This year’s Hogtown Craft Beer Festival is letting the festivities brew a little longer than usual.

The Hogtown Brewers, a local home-brewing club, is kicking off the third-annual festival early with the first Gainesville Craft Beer Week, starting at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Students and residents can enjoy special prices on local beer with a weeklong pub crawl leading up to the festival on April 5.

Hogtown Brewers club organizer Mark Tumarkin wrote in an email although this is the pub crawl’s first year, businesses were eager to get involved.

Eva Strickland, the manager of Big Lou’s New York Style Pizzeria, said she’s excited to participate.

“We have a really great variety of craft beers that a lot of people don’t know about,” she said. “The pub crawl is a great way to spread the word.”

The festival itself will be held April 5 at 1 p.m. at Kanapaha Gardens, 4700 SW 58th Drive. In addition to promoting craft beer, the Hogtown Brewers will also hold seminars and demonstrations.

“Part of our mission as a home-brew club is beer education,” Tumarkin said. “People are learning that there’s a lot more pleasure in drinking flavorful craft beers rather than the industrial ‘fizzy yellow stuff.’”

Lisa Ruderman, a 22-year-old UF public relations senior who will be attending the Hogtown Craft Beer Festival for her second time this year, said she’s looking forward to the wider range of craft beers.

Tumarkin said the festival will feature more than 65 breweries and more than 200 beers — almost double last year’s offerings.

“I want to try all of them,” Ruderman said. “But I want to remember them all, too.”

[A version of this story ran on page 3 on 3/27/2014 under the headline "Craft Beer Week starts"]

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