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Road Trip Cleveland: Day Three

Submitted by on August 3, 2010 – 4:00 am5 Comments

Photo courtesy of Positively ClevelandRoad Trips for Beer recently spent a long weekend being shown the sights and attractions of the Cleveland, Ohio, region. Much to my surprise, I discovered a thriving craft beer scene in this city on the shore of Lake Erie. I’m still puzzled as to why LeBron James abandoned it. This installment covers the third and final day of the visit.

The day started early with a return to the Warehouse District and an 8 a.m. visit to Constantino’s Market in the historic Bingham Building on West Ninth Street. Tom Wiskowski, who runs catering and event sales, kindly opened the doors early for our group and gave us a tour of the neighborhood grocery store. It is a wine-lover’s dream, with an extensive selection representing what looks like every wine-producing country in the world. Several deli cases throughout the store offers gourmet prepared foods, there’s an in-house bakery and deli, and the shelves are filled with gourmet products and various sundries. In a back corner, Constantino’s has a walk-in beer cooler with a nice assortment of locally brewed and other craft beers, along with the typical macrobrewery offerings. Wiskowski said that customers are welcome to buy a beer and drink it outside the store in the al fresco dining area.  It would be a great place to while away a few afternoon hours with a cold brew or two from Great Lakes Brewing and a fresh meal, just watching the world go by – at least during the warmer months.

Photo by Gerard WalenThen after visiting the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, we had lunch at Menches Bros. restaurant in Uniontown, a family owned eatery that claims its founders, Frank and Charles Menches, invented the hamburger at the 1885 Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York, and later the ice cream cone. I stuck with water and stayed away from the beer list, which primarily offered macrobrews and the popular imports. I wanted to save my beer drinking mojo for our next stop.

The second annual Cleveland AleFest took place at Lincoln Park in Tremont. Typical of many outdoor beer festivals, sampling tents representing the breweries were lined up along the edges, with a large central area for attendees to gather and sample the offered beverages. Sponsored by local alternative weekly Scene Magazine, the fest also had areas set up for volleyball games, cornhole playing and food vendors, as well as a stage where a local band rocked the grounds.  Photo by Gerard WalenReps served more than 100 beers, including many from local brewers such as Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, the Ohio Brewing Co. and Cornerstone Brewing Co.  Chicago’s Goose Island had a strong presence, and I was looking forward to trying the Brew Free or Die IPA from San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery. Unfortunately, by the time I got to its tent, that keg was done. Luckily, our group had access to the VIP tent, where I indulged in some Goose Island brews and shared a bottle of the brewery’s outstanding and powerful imperial stout Night Stalker (ABV 11.2%; IBU 60). Noticeably absent was Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing, which was a sponsor of the ginormous Burning River Festival, also taking place that weekend on the shores of the Cayahoga River. Besides some of the beer running out too soon, my only complaint relates to a disproportionate number of Budweiser-Miller-Coors  and corporate import tents. I hope the organizers will try to offer fewer macrobrews and more craft beers as this festival matures. After all, why travel somewhere to taste beer that you can buy at corner markets around the world?

After a welcome rest at the hotel, we headed out to dinner at the upscale Red, The Steakhouse in Beachwood, where we were served delicious steak dinners and vino from its extensive wine list. Afterward, we went to check out East Fourth Street, an entertainment and dining district. in downtown Cleveland. Our first stop: bowling and beer at Corner Alley. The massive bowling, dining and drinking establishment is one of the few places we visited without a long craft beer list – it did have Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold on tap – but the establishment made up for it with a full bar and an impressive martini list.

Photo courtesy of the Greenhouse TavernAfter proving to myself that my bowling skills lacked any, well, skill, we hit a couple of pubs on Fourth Street. First up was The Greenhouse Tavern, a cozy pub with an impressive beer list. Much of the décor is fashioned from reused products, which made it fun to try to figure out what some of the fixtures used to be. I indulged in my first pint of Ithaca Beer Co.’s  Flower Power IPA (ABV 7.5%; IBUs 75). I found it to be a very nice, well-balanced brew with a strong but not overpowering hops presence. We finished the night at Flannery’s Irish Pub, where I felt obligated to quaff a couple of pints of Guiness Stout – and they were Imperial pints – while we conversed and watch the people of Cleveland go by.

This essentially ended my long weekend in Cleveland; my plane left early the next morning.

In conclusion, the Cleveland beer scene – and the city in general – exceeded my expectations. In many ways, it reminded me of my last visit to the Denver-Boulder region of Colorado in that nearly every bar, restaurant and pub offered a wide variety of craft beer, especially the locally produced brews, and the local beer community was tight and eager to talk about their craft and vision.

Thanks to the Positively Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau, which hosted our group of men travel writers and showed us that great guy trips aren’t limited to Las Vegas, New York City or South Beach.

Thanks also to the Radisson Hotel Cleveland – Gateway for putting us up, and putting up with us, and the representatives of the various venues that we visited who took the time to speak with us.

Stay tuned on Road Trips for Beer, as I plan to post several photo galleries from our visit.

I hope to return to Cleveland soon. And I really am sorry about what LeBron James did to you.



Road Trip Cleveland: Day One

Road Trip Cleveland: Day Two


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  • Sam says:

    When you come back, you can visit Buckeye Beer Engine, Willoughby Brewing Company, Rocky River Brewing Company, Corner Stone Brewing, Brew Kettle, Chardon Brew Works . . . You can also try other local brews by Hoppin’ Frog, Indigo Imp and Thirsty Dog. Maybe you should come for Cleveland Beer Week (October 15-23, 2010) http://www.clevelandbeerweek.org?

    Thanks, Gerard. Appreciate your hop-filled shout out to Cleveland.

  • Gerard says:

    Thank you, Sam, and thanks for the reminder about Cleveland Beer Week. I don’t know if I’ll make it, but I’ll need to write a post about it. And thanks for the mention of the other beery places. I’m sure if we had three more days, they would have been visited. 🙂

  • Ah yes…Cleveland….the state that’s apparently “doomed” according to so many across the nation.

    Then you visit Ohio…Cleveland and Cincinnati…and it kinda hits….

    What the hell is everyone talking about?!?! Yes, the entire state has it’s problems that in many area’s are worse than others. Yes, they’re going through a bit of a slump right now. But the spirit of the place…seems to almost have gotten stronger.

    They have a wonderful craft beer culture up there and in the entire northern plains area in general that just seems to be thriving right now. It’s almost shocking to see how well it’s doing when compared to so many “well to do” states. Na hell with that, it is INDEED shocking.

    Their food culture also seems to be pretty damn vibrant and always has been injected with a lot of diversity. Especially from Europe. You wouldn’t think so…but it is.

    The entire state will get back on it’s feet before long, and their craft beer and food culture will only rise and grow stronger…and at a faster rate. I can’t wait for that.

    Glad you got a chance to head over there and visit the scene there Gerard!


  • Gerard says:

    I think you hit it on the head, Ilya, with this sentence: “But the spirit of the place…seems to almost have gotten stronger.” I definitely got that vibe, of perseverance and neighbor helping neighbor. Of businesses bonding together to make it better for all of them and crawl out of whatever mess they were in. I can’t speak for the rest of the cities – I only visited Cleveland- but I saw a thriving, vibrant community in many ways.

    As far as the food culture, I was told that there were something like 100 different ethnicities represented in the greater Cleveland area. That might have something to do with it. 🙂

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