Friday, March 1, 2013

Cleveland: Part 1 suburbs

Fat Head's taps

As my plane descended over downtown Cleveland, I was reminded it was only nine days before Christmas by the red and green lights that shone on the buildings.  It was also a reminder that it would be cold and most likely grey throughout the weekend.  Nevertheless, I was in Cleveland to drink beer and see friends; and that always is a forecast for fun.

As soon as I got off the plane, I b-lined it for the exit; but I wasn’t prepared for how long of a walk it was from the end of the terminal to the pick-up area.  Halfway through my speed walk through the terminal, I passed a Great Lakes Brewing outpost; for a brief second I considered getting a libation.  That was dashed away by the thought of heading to Fat Head’s Brewery and Saloon in N. Olmstead, OH, a mere five miles away from the runway.

Fat Head's sampler
I first had Fat Head’s Head Hunter IPA a week earlier when I flew to Columbus for a BBA birthday party.  I was duly impressed with the West Coast style elixir; so I was pumped to have it on tap at one of the sources (there is also a Pittsburgh location, the original).  My friend (and driver) Keith and I bellied up to the bar and quickly decided on beers.  He went for his favorite Bumbleberry Honey Blueberry Ale.  I went with a sampler which included Head Hunter, Holly Jolly Christmas Ale, Starlight Lager, Duke of Lager Fest and Alpenglow.

Fat Head’s also has a lot of guest taps at the bar.  My friend Sande, of Beer Head’s fame, told me a while ago that one of her favorite beers was Ithaca Brewing Flower Power IPA, which isn’t distributed in the area we live in.  Flower Power was on tap at Fat Head’s and I finally got to have it.  There was a large variety on tap, but the world class IPAs that were on tap was awesome, Head Hunter, Flower Power, Sculpin and Loose Cannon!

We also had dinner at Fat Head’s.  The onion soup made with beer I had was fantastic.  In fact, a week later I went to a fancy French bistro in Washington DC and had their onion soup.  It didn’t hold a candle to Fat Head’s.  I also had the smoked wings, which come with drummy and wing fully attached, with their dry rub.  There was something about the chicken that I didn’t like; however, I loved the rub.  I even bought a tub of it.  Keith had a sandwich that was great.  The menu is killer and I would return multiple times to drink more great beer and eat good food.

selections from Lizardville
The following day after doing a little bit of sightseeing (Little Italy, Cleveland Botanical Gardens), it was back on the hunt for more beer.  Our BBA fans on our Facebook page pointed me to Lizardville; which has two locations.  Keith and I went to the Bedford Heights location.  Lizardville is an offshoot of the Winking Lizard chain of restaurants.  One stark difference is that Lizardville is a bottle shop/beer bar/Scotch Whisky Bar all in one.

The tap list wasn’t huge, but was memorable:  Stone 09/09/09 Vertical Epic wine barrel aged, Flower Power and more.  If you follow them on Facebook, they are great about updating their tap list on a regular basis.  I can’t recommend Lizardville enough.  It was one of my two favorite bottle shop visits on 2012!
row of Jolly Pumpkin bombers at Lizardville

some of the bottle selection at Lizardville

On the Friday night of my visit, my gracious host and his sultry girlfriend took me to Brew Kettle, which is near their house in Strongsville, OH.  I was really excited as I have had their White Rajah IPA once and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Unfortunately it was not available on draft or in bottles.  In fact, not too many Brew Kettle offerings were available that night.  Luckily that had an awesome tap list, including Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA; a personal favorite when fresh.  The food at Brew Kettle was really good.  This would be a regular hangout for me if I lived in the area.


  1. White Rajah may be my favorite single IPA I have ever had on tap. That is crushing news that it wasn't available but that does happen there from time to time. Very popular and for good reason.

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