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Preview: Columbus Summer Beerfest 2013

Walker Evans Walker Evans Preview: Columbus Summer Beerfest 2013Columbus Winter Beerfest returns to the Convention Center, Friday and Saturday!
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This weekend, Beerfest is back. For the fourth summer in a row, this festival has continued to grow, expecting to attract over 10,000 people over a two day span. Over 250 craft beers will be on tap for tasting, including local choices from Four String, Barley’s and Seventh Son, as well as regional selections from favorite breweries including Three Floyds, Great Lakes, Founders and more.

We spoke recently with Craig Johnson, Director of Columbus Beerfest to find out more about we can expect from this weekend’s festivities. Our full Q&A can be found below:

Q: First things first… what’s new at this summer’s beer fest event?

A: The biggest changes are the addition of a Friday Night and that we acquired the Clippers Parking Lot to expand into. This puts it line with our Columbus Winter Beerfest that took place back in January, which had two nights. It also gives us some “weather insurance” because it’s rare for a two-day event to have horrible weather both days (knock on wood).

The expansion into the Clippers lot also gives us a lot more options. It assures everyone of having enough space for the increase in food trucks and food booths and provides seating for those. It also allows us to bring in some of the larger beer trailers that we haven’t been able to use before. You’ll see the same type of semi-truck beer trailers you see at Comfest, but ours will have 24 different types of beers on them.

Columbus Underground is celebrating Local Beer this week, brought to you by our friends at Savor Growl. All this week we’re featuring articles on breweries, beer shops, tastemakers, growler fill stations and more!

Q: Any particular beers that you’re excited about this year?

A: I’m always excited by the special beers the local guys bring. Barley’s always brings a special beer or two they’ve squirreled away. Last year CBC brought a chili pepper hopped beer, and Elevator always does a great job with their barrel-aged stuff. Those are fun things to try. There’s a lot of new breweries to try too. Upland Brewing from Bloomington, Indiana will be here for the first time. Triton Brewing is from Indianapolis and their brewers will be here. Rhinegeist Brewery just opened on June 27 in a beautiful old brewery in Cincinnati and is already exploding on the scene down there. They’ve already got a tap inside the Reds Stadium! I’m really excited to try their Truth IPA. Full Pint Brewing out of Pittsburgh also makes some great stuff too, and they’re new to the fest.

Q: I’ve heard that the event is expanding somehow into a full week next Spring. What can you tell us about that?

A: It’s really the creation of the inaugural Columbus Beer Week. It will be a 7 to 10 day celebration of craft beer all across the city. Beer-centric bars and restaurants will create and host beer events of all types and sizes ranging from tap takeovers to beer pairing dinners at fine restaurants. We are helping to organize and promote Columbus Beer Week, and we will help to produce the All Ohio Beerfest as part of it. All profits will go to the Ohio Craft Brewers Association for its efforts in representing Ohio’s craft breweries and promoting craft beer. The Columbus Beer Week will be held in April 2014 and we hope to announce the exact dates of the week and the location of the fest soon. Our Columbus Winter Beerfest will continue to be its own separate event in January.

Q: What do you think of the beer scene in Columbus overall?

A: It is absolutely booming. We started the Columbus Beerfest in Summer 2010 and have grown from 2,300 in attendance at the first event to 10,000 this past January. That’s already in the Top 20 largest beer festivals in the country. I truly believe Columbus has the perfect demographic, social nature, and desire to become one of the best beer cities in the nation.

We — and I say ‘we’ now because I’m officially a Columbus resident now — we have long established breweries who are still innovating and making great beers. We also have new ones popping up every few months who are making great beers. We have a large Homebrewing community, we have beer retailers and even grocery stores that getting on board with growler technology, we have great entertainment districts selling craft beer, and most importantly, we have a craft beer consumer that is asking bars, restaurants and retailers to up their game and bring in more craft beers. I’m believes that we are no where near a saturation point with the number of breweries. The craft share of the market can only increase.

Q: Anything else you want to add about the event this weekend?

A: We’re making it really easy to get inside quickly this year. People who have bought their tickets in advance can go to the early check in at Park Street Patio on either day between 2pm and 6pm. They can still go directly to the LC as well, but this makes for the quickest entry.

And as always, the Columbus Summer Beerfest benefits the Big Joe Duskin Music Foundation and its local partner, the Columbus Jazz Arts Group. The funds raised at the Columbus events — which totaled $26,000 last year — funds their Jazz 4 Kids early elementary program. The goal is to get children excited about playing musical instruments and learn about the jazz or blues genres. Directly from Beerfest proceeds, last year this innovative program reached 14,000 schoolchildren in over 40 Columbus area schools.

More info can be found online at www.columbusbeerfest.com.

Photo via Columbus Beer Fest.

From August 12th to August 18th, Columbus Underground is Celebrating Local Beer Week, brought to you by Savor Growl. Stop by their shop at 2991 Indianola Avenue on Thursday, August 15th to get 50% off your growler container purchase and 10% off all growler fills between 6pm and 9pm!

You can also follow Savor Growl on Twitter and Facebook for more updates.

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