One of the things we are passionate about here at the Malted Meeple and Ravenwood Castle is craft beer. We pride ourselves on having an excellent assortment of craft beers for the enjoyment of our guests. In our new monthly blog feature, the Brewery Spotlight, we raise our pints to the men and women who dedicate themselves to the brewing craft.
This month, we raise our pints to our friends from Great Lakes Brewing Company – a well-known local brewery based out of the historic Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. Their mission: to celebrate the abundance of the Great Lakes Region in every beer, every dish, and every story they share!
The company is located about two miles off the shores of Lake Erie which imbued the company with an immense appreciation for the natural wonder of the Great Lakes. Beer is 90% water and that essential element is harvested from the Great Lakes themselves! The founders of the company felt that the name was a fitting tribute to the awesome majesty that is the Great Lakes.
Great Lakes Brewing Company opened its doors for business in 1988 and will be proudly celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2018. The company was born from the dreams of co-founders and brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway. Their dream was to renew the honor of brewing prestige in the United States and, more specifically, their hometown of Cleveland. The brothers were admirers of the flavorful and complex brewing practices of Europe and believed that the American palette, and market, was ready for a similar homegrown beer experience.
Pat and Dan lacked the necessary experience to brew the beer themselves, so they turned to industry veterans Thaine Johnson (the original Great Lakes brewer) and Charlie Price to help design their first recipes. What was to follow would become iconic names in the Great Lakes Brewery lineup: Dortmunder Gold Lager (called The Heisman at the time) and Eliot Ness Amber Lager. At this time, it was unique for American Craft Breweries to offer European-Style Lagers. In the early days, each bottle of Great Lakes Brewing Company beer was capped by hand, after being knocked on with a screwdriver to create foam and push out oxygen. Thankfully the company has come a long way since those early days!
In fact, The Heisman, which would later become Dortmunder Gold, won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 1992. Coincidentally, this was the same year that Great Lakes would begin brewing their now iconic Christmas Ale. In the years to follow Great Lakes Brewing Company would expand their fan base and their distribution network well beyond Cleveland but remain focused on deliberately serving the Great Lakes region at large. The company still makes use of their original system to produce pub-exclusive beers for their bustling Ohio City Brewpub. They have grown from producing 1,000 barrels annually to producing over 160,000 annually and in 2017 they were ranked as the 21st largest craft brewery in the nation.
Even with all this growth, Great Lakes Brewing Company remains mindful of their commitment to quality, their people, and their environment. They operate with great care for their family of employees, their natural resources, and the surrounding communities, while still maintaining excellence in their product. They were one of the first companies to include an “enjoy by” date on their product as each style of beer has its own unique shelf life. They have been concerned with sustainability since they opened in 1988 and have established two farms that provide the company with fresh ingredients. The company also established their Brewing Good Initiative which brings hands-on service projects and giving to all the communities they serve. They contribute 1% of their total sales to philanthropic causes focusing on arts, culture, and environmental non-profit organizations.
During the month of December, we will be proudly featuring some of Great Lakes Brewing’s most famous beers, including:
Great Lakes Blackout Stout – 9.0% ABV 50 IBU Imperial Stout. Bold and dark as a power-less metropolis, the Russian Imperial Stout commemorates the infamous 2003 blackout that briefly left some 55 million people utterly unplugged. Pitch-dark and rich, kindled with black malt and roasted barley, and illuminated by flickers of bitter hops. Pairs well with chocolate desserts and candlelight.
Christmas Ale – The Great Lakes Christmas Ale is legendary. Weighing in at 7.5% ABV and 30 IBUs, this unique ale with honey and spices is nothing short of iconic. The traditional recipe has remained unchanged for 25 years. It calls for hand cut ginger, cinnamon sticks, and fresh, regionally sourced honey. Great Lakes Christmas Ale is the origin of the style. It tastes like Christmas but isn’t overwhelming on the spices. The beer is incredibly smooth and balanced. If you are from Ohio and you like craft beer, you have probably come across this amazing beer.
Stop into The Malted Meeple or Ravenwood Castle throughout December to enjoy a fresh Great Lakes Christmas Ale or Blackout Stout. Great Lakes Brewing will be visiting The Malted Meeple on Thursday December 14th from 7pm to 9pm. Be sure to stop by to raise your pints to the Great folks from Great Lakes!
Karington Hess is a lifelong gamer whose passions for hospitality and all things game-related led him to Ravenwood Castle, where he served as an Innkeeper before joining The Malted Meeple. When not pouring beers, crafting milkshakes, or teaching boardgames, Karington can be found behind the DM’s screen, weaving intricate stories for his fellow gamers.