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100 Best Beer Bars: How About These Five Noted Absences

January 18, 2011 7 comments

No Brouwers? Something went wrong there.

Washington Beer Blog reminded me that Draft Magazine put out their annual 100 Best Beer Bars this week. Thanks for the reminder, Kendall. Now let me go spend two unproductive hours ogling it!

Draft Magazine is a nationally published magazine focused beer culture. They have been around since 2006, sometimes featuring celebrities on their covers. All in all, its not the nerds guide to beer. Its more of a sassy celebration of all things barley pop.

Don’t let my description drive you away. Draft Magazine is good. In fact, all 3 of the Beer Blotter writers are subscribers. We enjoy the fact that Draft presents a global expose on happenings in the beer world. Its really a good way to locate beer venues from around the world.

Just this week, Draft released its annual Top 100 beer bars list. This list is sorted geographically into 4 regions. I was afraid that they were attempting to force options for each of these regions, but it appears that the selections are not equally divided (for example, the Northeast has many more than the South).  So, it appears that the choices are without prejudice.

In scouring the list, I was very pleased to see places like Avenue Pub (New Orleans), Apex (Portland), Blind Lady Alehouse (San Diego) and our very own Monk’s hole – The Stumbling Monk (Seattle).

But, one cannot peruse the list without finding their own list of absentees. While less deserving pubs made it (i.e. Cooter Browns (New Orleans), Green Dragon (Portland), McNulty’s Bier Markt (Cleveland)), some of the nation’s most celebrated beer venues are missing.

While that absentee list will differ for each of us, here are my Top 5 Absentees:

 

  1. Brouwers Cafe (Seattle) –  They must have pissed off a Draft Magazine writer. Many of us know that Brouwers can sometimes rub the wrong way (and its been stated by commenters here on the site), but there is no better selection of ale in the NW. Brouwers routinely procures 60 taps of rare beer, one of the best bottle lists in the country and an unprecedented number of unmatched in-house beer festivals (See Sour Fest, Hopfest, Big Wood, and Hard Liver). Again, they must have pissed someone off.
  2.  

  3. Bangers & Lace (Chicago) – This might simply be too early for Draft to call this place a winner. But, Bangers & Lace has quickly ascended to the top of the Chicago beer world. Presenting an unmatched selection of rare beer, along with phenomenal food, B&L deserves a spot. Guest writer For Whom the Bell Toales agrees that this is the #1 beer venue in Chi-town.
  4.  

  5. Small Bar (San Diego) – Ok Ok, they got it mostly right. Hamilton’s Tavern, Blind Lady Alehouse, and O’Brien’s Pub should all be on the list. But, Small Bar gives that Top 3 a run for their money. Mixing a spectacular beer selection with epic food and spunky surroundings, I think it deserved a spot above many of the LA selections.
  6.  

  7. Brew Kettle (Strongsville, OH)  - Draft picked one of the many Cleveland suburb favorites – Buckeye Beer Engine. But, I think they got the wrong one. The Brew Kettle blends an incredible draft lineup (thank god for the connection with Founders), house made ales, and some spectactular bar grub. Get drunk enough? Go brew a batch in the back. Beyond that – its just a cool dark place to grab a beer.
  8.  

  9. New York’s Forgotten Trio – Ginger Man, Mug’s Alehouse and d.b.a. (NY, NY) – They picked a lot of NY spots. I can understand that its pretty tough to run into your editor’s office and say we picked the Top 100 – 20 of them are in NY. Its a tough job to pick between the excellent spots in NYC. In my mind, they got the top 3 on the list – Rattle N Hum, Blind Tiger and Spuyten Duyvil. Those three are iconic, and the three places that I spend the most time while in NY. But, the above three all deserve a shot at the list. The Ginger Man is just a few blocks from Rattle N Hum – many would say its the cooler bar. Mug’s is tucked away in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But unlike the uber-hipster crowd at Spuyten Duyvil, you will find comfort at this grog spot. d.b.a. is the lone East Village fave. d.b.a. has been pouring beer for a long time and has an excellent wide spread selection.

 

I will say, writing the Top 5 absentees was pretty tough. All in all they did a great job finding the appropriate bars. The Top 100 is a worthy list and you should take a glance.

What else is missing!?

 

 

52 Weeks: Great Lakes Brewpub, Cleveland, Ohio

December 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Fear it. Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA will bite back.

Week 45 of 52- (There are 7 more and we have committed to getting them all done before 1/1/2011. A few days left. Expect some OH, CA, OR and WA spots)

Great Lakes Brewing Co. Brewpub

2516 Market Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
216.771.4404
216.771.4466 (fax)
info@greatlakesbrewing.com

Monday – Thursday: 11:30 AM – 10:30 PM (bar open until 12:00 AM)
Friday and Saturday: 11:30 AM – 11:30 PM (bar open until 1:00 AM)
Sundays: Closed

Rank: 4.8/5

 

Type of Establishment: An aged tavern, the home to Great Lakes Brewing and the holiest of beer grails in Cleveland, Ohio

 

Visit: A amazing Christmas vacation back to my roots. I spent an evening in Cleveland stuffing myself with Melt Bar & Grilled’s The Godfather (more on this tomorrow). After it put me in a coma, I needed to resurrect myself. A visit to Great Lakes for lunch on a Monday? Sounds amazing.

 

Beers on Tap (at time of visit):

 

The updated list is available here. Luckily for me, they broke out the big guns for my visit. This is atypical, but you know, when a local icon like me comes home……obviously this was for Xmas and they could give a shit about little ole me. I like to dream.

 

Lake Erie Monster (Imperial IPA)

Christmas Ale (God’s Beer)

Blackout Stout (Imperial Stout) – Replaced Lake Erie after I kicked it. Not bad.

Nosferatu (Old Ale)

Cleveland Brown Ale

Subject to change - subject to wow.

Wright Pils

Commodore Perry IPA

Burning River Pale Ale

Dortmunder Gold (Golden Lager)

Elliot Ness (Amber Lager)

Edmond Fitzgerald (Porter)

 

Bottle List:

 

No need for a bottle, when they pour almost everything they make on the taps. But, their gift shop is attached, where you can pick up any of their currently bottled grog.

Great Lakes bottles the last six beers above, year round. They also bottle the larger beers (Nosferatu, Dopplerock, Blackout and Lake Erie) in 4 packs released during different quarters. The seasonal brews (Grassroots Saison, Holy Moses White Ale, Octoberfest, and Christmas Ale) are available in 6 packs during each respective season.

I do not believe that you can order bottles at the pub. Again, why the hell would you? The beers are about $4-5 per pint.

 

Food Options:

 

Food! One of the reasons to come here is the food – its remarkable. Some people might disagree with me that bar food cannot be remarkable. Of course, those people are evil, shortsighted and mainly, wrong.

GLBC does pub food the right way. They source ingredients from a number of extremely local providers (there is a list on the back of the beer menu). You can actually pick your meal based upon the farm, baker or butcher that you prefer. Awesome.

While many people prefer the pizza, I am a huge fan of the sausage. If you know Cleveland, you know they are sausage people. GLBC serves some wonderful bratwurst and kraut. They also have excellent BBQ pork sandwichs, a crowd favorite.

You really cannot go wrong on this menu. These guys are food people, even suggesting pairings for your brew.

 

Bar Opinions:

 

Which part of the bar do you want first? How about the cave-like cellar? Why not the indoor/outdoor retractable roof patio – or no – the long bar lounge. Wait, but there is also a restaurant, wrapped around the small test batch brewing system. Get my drift – there is a lot to this place.

It has been about 6 years since I last truly explored the GLBC’s Brewpub. I know that its supposed to be my first visit – but the brewery has grown a lot since then. I need to give it another go.

Located in Ohio City, its a mere 5 minute trek from downtown Cleveland. Its a “got to go” destination. The brewery is nestled back off the main roads, disconnected from the Brewpub. But, the pub is right down the alley, less than a 3 minute walk.

My little brother, having dreams of electric sex gleaming in the window

No more than a block away is Cleveland’s epic West Market. After visiting again, I’m fairly sure it blows Seattle’s Pike Place Market out of the water, in terms of food offerings. I’m talking 30 places to grab a sausage, a dozen or more pierogi stands (a Cleveland fave) and the infamous Steve’s Gyros (bring your cash and something to do for 45 minutes).

This is also not far away from the home that housed Randy, Ralphie and the old man, stars of A Christmas Story. Though the movie took place in Inidiana, it was shot in Cleveland. The storefront next the Brewpub pays homage with its very own leg lamp. My brother was entranced.

The Brewpub spans about a half block. Over time, it appears to have grown. They have added a side patio, which is covered and sealed in the winter time. We get seated here.

Its not my first choice for seating. The cellar basement is incredible. For good reason – its packed. So, we are relegated to the brightly lit patio. Not the best choice for a couple of hungover guys trying desperately to cling to life. We manage.

I have already notice that the Lake Erie Monster was on tap before even arriving to Cleveland. I had been scouring their website endlessly in the week before my trip, praying that the beer would stay on tap. I order one, I drink it, I fall in love. Then another.

According to the brewery, Lake Erie Monster has a tale: “a beer this distinctively hoppy inspires many a tall tale. And they don’t come taller than South Bay Bessie, the legendary monster that roams the shallow depths of Lake Erie.” The monster in this bottle is attractive, sexy, provocative and deeply addictive. Thanks Bessie, for my drinking problem.

The beer is described as being brewed with Simcoe and Fuggles hops, exclusively. That seems to be an interested combination, but the taste is magnificent. Pineapple and lemongrass are both popping up in this glass. At 9.1%, every sip packs a punch. Check out the stat sheet here.

GLBC also brews one of the greatest porters on earth – Edmond Fitzgerald. This is a must try for anyone who loves cocoa and coffee in their brew. On top of that, we also enjoyed the Cleveland Brown Ale, a homage to the lovable losers of Lake Erie.

After consuming 8,000 calories of sandwich the night before, I had to opt for a salad at the Brewpub. Sue me. I promise you would have had nothing to say after seeing what I did to my stomach the night before (tomorrow, i promise). But, my salad was briskly whisked down and we paid up so that we could move about and jockey for position at the bar.

The cellar was still flooded with lunch visitors who had given up on the thought of returning to work, so we opted for the upstairs lounge and bar. We grabbed two seats and had a few more pints. I immediately kicked the Lake Erie. Instantaneously, I felt the gaze of every waitress and patron in the place. Not to fear though – they have tapped Blackout Stout.

Blackout Stout is amongst my favorite imperial stouts to compliment a meal. It has an uncanny roasted flavor, matched with a brightly bitter hop profile. Though 9.0%, it doesn’t weigh you down. Its an incredible beer that has won a bevy of awards. Check out its profile here.

Coming soon.....more beer.

After we finished our beers, we hit the gift shop. GLBC will sell you just about anything with its logo on it. We got a tap handle for the old man’s keg/fridge and some new glassware and hit the road.

Another amazing beer adventure ends in Cleveland’s old town. Alas, there is much life to this place. A second brewery called Market Garden Brewery will be opening in 2011. The brewery will feature many german styled brew, crafted by Andy Tveekram. Andy was a former brewer at Dogfish Head and GLBC. So, 2011 brings much promise to Ohio City.

 

 

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