The Great Lakes Brewery, located just west of downtown in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood, is Ohio's first microbrewery. Established in 1988, the historic six-building complex now includes a brewery, a brew pub, banquet facilities, and a gift shop.
The Great Lakes Brewing Company started crafting beer in 1988, at the beginning of America's fascination with microbrews. They were the first such brewery in Ohio. The Conway brothers, who still own the facility, employed a master brewer, Thaine Johnson, who had worked in the last of Cleveland's historic breweries, thus tying the old with the new. They produced 1000 barrels that first year. Today, they produce 70,000 barrels annually.
Great Lakes is best known for its amber beer, Dortmunder Gold. The brewery also produces Burning River Ale, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Eliot Ness Amber Lager, and Holy Moses White Ale. Seasonal brews, such as Moondog Ale and Christmas Ale round out the selection. Great Lakes Brewing Company distributes in Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. In addition to the brewpub, Great Lakes beers are available at most beer outlets in Cleveland.
The brewpub occupies two historic buildings on Market Avenue in Ohio City. The Taproom features the Tiger Mahogany Bar, Cleveland's oldest. Bullet holes in the bar are said to have been caused by Cleveland Safety Director, Eliot Ness. The downstairs, Rathskeller, features distressed brick walls and another wooden bar. Adjacent to the brewpub is an indoor/outdoor beer garden, the perfect setting for a sunny day.
The Great Lakes Brewing Company features a tasty menu of hearty entrees, appetizers, and grilled items. Appetizer highlights include a sausage sampler (see photo above) with whole grain mustard, porter tempura-battered Lake Erie walleye bites with fresh tartar sauce, and a delicious Stilton cheddar cheese soup (also pictured above). Entrees include juicy burgers, bratwurst and piergois, and pretzel Amish chicken. Several vegetarian entrees, including chiles rellanos, are offered.
Events at the Great Lakes Brewery:
The Great Lakes Brewery's campus includes several banquet rooms, suitable for parties of 20 to 175 persons. Among these is the former upstairs law office of John D. Rockefeller (before his Standard Oil days). Event pricing includes a tour of the brewery for guests. For information on catering, call the events planner at 216 771-4404x240.
Brewery Tours :
The Great Lakes Brewing Company offers free tours of the brewery each hour on Friday between 5pm and 9pm and on Saturday between 1pm and 9pm. Private group tours are also available by appointment.
Beer School and Brewmaster's Dinners:
Great Lakes hosts a Beer School twice monthly covering such topics as beer styles, fermentation, beer packaging, beer ingredients, and the brewhouse. Classes are $15 per person and include beer tastings, a tee shirt, and a sampler glass.
The brewpub also hosts Brewmaster's Dinners each month between January and November on the 2nd Tuesday of the month.
Great Lakes Brewing Company
2516 Market Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
(last updated 7-9-13)