“Beer Week” Celebrates Craft of Brewing Distinctive Tastes

70 events, 46 places, beginning Thursday

Tabb Harrison, general manager and bartender at The Lackman, says the week's events feature "beers you just won't be able to try any other time." / The Enquirer/Jeff Swinger

Written by Polly Campbell for news.cincinnati.com

Note: the deconstructed beer dinner alone sounds worth it. A great idea for other festivals to consider.- The Professor

A look at the schedule for Cincinnati’s first Beer Week which begins Thursday, indicates just how much craft beer has taken over the imagination of beer drinkers in Cincinnati.

More than 70 events at 46 locations are scheduled for the week. All explore beer from local and national breweries dedicated to making unique, high-quality beers.

Though Cincinnati may be a little late to the party compared to other parts of the country, the wave of interest in craft beer here has taken off.

“It’s been on the fast track nationally for about 25 years,” said Mike Dewey, brewer of Mount Carmel Brewery, one of a handful of local breweries, which he owns with his wife, Kathleen. “Locally it’s been on the fast track about 5 years.”

Beer Week both celebrates the profusion of bars and restaurants, home brewers and micro-brewers who have taps featuring craft brews and seeks to educate anyone interested in stepping out of their national-brand beer-drinking habits.

“When you drink the same domestic light beer every day, it’s just boring,” said Lindsey Bonadonna, co-chair of the organizing committee. “When you try an IPA (India Pale Ale) or wheat beer, say, it makes things interesting. Introduce new beers and you might change your perspective.”

A festival for the beer drinkers

It’s a festival originating at the grassroots, say the organizers, in the spirit of the craft beer movement in general, which sprang up from small independent brewers. There are no corporate sponsors.

“It was important to us that everyone on the committee separate themselves from their commercial association,” said Bonadonna.

The committee includes representatives from restaurants, bars, breweries, home brewing clubs and what you could call the beer-drinking community.

Some of the impetus for organizing a week came from a desire to commemorate the growth in beer appreciation that’s been happening in Cincinnati.

“There’s a perception of Cincinnati that’s just not accurate,” said Bonadonna, though other cities, such as Cleveland, have had beer weeks and festivals for some time. “We may not have the options of larger cities, but we are catching up,” said Dewey.

Events include pint nights, dinners, home-brewing demonstrations, meet-the-brewer evenings, and beer invasions, events where all the taps at a bar are given to one brewery.

“There are events for anyone from people new to this to real beer geeks,” said Bonnadonna.

A brew that’s just for us alone

A special beer was created for Beer Week: Cincinnati Beer Week American Barleywine Ale, which was brewed collaboratively by the brewers from Mount Carmel, Rockbottom, Moerlein, Red Ear, Rivertown and Listermann’s.

It has been bottled and is available at retail beer stores. It’s a beer that will benefit from being aged, and the plan is to make a different such beer each year for the week.

At the Lackman Bar on Vine Street, manager Tabb Harrison has been planning some special events for awhile.

Their first event of the week will feature five beers from Epic Brewing Co. of Salt Lake City.

“These are beers you just won’t be able to try any other time,” he said.

On Thursday, they’re giving over 12 tap handles to beers from Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware, including the first taste of their new strawberry gluten-free beer. They’ll also feature Dogfish Head’s Randall the Enamel Animal, a device that allows other flavors to be introduced into a beer.

A “deconstructed beer dinner” at Keystone Hyde Park will feature Jason Roeper, owner of Rivertown Brewing Co., going through all the flavors in his beers and in the food, to get to the nuts and bolts of beer and food pairing

The event ends with the Cincinnati Winter Beer Fest, where representatives of many breweries will set up for tastings in the Duke Energy Convention Center on Feb.10 and 11. It will take up three times as much space this year, allowing for better interactions with the brewery

How to tackle such a big event?

“Go to cincinnatibeerweek.com, break out your calendar and start planning,” said Bonadonna.