Once upon a time, Cleveland was like most immigrant-settled industrial towns in that you could often tell what neighborhood you were in by the type of beer they served at the corner bar. These days, those corner bars are breweries and the beers they serve are some of the best you’ll find in the country (if we do say so ourselves). It’s probably a good idea for you to try and taste as many of them as you can. Here’s a good place to start.
Day 1 | Gordon Square & Ohio City
Breakfast: Ever had doughnuts made from local craft beers? No? Start your day at Brewnuts in Gordon Square. That is all.
Morning: Walk off the doughnuts. Walk off that morning coffee stout. Depending on what time you’re done, there may not be much open, but there’s important recon to be done: Brewnuts is near several popular bars, including XYZ Tavern and Happy Dog, which might come in handy, later. If it’s Friday, head to the 78th Street Studios, which offer an Open House every week starting at 11 a.m.
Lunch : Just up Detroit Avenue, you’ll hit Saucy Brew Works, a relative newcomer to the Cleveland craft beer scene, having opened in July 2017. Saucy is notable not only for eclectic seasonal, rotating beer list (with the near-perfect Habituale Kölsch, and Love You, Bye Hazy IPA available year-round) but their creative, New Haven-style pizza menu, as well. The good news for you is that Saucy is open every day for lunch.
Afternoon: Saucy is the perfect gateway to the Ohio City “brewery district,” which is ground zero for the city’s booming craft beer scene. This is where you come to pay homage to the brewery that started it all — the Great Lakes Brewing Company. Since they more or less invented craft brewing in Ohio in the mid-1990s, brew pubs and tap rooms have been popping up all around them. Market Garden. Hansa. Forest City. Platform. See them all. Taste them all. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?
Dinner: Why stop now? Nano Brew is right in the heart of Ohio City’s restaurant row on West 25th Street. Here you’ll find 24 beers on draft, a smart, locally sourced food menu of small-ish bites and one of the best patios in the city. Bonus: The kitchen stays open until 2 a.m.
Late Night: It happens to us all, sometimes: you’ve had too much beer. You’re full. Maybe a little tired. Well, you’re not done yet. The Velvet Tango Room is just a short walk from Ohio City’s main drag and it’s worth it for its cocktail menu alone. Throw in some live jazz and there’s no reason not to end your evening here.
Day 2 | Downtown & Tremont
Breakfast: Breakfast is a must after Day 1 — especially when you consider what’s on the itinerary today. Since you’ll be downtown, Yours Truly is the perfect place to start Day 2. Located in Playhouse Square, Cleveland's favorite local diner chain offers breakfast faves like giant omelettes, sizzling skillets and their famous, crispy cottage fries. They also serve alcohol, so grab a Bloody Mary and get rid of that hangover.
Morning: There’s always plenty to do in Downtown Cleveland, it just depends on the day. Browns Sunday? Pregame at any number of sports bars, dives and breweries — and if you’re heading to the game yourself, get down to the Muni Lot for tailgate central. Indians or Cavs day game? Rinse, repeat. If you’re a “no” on sports, be happy that you’re close enough to walk to the waterfront for two of Cleveland’s most popular visitor destinations, the legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center.
Lunch: The beer-centric lunch-goer can do no better than hitting up Noble Beast Brewing Co. for an early-afternoon bite. Put it this way: if someone told you they knew of a place with a wide-ranging list of housemade beers that served a smoked kielbasa corndog, you’d probably want to try it out, right? Don’t be stupid. Of course you would.
Afternoon: Keep tasting. There are always more beers to try. You’re still within walking distance from Masthead Brewing Company and Butcher and the Brewer, the only brewpub in the city that also doubles as working butcher shop.
Dinner: OK, so the tasting tour is over. It’s time to hop over the Cuyahoga River to the historic Tremont neighborhood to visit one of the city’s most eclectic culinary neighborhoods. The dining brow in Tremont can range from high to low. Fat Cats, Dante and Parallax are on the upscale side, while neighborhood stalwarts Tremont Taphouse, Prosperity Social Club and Sokolowski’s cater to the more laid back. And maybe that’s just what you need as these 48 hours come to a close?
Late Night: You’re not done yet. If you’ve got room for a few more beers and a hankering for some physical activity, head to Hi and Dry Bowling & Beer. They’re open until 2 a.m. on weekends, which gives you plenty of time to wind down … unless you find yourself once again in need of a night cap. An expertly crafted cocktail at the Spotted Owl is the perfect way to end a weekend of brewery hopping. Just don’t fall asleep on the Uber ride home.
The Cleveland Brewery Passport
Make your 48 hours into Cleveland's top-rated beer scene that much more fun, and win some swag along the way . How? With the new Cleveland Brewery Passport, featuring more than 30 of Cleveland's best breweries.
Simply pick up a free passport, make a purchase at any of the participating breweries, get stamps and be well on your way to earning prizes. Here's how to get started.