All posts by John Fortunato

MASTHEAD BREWING COMPANY

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CLEVELAND, OHIO

Occupying a cavernous cement-floored warehouse at the east end of downtown Cleveland, MASTHEAD BREWING COMPANY opened its doors at the historic Bryant Building, January ’17.

Providing the perfect sportsbar atmosphere for local fans, its massive reclaimed wood 100-foot bar, ample seating, widespread community tables, sizable sidewalk patio, multiple tap handles, strewn barrels and TV’s in every direction create a natural blue collar rusticity to complement Cleveland’s Industrial working class city.

The steel-furnished Masthead (with a huge company insignia along the back wall) crafts some serious elixirs in its rear brew tanks and the left side open kitchen offers fine pub fare including wood-fired red and white pizzas.

One of Masthead’s newer brewers, government marine biologist-turned-brewer, Chris Spann, shared beer thoughts as I settled in on a sunny Saturday afternoon in April ’17.

 

 

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Light lemon-peeled curacao orange tang, sweet coriander spicing and subtle banana tones surround tart candied center of dainty Belgian-styled Wit.

Springtime-readied Doppelbock conveyed bittersweet fig-prune conflux to toffee-like caramel malting.

Mildly creamed rye wheat malting underlined Rydaho Rye Pale Ale’s wood-dried Saaz hops and zesty lemon spicy.

Mild IPA brought orange-peeled grapefruit tang to grassy hop astringency to contrast light sugar spicing.

Despite its feral moniker, Brute Force Double IPA retained mild hop bittering for its balanced peach, pineapple, orange and melon tang sweetened by sticky sugar malts.

But today’s best offerings could damn well be the three stouts.

Sweet-toothed Stout set the tone with its chocolate-roasted cocoa bean and vanilla sugaring gaining a black cherry rasp.

Mild Coffee Stout utilized Six Shooter coffee to lightly embitter milk chocolate and vanilla tones in a friendly dessert manner.

Better still, creamy Poblano Chili Stout left mild chili peppering upon coffee-sugared black chocolate malts, vanilla bean subtleties and oats-flaked molasses snips. 

mastheadbrewingco.com

BUTCHER AND THE BREWER

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CLEVELAND, OHIO

Inside a cavernous 19th century warehouse, BUTCHER AND THE BREWER is an exquisitely detailed beer hall opened during autumn 2014 in downtown Cleveland’s thriving East 4th Street promenade. Just blocks from national sports franchises including the Browns, Indians and NBA World Champions, the Cavaliers, its olden Prohibition atmosphere gets fully captured by the rustic wood furnishings, ancient metal ceiling fans and overall Industrial setting.

Ably combining upscale cuisine with a diverse array of beers, Butcher And The Brewer is a worthy choice for noontime nips, fine dining and sports tailgating. An open kitchen behind the 60-seat 30-tap bar and the rear brew tanks service the barrel-topped barroom tables and expansive right side dining area.

The enlightening food menu included shucked, cured and cultured delights alongside flatbread pizzas and original meat dishes.

Original head brewer, Eric Anderson (now at local Hingetown neighborhood pub, Saucy Brew Works), handed the torch to fellow Siebel Institute grad, microbiologist John Mc Groarty, in 2016.

On Saturday evening dinnertime journey in April ’17, enjoyed six elixirs alongside fine Smoked Lamb Ribs and brown-buttered Mac And Cheese while watching Indians game with wife and youngest son.

Mild lemon souring gained dank earthen musk and vegetal wisp for easygoing Noble-hopped moderation, Repeater Kolsch.

Piney grapefruit and orange pith bittering picked up sour lemon pungency for Belgian yeast-induced Positively E 4th St Farmhouse Ale, a tart blood orange-spiked medium body with plenty of spunk.

Sour lemony grapefruit tartness inundated Barrel Talk #1, an oaken wine barrel-aged ‘bier de miel’ utilizing wild saison yeast for its mild brettanomyces acridity and rustic farmhouse funk.

Boldly pine-hopped The Sturdy Pine brought raw-honeyed orange rind dryness to tangy red apple, peach, pineapple, grapefruit and tangerine sweetness.

Spicy black chocolate confronted oats-dried earthen dankness for Belgian Chocolate Stout, The Count, leaving burgundy wining at the bitter black-malted finish.

Smoothly creamed Midnight Oil Imperial Oatmeal Stout let oats-smoked dark chocolate malting enjoin mild peanut-almond-hazelnut cluster over mellow hop char.

www.butcherandthebrewer.com

ROCKY RIVER BREWING CO.

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CLEVELAND, OHIO

On the outskirts of town in Cleveland’s westbound Rocky River district, ROCKY RIVER BREWING CO. opened in 1998 and remains a neighborhood sportsbar fave. Sticking to proven stylistic formulas with its standardized mainstream fare, the sizable freestanding joint sidles individual malls and family restaurants.

Upon entering, the prominent marble-topped 25-seat wooden bar with two blackboard beer menus and several draught taps welcomes patrons. A wraparound outdoor deck surrounds its rustic gray-paneled red brick edifice and multi-leveled oak wood tables, chairs and booths dominate the sterling interior.

Rocky River’s brew tanks take up a separate front section and the glass-encased area behind the bar.

On a friendly Sunday afternoon jaunt, April ’17, tried all eight offerings with famed Cleveland scribe, Chris Parker (whose King James book documents the Cavaliers 2016 NBA championship year).

Smooth macrobrew-styled blonde ale, Rocky River Pirate Light, rubbed popcorn-like maize astringency and tepid white rice neutrality against soapy lemon-bruised souring.

Sweet ‘n sour blueberry tartness could’ve been heightened for Blueberry Ale, as its influence lost luster over pasty pale wheat malts, grassy hops and honeyed lemon wisps.

Mild lemon musk and mineral-grained pale malting moderated unassuming alt-styled Cooper’s Gold Kolsch.

Mild citric-spiced Boondock Spring Ale gained a musky hop graining and lemony carbolic spritz.

Bettering the above samplings, dry-hopped Firelands Pale Ale drifted beyond its staid styling as honeycomb-like malts gained wispy nutmeg-cinnamon spicing.

Flagship West Coast-styled Hop Goblin IPA enjoined floral grapefruit, orange, peach and pineapple tang with light hop bitterness.

Candi-sugared Belgian yeast sweetened Titan Triple Belgium Strong Ale, an 8.6% ABV medium body with tangy sugar-spiced orange peel contrasting sour lemon and herbal lemongrass.      

Muddled Black Pirate, a black-malted coffee stout, needed a deeper freshly milled peppercorn influence to perk it up.

rockyriverbrewco.com