This article is actually a page in a little journal of beer-related travels and events. Really it’s just a wee story to remember what happened, but it might be of use to you if you’re interested in going there too.
Where?: Cleveland, OH and Buffalo, NY (USA).
When?: June 29 - July 1, 2007.
Why?: Canada Day Long Weekend road trip for beer, baseball and bopping.
Who?: JC, KE, GG, and SG.
<table border=0><TR padding=10><TD>Ratings?</TD><TD><a href=/beer/willoughby-hazy-days-hefeweizen/75086/41473/>370, <a href=/beer/willoughby-lost-nation-pale-ale/6313/41473/>1, <a href=/beer/willoughby-daisy-cutter-ipa/47551/41473/>2, <a href=/beer/willoughby-railway-razz/6317/41473/>3, <a href=/beer/willoughby-northern-trail-nut-brown-ale/6315/41473/>4, <a href=/beer/willoughby-pride-of-willoughby-porter/47549/41473/>5, <a href=/beer/great-lakes-dortmunder-gold/1217/41473/>6, <a href=/beer/great-lakes-prohibition-pils/11263/41473/>7, <a href=/beer/great-lakes-burning-river-pale-ale/1224/41473/>8, <a href=/beer/great-lakes-holy-moses-white-ale/1228/41473/>9, <a href=/beer/great-lakes-moondog-ale/4775/41473/>380, <a href=/beer/great-lakes-eliot-ness/1221/41473/>1, <a href=/beer/great-lakes-lorelei-dunkel-weizen/74401/41473/>2, <a href=/beer/great-lakes-commodore-perry-ipa/4773/41473/>3, <a href=/beer/great-lakes-edmund-fitzgerald-porter/1226/41473/>4, <a href=/beer/farsons-lacto-traditional-stout-beer/20728/41473/>5, <a href=/beer/two-hearted-ale/1502/41473/>6, <a href=/beer/leinenkugels-sunset-wheat/57459/41473/>7, <a href=/beer/flying-dog-double-dog-double-pale-ale-(formerly-wild-dog)/39287/
41473/>8, <a href=/beer/harpoon-ufo-hefeweizen/2356/41473/>9, <a href=/beer/rogue-integrity-ipa/34254/41473/>390, <a href=/beer/brooklyn-abbey-singel/74287/41473/>1, <a href=/beer/wachusett-green-monsta/34265/41473/>2, <a href=/beer/smuttynose-the-gnome/69896/41473/>3.</TD></TR>
<TR padding=10><TD valign=top>What?</TD><TD>Three boys and a girl set off from Toronto one Friday summer evening after work to drive down to Cleveland. Anticipating a weekend full of good beer, sport and rock and roll music, everyone in the car was excited...</TD></TR>
Our motel was located about a four or five hour drive from Toronto in Willoughby, Ohio. SG drove us safely to the motel and, as it wasn’t too late in the evening, we decided to visit the <a href=/Place/ohio/willoughby/willoughby-brewing-company/916.htm>Willoughb
y Brewpub</A>, conveniently located just down the street. This spruced-up wooden barn-like pub, with its big booths and brewing equipment on display behind the bar, was tucked away down a little side street in town. Some good beer tastings ensued as we eagerly explored their hefeweisen, pale ale, IPA, fruit beer, nut brown and porter offerings. A hip live band was playing in the corner just in case the young crowd decided they had had enough of their Buds and Miller Lites and wanted to start dancing.
After a rather snorious evening back at the hotel, our McDonald’s breakfast the next morning kept us in check long enough to make two stops on the way to lunch. The first stop was at <a href=/Place/ohio/lakewood/rozi%E2%80%99s-wine-and-liquor-house/276.htm>R
ozi’s, an enormous wine and liquor house with an interesting selection of beers off to one side: bombers and $9-sixpacks and Great Lakes, Southampton, Dogfish Head, Unibroue, Bells, Avery, Hoppin’ Frog, and other imports filled our gleeful eyes. The second stop was North Coast, a little convenience store nearby with a few fridges of beer gems such as Three Floyds, Delirium, Unibroue, and various Belgians. After leaving these two establishments, our beer-buying quota for the weekend was precariously full and we found SG’s car was riding even lower than before, but we were still eager to get to our next destination: lunch at the brewpub.
We drove into Cleveland proper and parked the car in the large garage underneath the Mall. Following the signs to the subway was easy from there, and paying for an all-day pass even easier (and cheap!), so we soon found ourselves at our lunch destination just one stop away: the <a href=/Place/ohio/cleveland/great-lakes-brewing-company/148.htm>Great Lakes Brewing Company</A>. Three of us enjoyed a ridiculously delicious pulled pork sandwich concoction and the other a catfish sandwich. Four large 5oz. samplers were also ordered for less than $10 each: nine of their own on tap and in what seemed to be all of the available small glasses in the pub. The beer selection included a dortmunder, pilsner, pale ale, witbier, ESB, vienna, dunkelweizen, IPA and porter, the last two and the pale being my own choices du jour. (Oddly enough, our group prefered the IPA from the night before, in comparison.)
GLBC’s historical brewing facilities are in an old but renovated warehouse just across the street and can churn out a hundred thousand barrels each year -- spillage to the big macros, but still significant. They also hold free tours there roughly every hour, so we joined up with the 2 o’clock group. Our tour guide showed us all around the enormous rooms full of finished product as well as bags of hops and various malts. There were weighing scales and the four brewing tanks upstairs, as well as the other numerous gigantic holding tanks nearby (expanding soon with six more) and then we came to the tasting portion of tour downstairs next to the filling and boxing room. It was a really interesting tour and the tourguy knew his brews. He told us of the previous brewing companies that had started in the Market area many moons ago and gave us some beer trivia tidbits regarding their own products’ origins and names.
Ready to continue exploring the city, we rode back on the subway and made our way through the Mall. All around the Mall and the city itself there are dozens of electric guitar statues painted up and molded in many creative fashions -- not unlike the Buffalo theme in Buffalo or the Moose theme in Toronto a few years back. Outside by the square is the Memorial Building, an enormous monument with statues and lists upon lists of all the names of the brave soldiers who died in the Wars. We carried on to the Arcade, a quiet mall/hotel with big atrium skylights and interesting banisters. Everything seemed closed by late afternoon on a Saturday so we made our way over to Jacob’s Field, the resident baseball stadium for the Cleveland Indians, past a large wedding party taking photos outside and dancing with a live band. Top level tickets were less than $20, so we happily picked up four and continued on our way.
Just down the street we found the <a href=/Place/ohio/cleveland/the-winking-lizard-tavern/147.htm>Winking Lizard</A>, a busy local tavern with tons of beers on tap and in bottles. Stopping here before the game was not a bad idea, though it was incredibly busy and we were still full from lunch. We started with a draft root beer by the bar while waiting for a table in the restaurant, excitedly perusing the long list of beers available. We eventually selected a Bell’s and a Farson’s with our meal, the former being a fantastic IPA, where the latter was a milky Maltese stout... The BBQ’d pork riblets were unfortunately overly-sauced and the chicken burger a little dry but apparently the wings are something of a sensation down there and two of our boys enjoyed them well enough.
Finishing up, we moseyed over to Jacob’s Field again and retrieved our free Grady Sizemore bobbleheads upon entry. The field is really well designed and has a very open feel to it. Anyone is free to walk around the lower levels before the game starts, so we did and got to see the field from all angles. A few panoramic photographs later and we headed up to our level at the top. (There’s something to be said for enjoying a good beer at a game -- seems like a foreign concept when you look at our own Skydome brew choices in Toronto, unfortunately.) The Indians started the game off with a bang, easily taking control over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and maintaining a significant lead for several innings. The Devil Rays rallied in the last few innings but the Indians held them and won 8-7 after an exciting action-packed game, thrilling the 35,000+ fans watching live. Several Sizemores came out to bobble their heads with glee.
There was only a short detour on the way back to the motel that evening: to refill the front tires of our vehicle at a nearby gas station. (Apparently when yellow pop-out indicators fail, they let out all of the air in the tire as a result.) Our journey back was otherwise uneventful and we soon fell fast asleep...
Sunday morning brought sunshine and more McDonald’s. This was our day to go visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and it did not disappoint. Dozens of musical inductees over the past couple decades have various paraphernalia on display around this pyramidal structure. Starting at the bottom and working our way up six floors took us about three or four hours, including watching a long video of all the inductees and their musical hits as well as viewing the two special exhibits, The Doors and The Clash. From The Beatles to U2 to Eric Clapton to Queen and everything in betweeen and what came before them, there were hundreds of things on display: guitars, costumes, histories, concert passes, albums and magazine covers, plus songs you could listen to and several movies you could watch. It was well worth the visit but we all agreed that we probably wouldn’t need to come back any time soon. In the nearby vicinity to the Hall of Fame is a docked submarine-turned-museum and a military airport with a Blue Angel and another plane on display outside with surrounding plaques.
Late Sunday afternoon we started the trek back home to Toronto... by way of Buffalo.
Unfortunately we arrived in town well past business hours -- too late to visit <a href=/Place/new-york/buffalo/premier-gourmet/443.htm>Premier Gourmet, a wonderous beer store destination for any Ratebeerian. Instead, we made our way to <a href=/Place/new-york/buffalo/cole%E2%80%99s/4051.htm>Cole’s for a delicious dinner of regular and kobe beef burgers and a buffalo chicken wrap. The beer here rarely disappoints: Flying Dog, Brooklyn, Rogue, Wachusett and Smuttynose were all sufficiently fresh and tasty choices on this evening. We also heard that Cole’s is having an IPA festival later in July.
Sated and ready to return home, first we had to pass through border customs. (This was a breeze considering we had been in the country for 48+ hours and were taking back less than a case of beer each.) GG deadpanned moments after passing through that his bottom was thankful -- earlier sell-out comments from the car’s occupants may have implied he could be ’kept’ by officers if somebody let slip that he was hiding illegals... Very Not true of course, but therein lay the line of the weekend.
And suddenly we found ourselves driving back to Toronto in the dark on Canada Day, a feat that allowed us to view several spectacular fireworks displays from our cozy seats along the highway. It was a lovely touch to end our weekend journey.