Forgo the six-pack of Bud, please. You live in Cleveland, and that means you're privileged with dozens upon dozens of local craft brew options. From the Conway brothers and the birth of Great Lakes decades ago to the ever-burgeoning brewery scene that seems to drop a new operation on Cleveland every month, there isn't anything quite like a sip of the local nectar. Here are nine of our favorites: what we would imagine as the perfect Cleveland tap line, if you will.
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Chillwave Double IPA
It used to be called Alchemy Hour Double IPA; now it's called Chillwave. Whatever the name, GLBC has received rave reviews for this hearty pour. Clocking in at over 9 percent ABV, Chillwave boasts bunches of hoppy flavors, which isn't to say that it's a rough swig. In fact, it's one of the smoother double IPAs out there, and once you've had one (or six), it's easy to see why it's already one of GLBC's most popular brews.
B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal Imperial Stout
Annually one of the most celebrated and highly ranked beers that comes out of Northeast Ohio, B.O.R.I.S. is as smooth and powerful as the name implies. The Russian imperial boasts chocolate and malt flavors, and a dozen other undertones that float across the tongue in a creamy avalanche of pure imperial goodness. Head down to Akron and grab a pour, or hit up your local fine craft beer store and pick up a couple bottles.
There are gallons of fine IPAs pouring out of Northeast Ohio taps; here's one of the best. It's crisp to the taste, with plenty of carbonation, which gives it a slightly different mouthfeel than other IPAs. And though it clocks in at just over 6 percent alcohol, Hippie is a potent draft. Amber and rust-colored, much like our delightful city, the bitterness escapes after a bit and leaves you with a slightly sweet aftertaste. Just the right reason to come back for more.
Indigo Imp is one of the more peculiar little breweries in Cleveland. You won't see their stuff on a tap list, which is unfortunate. But you can still find their bottles at plenty of Northeast Ohio's best bars and lined up in the cooler case at the convenient store. The Blonde Bombshell is sweet and dry, dosing out pleasant fruit notes along the way. Medium to light-bodied, the Blonde is a perfect beer to sip away at during the day, especially once the temps rise. (And they will, we promise.)
Down in Strongsville, the Brew Kettle has grown from a hole-in-the-wall DIY operation catering to the folks who want to brew their own beer to a full-service restaurant and bar on Pearl Road. In addition to lining up some of the finest craft selections from across the country, the Brew Kettle makes plenty of their own, including this standout. The White Rajah is not short on hops in any way, and they pack a punch. Those delicious hops also produce an aroma that will leave you spellbound. Enjoy it, just don't forget to get to the drinking.
Siberian Night Imperial Stout
When the sun sets early and the thermometer reads near zero, you need a filling, powerful brew to warm the cockles and fill the soul. Thirsty Dog's take on the imperial stout is, well, pretty freaking stout. How does it stack up against the competition? By thumping it, that's how. Siberian Night is one of Thirsty Dog's highest rated beers—90 out of 100 or above in some arenas—and those numbers are backed up with a heaping pile of awards for this brew.
Another IPA? Damn straight. Fat Heads' arrival in Northeast Ohio was a godsend, and they've done nothing but put a huge footprint in North Olmsted as well as Middleburg Heights with their new production facility. There's no shortage of homegrown options coming out of Fat Heads, including Bumbleberry Ale, the perennial favorite of summertime, but when they unleashed the IBUsive IPA, they came with all guns and hops at their disposal. (Our own beer correspondent named it the best beer to land in Northeast Ohio last year.) The strong fruit notes counterbalance the bitterness well, leaving you with a crisp, tasty powerhouse of a beer.
Willoughby Brewing Company
Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter
Want your dessert and your drink in one glass? Come on down to Willoughby for this enchanting brew. It won't leave you overwhelmed with the sweet notes, but the peanut butter and coffee tastes run smoothly through the whole glass. The aroma is warm and welcoming, and though we hesitate to have more than one, there's really no better porter coming out of Northeast Ohio, at least in the flavored category.
Market Garden Brewery
Pearl Street Wheat
Market Garden head brewer Andy Tveekrem has made a lot of beer in his life, what with stints at GLBC and Dogfish Head, so we trust him when he says this is one of his favorite beers ever. Sure, there's the Scotch Ale and Festivus Ale (Market Garden's holiday seasonal ale), and those are beloved and ordered en masse. But the Pearl Street, as Tveekrem says, is "rippin' good." It's mellow and light, perfect for day-long drinking adventures, and as the brewery says, just the sort of wheat beer you'd find in a German beer garden. Cheers!