Drinking in the History of Cleveland

After experiencing the West Market area, We wandered across the street meandering towards our destination of the Great Lakes Brewing Company. As we wandered across the street, small cafes with outdoor seating, awnings, flowers and ambiance galore caught our attention. We were surprised to find out that the one we decided to eat at was actually the Great Lakes Brewing Company. We sat down to eat and also signed up for the beer tour. Great Lakes Brewing Company can be considered a “brewpub”. A brewpub requirement is that the beer served is brewed on-site. This one certainly fit the bill. Usually food a breweries is just “meh”. We really were not expecting much. The food coming out of the kitchen looked ok, nothing like I want to take a picture of, and we didn’t expect much.

We decided to try a couple sandwiches, as everything looked really interesting. I ordered the grilled cheese, with melted manchego cheese, prosciutto, and a fig apple jam, all on toasted sour dough bread. The sandwich was served with Parmesan fries. The fries, although battered, were also cut like steak fries and covered in a salty Parmesan. Although typically I would not like fries prepared battered style, these were kicked up a notch with the parmesan. The sandwich was just oozing with creamy cheese, and the fig jam was a surprising delicious fruity twist. Similar to the surprise of raspberry jam on a Monte Carlo, this jam fit right with the sandwich and was just perfect.

Omar ordered the Cleveland Deli. Pastrami, Corned Beef, pickles, mustard, muenster cheese and slaw all on Cuban bread, baked fresh from the local baker. Now this sandwich was amazing, If a Reuben sandwich and a Cuban sandwich had a baby, it would be this sandwich. We dubbed it the “ReubanCuban” yeah not very creative but sure described it. The bread was probably my most favorite part.

The sandwiches were served with a side of Great Lakes Beer Mustard. Although the sandwiches didn’t need it, was yummy dipping the fries in it! Stone ground and a spicy kick of horseradish.

I ordered the Edmund Fitzgerald Beer, with bittersweet chocolate and coffee overtones. 6.0% abv, this is a smooth but light porter. I can’t say this is a new beer for me, as Omar and I usually have some in the fridge at home.

Omar ordered the Alberta Clipper Porter. Also with a bittersweet chocolate flavor, this is also flavored with a subtle raspberry. A greater 7.8% abv, this beer is a brewpub only flavor, and only available in the restaurant.

After our meal, we wandered over to the tour area. I must say our timing was impeccable as we arrived only about 15 minutes prior to starting, If you are ever in the Cleveland area, we highly suggest this tour. It is only $5, lasts about an hour, and gives you four 5 oz. samples of beer of your choice. We enjoyed the first of 4 while waiting for the tour to start. Nosferatu Imperial Red Ale. We didn’t read the fine print of the hopping overtones, but this was a red IPA. We are not IPA fans, and this beer was not one we would typically order, but was light without a super hoppy “bite”.

The brewery is amazing, Housed in a restored buildings from the 1800’s ranging from stables, stores and brothels now houses the brewpub with its own brewery along with the larger brewery across the street. The history of the restored building is quite apparent and you can almost see the horses drawing the carriages to deliver beer form days past. The tour really showed the vast operations and complexity that goes into beer making.

Great Lakes Beer Company aspires to be both socially and environmentally responsible, and heads up sustainability efforts of water conservation and purity, recycling and zero waste initiatives. They support local farmers, and give back to the community. They impressed us not only by the vast operation itself, but its commitment to preserving history and the environment.

Omar will review all the Great Lakes Beers in a different blog entry.

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