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Top 5 Lists: Cleveland, OH

The beer cooler at La Cave du Vin - our #1 stop in Cleveland.

We are going to start doing a “Top 5″ list column until we hit all of the cities we have visited since our beer mania spawned. There are quite a bit of cities – we travel often.

This will be a quick rundown of the 5 places that we would tell you to visit, if you happened across one of these fair cities. The reason that we want to do this is that we have been getting a lot of inquiries from readers who are simply traveling and want to know where to find beer mecca. The goal is to put this on the site in an easy to read format, cataloged for viewing at any time.

First, the rules:

  1. We go places because we want, not because someone asked. I cannot stress this enough. We were never enticed to these places by promises of freebies, attention, pats on the back or back room happy endings – we just went because we heard the word.
  2. We cannot be everywhere. Typically when we visit a city, its for a few days only. This severely limits what we can visit. If there is a critically-acclaimed otherworldly place that we did not make it to, we will try and asterisk it in the Top 5 list so that you know it exists.
  3. We are not millionaires. Wow, bet you could have guessed that one. We cannot purchase the best of the best all of the time. This limits what we might get out of a particular venue. Just want you to know.
  4. We like all types of places. These lists are not “beer bar” centric – far from it. In fact, you may find places that make you shake your head. But, if they have the total package of beer, character, service, food and aura – they get the mark.
  5. We try to poll our choices, but sometimes there is bias. There are 3 primary writers for BeerBlotter.com. We always try to discuss what we like best and poll our choices. Unfortunately, you cannot do it all the time because we are all not at the same places at the same time. As the variables change, so do our opinions. Thus, you might get some choices that are filled with bias. Again, just a warning.

Ok, now that we are through with the rules, lets move on to the Top 5 list for Cleveland, OH.

Cleveland, OH

Visits: January 2010 (many others prior thereto, but most recent)

Area Brewers of Note: Wow too many to list, but lets try – Great Lakes Brewing (OH), Hoppin Frog Brewing (OH), Thirsty Dog Brewing (OH), Bell’s Brewing (MI), New Holland Brewing (MI), Arcadia Brewing (MI), Founders Brewing (MI)

Town Favorite: There is only one actual brewery in Cleveland’s city limits that produces enough beer to hold this title – Great Lakes Brewing (GLBC).  GLBC has created a cult following thanks to its incredible lineup of german and american style ales, wonderful brewpub and fantastic Christmas Ale. GLBC even runs a green shuttle down to ballgames downtown for people drinking out at the pub. We love this place, you will too.

The Top 5 Brief

#5 -Rozi’s Wine House – 14904 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood.

This is a beer store, which generally would not make a top 5 list. But based upon my profound love for the people who work there, the selection, and their willingness to ship anything – anywhere. There are in.

Contact Rozi’s about their beer of the month club. Its just 20.00, plus the cost of the beer they select. They will send you about 6 different bottles (12 to 22oz) of amazing Midwest beers. My last shipment included a New Holland Imperial Mad Hatter and an Arcadia Hopmouth Double IPA.

If you are itching for some Midwest beer, but you live outside the distribution channel, give them a call for your fix.

#4 – Tremont Taphouse -  2572 Scranton Road, Tremont.

We wrote an article about this one and we hit them pretty hard. This was one of the worst service experiences we ever had, but it still makes the list based solely on beer.

Our service problem: they publicized that the kitchen was open at 3. We got there at 3, when they told us it was not open until 4, because they open in the morning, close at 3 and reopen at 4. Not a huge deal, I understand that the kitchen needs a rest – but please update your website (especially when the guy told me he knows its wrong and just keeps forgetting to do it).

Then the waitress was cold. She scorned us for being there and wanting food. She blew us off for our orders a few times too. Then I caught her openly talking poorly about our table to the owner, who noticed I was standing there, got embarrassed and then spent the next 20 minutes trying to give us extra attention. We recognize people have bad days – but she was beyond bad. I mean this was in front of my parents – sheesh.

OK – but the positives. Their beer selection is incredible. The tap list especially, which had the following:

Founders Centenial IPA

Bell’s Brewery Sparking Triple

Bells’ Brewery HopSlam

Smuttynose Wheatwine

Each one of these beers was a thumbs up. The Hopslam had alluded me the whole trip and I was very happy to see it on tap that morning. If you are skipping food and simply trying to find the best taps in town – go here.

#3 – Winking Lizard Tavern – Several Locations; Best one is on Coventry Ave., Cleveland Heights.

It would be easy to call this place a glorified Buffalo Wild Wings, if not for the great local sports connection and impeccable beer selection. The Winking Lizard has long been a place for Cleveland sports fans to drown their sports sorrows in a bucket of hot wings and a pint of Great Lakes Commander Perry IPA. But, we were floored when we saw their beer upgrades.

To go along with the tavern’s “World Tour of Beer”, they promise to have 100 different bottles of beer for your choosing. I am not talking about stashing 10 different Sam Adams’ on there either – I am talking amazing Midwest specialties.

Our trip included the following: Bells Brewing Kalamazoo Stout, Bells Brewing Cherry Stout (TAP), Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Double IPA, Weyerbacher Hops Infusion IPA,  and even a Drie Fonteinen Gueze! The taplist was impressive, the bottle list even sexier. Go there, get some wings and join the World Tour of Beer.

#2 – Great Lakes Brewery & Pub2516 Market Avenue, West Market

There is too much to say about this place, so I will keep it short. Extensive beer selection – all good, incredible sustainable food, wonderful service, intriguing venue and the best beer tours.

Great Lakes has been pumping out quality beers for ages. They are known for their Christmas Ale, Dortmunder Lager (a multiple GABF winner) and Blackout Stout (one of my favorite stouts ever!).

The brewery is a locals spot, filled with fanatic Browns, Indians and Cavs fans trying to get their pre-game jitters covered by a few frosty ales. If you are in Cleveland and want the entire package of great bar, great brewery and great food – do not miss this place.

#1  – La Cave Du Vin – 2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard, Coventry

What can you say about this place? Its a damn cave, hidden beneath the streets of Cleveland’s funky Coventry neighborhood, not less than 1 block from the Winking Lizard. Grab some wings at the Lizard and head over the Cave to immerse yourself in Cleveland’s greatest beer bar.

The bar is small, but it has an incredible bottle selection. Anything you want (including vintages) from Jolly Pumpkin, Bells, Founders, Hoppin Frog, New Holland, Arcadia, Goose Island, etc.  – can be found in the glass enclosures. Check out the wall beside the coolers for more vintage beers that will blow your mind.

While we were there we enjoyed a Founders Double Trouble IPA, Founders Red Rye IPA, Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire, and Weyerbacher Porter. If you look at their taplist today, you can still see why we faint over their selection. Is that Jolly Pumpkin E.S. Bam!?!

They take the cake. No trip to Cleveland can be complete without a trip to Coventry to see this place. Grab a few bottles, take them home and cherish them forever.

*****

Live in Cleveland – Know the area? Hate something we wrote? Let us know below in our comments, or by sending an email to beerblotter@gmail.com.

La Cave du Vin: 4 of 52

February 1, 2010 1 comment

La Cave du Vin: Cleveland, Ohio

4 of 52

La Cave du Vin

2785 Euclid Heights Blvd

Cleveland, OH

Rank: #1 of 4

Type of Establishment: Wine shop, Tasting Room, Beer Bar, Bottle Shop

BEERS ON TAP (at time of visit) —>

Smuttynose Wheat Wine

Stone Brewing Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale

Weyerbacher Hotel Poter

Stoudt’s Pilsner

Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgium Style IPA

Tommy Knocker Black Powder Nitro Stout

FOOD OPTIONS: Small plates such as varying cheeses, cured meats, olives, breads and spreadable dips.

STAFF OPINION: Knowledgeable about beer, passionate about the establishment and craft brewing.

La Cave du Vin has an amazing ambiance.  As we walked down the street, every breath a struggle against the cold wind, we scurried down the stairs to La Cave.  Low lighting, small cafe tables, an entire wall of wines and the glowing refrigerator of beers make this place comfortable and worth a stop. As we walk toward the refrigerator, our excitement builds. We are afterall in the mid-west, beers that are “foreign” to us back West are in abundance. Weyerbacher, Founders, Jolly Pumpkin, Bell’s….

They do have approximately 5 beers on tap at any given time and the waitress/bartender was very attentive and willing to explain each beer to us.  However, we decided on bottles. You pick your bottle and the bartender will open it for you and provide glassware. Generally, you can buy the beer “to-go.”  For all you visitors, the state of Ohio does not permit beer sales on Sunday. What day did we go? Sunday, as that bottle of Bell’s Hopslam stared mockingly at us. Luckily we had the chance to have Hopslam on tap earlier in the day. Just a heads up, the prices on the bottle selection are on the high side if you are looking to enjoy it in the comfort of your own home.

We had three bottles: Founder’s Double Trouble IPA; Founder’s Red Rye and Jolly Pumpkin’s BAM Noire.  All were beyond amazing. The Double Trouble, a double IPA had a hoppy, sweet aroma and was exceuted to perfection. The balance was perfect, but there was still a bite to it. This beer began with a punch and ended with a smooth, comforting finish.  One of the best IPA’s to date.  The Red Rye was surprisingly hoppy and bitter. However, there was a grainy aftertaste and malt balance. JP’s BAM Noire, a Saison/Farmhouse Ale had that familiar funk to it, but rounded out with a sour finish with some citrus notes. Enjoyable from start to finish.

La Cave’s bottle selection alone is worth the visit. However, the ambiance, the staff and the small treats will keep you coming back.

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