Best brew

FIRST: 101 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

The rarest draft beers are found at 101 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. Customers can choose from over 700 different beers and a selection of 500 different wines. Kent State students, as well as many professors, come in for a drink, meet up with friends and enjoy the ambiance downtown Kent has to offer.

Employee Kyle Lambert wipes down the glass on the beer display case at 101 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. Lambert has worked at the bar since November and said he’s learned a lot about beer and wine since taking the position. (Zaria Johnson)

“At the end of the day, we’re a craft beer bar,” said Chris Laughton, the manager of two years. “And we have good mixed drinks deals.”

Three local best friends founded the bar in 1996, according to its website. It started off as a video store in the ‘90s and then transitioned to a beer store. Around 2011, the bar was added. Laughton said the business has expanded multiple times.

“The most recent expansion was for COVID,” he said. “We added additional seating and beautiful booths.”

People travel from far away places to enjoy a drink at 101 Bottles of Beer of the Wall. Laughton said they work hard to offer unique beer for the Kent community and Kent State affiliates. 

“It would be nice just for more people to know about us,” he said.

SECOND: Bell Tower Brewing Co.

Neighbors can hear the bell tower ring from this redesigned church-to-brewery watering hole nestled among residents. Located just outside of downtown Kent on Park Avenue, Bell Tower Brewing Co. is a neighborhood place. Locals can walk a few houses down to eat seasonal cuisine and drink hand-crafted brewed beer in a high-ceiling historical brick building.

On the weekend, Kent State students typically arrive after 8 p.m. for a drink with friends, and those breaking bread are typically from the community.

Ryan Tipton is a co-owner of Bell Tower Brewing Co., which is outside of downtown Kent. (Kelly Krabill)

“I think it’s a very wide mix,” said Ryan Tipton, co-founder of the brewery. “It’s not any kind of specific age group or that kind of population. You can see tonight by the crowd that’s here. There’s people in their 50s, 60s [and] 70s enjoying a meal and some beer.”

Customers, dressed in green for St. Patrick’s Day, sat around the bar, while others relaxed on the warm patio.

THIRD: North Water Brewing Co.

North Water Brewing Co., located at the northwest corner of Kent’s Mill District, is committed to the enviornment and sustainability. 

This business sources clean local ingredients, when available, and offers delicious and traditional drinks such as watermelon seltzer and Irish Red Ale, according to the brewery’s website.

The brewery opened amid the pandemic in November 2020 in what was an auto collision repair shop. Its industrialized structure, which is located on a hike and bike trail, caught the founders’ attention.

North Water Brewing is located at 101 Crain Ave in Kent, Ohio. North water brewing company opened in 2020 during the pandemic. (Savannah Monks)

Now, the brewery has its own running club that meets every Thursday to drink craft beer and run at all paces. It’s “pledged to connecting to the outdoors through biking, hiking, running and, of course, the river,” according to the website.

North Water Brewing Co. is minutes away from the Cuyahoga River but sits in downtown Kent where students and nearby residents can join friends over a drink.


Kelly Krabill is managing editor. Contact her at [email protected].