Calendar » Get Out

School of Bock

The only thing better than class at Beer School is the homework.


Can you pick a pilsner? Locate a lager? Eye an ale? John Staunton dreams of a day when everyone will know precisely what they're drinking. And as the head accounts manager for Ohio City's Great Lakes Brewing Company, he's just the man to make that happen. He runs Great Lakes' Beer School, a two-hour how-to lesson on the workingman's favorite libation.

In its third season, Beer School is in session every other Wednesday through December. It starts at the brewery's bar and restaurant, where students are given a history of beer-making in Cleveland. Class then adjourns to the company's production plant inside the old Leonard Schlather Brewery across the street, where tour guide Terry Ryan explains brewing methods. "We discuss all the ingredients, the entire process," Ryan says. "From the fermenting, aging, and conditioning of the beer to the color of the packaging."

"We have this beautiful brewery in this fascinating neighborhood," Staunton notes. "And nobody even realizes what we do."

Then, like a trivia game-show contestant, Ryan spouts off the do's, don'ts, and did-you-knows about beer. Here are a few: Serve the brewery's coffee-flavored Edmund Fitzgerald Porter with dessert and its Dortmunder Gold with salads, fish, and chicken ("It's like the white wine of beer"). Don't pour your brew into a frosted mug ("Frozen glassware will render the beer too cold to taste"). And did you know that beer contains between 94 and 97 percent water? "People look at you like you're a crack whore when you tell them that," Staunton says.

After the oral exam, participants taste-test two ales (the Fitzgerald and Burning River Pale) and three lagers (the Dortmunder, Locktender, and Eliot Ness), with a pint of each brew. As the newly educated -- and freshly inebriated -- walk out the door, each "graduate" gets a beer glass, can opener, and T-shirt. "We don't give away any trade secrets," cautions Ryan. "But our motto, of course, is moderation can be overdone."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.