Road Trip Cleveland: Day Two
More beery goodness was in store on the second day of Road Trips for Beer’s whirlwind tour of Cleveland as our group of guys visited some of the Ohio city’s attractions and delved even further into its craft beer scene.
This is the second of three installments chronicling a weekend spent in a city that really DOES rock.
The day started at the world-renowned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. OK, this doesn’t really have anything to do with beer, but if you’ve never been, you must go. The Hall offers so many ever-changing exhibits chronicling the history of rock ‘n’ roll that you’ll find much to enjoy, whether you rocked in your blue suede shoes, came of age with Aquarius or are loading your iPod with the sounds of 2010. Its current featured exhibit is “From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen,” which runs through Dec. 31, 2010.
On to the beer. We had lunch at Melt bar & grilled in the Cleveland Heights neighborhood. This restaurant has an enviable dilemma. Is it a beer bar with gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches or a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant with an amazing assortment of craft beer? “I thought the beer was going to be the focus,” founder Matt Fish said. But it turned out that the food menu became a huge draw as well, with 34 variations of grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu and a monthly special sandwich, as well as soups, salads and appetizers. One example of the sandwiches is the Parmageddon — “2 potato & cheese pierogi, fresh napa vodka kraut, grilled onions and sharp cheddar.” The restaurant where we ate (there’s another on the other side of Cleveland in Lakewood) boasts 36 draft beers and 110 bottles on its beer menu. I settled on a Bells Oberon to wash down my Hot Italian sandwich, but I could have easily spent a day there trying myriad craft brews. The restaurant also has wine and a full liquor bar. By the way, Melt has been featured on an episode of the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food” and on the Food Network.
The next beer stop was a tour of and dinner at Great Lakes Brewing Co. The brewery takes up six buildings on a couple of city blocks near the Cleveland Waterfront. Three of those buildings originally served as horse stables, keg facilities and bottle storage for the 1879 Schlather Brewing Co. Because we were scheduled to attend the Cleveland Indians game that night, our tour was necessarily abbreviated, but extremely interesting as we were shepherded through the storehouses of malt, grains and hops on through the final brewing, bottling and shipping areas. At dinner our knowledgeable tour guide, Sarah, served a flight of several of the Great Lakes beers. I seem to have, er, misplaced the beer list on which I took notes, but if memory serves (keep in mind that the samples came fast and furious), we had:
- Burning River Pale Ale (ABV 6%; IBU 45)
- Dortmunder Gold Lager (ABV 5.8%; ABW 4.3%)
- Commodore Perry IPA (ABV 7.5%; IBU 80)
- Eliot Ness Amber Lager (ABV 6.2%; IBU 35)
- Edmund Fitgerald Porter (ABV 5.8%; IBU 37)
- Blackout Stout (ABV 9%; IBU 85)
- Christmas Ale (ABV 7.5%; IBU 40)
My biggest disappointment? The brewery had nary a drop left of Quitness, a limited edition brew released after NBA player LeBron James took off to Miami. Great Lakes described it as “a cask conditioned, dry hopped India Pale Ale that is as bitter as the mood of Cleveland these days!” Sarah said folks lined up around the block the day it was tapped, and it sold out in a matter of hours. After dinner, we were picked up by the “Fatty Wagon,” a shuttle bus fueled by fryer grease retrieved from the Great Lakes Brewpub’s kitchen that takes customers to Progressive Field.
Few things go together as well as beer and baseball, especially when it’s in the Cleveland Indians FanCave. The special suite at Progressive Field features six HD TVs, a beer fridge, sports-themed furniture, a ping pong/pool table and arcade games and is available to rent on game days. The fridge came filled with a variety of beers, including the Dortmunder from Great Lakes Brewing, but you can specify what beer you want (if it’s available) when you reserve the suite. The suite rents for $3,000 and holds a dozen fans, and the beer and food is included in the price. It’s a great place for a guys night out or a bachelor party. But what about the toilet paper, you may ask. It’s printed with the logo of the opposing team, which the night we attended was the Tampa Bay Rays – unfortunately, my team. And they lost.
Next installment: AleFest, bowling and a pub crawl.