Brew Tasting Mode

by Renee on November 14, 2010

After a few days of drying out after #BBC10, it was time to get back into brew tasting mode again. I made plans with my friend Daune Robinson (midday voice at Mix106.5 in Cleveland) to visit the Thirsty Dog Tap Room in Akron. Daune is another great beer babe.  Her love of craft beer became obvious to me when she did some beer reviews for her blog during Cleveland Beer Week! She was the perfect companion for a Thirsty Thursday night, when the tap room is open until 8 p.m., so after work I headed down Rt. 77 to the Akron area and met her there. The brewery is on Grant Street, not far from my alma mater, The University of Akron. Just being in that neighborhood gave me flashbacks to some great keg parties back in the 80s. But I digress.

Daune was already seated at the bar when I got to the pleasantly busy brewing company. There were quite a few Akron U. students filling up growlers for the weekend, and a nice crowd was enjoying the beer. The tap room is basically set up in the middle of the brewery operation–nothing fancy here, and there’s no food to go with their offerings. With $1.00 three-ounce samplers available, we started our tasting. I began with the Twisted Kilt, a Scottish ale, and that warmed me right up. You probably heard me guffaw all the way back in Cleveland when Daune asked for a sample of their Stud Service (dry Irish stout). Though we both liked the Siberian Night Imperial Stout better, it was worth it just to hear her order that. We both decided the Imperial had a richer complexity than the Stud Service. There was also a smoked lager on tap, but not being a fan of smoky beers, I passed on tasting that one. And I skipped the Labrador Lager because I’ve had that one at home before–yes, I was influenced to purchase it because the lab on the packaging looks just like my HarleyDog! It’s very tasty, and even Harley agrees.

My favorite sample of the evening was the Cerberus, a very nice Belgian style ale that Daune recommended. She had hoped to try their pumpkin, which I had really loved during my taste testing during Beer Week, but it wasn’t available. Neither was their Irish Setter Red, which we both were hoping to try. But there was plenty of sampling still to do, and I finished with a pint of the 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale, which many people feel gives Great Lakes a run for their money when it comes to that seasonal favorite. I have to agree. Overall the Thirsty Dog Tap Room is worth the trip and their brews are readily available locally in the Cleveland area at Giant Eagle and Heinen’s.

My next adventure in beer this week came on Friday night, when Paul and I attended the 13th Annual Craft Beer Extravaganza to support the Cleveland Free Clinic. It was held at Massimo da Milano on the near west side. We started our evening with a pre-party beer at the Bier Market, where we bumped into Andy Tveekrem and a couple of his friends, Thomas and Rick. They were going to be pouring at the event that night for the Willoughby Brewing Company. While we chatted with them, Paul and I tried a Bear Republic Brown ale, and a Bell’s Winter White to get our tastebuds going. Two very different beers, but I would order both again.

Once we got to the party and signed in, we got our pint glasses and started making the rounds. The pours were very generous, and I spent most of the night asking for less beer! Here’s a list of the breweries that were there:

The Brew Kettle
Buckeye Brewing Company
Cleveland Chop House and Brewery
Cornerstone Brewing Company
Fatheads Brewery
Great Lakes Brewing Company
Indigo Imp Brewery
Rocky River Brewing Company
Thirsty Dog
Willoughby Brewing Company

We began with Thomas and Rick and sampled the Willoughby Brewing Nightmare on Erie Street pumpkin ale. Wow–I have to say I think it bumped Thirsty Dog out of its second place ranking I had given it earlier this season (but still behind the Pumking). The hand-roasted pumpkin and even squash comes through nicely, and it isn’t over-spiced. Very, very smooth.

Another favorite of the evening was Fat Head’s HeadhunterIPA, a silver medal winner at GABF this year.  As for darker fare, I fell in love with the Brew Kettle’s Black Jack porter , which was “awesomeness in a glass,” as I tweeted at one point during the evening. I’m pretty sure we tried a little something from everyone there. We really enjoyed talking to the folks doing the pouring as well. Beer people are good people.

The event was crowded, but not overly crowded, and we ran into several folks we knew, which was fun. It’s always great to catch up with Q104’s morning man, Allan Fee, for goofy photos. And the buffet was good as these things go. But once the band got started, it was hard to talk–too much sound in a small space. So we headed home, glad we were able to drink some great beers for a good cause.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick Seibt November 17, 2010 at 10:40 am

Nice meeting you guys both Friday and Monday! I’m sure we’ll run into each other again. BTW I agree with the rave review of the Willoughby Pumpkin Ale 🙂


Renee November 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Had the Willoughby Pumpkin ale again last night at the March of Dimes Chef event! YUM!


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