With nearly 200 breweries scattered throughout Ohio, you definitely have plenty of places to choose from to set off on an imbibing adventure!
I am by no means a big enough beer connossieur to have traveled to all of these breweries. However, I have been to a good amount of pretty awesome beer joints in my time, and I have compiled a handy-dandy list of my recommendations of those found in Northeast Ohio. I truly believe these are some great breweries, not just because of the beer itself, but because of the ambience and experience!
In Akron, the Thirsty Dog Brewing Company has been concocting tasty beers since 1997. But only recently have they opened their very own Tasting Room, located right on site in the room next to where the stuff is brewed! Found near the University of Akron, this nondescript building lures you in with the aroma of freshly brewed hops. Try the canine-themed beers, such as Whippet Wheat, Irish Setter Red, and of course the 12 Dogs of Christmas!
Down the road in the Highland Square neighborhood is Ohio Brewing Company, which any Ohio lover should visit, if nothing but the name alone! The pub-like setting is a real winner, and it doesn’t hurt that the surrounding area is one of the most happening parts of town! Try the Buckeye Blonde and the Ohiofest!
My new favorite hangout in the Canton area is Royal Docks Brewing Company. This place has the trifecta of what makes a great brewery truly great: good beer, good food, and good atmosphere. Here, you can find one of the best patios around, live music, and a giant red telephone booth (great for photo ops). The London theme at Royal Docks, is not only in the name of the establishment, but in everything from the names of certain beers (Her Majesty, Prodigal IPA, London Signature), to the food selections (Queensway hamburger, Royal Scotch egg), to the beer-making techniques adopted from England! On top of it all, the owner, John, is a graduate from The Ohio State University, and tends to host great game-day specials!
In downtown Canton, you can’t miss the Canton Brewing Company. This giant building has so more inside than just beer: cornhole, Jenga, a lounge, and a full restaurant (Snorky’s On Third), for example. Try some of their fantastic pizzas and loaded fries while guzzling down some of their spectacular beers. A clever “speakeasy” entrance provides you with an alternative way to get in, bypassing the restaurant and going straight to the basement for booze! To get a good taste of Canton, try the Battle Charge Brew (named after the local basketball team), and the Tiny Tusc Kolsch (in reference to the Tuscawaras tribes).
Geauga County is known for its maple, so much so that it has its own Maple Festival every spring. I will never forget heading to the festival one year and stopping in to Chardon BrewWorks & Eatery for an ice, cold handcrafted beer. The Pride Of Geauga Maple Porter was so tasty and rich, it deserves to make this list, and you owe it to yourself to make the drive to try it yourself!
Without a doubt, Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC) is the one of the most popular and well-known breweries in the state. People clamor year ’round for the iconic Christmas Ale that appears during the holiday season. The sweet & dry Dortmunder Gold and the self-deprecating Burning River Pale Ale with citrus and hints of pine are amongst the many other beers that are adored all year long. They even pay homage to famous historic figures with their beer names, such as Commodore Perry IPA (he would be proud). I’d be hard pressed to find beer drinking Ohioans who haven’t tried and fell in love with GLBC. But, not all have been to the actual brewery. Take it from me: GO! You can enjoy some good food (such as the savory pot roast) in the historic building in which the brew-pub is situated. You can also enjoy private tastings, tours, and even brew schools!
Almost just as popular in the Cleveland area is Fat Head’s Saloon, with its headquarters in North Olmstead and another location in Middleburg Heights. Even though post is focused on beer, I have to say, the FOOD at Fat Head’s Saloon is what lingers most in my memory. I had a gigantic chicken sandwich with roasted red peppers, bacon and cheese and a side of homemade chips – and I immediately knew why it was called Fat Head’s! But of course the amazing food is paired with fantastic award winning beers like Head Hunter Pale Ale, Up In Smoke Porter, and Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale (is your mouth watering yet?! That stuff is yummmmy). Fat Head’s also offers tours, which is an added bonus! And the ambience here is super laid back and perfect for a pre-concert meal & brews.
The newest of the breweries on my list is the HiHo Brewing Company in Cuyahoga Falls. Some friends and I stopped in one Sunday afternoon after hiking at the nearby Gorge Metropark, and we were pleasantly surprised with what we stumbled upon!
In the ultimate college town of Kent in Portage County, you have to stop in to MadCap BrewCo.! With its comic book themes and “no snobs” mentality, this place has a relaxed and zany vibe. Try the Nerd Bird Americanish Irish Red Ale, and the Schwing Double IPA for a real kick!
Rust Belt Brewing Company tips its hat to the once-bustling steel industry of the Mahoning Valley. Not far from Youngstown State Univeristy, this hidden gem has great beers, such as the Rusted River Irish Red Ale and the Coke Oven Stout. It also has a great theme going for it, complete with awesome graphics and slogans: “Get Rusted.” It truly is a must! They have tasting tours that my family and I enjoyed a couple years back. I am originally from the Youngstown area, and I am proud to have this brewery represent my roots!