Cleveland international beer fest, part 2
On May 11 and 12, the International Beer Fest in Cleveland will once again showcase some of the best beers in the world. Last year’s inaugural event was considered a huge success, and beer enthusiasts from surrounding states made the trek to the Cleveland I-X Center to get their drink on. This year, three separate sessions will feature more than 800 beers from 200 breweries.
The International Beer Fest features exclusive beer offerings, home-brewing classes and educational lectures on brewing. Highlights from the fest include a Barrel-Aged Beer roundtable discussion, the cask-conditioned real ale bar and a presentation called “Paw Paw: A Taste of Ohio’s Native Fruit.”
“The fest is always looking for interesting content, especially for the educational side of things,” said Garin Wright of Buckeye Brewing, who will present on the Paw Paw. “I stumbled on Paw Paw years ago while I attended Ohio Brew Week in Athens. In 2011, I was invited to bring my Paw Paw creation. It was there he met Chris Chmiel, proprietor of Integration Acres Ltd. and grower of the Ohio Paw Paw. To work on something as unique as a Paw Paw beer was what really drew him to the project.
“It’s a fun brew,” Wright said. “The Paw Paw has an interesting history, and it means a lot to me to brew with an Ohio-grown fruit. And let’s be honest, how many people know what a Paw Paw is?”
Wright is in the midst of preparing his one-of-a-kind Paw Paw brew now. “Paw Paw phase one is complete,” he said. “Now we need to add the Paw Paw pulp to the fermented beer to get a secondary fermentation. This is where we will pick up the elegant fruit flavor and aroma.”
The International Beer Fest will give attendees a selection of local favorites along with international brews. The festival is also a chance for breweries to test out some rarer beers: Great Lakes will be offering tastes of a cherry-vanilla hybrid of their Edmund Fitzgerald porter, while Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin will unleash a still-to-be-announced limited edition.
Rabid fans should opt for VIP tickets, which give passholders access to sample brews in an exclusive lounge. Among the rarities there will be Stone Brewing’s Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean, an interesting spin on one of their landmark beers.
Session 1 will take place Friday, May 11, from 7 to 11 p.m. Sessions 2 and 3 will happen Saturday, May 12, from 1 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m. respectively. Single-session general admission is $45; single-session VIP tickets can be purchased for $75. Tickets for all three sessions will be available for $120 (general admission) and $200 (VIP). Designated-driver tickets will be available for each session for only $10.
“The Cleveland International Beer Fest is another example, another extension of how receptive and educated the Ohio consumer is in craft beer,” Wright said. “It’s important to have events such as this. They offer extraordinary value, and in my opinion, these types of events carry far more weight than a press release, Facebook post or Tweet.”
First-timer? “My advice is to take a look at the schedule, pick three to five events you’d like to participate in, and then see if there is one session that makes the most sense,” Wright said. “Regardless, you’d be a fool to miss this grand-scale event.”