Cleveland is Brewland: A bourgeoning beer scene

Great Lakes Brewing Company is one of the most well-known breweries in Cleveland. @Erik Drost

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When most people think of Cleveland, dozens of breweries and bustling brewpubs don’t immediately spring to mind. But the beer scene in Cleveland today rivals any of its more famous rivals.

While the Cleveland of yesteryear isn’t the Cleveland of today, the history of beer production in the Sixth City is storied. In 1852, German immigrant Carl Gehring opened the Gehring Brewery, and by 1900 there were 23 breweries in the city. Although German lagers have been replaced by American ales, and none of the original breweries remain, the number of active breweries in Cleveland today surpasses the number in 1900, and the amount of beer sold by the largest producers is striking.

A beer lover’s visit to Cleveland simply must include a trip to the first brewpub and microbrewery in the state, which also happens to be the state’s largest. Great Lakes Brewing Company, located in the vibrant Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, began operations in 1988, kicking off a brewing revolution in the ‘Land.’ With annual production close to 160,000 barrels, this staple of the Cleveland scene offers tastings for visitors and full brewery tours on Fridays and Saturdays. By the time the Annual Conference rolls around, the Oktoberfest lineup at Great Lakes will be in full effect, and beer enthusiasts should be sure to make time for a trip to the brewpub to enjoy the brews and the full menu of food offerings. Visit the Great Lakes Brewing Company website for more information on brewery tours and details on the Ohio City brewpub.

Although the list of top-notch craft breweries in Cleveland is long, both Butcher and the Brewer and Noble Beast Brewing generally rise to the top of the list, both for quality of offerings and local scene. Although Butcher and the Brewer is only a few years old, their well-regarded 4th Street public house offers “old world cuts and hand-built brews.” Butcher and the Brewer is known for meat and beer; Noble Beast Brewing is popular for similar reasons, including excellent ales and a toothsome menu. The atmosphere at Noble Beast on Lakeside is always welcoming – be sure to grab a kitchen sink cookie for dessert after a couple brews and a hand-crafted meal.

Finally, if decision-making isn’t your strong suit, particularly when it comes to beer, then let someone else make the decisions for you! While the craft brewery scene in Cleveland has exploded in recent years, so too has support for this scene. Launched in 2014, the Cleveland Brew Bus offers a variety of beer-themed tours throughout the Forest City. In fact, tours with the Brew Bus now offer tastings from 24 different Cleveland breweries, and their 20-passenger bus has enough room to make a pre-arranged tour through the Cleveland craft brewery scene comfortable for everyone. The Brew Bus may just be the best way to take in the beer scene in the host city during the Annual Conference!

Visit their website for more information and to book a tour. Whatever decision you make, be sure you include a visit to one or more of the panoply of breweries in Cleveland during your time along the North Coast!


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