Stands were located throughout the first floor of the Arcade, with volunteers generously providing samples to the several hundred beer aficionados making their way around. All of Cleveland’s breweries were represented, including Great Lakes, Buckeye Brewing, Brew Kettle, and the city’s newest gem, Indigo Imp.
Two of my personal favorites were the beers from Traverse City, Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin and Chicago’s Goose Island. Jolly Pumpkin brews sour beers, which is a very polarizing technique. Either you love it or hate it, but if you like sour pickles chances are you’ll like Jolly Pumpkin’s beers. Normally Goose Island wouldn’t be in my list of favorites at a beer tasting, but the brewery brought some reserve bottles of Maltida and Sofie to the tasting, and both were outstanding.
As the night wore on the crowd and Arcade did start to get a bit sloppy. The ground got sticky, and there really wasn’t anywhere for people to sit and relax. The little bit of food that was available didn’t do enough to cut the alcohol, although Heinen’s soups and cheeses, and the Winking Lizard’s hot pretzels and bratwursts certainly helped. Bottles of water were also freely available. Overall, though, Brewzilla, and all of Cleveland Beer Week, proved to be a welcome event, and hopefully Beer Week can continue on annually. — Aaron Mendelsohn