Mapping out the rise in craft beer throughout the states, you’d be surprised to know that Ohio is doing a pretty decent job keeping up with our neighbors. And lucky for us, Northeast Ohio is home to a large portion of our state’s (roughly) 100 breweries.
We love and appreciate our beer-staple that put us on the map, Great Lakes Brewing Company (I mean come on, I’m almost certain that the pouring and drinking of GLBC Christmas Ale has become a new religion). There are some other local treasures less mentioned, but just as worthy of a day trip with family or night out with friends.
When was the last time you made a point to go to Wooster? Chances are, not recently. However, this up-and-coming town has made some strides to attract young professionals, and one of its not-so-secret weapons is JAFB. One of my favorite Ohio beers actually comes from the taps of this establishment, Wayne County Cream Ale.
Aside from the craft beer, other reasons to visit JAFB include great shops nearby, occasional events at the brewery, and plenty of room for big groups.
Other notable “Southern” NEOhio Brewery: Millersburg Brewing!
Many Clevelanders are probably familiar with this Ohio City pub, located on West 25th and know that I’m cheating by naming this. While it doesn’t boast the largest selection of its own brew (it’s all fantastic, mind you), it had one of my favorite mashes of CLE brewery selections in one spot. In addition to carrying Fat Heads, Market Garden Brewery, and Great Lakes, Nano also has your out-of-state favorites like Dogfish Head and Breckenridge. Not to mention, the burgers and mac & cheese bites pair well with the tap selections.
As for the best time of year to come, it’s really any time. Ohio City is super walkable, even in the winter, and during the summer Nano Brew opens its two tier patio – great for groups and couples alike. Plus, you can have all your favorites in one cozy place while strategizing a successful life-size Jenga game.
This brewery isn’t so new, but has been gaining more exposure due to the countless awards and the expanding distribution. Not only are you able to find this Akron brew in grocery stores and bars in Northeast Ohio, but now it has opened its Tasting Room to the public. While I can rave and drool over its outstanding beers, you really won’t understand what level they’re on until you try them.
The Hoppin’ Frog Tasting Room sits attached to its brewery and boasts what seems like 50+ beers (its own brew, other craft brews, and a phenomenal rare beer list for those die-hards out there) and in 5 oz., 8 oz., and 16 oz. portion sizes. As if the size of that beer menu isn’t impressive enough, the kitchen dishes out delectable menu items that are ever-changing, but are always sure to include something appealing like duck, vegetarian options, steak, and sandwiches. And if you’re not as hungry as you are thirsty, you still MUST get the Hoppin’ Frog charcuterie board, it’s well thought-out and well-executed… and really scrumptious.
Overall, we have a lot of options in the region for really good beers that have roots as local as ours. Be sure to invite some friends, or plan a date night to one of these breweries near you, and if you’re adventurous enough, make a day of it and try a brewery in a different city while exploring.