By Henry Shorr
Birdfish Beer will be hosting its Big LeBREWski Festival, complete with specially-brewed Birdfish beer, screenings of “The Big Lebowski,” live music and other events throughout the weekend.
Events will take place at Westside Bowl on April 1 and at Birdfish Brewing Co. and both Havana House locations April 2. Nate Offerdahl, the owner of Westside Bowl, is glad to be a part of Birdfish Beer’s LeBREWski Festivals.
“This is the second or third year that we’ve been involved. We’ve carried Birdfish Beer since the first year that we opened, and Josh and the gang are friends of mine and it’s really their festival — we’re just a partner and we also host a part of it,” Offerdahl said.
Look around Westside Bowl carefully and it’s easy to see subtle references to “The Big Lebowski” all over. Little tokens and quotes show the influence the movie had on the bar and on Offerdahl.
“It was an easy partnership for us. You know, we use some of that imagery here. If you look at our front counter, there’s a quote from the movie right on the front of it, but we have not gone overboard — some places do,” Offerdahl said. “But in the right sort of little spots, we kind of pay homage to it. It’s, first of all, a fantastic movie on its face. And I’ve always loved bowling, so that adds an element to it.”
Birdfish brewed two beers to tie the festival together. The first, called Walter Sobczechs, is a Czech-style pilsner, and The Dude is a white Russian imperial stout with vanilla beans. Both will be on tap at Westside Bowl. Co-owner of Birdfish Beer Josh Dunn is ready to tap The Dude again after the annual festival was put on hold for a couple of years due to COVID-19. He talked about the idea behind the beer and why The Dude abides by the rules of white imperial stouts.
“In 2017, a friend of ours said, ‘Hey, you guys should do a beer. Make it a white Russian-style beer.’ At the time, we were drinking a lot of white stouts, or albino stouts. It was a new style,” Dunn said. “He was like, ‘Hey, you guys should do an imperial version of it — of a white stout and add vanilla bean and coffee.’ Well, obviously white stout has coffee — so we added vanilla bean and called it The Dude.”
Along with the tapping of the beers, there will be a costume contest, a screening of “The Big Lebowski” and plenty of bowling. Larry Elefante will also be playing the main stage at 7 p.m. Offerdahl said he is most excited about the screening of the movie at the bar.
“There’s bowling all night, including when the movie is being screened. We have a 16 foot by nine foot screen that you can see from [the bar], so it’ll be movie theater quality. We’re going to play the sound through the PA, so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said.
The event will continue April 2 starting at Birdfish Brewing in Columbiana. Birdfish will offer its special LeBREWski beers as well as Youngstown Coffee Company’s The Dude 2.0 roast. There will also be live music at Birdfish. Swap Meet, the Conkle Brothers and Punk Willie will be taking the stage throughout the day.
Havana House in Boardman and Niles will also have the beers and coffee on tap through the weekend.
There will also be two screenings of “The Big Lebowski” April 2 at Columbiana Culture Collective at Main Street Theater. Dunn is glad to be partnering with Columbiana Culture Collective for these showings. He explained that because it is a nonprofit, the theater was able to get a festival permit to serve beer during the screening. Not only will people be able to walk from the bar on Park Street to the theater with their beer, but they will also be able to buy it from their seats in the theater.
Events kick off at 5 p.m. April 1 at Westside Bowl. To find more info on the event, head to birdfishbrew.com