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)
2516 Market Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
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)
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
Commodore Perry IPA
Burning River Pale Ale
Dortmunder Gold (Golden Lager)
Elliot Ness (Amber Lager)
Edmond Fitzgerald (Porter)
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! 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.
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.
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.
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.
***This is a reposting of an article I wrote last year, shortly before my yearly bounty of Great Lakes Christmas Ale appeared in my mailbox. This year, I have been slighted by my Ohio beer shop, who promised to have my package here last week – WHERE IS IT!? Each afternoon, I scurry to the mailbox like it was Xmas morning, hoping to see my Xmas passion. Nothing. This morning, I had to read back at what once was – and what hopes to show up today. Enjoy!***
I will go ahead and clear this up – I have an Ohio bias. I hail from the great Canton, OH region, home of football, wings and crappy beer.
But over time we have seen some good ones pop up. Hoppin Frog, out of Akron, OH, is probably the best critiqued in the beer world. Check out their RateBeer ratings here. We will rate them later, but as a teaser – get the BORIS (oatmeal imperial stout – theres a barrel-aged version too!).
And now to return to my favorite – Great Lakes. When I fall in love with a brewery, its for several reasons:
(1) beer quality
(2) list quality
(3) pub aura
(4) historical connection
(5) the crew of the brewery
Great Lakes Brewing excels here in all respects. Though they do not have the most amazing of beer reviews historically, they are typically respectable around the board. For instance, their stouts are damn good (Blackout is a 100), their porter is above average, their specialties (saison and 2x IPA especially) are appealing, and their normal rotation is very drinkable (my father is a Burning River Pale man).
But……its their Christmas Beer that remains fixated in your mid year round. Shockingly, this beer is not immortal in the beer nerd spectrum. It holds an 87 at RateBeer. But after a cursory review I am chalking that up to the 30-40% of reviewers who just said – “I dont like xmas beer.”
Curse you, and curse your palettes. Actually, I can understand that reaction to this beer. The beer holds an incredible smack you in the face aroma of X-mas packed into the bottle. Nutmeg, cinnamon, spice and ginger make you feel as if you are ten years old again, sipping hot cider with mittens on singing deck the halls in 12 feet of snow, below a 30 foot christmas tree, with 1000 wrapped goodies beneath. I love it.
But what is best about this release, is that Great Lakes Brewing has recognized the cult following and really made a bi-annual ritual out of it. In July, they do a “Christmas in July” promo at the brewery, where they tap a few kegs for a few days and Clevelanders black out in unconscious glee. Again in October, the begin the real seasonal release at the brewery with a one week tap-only period and then they begin distributing.
The brewpub at Great Lakes is amazing. They are located on West side of Cleveland, very close to downtown in the “Westside Market” area. As I remember, the Brewpub was the first non-smoking establishment in Cleveland and has always offered a full locally-produced food regimen. (Note: the sausages are amazing)
On top of the food and grog – the Brewery also offers tours and a hefty gift shop where you can pick up pub exclusives (im looking at you Lake Erie Monster, the 2x IPA) and other garb.
If you are stuck in the NW – or elsewhere outside the nether-regions of the Midwest (i dont blame you), you likely cannot get Great Lakes beer. Thats ok because there is a heck of a shop in Cleveland, that can help you out. Rozi’s Wine House carries an amazing selection of beers. They will ship to wherever. Call them up and make an order.
The luscious x-mas grog can be purchased at your local (Midwest only – damn) beer shop, up until about January 10. Do not wait, because at the rate I am moving now, I will have bought out all beer stores and it will be stored in my Seattle basement.
Here are some sexy shots of recent interesting pulls from the cellar. We are going to be brief, but wanted to let you all know what we liked, and what some bottles are tasting like right now.
Great Lakes Blackout Stout (Imperial Stout): Cleveland, OH
ABV – 9%
Vintage – 2010
RateBeer – 100
Commercial Description -
A Russian Imperial Stout with a hearty malt body and bold hop flavor. Named after the infamous “Blackout of 2003″ that left the northeastern United States in complete darkness, but resulted in old-fashioned neighborhood porch parties and fun.
Available in February & March.
One Sentence Note -
This high octane moster has a lot of mocha, coffee, and cinnamon flavor at a smoothness that you expect in your 5% stout, but at 9% you get so much more bang for your buck.
Cigar City Jai Alai IPA: Tampa, FL
ABV – 7.5%
Vintage – 2010
RateBeer – 99
Jai Alai India Pale Ale pays tribute to the original extreme sport. Jai Alai, a game native to the Basque region of Spain, is played on a court called a fronton. Jai Alai players attempt to catch a ball using a curved mitt, whilst the ball travels at speeds of up to 188 miles per hour! Proving they have a sense of humor the Spanish dub this game, with its ball traveling at race car speeds, “the merry game.” Tampa was once home to a busy Jai Alai fronton but sadly all that remains of Jai Alai in the Tampa Bay area is this India Pale Ale that we brew in tribute to the merry game. The India Pale Ale style of beer has its roots in the strong ales sent from England to thirsty British troops in India during the 18th century. To survive the journey the beers needed more alcohol and more hops (which act as a natural preservative). This “big” brewing practice made India Pale Ale one of the first “extreme beers” and a favorite among the Queens military men in India. Eventually it became a favorite style of the new crop of American brewers seeking more flavor and complexity than mass-market brewers were willing to offer.
One Sentence Note:
Sweet sugary hop monsoon batman – this malt goddess has a syrupy complexity with intense hop aromas, while remaining incredibly smooth drinking.
Three Floyd’s Dreadnaught Imperial IPA: Chicago, IL
ABV – 9.5%
Vintage – 2009
RateBeer – 100
A hophead’s dream beer. This Imperial India Pale Ale has an opening salvo of mango, peach and citrus hop aromas that sit atop a pronounced caramel malt backbone. Although Dreadnaught is a strong and intensely hoppy ale, its complex flavors is both smooth and memorable. 9.5% ABV, 100 IBUs.
One Sentence Notes:
In October we bought two, consumed one immediately much to our hop-fiendish delight, and saved the other for 6 months to let the malts develop – a decent idea but its beginning to reach its bitterness decline, so drink up on this incredible beer! (we pushed that sentence a bit)
Russian River Temptation Oak-Aged Sour Blonde: Santa Rosa, CA
ABV – 7.25%
Vintage – 2009 (1st batch of year)
RateBeer – 100
Is it beer, or is it wine? “Aged in French oak wine barrels for twelve months with distinct characteristics of fruit and subtle oak” sounds more like a description of wine than beer. But, of course, Temptation is indeed beer. Actually, Temptation is a Blonde Ale Fermented with a special strain of yeast, then aged in French oak chardonnay barrels. Flavors of wine and oak absorb into the brew throughout twelve months of aging. During this aging process, a secondary fermentation occurs using a yeast strain disliked by most brewers and winemakers called Brettanomyces. The “Bret” gives Temptation intriguing characteristics and a pleasant sourness. Temptation is re-fermented in the bottle to create its carbonation–a process commonly used to make fine champagne and sparkling wine. Spent yeast forms a thin layer of sediment to remain in the bottle.
One Sentence Notes:
We touched on it before, then re-sampled this champagne of beers (seriously, not High Life) whose sourness is not overpowered with intense malt flavors, making it perfect for the purist.
Hopworks Urban Brewery Organic Survival 7-Grain Stout: Portland, OR
ABV – 5.3%
Vintage – 2009
RateBeer – 98
Beer of the Ancients! Barley (Egyptian), Wheat (Mesopotamian), Oats (Egyptian), Amaranth (Aztec), Quinoa (Incan), Spelt (Mesopotamian), and Kamut (Egyptian) sustain the soul with a nutrients cultivated through the millennia. Finished with 15 pounds of cold-pressed Stumptown Hairbender espresso. Unlock the mystery entombed in darkness.
One Sentence Notes:
Holy smokes (literally) we were surprised by how incredibly well-crafted this NW stout could be with SEVEN ancient grains in the mash and a dump load of special Stumptown espresso – top NW single stout in my book, gets you your breakfast HOTD and pick me up.
Any new beers you have been drinking? Pulled something from the cellar that has been there a while and want to share how its doing these days? Please add a comment below.