It was NBA All-Star weekend in Cleveland. My buddy just moved back to Cleveland and we both knew it was happening but didn’t realize it was going to be the same weekend I’d be visiting the Land. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to any ASG activities or see any NBA players walking the streets. We did however, visit a handful of breweries, four to be exact, so it was a win in my book.
In Ohio if you think Cleveland beer you’re probably thinking Great Lakes but the city has a lot more to offer than just the juggernaut most know it for. My goal on my first trip to Cleveland was to visit some places I hadn’t heard of before or knew little about. I think we accomplished that goal and now I’m excited to go back and try the others I didn’t get to on this visit. Here are the four that we hit.
Our first stop was Noble Beast Brewing. This one was at the top of my list to visit so we made sure we hit it first. The brewery is just on the edge of downtown with a public parking lot next to it. It’s a smaller place with almost everything in the main room. The brew house is a key component directly across from the bar. There’s a small but efficient kitchen just off of the bar and a raised drinking area in the back. They do have a patio but, with the wind chill, it was about 2 degrees outside so I didn’t get a good look at it. The place was colorful, the staff was friendly, and the taproom had a unique vibe to it. The long vining plants draping down from the skylight in the middle of the taproom gives the place a very earthy, warm touch.
The beers didn’t disappoint either. They had 12 taps going with bottles and cans to go as options too. Noble Beast didn’t do flights so I tried what I could while drinking pints. I had to try the Union Pils Bohemian Lager first because I’m a sucker for a good pilsner. I have to say this one was my favorite of the three, 4/5. The Peach Tartshake and the Evil Motives IPA were up there too. The tartshake was peachy, soft, and very approachable, 3.75/5. I’m not sure if the Evil Motives IPA is a staple in the rotation but its sure to satisfy any hophead, 3.75/5. The black salt pretzel was on point. Don’t overlook the food menu!
That same night we walked over to Masthead Brewing. It’s a manageable walk from Noble Beast and as you approach the building the Cleveland skyline enters its backdrop. I had to go here as well since their cans are just now starting to creep into the Cincy market. I’ve been impressed with what I’ve had from them so far so the taproom was the ultimate test… and it passed with flying colors. The space is bigger, with an open design, and warehouse vibe to it. The patio is dog friendly and has that awesome view of downtown. The building itself is actually on the National Register of Historic Places and once served as a car dealership.
While the space is impressive, it’s the beers that will keep you here. Masthead has plenty of options in terms of ways to drink your beer. I had two flights on my visit hitting as many styles as I could. Before ordering I noticed they had 18 taps going that night. The exciting part for me was about 10 of the 18 beers they had on tap were at 9.5% ABV or above so I knew it was going to be a good night.
I won’t go into each beer that I had but here are the three that stood out. First was the Ice Melter, a grapefruit IPA brewed with habaneros. On a cold Cleveland night this hit the spot. Not too spicy but you know it’s there, 4/5. The Juggerhop triple IPA at 11% was nice too. It’s big on hops, alcohol, aroma, and flavor, 4.25/5. Finally, what’s a night out without some cake? The 12.1% BA Where’s My Birthday Cake imperial stout sent me out in style. Aged in bourbon barrels and loaded out with lactose, cacao nibs, Tahitian vanilla beans and real birthday cake it’s a party in a glass, 4.25/5.
To soak it all up a pizza was necessary! We ate it so fast I had to borrow this picture from their Instagram.
The first stop the next day was Terrestrial Brewing. This one is located in Battery Park, very close to Lake Erie. It’s also right next to a dog park. Terrestrial is the most dog friendly brewery I’ve ever been to in my exploring. I made sure to make friends with as many dogs as I could during our visit. From the outside the building looks like an old factory or something but the inside looks great. It’s a smaller place with the brewhouse again, taking center stage in the taproom. Along the way you’ll find tables and towards the back you’ll find the bar. They brew on a 5bbl system so experimenting is a big part of their design.
Terrestrial had around 18 beers on tap on my visit. I went with two flights, of course. The first one that got my attention was Citropapotomus, a white IPA that checks in at a nice 6.1%, 3.75/5. The next one was that stood out was the Imperial Mexican Hot Chocolate Morning Halp! This one had a little of everything. Cocoa, vanilla, cinnamon and chiles de Arbol, to be exact. Know what you’re getting into before ordering this one, it’s a party, 4/5. The one that would easily be an everyday drinker for me though would be the Ant Eye Matter, an IPL. It’s clean with a touch of hops and damn good. 3.75/5.
Overall, this is a nice spot in a cool little neighborhood. It might have been the most pleasant surprise on this trip. If my dog didn’t get so excited at breweries I’d bring her with us next time when we go back.
Collision Bend Brewing
My final stop on this trip was Collison Bend Brewing in a neighborhood known as the Flats, an area my buddy said we had to visit on my first trip to CLE. I didn’t really know what to expect with this one because it wasn’t on my radar to visit this time around but I’m glad we stopped. This place is right on the Cuyahoga River. They took that into consideration when planning this place out. The place feels very polished, sleek, and stylish. If you look around long enough you’ll notice the subtle nautical décor around the place like the thick dock ropes and heavy chains. It has a full kitchen, water front patio, and sunroom to watch all of the boats go by.
The chill, polished atmosphere is great but the star of the show, of course, is the beer. In my flight this time I tried to switch it up a little when it came to styles and it paid off. Here’s the three that stood out at Collison. First, Winter Sunset, a wheat pale ale. It’s an easy drinker that you’ll want to keep drinking. Next came Hazy Boyz, a NE IPA. It’s hazy, juicy, and hoppy. Finally, the Heartbreak Motor Oil stout that checks in at 10.1% capped off my Cleveland experience.
Having watched the Cincinnati beer scene evolve into what it is today I can see parts of it in Cleveland. It’s like they didn’t have to go through the growing pains of not knowing what would work and what wouldn’t before the scene got interesting. For instance, kitchens and patios were focal points, not after thoughts so the breweries didn’t have to double back to adjust for the customer. The beer scene is growing in Cleveland and I for one am excited to go back and experience more of what they have to offer, very soon.