Unlimited, agreed.
"There’s no better way to ‘try before you buy’ the myriad offerings from the ever growing list of craft breweries than at a beer festival," he said.
"It’s also just plain fun to get together with friends for a good time out on the town because the community nature of craft beer and beer festivals can make it that way."
The following is a rundown of summer beer festivals around Ohio — at least all the ones that I could find and that organizers notified me about.
Summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21, but we all know it really kicks off at Memorial Day. It also ends Sept. 23 so that’s when the list ends, but there are many others scheduled after that date.
Check out www.Ohio.com/?beer for the full 2018 list that will be updated throughout the year:
• June 1: Sausage Fest at Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon in North Olmsted.
• June 2: The Masthead 5k and Brew Fest at Masthead Brewing Co. in Cleveland.
• June 8-July 1: The annual Brew and BBQ at Cedar Point in Sandusky.
• June 16: Brew at the Zoo at the Akron Zoo.
• June 16: The third annual Cleveland Summer Beerfest at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica in Cleveland.
• June 23: The third annual Mentor On Tap in Mentor.
• July 7: The inaugural Kale and Ale festival at Lincoln Park in Cleveland.
• July 7: The third annual Fifty West Punch Out: Round Three — a beer festival combined with outdoor boxing matches — at Fifty West Brewing Co. in Cincinnati.
• July 13-21: The 13th annual Ohio Brew Week in Athens. The event features more than 200 Ohio-made craft beers served at venues around town. It also includes dinners, speeches and demonstrations.
• July 21: Brew at the Zoo at the Akron Zoo.
• July 21: The Kale and Ale festival at Sawyer Point Park in Cincinnati.
• July 27: The annual Craft @ the Quarry at Centennial Terrace and Quarry in Sylvania.
• July 28: The annual Scene Magazine Ale Fest at Lincoln Park in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood.
• Aug. 4: The Down the River, Down a Beer festival at Lock 9 Riverfront Park in Piqua.
• Aug. 9-12: The annual Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival in Marietta.
• Aug. 10-11: The ninth annual Columbus Summer Beerfest at the Express Live complex in Columbus.
• Aug. 11: The annual BrewFest Waterfront District at Black River Landing in Lorain.
• Aug. 11: The seventh annual Chardon Brewfest on Chardon Square in Chardon.
• Aug. 11: The 11th annual Great American Beer Festival at Fifth Third Field in Dayton.
• Aug. 13-18: Lancaster BrewWeek in Lancaster, with the Lancaster BrewFest on Aug. 18.
• Aug. 17-18: The annual Burning River Fest put on by Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland.
• Aug. 25: The annual Blues & Brews at Lock 3 in Akron.
• Aug. 25: The inaugural Brew-B-Que at 4KD Crick Brewery in Defiance.
• Aug. 31-Sept. 3: Cleveland Oktoberfest at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea. The event includes a craft beer tasting and microbrew competition.
• Sept. 1: Crew SC Craft Beer Fest in Columbus. The festival starts at 6:30 p.m. and concludes with the kickoff of the Crew SC vs. Vancouver match at 8 p.m.
• Sept. 1: The 10th annual Cincy Summer Beerfest in Cincinnati.
• Sept. 14-16: The annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival at Lake Snowden in Albany. The event celebrates the native Ohio fruit and breweries create beers using pawpaw.
• Sept. 21-23: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati in downtown Cincinnati.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his beer blog at www.Ohio.com/?beer. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.