CLEVELAND - A little warmer weather Friday night brought hundreds out for Cleveland’s first-ever Winter Beerfest, held at the newer Cleveland Convention Center.
“There's a lot going on, the first inaugural Cleveland Winter Beerfest. Couldn't be a better day. Everyone's having an enjoyable time, the bag pipes are playing and the beer is flowing,” said Director of Events Craig Johnson.
More than 325 craft beers are available to taste and more than 130 vendors are present. The event has been held in Cincinnati, Columbus and Pittsburgh, but never in Cleveland before. Ironically Johnson told NewsChannel5, “Cleveland is definitely the largest beer, craft beer market in the state of Ohio. Per capita, it’s always been a strong, strong selling point for all the breweries in the country.”
The Friday night event brought out younger patrons who have never been to an event like this before. “It's 10 times larger than I thought it would be and, it seems like it's a great time so far,” said Phil Tomko. It also brought out people who know a thing or two about craft brews.
“Craft beer's getting back to the roots of beer. It’s getting back to making beer the way it was originally made: just molt and hops and water, no corn additives or anything funky or anything like that,” said Skip Engle.
Laura Baskin said, “What's different about this industry is it's a lot more creative and artistic and it allows people to share their creativity through beer.”
Don’t forget about sharing their business. While the vendors are from all over, there were a few from our neck of the woods making some new friends and future customers.
“The best thing about craft beer are the people, man. It’s just full of great individuals. Everybody works together. It’s not stepping on one other brewery, it’s about the craft,” said Fat Head’s “Head T-Shirt Model and Self-proclaimed Beerlebrity” Geoff Stober.
“Alcoholism has its perks, you know,” he said jokingly.
Winter Beerfest is here for Friday and Saturday. Online, the Saturday sessions are already sold out.
Some of the proceeds from the event are going to the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra’s youth education programs as well as the Big Joe Duskin Music Education Foundation.
For more info, visit their website.