WOOSTER — Beer = grain, hops, yeast, water.

Unless, of course, you own a craft brewery. Then, innovators like Josh Dunn, Jared Channell and Greg Snyder look to some alternatives.

The result is bottles of Spruce Willis and Dancing Hen Mushroom Porter.

Those are only two of the dozens of beers that will be available for tasting at the Wayne Center for the Arts fourth annual Brewfest Wooster on Saturday, Jan. 20, from 6-10 p.m. in the Wooster Transit building at 1450 Spruce St. Ext. Tickets are $40 presale and $50 at the door. Designated drivers can be admitted for $10.

Breweries will come set up tasting stations on their own, according to WCA executive director Josh Coy, while others will be brought in by Heidelberg Distributing Co. in Lorain and Premium Beverage Supply in Hilliard. Heidelberg alone is planning to bring 16 beers from breweries as close as Thirsty Dog in Akron and as far away as Juneau, Alaska.

Dunn and company are the owners and brewmasters at BirdFish Brewing Co. in Columbiana, a town of about 6,000 in just west of the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line. "We really enjoyed brewing as home brewers," he said, and getting a reaction from the friends and family who taste tested their newest concoctions. By 2015, BirdFish had opened a small brewery and tasting room in downtown Columbiana.

Starting with a single-barrel system allowed for a lot of experimentation in small batches. "The response has been great to the point we just got a new production facility and a seven-barrel system," Dunn said.

Spruce Willis, a dark lager infused with a spruce essence that started with the brewers actually pressing spruce needles for their oils and juices, is a seasonal brew. Made only over the winter months, the spruce "gives it a nice, clean kind of pine-y taste," Dunn said, "and the aroma is amazing on it."

The first time around, BirdFish "sold a full barrel, 31 gallons, in about three hours," he said. The larger system allows for higher production and the spruce oil now comes from an independent manufacturer.

As the name implies, the Dancing Hen Mushroom Porter's not-so-secret ingredient is the Sheepshead — also known as Hen-of-the-Woods — mushroom. The addition gives the otherwise robust lager "a certain earthy taste," according to Dunn.

As a beer aficionado, Dunn said he "probably originally started out with hoppy beers in college" but lately has gotten more involved with the creation of sour beers, those with an intentionally acidic or tart taste. "It's more complex. It's interesting," he said. "There is so much complexity."

BirdFish is one of four breweries new to Brewfest Wooster, along with BrewDog, a Scottish brewery that only recently launched DogTap Columbus. Also making their first appearances are the HiHO Brewing Co. from Cuyahoga Falls and Wolf's Ridge Brewing of Columbus. Local favorites JAFB Wooster Brewery and the Millersburg Brewing Co. also will be on hand.

The admission ticket gets a person in the door and provides them with a 10-punch tasting ticket. There also will be wine for sale by the glass, Coy said, as well as a variety of non-alcoholic beverages. The beers available for sampling will not be offered for retail during the Brewfest.

This year, Buehler's is catering the event, with "basically a Tex-Mex offering of tacos" — fish tacos, pulled pork tacos and pulled chicken tacos, along with rice bowls and some vegan and vegetarian offers as well. Tacos are $7 each or two for $10.

The music comes from a band new to BrewFest. Honey and Blue, fronted by Adam Darling and Stephanie Amber, is a Columbus-based group with what Coy termed a "groovy, funky, smooth kind of soulful sound. Their vibe is good for the room, but it's not going to be overbearing."

As always, the event will be held in the Wooster Transit garage, a "cool industrial space" that Coy said he was reconfigured from previous years in order to provide a bit more room to roam. The Transit also will provide rides home (inside its service area) for $10.

A few corporate tables remain for the event. A table for eight is $750 and gains those person one-hour early entry, plus food.

By the end of the evening, Coy said, awards will be presented to the first- and second-place beers, as voted by the brewers themselves, as well as a People's Choice Award, which will decided by tips.

Proceeds from BrewFest go toward the general operation of the WCA and Coy said he already has plans to extend the brew offerings for BrewFest Wooster 2019, including more vendors from Cincinnati, southern Ohio and Toledo.

Reporter Tami Mosser can be reached at tmosser@the-daily-record.com or 330-287-1655. She is @tamimosser on Twitter.