Great Lakes Brewing Company

About two weeks ago I decided to pop over to Cleveland to cross off an item from my lifetime bucket list, visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Like so many other beer lovers, before I went on my trip, I searched for nearby local breweries and came across Great Lakes Brewing Company. Ohio's First Craft Brewery, and coming up on it's 25th anniversary, I thought it'd be the best place to visit for dinner on my first night in Cleveland.

Great Lakes Brewery at Night

Great Lakes BrewPub
Getting in late on a Friday, I wasn't able to tour the brewery itself, but across the street there is a Great Lakes Brewing Co gift shop and pub with multiple level dining rooms and dark English style pub/bar in the basement.  The whole brewpub is general is dark wood paneled, dimly light, the majority of the glow is from the fermenters in the middle of the dining room keeping the guests company.

I have only had one beer from Great Lakes Brew Co before. It was the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter that I found a bottle of at a party store in Cincinnati, so I decided to order a flight to sample them all. 12 - 3oz samples of the entire line available.
Drink responsibly - I will say, some of the poor beers were left in the glass

This is the beer left to right from above. The two in the front were the Midwest Lager on the left and the Ohio City Oatmeal Stout on the right. 
 Along with the flight I had a cup of clam chowder and the ribs that had a Edmund Fitzgerald Porter BBQ sauce. Some of the beers went great with this combination, some not so good. But let's get into the beer!
Below is my run down thoughts,  beers and yes, I even ranked them afterwards.

Midwest Lager - Made with Mosaic hops - which are known for their blend of floral, tropical, fruity characteristics. This started out creamy and smooth like a regular lager and finished with a profile more related to an IPA. It was good in an interesting way.

Ohio City Oatmeal Stout - Named after the local area that the brewery is located in Cleveland, this oatmeal stout had a slight dry, roasted chocolately taste.

Starting from the right side and going back (Yes, I should've gone from light to dark, but I rinsed with water) 
Cream Ale - This ale had no aroma, very light in color. Drinkable and smooth. A very easy beer to pair with anything, went especially well with the clam chowder. I think of cream ales as a sit on the porch, drinking lots of beer kind of beer.
Alberta Clipper -  A winter porter brewed with belgian chocolate and raspberries. I was really looking forward to this beer. I was hoping it'd be good enough to be after dinner "dessert", but the flavors were really mild. It was a bit of chocolate and a tiny taste of the tart raspberries.
The Wright Pils
The Wright Pils - I was impressed. This was very clean and crisp. Finished a a little dry, but was definitely an instant hit with me.
Conway's Irish Ale - A mix of smooth and bitter, which confused my tongue because I was expecting more smooth. Where the pilsner before hand was a hit, this irish ale wasn't.
Alchemy Hour Double IPA - I could smell and taste quite clearly the nugget hops in this this IPA. It was very interesting because as the beer went in my mouth it seemed to blossom in flavor. Some sips were a little overpowering at the end than others, but overall it was very well rounded.

From the left to the right (I kind of feel like I'm in the middle of a line dance song right now)
Edmund Fitzgerald Porter - This beer paired with the ribs that had the beer infused in the BBQ sauce wasn't a good choice. Made a porter actually taste bitter. Alone though, it was a very nice, roasted robust porter. Which reminded me of IB's most recent Robust Porter blind reviews (did you see what I just did there)
Commodore Perry IPA - The description claimed this beer had more of a fruity taste, but really it had more of a floral hop profile.  Unlike the Alchemy which blossomed and was wonderful, the Commodore Perry IPA was a little flat.
Burning River Pale Ale -  This ale was smooth, creamy. Still held a cascade hop flavor. It reminded me slightly of Goose Island's Matilda.
Eliot Ness Amber Lager -  This one was perfect with the ribs plus malty and creamy. (if you couldn't tell, I once I got to this beer which was my 11th beer, I was running out of words. )
Dormunder Gold Lager - Light, smoother. No sneaky bitterness a little more heavier than the Eliot Ness, but very drinkable and would order many more of these.

My overall rating of the flight was:
1. The Wright Pils
2. Eliot Ness Amber Lager
3. Dormunder Gold Lager
4. Midwest Lager
5. Alchemy Hour Double IPA
6. Burning River Pale Ale
7. Ohio City Oatmeal Stout
8. Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
9. Cream Ale
10. Alberta Clipper
11. Conway's Irish Ale
12. Commodore Perry IPA

It was a lot of fun to taste, and eat and try the round up again. I did finish up the glass of The Wright Pils. Thanks to the gift shop next door I was able to take home a mix 6 pack with 2 Wright Pils, 2 Eliot Ness Amber Lagers, 1 Dormunder Gold Lager and 1 Alchemy Hour Double IPA along with getting somethings to add to my collection.

If you are in Cleveland, I definitely stop by. There is another brewery near by called Market Square brewery and a bar called Bier Markt that has at least 12 Belgian styles on tap year around. Oh, and also the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a good place to go as well.

Unfortunately Great Lakes Brewing Co beer is only distributed in parts of Northern Indiana, maybe one day it'll be found all over, but Ohio isn't too far to pop over and pick up some or head up north!

Thanks for reading,



Eric Strader said...

This is always a great trip. My first time was several years ago when 4 of Jerry's guitars were there and the St. Pepper's display was upstairs. And yes, we made the stop at Great Lakes the night before, and also again after visiting the Hall Of Fame. Cleveland has really come a long way, and I think that Great Lakes is a bit under rated. Thanks for giving them some love here.

Chris said...

I don't know about Indianapolis, but Great Lakes absolutely distributes in Indiana, at least in the northern part. Edmund Fitzgerald, Burning River Pale Ale, Dortmunder Gold, Eliot Ness, and Commodore Perry are all year-round offerings. The Conway Irish Ale is a recent seasonal, and the Erie Monster Double IPA should be appearing again soon.

Anonymous said...

They come in through a different distributor in the north of Indiana. I've heard many rumors over the years why we don't get them in central Indiana, but don't look for them anytime soon.

Kathleen Slauzis said...

I'll update this when I can that it distributes a little up in Northern Indiana. Trust me, I would've seen in in Central Indiana. I apologize for the error.

Chris said...

Hey, no biggie Kathleen. Just wanted to make sure you knew they were available up here. I know sometimes Indy and South Bend/Elkhart seem like light years away from each other. Anyone who has made the drive between them on 31 knows that all too well!

Tom H said...

I remember when they were distributed in central IN (I believe this was way way before Cavalier existed - and there were some distributor/retailer issues with the 'best by' dates on their bottles).

One of my favorite kegs I had in my departed keg cooler was Dortmunder Gold.

Really want to visit their location, but it seems like a royal pain to get to Cleveland. Louisville, Cinci, Columbus, Chicago... all seem to win out when we're thinking of short trips.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen-I love visiting that section of Cleveland. Since a good friend of mine is the brew master, the brewery near Great Lakes is called Market Garden. They have another venture nearby called Nano Brewing.

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