Columbus Craft Beer Week kicks off tomorrow

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

When it came to whether or not the support would be there for a full week celebrating craft beer in Columbus, the answer was a resounding yes-from distributors to breweries to bars and restaurants all across town. Once the conversation got started last summer, says Mary MacDonald, executive director of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association, the nonprofit spearheading the event, the train couldn't be stopped.

Starting tomorrow, 75 venues-including 19 local breweries, plus taprooms, growler stations and more-will offer specials around craft beers for the first Columbus Craft Beer Week running May 1 through 9.

"We want people to walk away with a greater appreciation for what a great craft beer community we have in Columbus," MacDonald says. "This pulls them all together in one week that is totally focused on the craft beer community. It's amazing we haven't had one until now."

Columbus is following the trend in cities around the country that have hosted dedicated beer weeks for years. MacDonald says their committee looked at similar events in other cities to find the right ideas for Columbus. The one idea that piqued the interest of all involved breweries-crafting collaboration beers where two or three breweries would pair together to create specialty one-off brews, and creating a local brewery passport challenging beer lovers to sample them all throughout the week.

There are seven picked at random teams of breweries that crafted nine collaboration beers-a few of which are slight variations of each other. A different collaboration beer will be highlighted on each day of the week. If you can't wait to sample them all, swing by Market District in the Grandview Yard on May 1 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., where there will be a brewer panel talk and tasting of all nine beers.

The caveat for non- breweries to participate: It had to be more than a happy hour or a pint night, MacDonald says.

"We told everyone it has to be something fun, creative and unique," she says. "We don't want just a happy hour or pint night. Craft beer is about creativity and artisan thinking." Participants were encouraged to host tap takeovers, brewer talks and giveaways.

Some of the more out-of-the-box thinkers include The Daily Growler in Powell, which will host a hot tub party starting at 5 p.m. on May 2, with the brewers from Hoof Hearted Brewing (the same brewery that's teaming up with the creators of The Crest to open a brewpub in Italian Village late summer).

On May 4 (a day beloved by Star Wars fans who tout, "May the fourth be with you), 16-Bit Bar + Arcade will celebrate with "out of this galaxy offerings," including specialty brews from Land-Grant Brewing and MadTree Brewing.

For those who want to pair a meal with their beers, The Pearl will pair a dinner with suds from North High Brewing for a nightly dinner special. Bar 145 is hosting a brunch featuring Land-Grant Brewing on May 3, and Wolf's Ridge Brewing will combine the creativity of their kitchen and brew staff for a dinner on May 4. On May 7, Yellow Brick Pizza teams up with New Belgium for a dinner-beer combo and Gallerie in the Hilton Downtown will serve Seventh Son Brewing with a multi-course dinner.

The week will end from 5 to 9 p.m. May 9 with Six One Pour-a limited-ticket tasting event at Brewmaster's Gate in the Brewery District. The Ohio Taproom will bring their tap truck with all of the collaboration beers.

For a list of participating breweries, collaboration beers and special events throughout the week, visit their website here.