Athens 30 Mile Meal & Ohio Brew Week

by Jake Fernberg, Photography courtesy of Samantha Bartlett

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Ohio Brew Week has been a summer staple in Athens for a decade now. Weston Lombard, who has organized the week full of beer-centric festivities for the past two years, calls Ohio Brew Week a “celebration of craft beer and Ohio pride.”

After attending one of the week’s culminating events, the Friday evening Brew BQ —a festival like event with live music, Ohio craft beer, and Athens barbecue—it’s clear that these dual goals are on full display. Since Weston has been organizing the event, the selection has branched out from just beer: Ohio cider, wine, and mead were featured throughout the week this year. The sheer variety on display throughout Ohio Brew Week is worth noting; during the “Last Call Street Festival” (which fittingly ends the week), beers from over 30 Ohio breweries, including the likes of Great Lakes, Thirsty Dog, Warped Wing, Elevator Brewing, and Athen’s own Jackie O’s, were featured. Weston describes “Last Call”—and the whole week, for that matter—as a way to experience all of Ohio brewing “within one afternoon” or one week.

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Weston says Ohio Brew Week is “the best week to come to Athens” (especially if you’re a beer lover). Restaurants like the Pigskin, a stalwart of Athens dining for two decades, alters their menu during Ohio Brew Week. As Chris Roach, their general manager, explains, they limit the menu in an effort to incorporate Ohio beers into their cuisine. The Pigskin’s soup of the week during the event is a special beer cheese soup, and their frying batter incorporates craft beer. The restaurant is also proud to feature beers from breweries like Willoughby Brewing Company, Urban Artifact, and Old Firehouse.

In recent years, Ohio Brew Week has partnered with 30 Mile Meal, a program with “150 participants, all trying to tell the story of our local food economy,” explains Leslie Schaller, cofounder of 30 Mile Meal and director of programs at ACEnet. July is 30 Mile Meal Month, although Leslie suggests eating local as much as possible beyond those 31 days of the year.

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Leslie is dedicated to the idea of only eating what you can get from within 30 miles year round, and the Southern Ohio microclimate presents some advantages to pursuing this goal. The 30 Mile Meal exists as a program to help teach people where there food comes from by eating locally as much as possible. Participants in the 30 Mile Meal are after more than just financial gains: 30 Mile Meal fosters a sense of community, promotes a truly local food economy, and also educates about the social and environmental impacts of eating close to home.

Ohio Brew Week is only one of the featured events of 30 Mile Meal Month. This week marks Farmers Market Week, and the final week of July is Crafted Spirits Week. Learn more about 30 Mile Meal at athensohio.com/category/30-mile-meal/.