Craft Beer Fest moves to May 18 at Mill Race

Organizers still expect the Columbus Craft Beer Fest to be a hot event — but in popularity, not early fall heat as in years past.

The Beer Fest has now become a spring festival. A new seven-person organizing committee working with ZwanzigZ Pizza and Brewing moved the beer-food-and-music event to May 18 at the same location of the Round Lake at Mill Race Park on Fifth Street.

Advance tickets, priced at $35 to $50, are available now online at columbusbeerfest.in or in person at ZwanzigZ.

“We felt the calendar was just too saturated with events (in September),” said Caroline Letzel, communications and special events specialist for ZwanzigZ.

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Beer Fest attracted more than 2,000 people each of its first two years, according to organizers, and in 2017 — the last such event while organizers revamped plans — raised more than $60,000 for two local nonprofits.

ZwanzigZ owners Kurt and Lisa Zwanzig were involved in a helping and guidance capacity from the start of Beer Fest. ZwanzigZ stepped in to re-energize the festival after previous organizers said last year that ongoing work and family responsibilities prevented them from long-term involvement.

Current organizers say attendees won’t notice much difference with the new group — other than the event lasting an hour longer for a five-hour total — 1 to 6 p.m. — and with three bands with local ties performing instead of the previous two acts.

The three groups are Black Tie Optional, Oddz R and Tic Tac Flow, who performed last year.

“We’re still making sure we’re going to be treating the brewers like rock stars,” Letzel said. “And we’re still making sure that all attendees have a great time.”

Also, the latest event figures to be slightly larger than the 2017 gathering with probably 60 breweries on tap. And the marketing campaign is gearing up to more aggressive than before, including social media, and radio, according to Letzel.

Letzel, Kurt Zwanzig and others from the event recently appeared on the Barrel Chat Podcast to talk about the fest and ZwanzigZ.

Columbus resident Anthony Blair is one of the hosts of the show and a beer enthusiast with what is known as a cicerone certification (similar to a sommelier with wine) for his detailed expertise. He mentioned that he can see the event continuing to grow in attendance.

He has been out of town for the two previous beer fests in 2016 and 2017, but he plans to attend this year.

“I think it certainly can get bigger,” Blair said. “The space at the park is great as long as it doesn’t rain.”

He also described ZwanzigZ as “a great homegrown brewer.” And he added that he wants to help organizers “get in front of all the beer enthusiasts” to make the Beer Fest as successful as possible.

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What: Columbus Craft Beer Fest, featuring as many as 60 vendors, including craft beer and food

When: 1 to 6 p.m. May 18

Where: Round Lake at Mill Race Park on Fifth Street downtown

Tickets: $35 to $50 in advance and $10 for designated drivers (served craft sodas), available at columbusbeerfest.in or in person at ZwanzigZ. Each drinking ticket will allow for a commemorative sample glass and unlimited pours of all festival beers available.

Proceeds: All proceeds will be donated to local charities and organizations, including The Columbus Park Foundation, Turning Point Domestic Violence Services and Just Friends Adult Daycare Services.

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