Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cleveland Part 2.

Part 2 of my long overdue Cleveland beer blog began in Strongsville where James met us for a day of beer sampling.  We also picked up an old college buddy, Brandon, whose personality alone has its own zip code.  We parked at the West Side Market and walked though the vegetable and fruit stands to get to the other side, where the breweries were.

 We tried to go to Great Lakes Brewing Company first, but it was way too crowded.   We settled for Market Garden Brewery & Distillery.  The expansive restaurant and bar had a really nice interior and was able to seat us in about five minutes.  In those five minutes, I perused the bar and house made beers and was happy to see such a large selection.  The tap handles were also really cool.

The five of us sat at a high-top table and had excellent service.  As per habit of every new brewery I enter, I ordered a sampler of every beer on tap.  The waiter did not mind serving all 12 samples.  Since it was so long ago, my tasting notes have been forgotten.
beer samples!

The food was delicious.  I had a Scotch egg that was awesome.  If you have not had one, it is a hard boiled egg cooked inside a ball of sausage, yum! 

Scotch Egg with dipping sauce
Not to take anything away from Market Garden beers, but my favorite was a bottle of Three Floyd’s Alpha Klaus; a Christmas porter with extra hops and Mexican sugar.  It is a top five beer for me now.  There is a nice beer garden that would be a great place to hang out during warmer months. Unfortunately my visit was in the middle of December.  All in all, I am g lad we started at Market Garden, and I would recommend a visit.

Our next stop was to Nano Brew, a block away.  They have a partnership with Market Garden, and it even acts as their testing site for new beers.  The interior was nice and bright, with the small brewing facility in the back. Also, Nano Brewery is big with the bicycle community and has many events and newsletters geared for cyclists.  In large part, it is an effort to make Cleveland more greed, kudos.
Nano had four house beers on tap, Citramax being my favorite.  They also had other taps, mostly from other Ohio breweries.  We didn’t eat there, but I hear the food is good.

Our last beer stop was back to Great Lakes Brewing Company, roughly on the same block as Market Garden.. We were able to belly-up at the bar downstairs, but it was still very crowded. The stone walls made you feel like you were in some kind of cave or cellar, which was cool.  On tap was their Christmas Ale that people go nuts over in Ohio, Blackout Stout, Cleveland Brown Ale and their regular line-up.

GLBC beer line up

GLBC is the Graceland for many Ohio beer drinkers, and a craft beer pioneer in the state, making this a must stop on the Cleveland, or even Ohio beer trail.

GLBC downstairs bar
When we were done “beer sampling,” we walked through the main building at West Market.  I proceeded to buy multiple flavors of popcorn and many different types of meat sticks before finally exiting the building.  I am sure my purchases were influenced by beer.

Growing up, Cleveland had a reputation of being a shitty city, according to Russian turned American comedian Yakov Smirnoff, “a place to go to if you had one year to live because it would feel like forever.”  I don’t know what Cleveland was like back then, but I was happy to visit and would go back any day.  Aside from a great beer town, there are a lot of neat things there.  The botanical garden was great. Little Italy is charming (make sure to choose the right restaurant), and the people were nice.

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