Great Lakes Brewing Company had never been super high on my list of breweries to visit but I had a few of their bottles beers over the years and they all seemed quite good. I did some research on its brewpub and it sounded like a great place and Cleveland was one US city I had never been. It would be nice to have a peek at it and to check out the pub as well.
The brewery is Ohio's oldest microbrewery and in fact was its first when it opened its doors in 1988. It is a consistent medal winner and has enjoyed healthy expansion without sacrificing quality. The brewpub is housed in an old Victorian building and was the Market Street Pub as far back as 1865. Later it served such “Untouchables” as Elliot Ness while he took down Al Capone's crime network. It's a gorgeous all wood bar well worth seeing even if you do not like beer. It oozes 1930s charm. It was quiet the day we visited but it was mid-week and a bit after the normal lunch hour. My guess is it gets quite busy and has ample seating. We sat the atmospheric Tiger Mahogany Bar which features bullet holes said to be from Elliot Ness himself.
The menu seemed a bit pricey but we were on the tail end of a six month trip and after quite a few breweries in a row on our drive “back east” we were watching our funds a bit. We had eaten some our remaining camping food in the car on the way to Cleveland but I hate to drink beer without eating so we found some appetizers that went very well with their well-crafted beers. The Brewer's Barley Pretzels ($(9) were freshly baked pretzels and some of the nicest ones I've ever had in the US. Two good sized ones came with Liptauer dip (a popular cheese spread in parts of Germany) and radishes. We also had the Sausage Sampler ($10) which was four locally produced sausages served with red cabbage and mustard. These were quite good too and if any indication, their meals are surely very good quality.
Favorite Dish: I rarely opt for the beer sampler trays at breweries but our time was limited here and I wanted to try as many beers as I could. 1) Dortmunder Gold-5.8%-Deep golden full-bodied lager w/ bready malt palate & crisp semi-dry finish. The real thing. 2) Oktoberfest-6.5%-Amber malty brew lacking the spicy character of a true Marzen. A bit cloying w/ an uncertain finish. 3) Glockenspiel-8%-Weizenbock-Dark honey hued w/ very nice banana/clove/yeast palate. Fairly clean finish and a great example of the style. 4) Barrel Select Pils-5%-Straw colored light-bodied Pils with crisp dry hoppy palate & good clean finish. 5) Elliot Ness-6.2%-Amber Scotch Ale w/ beautiful malty palate well balanced by hop additions. Surprisingly nice. 6) Nosferata-8%-Deep mahogany ale full of malt, dried fruit, and roast. Good hops in the dry semi-bitter finish. 7) Fitzgerald Porter-5.8%-Black w/ dark chocolate coffee palate. Nice dry hoppy finish. Quite good. 8) Burning River-6%-Light amber well hoped pale ale w/ strong citrus note and long dry finish. 9) Commodore Perry IPA-8%-Light bodied deep golden ale w/ very dry hoppy palate, well balanced by fruity malt in the clean dry finish.
I was very impressed by their Germanic beers. Not many brewpubs that do ales get these right. Their ales were strong too. I was very happy I made the pilgrimage here and it was well worth the slight detour.
The two appetizers, beers, and tip came to $38.