How My Favorite Brewery is Killin' the Craft Beer Game

Friday, June 29, 2018

Great Lakes Brewing Company is the 30th largest brewery in the United States, though it still qualifies, by production volume, as a craft brewery. It opened in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood in 1988, & though the brewery now distributes its beer to 13 states & the District of Columbia, all their production still takes place on a single city block right there in the same place it started.

Earlier this week, I attended a "Hop College 101" beer class at Great Lakes' tasting facility (which is separate from their brewpub, though just half a block away). 

It was hosted by Engage! Cleveland as one of their many Cleveland Young Professionals Week events. The event focused on a little bit of beer history & the brewery's history... & then drinking a lot of beer samples, of course. As the brewery celebrates its 30th anniversary, this was a really fun opportunity to get to know a little bit more about it.

Though Cleveland is now home to lots & lots of other great breweries, Great Lakes continues to be the most famous among them. It's the brewery in Cleveland, as personally evidenced, to me, by the fact that, when friends came to town for our wedding in November, lots of them had Great Lakes atop their to-do list.

I loved learning about how successful GLBC has been - & continues to be. 

Great Lakes was the first brewpub & microbrewery in the state of Ohio, & there's days it's the 20th largest craft brewery in the U.S.; the only other Buckeye State brewery to make the list is Rhinegeist out of Cincinnati, coming in at 33rd. The brewery has received 13 medals overall, from the American Beer Festival. & their Edmund Fitzgerald is the most awarded porter in the country.

My personal favorites are the Dortmunder Gold (the first gold medal they ever won for a beer, hence the name) & the Holy Moses White Ale. They've just put out their first line extension, too, the Holy Moses Raspberry White Ale, which is verrrry mildly fruity - & so freaking good. Mike loves their Commodore Perry IPA, named for a local hero who fought in the War of 1812.

They're also committed to bettering the community, which they do in a number of ways - through water stewardship & conservation, local farming, solar energy practices, creative waste usage (like making soft pretzels out of their spent grain!), & committing 1% of their profits to charitable giving through their Brewing Good initiative.

Great Lakes also runs some really fun events, like Geeks Who Drink trivia nights every Tuesday, Balance and Brews beer/yoga once a month, & Giving Monday on the second Monday of every month, dedicated to fundraising for worthwhile causes.

I'm disappointed to miss their Christmas in July party, when they tap one fresh keg of Christmas Ale for the brewpub only - complete with a luau! - but if you've got free time on the morning of Wednesday, July 25th, you should go & drink a pint for me.

In all, this was a really fun event - & an event with quite a lot of tasty beer! I loved learning more about the history of the brewery, the beer they serve, the sense of community they foster, the values they espouse, & the events they host.

Great Lakes remains one of my favorite breweries, & after this event, it only continues to be. Cheers to 30 more years!

Disclaimer: This blog is a media partner for Engage! Cleveland's Young Professional Week, which includes admission to two paid events in exchange for writing about some of my experiences. All views are my own.

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