One final Saturday until our beloved Buckeyes take the field and monopolize everyone in Columbus’s Saturday plans until Thanksgiving. We have one last practice Saturday before things get real; one last Saturday to put the final touches on our off-season liver conditioning. The ability to drink like a Columbus native takes practice; hours and hours of preparation; blood, sweat, and tears (some of which we don’t even remember) – but the hard work shows outside the Shoe at 5:00 A.M in the fall. Is there a better way to get one final night of pre-football fun in than to attend a beer festival? There isn’t one, so stop contemplating the issue.
This year’s Columbus Summer Beer Festival moved locations to LC’s indoor/outdoor and A and R Bar complex, and featured over 220+ craft beers from all over the world. VIP tickets to the event were $45 ($55 day of) and came with an 8oz souvenir tasting glass, an hour of early entry, 25 tasting tickets, and access to the VIP beers that were only available inside A and R. You could also pick up a non-VIP ticket for $35 ($45 day of) for which you were downgraded to a 5oz glass and were kept out of the VIP section. The three of us all had VIP tickets, so for those of you keeping track at home, we had access to 12.5 pints of craft beer for $3.60 a pint (which is not bad at all) and that’s if the volunteers bothered taking your ticket (which they didn’t).
220+ beers would excite any beer geek, but upon seeing the list of beers (which came out Thursday online), we were most excited about the lineup of Ohio beers. The Ohio brewers, who undoubtedly wanted to keep their instate beer fans happy, brought their A-game. And we (the three members of the Ohio-Beer team – Matt, Nick, and Bub – in attendance) tried to bring ours as well.
The lines to get into the event at 6pm were long (not so VIP after all), but they did a good job of moving people in quickly. Once inside, the first thing we noticed was that having it at the LC made the event feel significantly less claustrophobic than some of the beer festival events we previously attended at the Columbus Convention Center.
The VIP hour was great and relaxed, with no lines and time to talk to the people running the tents; I would recommend anyone coming to future events to splurge for the VIP even if there were no VIP-only beers. In the first hour, we were able to hit most of the beer stands that we really wanted to hit in the outdoor section and had a slight buzz going before the second wave of people come through. Around 7:30 P.M., the place really started to fill up, so after stopping at one of the many food trucks that were parked in the small LC side parking lot, we decided to make our way into the LC Indoor. Inside was significantly more crowded, but we never had to wait more than a minute for a pour, even though it was a bit off a hassle getting through the crowds to the pouring stations.
After about an hour we made our way to the VIP section, which was not very crowded, but all of the beer tables were located in a small corner so getting a beer was more of a hassle than it should have been. Also we were a little disappointed that a couple of the beers that were supposed to be available here were not to be found even with the help of a few volunteers. All-in-all however, the VIP area provided a nice half-hour break from touching shoulders with strangers.
I lost count of all of the beers that we drank on Saturday. We used five tickets total between the three of us, but I can assure you we had at least five times that many each. Of all of the beers available from breweries all over the world, as a group we felt that Ohio, and specifically Central Ohio, breweries stood out among the pack. Some beers we thought were excellent were (in no order): Big Star by Four Strings, which is a crisp, refreshing IPA; Milk Stout by Neil House, which we all thought was one of the very best milk stouts that any of us have had, and one of the first beers we recommended people try when asked what was good; Head Hunter by Fat Heads, if you like big bitter IPAs this will be a beer you will want to try and find; CBC Bodhi, if you read Ohio-Beer you may have read Matt gush over this DIPA in a recent post, and we all enjoyed it on Saturday; and Ivan Porter with Vanilla Beans from Barley’s, this beer tasted like a porter float and was for sure a stand-out for us. For our individual best of lists from the event with more description, check it out our complementary post on Ohio-Beer.
All in all, this was one of the better run and better setup beer festivals that we had been to in Columbus. It never was a headache and there was more than enough good beer to drink. As long as they keep this up, they can expect us at all future events.
This is a guest post by MattOhioBeer from Ohio-Beer.com. Ohio-Beer was founded on the idea that great friends enjoy coming together and talking about things that they love – especially over a good beer. It is in that spirit that we decided to to extend our conversations on craft beer, especially those made in our beloved home state, to include the rest of you. You can read the Ohio-Beer team’s reviews of the beers from Columbus Beerfest here.
Full disclosure: Matt & co were given free VIP tickets to the event.