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Ale yeah, it’s American Craft Beer Week!

Glasses of Beer (PHOTO:Food and Wine Blog)

Glasses of Beer (PHOTO:Food and Wine Blog)

***For local Virginia brewery events, check Craftbeer.com for listings. Also, on Twitter, follow hashtag #ACBW***
By Nathan Berrong

(CNN) — American Craft Beer Week kicks off today, a seven-day event celebrating the awesomeness of craft beer. If there’s ever a week of the year to slow down, take a breather, enjoy yourself with some good company and support something that is truly American, it’s ACBW.

The beer holiday, in its eighth year, should prove to be the biggest yet, with hundreds of events taking place all over the country. The celebration has become so prominent that the U.S. Congress has even passed two resolutions supporting the ideals of ACBW. And although this week is a big deal to beer nerds, the vast majority of people are mostly unaware of it. Here’s to changing that.

The Brewer’s Association, a not-for-profit trade group that represents small and independent brewers, is the driving force behind ACBW. Below are some tips from them on how to get the most out of this year’s beer week:

• Conduct a craft beer tasting or pairing.

• Visit your favorite local brewery, restaurant or tap room and enjoy local craft beers.

• Host a tasting at home featuring craft beer from small and independent producers.

• Tweet your pride for U.S. craft brewers using the hashtag #ACBW.

• Seek out other like-minded folks by attending an official ACBW event. Use the official ACBW events page to find an event in your area.

I browsed the events and there are truly some epic can’t-miss beer gatherings planned for this week. Leon’s Full Service in Decatur, Georgia, is having an Allagash takeover with several rare and sought-after beers from the Portland, Maine, brewery. Chicago, Lexington, San Antonio, and Seattle have their own beer weeks that coincide with ACBW that are chock-full with terrific events. Austin’s drink.well. restaurant is having a beer dinner that features interesting courses like ceviche with Navajo fry bread and smoked red bell pepper ketchup paired with an Amber Mexican Lager from nearby Hops & Grain brewery.

And lastly, there’s one event taking place this year that everyone can participate in together. This Thursday, May 16 at 8 p.m. ET, craft beer drinkers from coast to coast will collectively raise a glass in the first ever “nationwide toast”. I’ll be raising my glass to homebrewing, specifically for Mississippi and Alabama who just became the 49th and 50th state, respectively, to legalize the beer-making hobby.

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