Omaha Beer Week celebrates the local brewers’ crafts

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Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013 12:00 am

It’s not about the beer.

Well, it is, but it’s not just about the beer.

The second annual Omaha Beer Week kicks off Feb. 15 and will run through Feb. 24 this year. Tons of events at many favorite area bars and restaurants across the metro will participate in a celebration of local craft beer.

Two locations in Sarpy County are involved: Lucky Bucket Brewery in La Vista and Nebraska Brewing Company in Papillion.

Kim Kavulak is the co-owner and vice president of Nebraska Brewing Company.

She said Beer Week started last year as a chance for other area restaurants and bars to get together and promote locally made craft beers.

“Beer Week and interest in local brews have both grown significantly in the past year,” Kavulak said. “There’s been a onset of craft beers in the area, and this is just one of several festivals throughout the year now.”

Kavulak is also a member of Barley’s Angels, an all-female group of craft brewers and beer enthusiasts. She said craft beer has grown not only the metro area but also across the state.

“The consumer is willing to try new things and learn to buy local,” she said. “It’s happening all over the country but especially in Nebraska.”

For the week, Nebraska Brewing Company’s is running a special, with the first beer purchased costing $7 and coming in a souvenir pint glass you keep and can refill with any beer for $2.50, excluding the brewery’s Hop God.

Kavulak said beer week is also about education.

Her company has been in the brewing business for five years and in that time has tried to draw more practitioners to the art of crafting their own beer.

She can speak to neophytes from experience. Kavulak and her husband, Paul, brewed their own beer at home for 18 years before they opened Nebraska Brewing Company in 2007.

“I think beer week is one of many events that promotes craft beer and its growing place in our society,” she said. “It’s exciting for us to be a part of.”

Spreading the word is also an important part of the brewer’s art for Chris Sund, director of sales and marketing at Lucky Bucket Brewery in La Vista and vice president of the board for Omaha Beer Week.

He said beer week serves as not only a way to introduce more people to Lucky Bucket, but to promote the craft beer scene in Omaha.

“I feel people aren’t aware how great some of the beer in their own city can be,” Sund said.

In the past five years, Sund said only a few big name craft beers were readily available at your local restaurant or bar. Now, it’s not uncommon to see 20 or 30 different choices from which to select.

The rate of new breweries opening up and introducing new product into the market hasn’t been this high since Prohibition, he said.

“There’s a sense of pride to it, when others come to your city just to try your beer,” Sund said. “We hope everyone comes out and enjoys it.”

Lucky Bucket will kick off beer week with a partnered event with local chocolatier, The Cordial Cherry, bringing five different gourmet truffles with five of the brewery’s handcrafted beers for $7. But the special event is limited to the first 30 people to make a reservation, so call 402-763-8868 to snag a spot.

To learn more about events in more than 20 locations throughout the metro for Beer Week, go to omahabeerweek.com.

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