Saturday, October 24, 2015

2015 Cleveland Beer Week

2015 Cleveland Beer Week was one of epic proportions in the Schur house. What started off as a “nice topic” for my blog, ended up being a nine day, 21 event beer retreat. The Cavs hosted three home games, including one in Columbus, so I flew solo for a few events. We were so impressed with the 2015 Cleveland Beer Week - the events were solid and the great people of Cleveland represented well. We talked to several beer representatives who are so impressed with the Cleveland beer scene and it’s only getting better. We really had a great time, saw a few new places, met some great people from all of over the country…and used Uber…a lot!

Day one of Beer Week had us at the Garth Brooks concert at The Q. Although there were countless kick-off events, we steered clear. We enjoyed the concert, dinner at Greenhouse Tavern and then spent the night at the Westin Downtown. When we woke up on Saturday morning, we were excited to get Cleveland Beer Week underway. We headed to our first stop at Tremont Tap House for their annual Bell's Ruins Beer Week; an impressive tap takeover with Bell’s Brewing including special timed tappings and rarities. We shared a sandwich, enjoyed a Bell’s sampler as well as two of the timed tappings - Oracle at noon and Wild One at 1:00 pm.

After a quick nap at home, we headed to the Cleverly named Great Lakes Saves Beer Week, it’s a massive Great Lakes 37 tap takeover including barrel-aged selections, special timed tappings and limited-edition beers. It’s no secret that Steve and I (and Kevin and Sean…) love Great Lakes beer. Steve and I attended this same event last year and we knew it was a “can’t miss” event. Double bonus is that it takes place at the Winking Lizard and Lizardville in Lakewood, a short walk from our house. After Steve's initial beer, we quickly opted for the samples. A great way to enjoy a plethora of styles. We enjoyed the Steady Rollin Session IPA, 2014 Blackout Stout, five different Edmund Fitzgerald's infused with Coffee, Ancho Chili, Mole, Cherry Vanilla and Orange. From Lizardville we tried four different barrel aged beers, including the Honey Ale, Moondog ESB, Cleveland Brown Ale and the 2015 Blackout Stout.


On Sunday, we headed back to Tremont to Edison’s Pub for their Platform Beer and DonutLab Go Local event. It sounded unique and unique it was! For $15, we received four Platform Beer samples paired with four specialty mini donuts featuring locally produced toppings, a full pint of our favorite beer…and we kept the glass. The pairings were great and some of the donut toppings were very unique. The New Cleveland Palesner was paired with a donut topped with Cleveland Kraut & West Side Market's J&J Czuchraj Meats smoked kielbasa. The Speed Merchant White IPA was paired with a donut topped with Cleveland Vegan's pineapple salsa and avocado. The Supra Saison was paired with a donut topped with Mackenzie Creamery's blueberry lemon chevre & dried blueberry. Finally, the most decadent was the Chocolate Rye Porter Barrel Aged with Raspberries paired with a donut topped with chocolate mousse, Adrianne's raspberry chocolate truffle and Malley's chocolate & country kettle jam! Wow!

 Next we headed down the street to Lilly's Handmade Chocolates for a chocolate, cheese & beer flight. Four of Lily’s truffles were paired with cheese and beers. The selections included Brew Kettle's White Rajah with a French feta cheese and "Lime" truffle. Lindeman's Pomme Lambic with a 7 year cheddar and "Shweetie Pie" truffle. Epic Brewing's Smoked & Oaked with a red dragon mustard cheese and a "License to Caram-ill" truffle. Finally, Hoppin's Frog's Barrel Aged Silk Porter with the stag cheese and a "Hot Llama" truffle. Yum!

 We headed home and were joined by Kevin and Lisa for a full day of football. When it was time for a snack, we continued with Beer Week and walked over to Angelo's Pizza where we enjoyed pretzels with beer cheese dip and a Thirsty Dog Barktoberfest.

Steve had a game in Columbus on Monday night, so my mom joined me for my 6th beer week event at Forage Public House in Lakewood for their Barrel-Aged Night. We enjoyed rare, barrel-aged brews from the cellar of Great Lakes Brewing, including the 2014 & 2015 Barrel-aged Blackout Stout, 2013 Jaberwocky, Barrel-aged Nosferatu, and a special Barrel-aged Edmund Fitzgerald infused with chiles & Civet Kopi Coffee beans. We met the Great Lakes Brewer and took home some new glassware. I mostly enjoyed the Nosferatu, but have come to like sours more and more so I thought the Jaberwocky was quite nice. At 69-years-old, my mom is a solid beer week sidekick. Not only did she try (and mostly hate) all of the beers, but she picked me up and drove me home. A Great Lakes representative came over and gave her a really educational session on bourbon barreled beer. She liked it, but was sure to tell them the Jaberwocky tastes like vinegar.

  Steve had another game in Cleveland on Tuesday night, so I headed to Rocky River and the relatively new Mellow Mushroom. There were representatives from Goose Island and they paired a flight of four Goose Island beers with four desserts. The Sophie was paired with a tiny slice of key lime pie. The Lolita was paired with raspberry and vanilla swirl ice cream. The Octoberfest was paired with cinnamon sugar and honey bread stick balls. Finally, the Muddy was paired with a little chocolate brownie. I arrived just as the event was getting underway and reaped the benefits of a complimentary pairing. 
Free = good.

There was no Cavs game on Wednesday, which meant that Steve was able to join me again! We first stopped at Forage Public House in Lakewood (again) to partake in their Smouldering Soiree with New Belgium and Fat Head’s. There were representatives from both Fat Head’s and New Belgium. We drank some rare beers, including Fat Head’s Jungle Juiced Head Hunter and a Fat Head's Head Hunter Firkin with Mandarin and Habanero. New Belgium brought their Love Apple Oscar, a very special brew and one of the only kegs to make it to Ohio.

Next was one of my more anticipated events; the Columbus Brewing Bodhifest at Deagan's Kitchen & Bar in Lakewood. The event actually started at Rozi's Wine House with a Bodhi happy hour, but we didn’t get home from work in time, so we walked to Deagan's where they had six different Bodhi's on tap. Columbus Bodhi is an Imperial IPA and one of my favorite beers. It's not incredibly easy to find, so when a place has it, I usually order it. When we walked through the doors at Deagan's, I realized I must have pretty good taste in beer - the place was totally packed! The six flavors were Habanero, Pineapple, Coconut, Mango-Peach, Breakfast and Cucumber-Lime. 

As we walked back home, we decided to stop at Melt Bar & Grilled Lakewood for dinner. We always sit at the bar and we always share. They were scheduled to have Three Floyds Zombie Dust on tap and were pairing it with a Zombie Dust Themed Sandwich. We quickly learned that they had run out of the Zombie Dust after only 2 ½ days. Cleveland loves their beer! Instead we drank two Beer Week collaborations - Platform and Brick & Barrel's Mad Tree Budabest Blend, and Platform and Melt's Schmeltzen Rye Kolsch. The best part of the night? Our $0.54 bill. We’re part of the Melt Big Cheese Club and redeemed our $20 credit, leaving our check to only $0.54. A nice surprise during this costly voyage.

As we continued our trek home, we just couldn’t say no to one final stop at Winking Lizard Lakewood for their Stone IRS Verticality. Stone Brewery was offering vertical flights with Stone IRS 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2015 Odd Year. While the event was only scheduled to last until 8:00 pm, we were able to get there just in time for one final pour. The Stone IRS is an Imperial Russian Stout and I don’t love Russian stouts so Steve took on the “burden” of most of these.

Thursday brought on another home Cavs game, so I attended my 12th Beer Week stop alone. The Winking Lizard Lakewood hosted a Pucker Up with New Belgium event and it was pretty awesome. I have come to enjoy some sour beers and this event just encouraged my taste buds. On tap was New Belgium’s La Folie 2015, Eric's Ale - an oak aged sour blended with peach beer, Love Apple Oscar - aged in apple whiskey barrels and Love Peach Oscar - aged in peach whiskey barrels.

It was time for me to grab some dinner, so I walked over to Angelo's Pizza for a meet and greet with Charlie Carson of Anderson Valley. Being poured for the first time in Ohio, the Anderson Valley Doosley Barl Hornin was a salted caramel porter. Also on tap was a special Oatmeal Stout. Although I love their pizza, I opted for the Bosco bread and side salad.

Happy Friday! In honor of my 14th Beer Week stop, Steve and I headed to one of our favorite spots in Lakewood for Oskar Blues Taps and Tacos at Barrio Lakewood. The Oskar Blues taps included Mama's little Yellow Pils, Ten-Fidy, and Mash Appeal (an awesome Oskar Blues/Great Lakes collaboration beer). We talked with Oskar Blues' own Wes Mock about their collaboration with Great Lakes as well as the impressive beer scene in Cleveland.

While we were at Barrio, we decided to partake in two other beer week specials. I did not count these toward my Beer Week event count, but thought they deserved some representation on the blog. Southern Tier Brewing Company from Lakewood, New York took over 12 Barrio taps. Drafts included Pumking, Warlock, Harvest, Live and a special Cleveland Beer Week brew made just for Cleveland called I-90.

Lagunitas was another brewery that took over the Barrio taps, including IPA, Dogtown Pale Ale, Little Sumpin Sumpin, Maximus, Hop Stoopid, Gnarley Wine, Imperial Wheat Wine, Imperial PILS, Fusion XXX, Dopple Sticky, Fusion 32, and HotSide SourMash Daytime. I enjoyed the Southern Tier Harvest ESB while Steve polished off a Lagunitas Maximus.

Next we stopped at the Barrel Aged Mini Fest at the Winking Lizard Lakewood. On tap was the Epic Big Bad Baptist, BBC 2009 Brandy Barrel Queens Knickers, Revolution Gravedigger Billy, MadTree Axis Mundi, Humboldt Black Xantu, and Heavy Seas Red Sky at Morning.

 Our last stop on Friday was to meet Woody the Mobile Wagon at McGinty's Pub. Woody is a Deschutes wooden bar on wheels.

Saturday morning had us pursuing the Beer Week event listings again. By this time I had attended 16 events. Why stop there? I set high standards for myself and decided that 20 was the magic number. In 2015, I would attend 20 beer week events. Wow. We decided to start the day at Platform Brewery for their 13 beer Founders Beer Week brunch. Beer for breakfast? Not typically, but it is beer week.  

The Founders CBS was the special beer for the day. The CBS is a Canadian Breakfast Imperial Stout brewed with coffee and chocolate and aged in bourbon barrels. With only 80 (5 oz) pours available, we had to purchase tickets on-site starting at 10:00 am. Platform had one of only two CBS kegs in Cleveland during beer week.

We didn't actually eat at Platform, so it was time for us to get some food. We opted for the Belgium Brunch at Tremont Tap House We enjoyed their green chili burger and a Belgium beer sampler. Beers featured included Brugse Zot UnfiItered Belgium Brunch, Weyerbacher 20th Anny, 2004 Saison  Dupont Dry Hopped, Butcher & The Brewer Faltchen Oben Berlinerweiss, Chouffe Houblon Chouffe, Duvel, and Ommegang Trisket Hennepin.

 For dessert we decided to walk down the street again to Lilly's Handmade Chocolates. They were featuring mini-beer floats with Cleveland-made Honey Hut Ice Creams. Who doesn't love beer floats? They had Hoppin Frog's Boris the Crusher Imperial Stout with Dark Chocolate Cayenne Ice Cream as well as Southern Tier's Pumking with Pumpkin Caramel Gingersnap Ice Cream. We decided to up the ante and added the truffle pairing.

 A nap was definitely in order before heading to my 20th event. Brewzilla featured more than 80 breweries pouring hundreds of beers from all over the world. We sampled several different beers, ate a snack and then Uber-ed home. By this time we were just about done with beer! 

There was a really long line so Steve assumed it was for a premium beer. Nope. Just Bernie. Steve and I are the anti-celebrity, but were so impressed with how kind he was to everyone.

 There’s more? Yes,  I like to overachieve J The real reason we went to event #21 is that you had to pre-pay for your tickets…and well, I didn’t realize I would want nothing to do with beer come Sunday morning! We attended a Browns/Broncos tailgate beginning at 8:00 am. We actually set.our.alarm. Ugh!  Held at the Huntington surface lot, the event featured Great Lakes and Oskar Blues beers as well as a Tito's Bloody Mary bar. We actually thought it was a nice price. $25 per person, which included food from the Proper Pig food truck and The Sweet Spot, five drinks and the best tailgate cheese display I’ve ever seen! I wasn’t kidding when I said I was done with beer, so I opted for screwdrivers and bloody Mary’s! It was the coldest day we’ve had in recent months, so it was a little miserable, but it was a nice way to cap off beer week.

 Well, there you have it! SMS takes over Cleveland Beer Week. I can say we had a great time with new memories (some a little more blurred than others...) and we have several additions to our pint and bottle opener collections. In total, we have 18 new glasses, 9 new bottle openers and 2 new chap sticks. I'd say that is quite a success! Cheers!