Classic Cleveland brewery presents award-winning beer

Ben Plassard

The Great Lakes Brewery in Cleveland brews and sells its own beer. MICHELE ROEHRIG | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Inexpensive beers such as Budweiser and Natural Light usually rule the university party scene, as most college-aged drinkers are out for the quick buzz and not for taste and quality.

But for those who like to enjoy beer for reasons other than getting trashed, Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company offers a wide variety of specialty beers with an environmentally conscious attitude.

Located on Cleveland’s West Side, the company features a restaurant, brewery pub, beer cellar and the brewery itself, all of which are accessible to the public. Great Lakes brews more than 40 beers, five of which are available at all times, four seasonals and 33 in-house specials brewed and sold at different times of the year.

The story of Great Lakes Brewing Company began when brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway wanted to bring their love of hand-crafted, European beers to Cleveland, using only the freshest ingredients and not using preservatives and chemicals.

Great Lakes Brewing Company opened in 1988 in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, which was once a prominent brewing area more than a century ago. Great Lakes became the first micro-brewery in Ohio, and since its inception in 1988, has grown to be one of the premier brewers in the Midwest.

If Great Lakes Beer does not ring a bell with students, it is not supposed to. Kami Dolney, marketing coordinator for the brewery, said Great Lakes Beer is marketed toward beer lovers ages 25-55, who have college degrees. Great Lakes does not actively market their beers, most cannot even be found in the average convenience store.

This is what makes the trip to Great Lakes even more special. Drinkers can sample all of the regular beers, such as the Holy Moses or the Dortmunder Gold, and can also sample in-house specials such as the Blackout Stout.

Award winning beers are often on hand as well, as Great Lakes Beer has won hundreds of awards. Patrons can also tour the brewery and eat at the pricey, bistro-style menu restaurant.

The brewery itself is open to the public, and tours are offered free of charge.

The most surprising thing about the brewery is how small it is. According to Dolney, between the restaurant and brewery, there are only 75-100 employees. Only a handful of people do the brewing,.

Great Lakes Brewery

2516 Market Ave.

Cleveland, OH 44113

(216) 771-4404

Terry Ryan, Great Lakes historian and brewery tour guide, said it is currently producing 45,000 barrels a year, which is more than 1 million gallons of beer. Great Lakes Beer is shipped all over Ohio, Northern Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Buffalo, N.Y., Michigan, Chicago and Madison, Wisc. The beer at Great Lakes has a 90-day shelf life. The Conways opted to not pasteurize their beer to preserve freshness. The beer is 90 percent water, and the rest is natural flavors.

The Conways are also concerned about the environment. The restaurant and brewery recycles all glass, cardboard, plastic and aluminum. The beer packaging and menus are printed on recycled paper. The restaurant keeps vegetable oil used in cooking and uses it to run the delivery truck. Meat and cheeses in the restaurant are from organic farms.

The brewery is definitely a Cleveland original and has no plans to change, Dolney said.

“The owners are Cleveland oriented,” Dolney said. “The beers and artwork are Cleveland oriented and that is something we can all call our own.”

Contact off-campus entertainment Ben Plassard at [email protected].