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AleFest Columbus brews up chance to taste lesser-known beers

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Natural Light is probably the first thing that comes to mind when college-aged students think of beer, but for those who desire actual flavor in their brew, they might be more partial to craft beer.

AleFest Columbus returns for its seventh year from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Aladdin Shrine Center Ballroom.

AleFest celebrates craft beers and the world of microbrewing by hosting events where people can sample and become familiar with various styles of craft beer. A microbrewery is a smaller brewery that produces smaller amounts of beer than the major producers.

With about 1,500 attendees last year, Joe Waizmann, creator and coordinator of AleFest, said he expects even higher numbers this year.

Waizmann said he hopes the event will open people up to a wide variety of beer and educate them about how it is made and the flavor variations that result from production processes.

“(I hope it) serves as a catalyst in their search of their thirst for knowledge,” he said.

More than 100 breweries will be in attendance, including local breweries like Columbus Brewing Company, with more than 250 assorted beers to sample, according to the Alefest website.

One ticket will get a participant 20 samples and a souvenir AleFest tasting glass.

Gabriel Kriz, a part-time student and employee at the Ohio Union, said he is excited to attend.

“I’ve had all these different beers styles,” Kriz said. “I’m curious to learn the processes of making them — learning why they do it that way.”

Kriz’s interest in beer was inspired by the Cleveland-based Great Lakes Brewing Company, he said. Part of his interest comes from the way Great

Lakes and other microbreweries come up with a large collection of diverse recipes.

“When you think Budweiser, they have a fixed recipe — they don’t really try different things,” Kriz said.

Kriz keeps his refrigerator stocked with a variety of craft beer.

“I have at least six different kinds of beer in my fridge right now,” Kriz said. “I kind of spend a lot of money on it.”

The interest in craft beer also seems to span across a large age range, Kriz said.

“I’m only 23 and I enjoy it, and my dad’s 53 and he seems to enjoy it,” Kris said. “He has a fridge just as full as mine.”

Greg Buchholz, a recent OSU alumnus, said he has some experience in homebrewing and enjoys events like AleFest.

“It allows beer nuts like myself to go out and experience a variety of different beers (they) don’t normally get to experience,” Buchholz said in an email. “Some of the beers they bring to these festivals are the first time they are in Ohio.”

Tickets are $40 at the door.

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