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5th Columbus Winter Beerfest set for its largest inception

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Vendors serve beer to attendees at a past Columbus Beerfest. Credit: Courtesy of Craig Johnson

Vendors serve beer to attendees at a past Columbus Beerfest.
Credit: Courtesy of Craig Johnson

Columbus beer fans can celebrate the end of January indoors this weekend at the fifth annual Columbus Winter Beerfest.

The Columbus Winter Beerfest will feature more than 350 craft beers, featuring both local and national breweries. The event’s website gives interested drinkers a full beer list, detailing the brewery, its location, beer, style and alcohol by volume of the selected taps.

One of the event’s organizers said Columbus has seen major growth in the craft beer scene over the years, a trend that can be seen on a larger scale as well.

“Ohio’s craft beer (scene) in general has exploded,” Columbus Winter Beerfest director of events Craig Johnson said.

With that explosion, the challenges of the event have changed dramatically.

“There’s only so much room, and so many beers you can have, so we have a more challenging situation each year where we try to get the best beer list,” Johnson said. “In the old days it was tough to reach our numbers of having even … 300, and now it’s a real struggle to keep it under 400 (beers offered).”

Over the past five years, the Columbus Winter Beerfest has caught the attention of beer enthusiasts from all over, Johnson said.

“Our first year we started with about 2,400 (people),” Johnson said. “We should have over 10,000 this weekend.”

Erica Klang, a fourth-year in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said she looks forward to trying new beer this weekend at her first Columbus Winter Beerfest.

“Good craft beer is my boyfriend’s and my ‘thing,’” Klang said. “We usually get a build-your-own six pack from Kroger and try as many new beers as possible.”

Although Klang just recently turned 21, she said she encourages others to see what Columbus’ beer scene has to offer.

“Columbus has so many awesome opportunities to try great beer,” she said. “I wish everyone would take advantage and put down the Bud Light.”

While this is a beer fest, some ciders will also be offered.

The Columbus Winter Beerfest is Friday and Saturday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. and ticket packages can be purchased at www.columbusbeerfest.com. Tickets at the door are $50, but attendees can enter early at 6:30 p.m. for an extra $10 charge.

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