Cleveland Area Brew Pub Reviews - GLBC, Fathead's and Hoppin' Frog
My friends and I planning a big brewery tour of Ohio this year, but by the time it actually got around to spring break we were all so tired that we cut it back to just 3 breweries.
First we went to the Great Lakes Brew Pub. It was awesome! We got wonderful food. I had the pulled pork sandwich which I would recommend, and I tasted my friends' bratwurst and burger, both of which were good. Our vegetarian friend got the black bean burger which she said "reminded her that black bean burgers can be good." The beer was awesome as well. My friend got The Wright Pils, which was my favorite. My other friend got Conway's which is always great. I got the Silver Sonic Belgian IPA, which was good but not amazing. We had a great time, our server was lovely, the gift shop was fun, and the food and beer were great. The only complaint was that we deliberately came at a time when there was live music, and were not asked if we wanted to be seated near the music, and we were not.
Yesterday we went to Fathead's in North Olmsted and had a mixed experience. There were only 3 vegetarian entrees on a menu that had to have had around 60 or more entrees. None were particularly exciting. If I remember correctly there was a vegetarian sub, a grilled cheese with tomato, and a black bean burger. Our vegetarian friend ended up getting the sub which she said was crushingly ok. My other two friends got the pot roast sandwich, and the parma burger (topped with a pierogi). I got the steak salad.
We were all a little disappointed. First of all, the portions were HUGE. We realized that this is part of the ambiance, but we all left saying that we would have rather had 2/3 the portions at 2/3 the price. We weren't able to finish our food, and I don't think we could have been expected too, and none of the food was things that packed up very well.
The sandwiches were tasty but my steak salad was downright bad. It was a bowl about the size of my head filled 80-90% with iceberg lettuce. The steak on top was skimpy and overcooked. The other toppings were ok, but the ratio of lettuce to topping was really off. Also, I expect a steak salad to pack a big punch flavor wise and this one didn't. I think using a more flavorful lettuce than iceberg would have helped, and also maybe marinating the steak or something.
The beer was pretty good. The roasted Irish ale was the best, but we found all the rest (I don't remember what everyone got but I got headhunters) extremely bitter. Don't get me wrong, I love some assertive bitterness, but this was like bad aftertaste bitterness, like toothpaste and orange juice bitterness.
The last stop on our tour was Hoppin' Frog in Akron. They don' have a brewpub, but we'd heard so much about B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher that we felt we had to go.
The location was profoundly bizarre. They are in an industrial park type area across from the airport, and the door isn't marked well. We at first thought we had gotten the wrong place. However, as soon as we went inside we entered a wonderful little world of beer. The retail set up is really just a fridge full of beer and a cash register on the brewery floor. Apparently we had just missed the bottling process. If I went back I'd call ahead to see if they could tell us about when that was happening so we cloud watch. It was still very cool to see the barrels were beer was being aged, and all the bottles lined up. The woman that helped us was very nice! It was clear she just loved talking about the beers. She was very informative and helpful.
The only problem was that all of the beers come in 22oz bottles. Especially for beer with as high alcohol content as theirs, this seems odd. I just can't imagine casually drinking 22 ounces of a 10% alcohol beer. They joked that the size was to promote community because you have to share it, but it seems inconvenient. Each bottle was between 6 at 15 dollars, which was pricey but considering the award Hoppin' Frog has won we were willing to pay. I haven't actually drank any of my beers yet, since I need to coordinate with someone and share, but I will respond to this post with reviews of the beer once I have tasted them.
Thanks for the req! I'd add that to my list. Sounds really cool.
Also, I tried the B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher a couples nights ago and it was mind blowing! It tasted nothing like I expected it to considering that it is black as tar. Very light and refreshing and almost creamy. Unlike any beer I've ever had in a wonderful way.
Tonight I will be trying Hoppin' Frog's Turbo Shandy Citrus Ale. Excited!
Next time you're up in the CLE area, try The Brew Kettle in Strongsville.
Passable barbeque considering this is Ohio. Some really good beers from his kettles plus a bunch of great micros from around the country.
Not to mention they have brew on premise, winery on premise, and distill on premise. You can make any alcoholic beverage your heart desires. Bear in mind that brewing sessions on weekends are booked many months in advance....