A Local Beer Lover’s Guide: The Best Craft Breweries in Cleveland

Cleveland’s charm is often misunderstood (see: this humorous, yet mildly offensive fake tourism video), but as seasoned world travelers, we can tell you that Cleveland’s offerings extend far past these easy punchlines. With world-class museums boasting Picassos and Warhols, three professional sports teams (okay, yes, they are notoriously terrible), easy access to the outdoors and Lake Erie via the local parks system, and a rich and remarkable industrial history that has attracted immigrants from all over the world, Cleveland is a bustling melting pot of arts and culture, terrific food (pierogies, kielbasa, and sauerkrat, oh my!), an active music scene, and a locally brewed craft beer scene. Even better, Clevelanders can afford to indulge in these treats, as the low cost-of-living makes this lifestyle attainable for more than just the upper crust.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals (#sportz), the upcoming Republican National Convention, and good weather finally here to stay (did it really just snow here last weekend?), there’s no better time than now to highlight Cleveland’s treasures while indulging in a delicious brew and soaking up the sunshine. BYOM co-founder and editor, Sarah, takes us through her favorite Cleveland craft breweries where she regularly does just that. Oh…and GO CAVS!

1. Great Lakes Brewing Company

glbc
pc: Craft Brewing Business
Cleveland’s fantastic reputation for craft beer may be relatively new, but Great Lakes has been around for awhile now. Founded in 1986 by two Cleveland brothers of Irish descent, the Conway brothers were determined to bring a sophisticated and diverse selection of craft beers to their home state. Two decades and heaps of awards later, I think it’s safe to say they accomplished their goal. GLBC is one of the resident gems of Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, which these days is known for its “hipster” aesthetic, tasty food offerings, unique bars and restaurants, and charming architecture.

Come Here For…

Everything! GLBC has a little something for everyone, whether you’re looking to throw back a pint at their historic taproom, take a tour of the brewery, chill outside with your pup in their lovely beer garden, or you’re just in search of a delicious meal made with locally-sourced ingredients. My beer picks? My personal favorite is the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, the ideal choice in the depths of the Cleveland winter, which to be fair seems to last from October to May. Flavor is rich roasted barley with bittersweet chocolate-coffee notes.

GREAT LAKES BREWING COMPANY // 2516 Market Avenue, Cleveland, OH

2. Fat Head’s Brewery

fatheads
pc: America’s Cuisine
Although technically founded in Pittsburgh — as if CLE and PITT needed another reason to argue, Go Brownies! — the crux of the Fat Head’s Brewery empire is now located on Cleveland’s west side. With two Cleveland locations, a full-scale production brewery and taproom in Middleburg Heights and their corporate HQ and saloon in North Olmsted, Fat Head’s has made themselves at home in Cleveland, and locals couldn’t be more thrilled. Despite their Midwest roots, the love of Fat Head’s is hardly isolated to the region — they’ve recently expanded to the hard-to-impress, too-cool-for-school Portland, Oregon, where they’ve been met with open arms. The Fat Head commitment to hard work and top notch craftsmanship is evident in their beer – give their Head Hunter American-style IPA a try when you visit, it’s been named one of the Top 25 Beers in the World!

Come Here For…

Guided brewery tours at their Middleburg Heights Taphouse location and samplings of their latest releases! A full menu is also available if you’re in the mood for some classic bar food — burgers, brats, pizza, and more! If you’re looking for food and their great beer but can do without the tour, try the North Olmsted location for your more traditional restaurant feel.

FAT HEAD’S BREWERY & TAP HOUSE // 18741 Sheldon Rd, Middleburg Heights, OH

FAT HEAD’S BREWERY & SALOON // 24581 Lorain Rd, North Olmsted, OH

3. Platform Beer Co.

platform
pc: Cleveland.com
Everyone’s got a Cleveland favorite, and mine is definitely Platform Beer Co. A relatively new endeavor, Platform was founded in 2014 with two goals: brew tasty beers for sale in their tasting room and at your favorite bar/restaurant AND create opportunity for those who wish to begin a career in the brewing industry. Check and check. Confused by the second goal? Platform has established a Brewery Incubator, where they give brewers the opportunity to have their homebrewed recipes enjoyed by the general public. Throughout the process, the Platform team also helps these brewers come up with a business plan, create financial projections, work with a logo and design team, and guide them through the regulatory hurdles associated with the brewing industry. The ultimate goal? Paying it forward by helping other brewers establish their own breweries. SO COOL. This “pay it forward” mentality is not just limited to their beer, they also outsource their food production to local chefs and restaurants in the Cleveland area, often hosting “Platform Takeovers,” which means that each visit you’re getting something different both at the bar and at your table.

Come Here For…

These practices without a doubt contribute to my favorite part of visiting Platform — they’re always mixing it up and trying new things. Although there are inevitably hits and misses, it’s always an interesting experience and the classics never fail! My personal favorite is their Speed Merchant White IPA (if you’re noticing a pattern you’re not wrong – I love my IPAs). Flavor is big grapefruit rind with orange, lemon, and pineapple notes. Huge citrus fruit-forward IPA. Perfect for the warmer months, or whenever you’re craving something refreshing! I personally drink it year-round. Nestled in the Ohio City neighborhood, their location is also top-notch, boasting a chilled out, almost minimalist taproom atmosphere and a perfect patio.

PLATFORM BEER CO. // 4125 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, OH

4. The Bottlehouse Brewing Company

bottlehouse
pc: Pinterest
The Bottlehouse Brewery is far from typical. Founded in 2012, The Bottlehouse has grown to a seven-barrel brewhouse in Cleveland Heights focused on small-batch production and innovative flavor combinations, fusing both new and old world styles. Their success has made it possible to expand their focus to include meads, and they recently opened The Bottlehouse Meadery and a second location on the West Side in Lakewood. These hand-crafted ales are truly an art form, and Bottlehouse employees work hard to nurture a dialogue with their patrons to bring more exposure to the artisan brewing process.

Come Here For…

Unique flavor combinations and that special artisan touch. The Bottlehouse employees are definitely beer experts, but in true Cleveland fashion, you’ll still feel your typical Midwestern warm welcome regardless of your beer expertise (or lack thereof). The Bottlehouse is definitely not your run-of-the-mill brewery and the complex and rare brews can be a bit intimidating at first. I would recommend just embracing the challenge and ordering a flight — give yourself the chance to try a little bit of everything, it’s fun!

THE BOTTLEHOUSE BREWING COMPANY // 2050 Lee Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH

THE BOTTLEHOUSE BREWING COMPANY // 13368 Madison Ave, Lakewood, OH

5. The Market Garden Brewery

Market Garden Brewery
pc: Bob Perkoski
Located just steps away from the famous West Side Market in Ohio City, Market Garden does it all and they do it right. With an additional four different establishments under the Market Garden umbrella — Speakeasy, Bar Cento, Bier Markt, and Nano Brew — all conveniently located in Ohio City, Market Garden knows how to appeal to all tastes and walks of life. The Market Garden family is down-to-earth, close, and most importantly, dedicated to their front-and-center role in the 21st century “Renaissance” of Cleveland. As founder Sam McNulty so eloquently puts it, Cleveland is “a post-industrial frontier town with opportunity galore. The food, beer scene, concerts, and people are awesome.  Mostly, it’s the people that better it though.” Market Garden brings those awesome people together across their locations while highlighting Cleveland’s charm and opportunity.

Come Here For…

An opportunity to experience Cleveland at its best. Make your visit a day affair with a stop at the West Side Market for culinary delights from local establishments, a powerful espresso, fresh produce, and ethnic groceries, then swing by Market Garden to enjoy a pint at their gorgeous bar or outside on their patio! Perfect for people-watching and embracing the ambience of central Ohio City. End your visit with a short walk down the block to the renowned Mitchell’s Ice Cream, a Cleveland classic – you won’t regret it. And, if you happen to get hungry again (we won’t judge), Market Garden’s creative pub fare will see you through!

THE MARKET GARDEN BREWERY // 1947 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH

+ WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT THE CITY YOU CALL HOME? SHARE WITH US IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!

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