Only in CLE: Raise A Toast
From crafty ales to innovative whiskey, it's time to raise a toast to Cleveland
By Adam Sockel and Lexi Hotchkiss
~Put away past perceptions and let us show you the people and places redefining Cleveland as a success today through our Only in Cleveland article series.~
Cheers to Beers!
Local beer is generating quite the buzz in Cleveland. Cleveland breweries like our beloved, historic Great Lakes Brewing Co. are winning awards that prove what we already know--Cleveland's got the best beer in the country. Adding to that mash tin, the city boasts more than 20 brewhouses and dozens of beer bars, which serve up unique craft ales and lagers of all kinds.
The appropriately named Fat Head’s Brewery has a mighty reputation within the international beer community--and for good reason. Many say its Hop JuJu Imperial might be the best IPA in America. Others think it's their Head Hunter IPA. Both are award winning. All of them are rather tasty.
Such is Cleveland, you'll find outstanding and inventive takes on classic stylings. On the near west side, hit-up the Cleveland start-up brewhouse Platform Beer Co. where the flavors get downright wild. In late 2015, the brewhouse did a two-day premier of a brew they called Cerealism, a stout made with Count Chocula cereal (hello, childhood).
Over on the east side, you'll find the coveted Willoughby Brewing Co. where locals swear by their Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter and the Railway Razz, a wheat beer made with 300 lbs. of raspberries.
And, lest we forget Downtown's massive new(ish) addition Butcher and the Brewer where you can savor Tafelbier, a unique French table beer, or their Windows Up, a toasty and roasty smoked stout.
If you're looking for a classic German-style beer, check out Playhouse Square's Hofbrauhaus, one of the newest locations for this internationally renowned German bier empire, which is owned and operated by the Bavarian government in Germany. Hofbräuhaus embodies the complete experience one might encounter during Munich’s Oktoberfest--complete with polka bands, a bier garden, communal-style seating and servers sporting dirndls and braids. [PROST!]
Need a beer after afternoon shopping at the West Side Market? We're with you. Get a sampler (and some Scotch Eggs) from Market Garden Brewery right next door. If you're lucky, you might run into owner Sam McNulty whose pension for beer is seen through his other nearby beer emporiums including Nano Brew, Bier Markt,
Bar Cento and the Palace of Fermentation.
Want to get the hands-on experience of making your own beer? You can do that at the Brew Kettle in Strongsville. Choose from one of their more than 70 recipes and they'll provide the ingredients and assistance while you brew and bottle.
Cleveland loves beer so much that we even put it in our donuts (and for that, you're welcome). Brewnuts is a local baking business that literally bakes rich, delicious craft beers right into its fried, pastry creations. They're currently working on opening a flagship, donut-themed bar, but you can find these beery delights all around the city at various events, shops and festivals. Follow Brewnuts on Facebook to score the opportunity to taste what many believe to be the world's greatest pairing.
Just remember: SAFETY FIRST. Avoid drinking and driving with a trip on the Cleveland Brew Bus. These guys offer daily multi-hour tours of three area breweries, where you can taste a variety of different styles and flavors of local craft brews.
Donuts and Distilling
But beer isn’t for everyone. And, that's ok. After all, Cleveland puts the spirit in spirts.
There’s Cleveland Whiskey, an award-winning distilling company that’s radically changing the whiskey game via good, old-fashioned science.
Most folks think of whiskey as an arduous, barrel-aged spirit. But Cleveland Whiskey is different. The whiskey is made by putting the alcohol and several pieces of barrel wood into a tank, which applies various degrees of pressure. By using this process, they're able to age the spirit in just a fraction of the amount of time it takes to create traditional whiskey. This means it can make small batches of experimental flavors like its Christmas Bourbon (which we highly recommend).
There’s also Portside Distillery, which aside from making great beer, also offers a number of outstanding rums. There’s no need to travel to the Caribbean to settle for Captain Jack’s favorite drink. At Portside, you get multiple versions of high-class rum including hopped and vanilla maple.