Cleveland Beerfest

January 12, 2016
Cleveland Beerfest

A celebration of barley and hops

Adam Sockel

Northeast Ohio is the best place around for discovering quality beer. I should know. I take vacations with friends specifically to find new breweries and even partake in an Advent calendar of Christmas beer, and nothing has topped what we have available here in our own backyard. If you don't want to take my word for it, beer experts say the same thing. Around these parts, we take our beer seriously. Cleveland Beer Week might just be the best week of the year, and to hold us over until the next Beer Week, we have a giant winter suds party known as Beerfest.

Cleveland Beerfest is two-day event on January 22-23 at the FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland where more than 100 breweries from all around the country will provide samples of 350+ beers for enthusiasts to try. Don't bother driving all over the place -- Cleveland is the place to be to find your new favorite adult beverage. They're all waiting to be sampled in one location. You can try loads of styles and variations from breweries you're likely familiar with, like Great Lakes Brewing Company, Fat Head's and Sierra Nevada, while learning about lesser-known ones like 5 Rabbit, Jolly Pumpkin and Destihl.

Cleveland Beerfest is the perfect time to discover new styles of beer you may not have wanted to spend money trying before. Never heard of a sour or always shied away from Scotch Ales? This is the perfect time to see what they're all about!

You also get the rare opportunity to speak with the brewers themselves. Ask what flavors they intended for you to taste, or chat about your favorite beers and let them give you great ideas of what to try next.

People who are new to the "beer world" might expect a bunch of snobby drinkers judging you for not knowing what you're doing. The exact opposite is true. The brewers are excited that you're there to try their beers and could not be happier to talk with you about the brewing process, where their ideas come from and (especially) where you can find the beers you love in local stores.

Tickets to the event include 25 sample tickets, a souvenir mug and access to the show floor. The Beerfest website even has hotel packages available and discounted tickets for designated drivers. Be sure to have driving arrangements secured ahead of time. Cleveland offers affordable Uber and Lyft options and no matter how far the trip, it's certainly safer (and cheaper) than drinking and driving. Have a great time, and do it responsibly.

There's nothing quite like Cleveland Beerfest. Oh, and don't worry about the likely hangover you'll have in the morning. That's a badge of honor. Wear it with pride. You will have earned it. (Besides, Cleveland is known for great hangover-curing brunches, so there's that!)

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