This weekend, 200 types of craft beers and an anticpated 5,000 beer lovers will take part in Columbus Beerfest Friday and Saturday at the Columbus Convention Center.
“The main thing is to spread the gospel of American craft beer,” said Craig Johnson, event producer for Columbus Beerfest.
Beerfest will showcase craft beer and breweries from all over the nation, as well as every brewing company located in Central Ohio.
For Johnson, Beerfest is about promoting and bringing together Ohio’s brewing companies.
“You’re truly buying local and drinking local,” Johnson said. “It’s a strong community, and it’s growing.”
Johnson said while sales of American craft beers are still far lower than larger domestic beer companies, there has been progress.
“American craft beer has been growing…for the last five years, while the big national domestic beers have been shrinking,” Johnson said.
Johnson points to the increase of availability within the local communities as one cause for this expansion.
“If you look at some of the bars you go to, you start to see (they) are now dipping their toe in and offering a craft beer or two, which would have been unheard of five years ago,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the promotion of craft beers also has a positive effect on the economy of Central Ohio, with Columbus boasting five breweries within the city.
“It’s a lot of jobs in Central Ohio, especially,” Johnson said. “Columbus is very fortunate to have the number of breweries it does.”
These festivals are also a way to change the public’s perception of beer.
“Alcohol in general can have a very negative image, and these festivals are a way to do it right,” said Patrick Kelleher, president and brewmaster of Neil House Brewery.
Those who attend Beerfest will be given 25 tickets. Each ticket can be exchanged for one glass of any craft beer.
Johnson said Beerfest is a good deal financially for those who are hesitant to splurge on the higher cost of craft beer.
“(Craft beers) are $10 or $12 per six-pack,” Johnson said. “This way you get to try them, and if you don’t like them, you don’t have to roll the dice on a $12 six-pack.”
Volunteers from the local Homebrew club will be on hand to answer any questions attendees may have about the beers.
Students plan on getting a taste of local beer.
“I’m a craft beer girl, through and through,” said Samantha Burton, a fourth-year in strategic communication at Ohio State. “(I) can’t wait to see what some of Columbus’s microbreweries have to show off.”
Tickets can be purchased at www.columbusbeerweek.org for $30 in advance or $40 at the door, with VIP tickets costing $10 extra. All proceeds benefit the Big Joe Duskin Music Education Fund, a non-profit organization which provides for musical performances at public elementary schools.