MINSTER — It’s a good time to be a fan of craft beer in Ohio, Rick Armon, the author of “Ohio’s Breweries” and a beer columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal, said Saturday during Bock and Rock in Minster.
Armon ought to know. He spent four months traveling to every brewery in the state and sampling more than 400 Buckeye State brews.
“This is a phenomenal time to be a beer drinker here in Ohio. I say that because we’re going through an incredible explosion of brewery openings in the state,” Armon said. “When I traveled around and visited all the breweries there were 49 breweries in Ohio. That’s not counting the private ones you and I can’t get in. We’ve seen in the last year 15 breweries open up here in Ohio. There are many, many more slated to open as well.”
Armon said back in 1980 there were 89 breweries in the country. Now, there are more than 2,000 nationwide, he said.
“Whenever I give a speech everybody starts to get a little jealous because I’ve been able to go visit every brewery,” Armon said. “I like to tell people that I got a chance to sample over 400 Ohio-made beers. I also got paid to do it and I got to write it off on my taxes. This was a phenomenal experience.”
Armon’s talk was part of a retooled Bock and Rock this year in Minster. Instead of the usual outdoor summer festival featuring a live band and a sampling of beer, this year’s event was indoors at the Knights of Columbus hall and was an expansion of the popular VIP tasting from Bock and Rock’s of the past, said Joe Cavanaugh, chairman of the event committee.
“It’s our first year switching over to this new format. My hopes are we can repeat it again next year,” Cavanaugh said. “Ohio beers have grown so much over the past 10 years that there are enough new breweries and excellent breweries out there to introduce new beers every single year doing this for many years to come. I really hope that this year is a success and that we can build on it.”
The beer tasting featured brews from 10 different breweries across the state including the Wooden Shoe Brewing Co. in Minster, Hoppin’ Frog Brewery near Akron and The Rivertown Brewing Co. in Cincinnati.
“I really don’t think people appreciate the quality and the numbers of beers that are available here in Ohio,” Cavanaugh said. “Historically, we have not been a big craft beer state. States like Colorado and others are really into it. Ohio has been kind of lagging in that. The past few years there’s been a ballooning effect of these. They are producing some really high-quality beers out there.”