At a Glance: Ohio Breweries

By Dathan Kazsuk

The Buckeye State is currently home to 108 craft breweries. That's around 20 fewer that what we currently have in the Tar Heel State – but who's counting?

It's around this time every year that Jen and I pack up our suitcases and make the trek to the Wolverine State to visit family – a destination we travel by car. And if you are traveling over 700-plus miles, you need to break up that long haul somehow. For us, our guilty pleasure – finding local wineries and breweries along the way, so we can stretch our legs and quench our thirst.

This month, during our week long vacation to Michigan, we stopped at five Ohio breweries. Below is a brief, at a glance, description of some breweries you might want to check out on your next, or first time traveling through Ohio.

Hoppin' Frog Brewery in Akron, Ohio

Hoppin' Frog Brewery in Akron, Ohio

HOPPIN' FROG BREWERY

1680 E. Waterloo Road, Akron, Ohio 44306

From the outside, just like most breweries these days, Hoppin' Frog is nothing spectacular. But I go back to that old adage, "It's what's inside the counts." And that holds true with the Frog. The staff behind the bar were courteous and very attentive with our arrival. Hoppin' Frog had 15 of its beers on draft, which included some great beers such as B.O.R.I.S. Oatmeal Imperial Stout, Barrel-Aged Silk Porter and the 10.5 ABV Barrel-Aged D.O.R.I.S. the Destroyer.

The brewery also has a selection of guest beers on tap, and sell by the pint or by samples – to build your personal flight.

While you are there, be sure to peruse the Frog's 'Rare Beer List.' There you will find years of Hoppin' Frog's rare bombers available for purchase. Imagine if you will, being able to pick-up a 2013 B.O.R.I.S. Van Wink Imperial Stout aged in Kentucky whiskey barrels and a 2011 Barrel-Aged Naked Belgian-Style Barley Wine in the same place! 

We sampled many beers at Nano Brew Cleveland

We sampled many beers at Nano Brew Cleveland

NANO BREW CLEVELAND

1859 W. 25th Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44113

This neighborhood brewpub has 24 beers on draft, good food and an outdoor beer garden. Located in a trendy area of Cleveland, which features other popular venues such as the Westside Market, Bar Centro and Great Lakes Brewing Company.

When we visited Nano Bar, guest taps included Stone, North Coast, Jackie O's (another Ohio brewery in Athens), Fat Head's, Dogfish Head and the much sought after Pale Ale from Three Floyd's Brewing – Zombie Dust!

As far as food goes, Nano Brew has a full menu of appetizers, sandwiches and burgers. I personally enjoyed the Spicy Burger. This burger was named one of the "Best 33 Burgers in America" by Thrillist, and is a combination of cheddar, poblano peppers, caramelized onions and a spicy mayo. Not to be missed.

MARKET GARDEN BREWERY

1947 W. 25th Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44113

A block over from Nano Brew is Market Garden Brewery. With close to 12 of its own beers on draft, ranging from a traditional-style Kölsch to a great dry-hopped IPA called Citramax, MGB has a great selection of pints and samples to try.

Just like Nano Brew, the selection of food here at MGB can keep you eating and drinking all night long. Some of the appetizers include chorizo cheddar pierogies, sauerkraut balls and a PBLT (pork belly, tomato jam and arugula). If you are looking for a full meal, MGB serves up pan roasted chicken, smoked pork chops, mac and cheese and a Brewmaster's reserve ribeye.

GLBC has been brewing great beer for 27 years in Cleveland

GLBC has been brewing great beer for 27 years in Cleveland

GREAT LAKES BREWING COMPANY

2516 Market Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44113

A mainstay in Ohio since 1988, this brewery is a must stop if you are visiting Cleveland. Check out the brewery tour, which leads you through more than just its production facility. But reservations should be made in advance, because these tours book up fast! The tours are on Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. (every hour on the hour). For $5 you get a tour of the facility, which last around 60-minutes, as well as four 5 oz. beer samples of your choice.

The brewpub features appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and entrées, as well as a large outdoor patio to enjoy your meal. While you are there, be sure to stop by the GLBC gift center where you can pick up a plethora of apparel, glassware and of course bottles of your favorite GLBC beer.

Akron, Ohio is home to Thirsty Dog

Akron, Ohio is home to Thirsty Dog

THIRSTY DOG BREWING COMPANY

529 Grant Street, Akon, Ohio 44311

First, I must say that I like many beers produced by this Ohio brewery. Siberian Night Bourbon Barrel-Aged, Citra Dog, Barley Wine Ale and the Raspberry Ale always hit the spot. But I have to say I wasn't overly impressed when visiting the taproom on our way back to Raleigh. From the outside, the brewery looked like it had some potential, but once inside, it was really lacking any form of ambience. Most of the beer on the menu were ones I've tasted in the past, and the one I was hoping to try on the board above the bar was already tapped out.

Pints at Thirsty Dog ranged from $4 to $6, while samples, which seemed to be 2-3 oz. pours cost a dollar. Specialty samples, such as the Saison Deluxe (which was a good beer) are $3 a sample. If you are a huge fan of Thirsty Dog beers, like I am, and you are in Akron – pay them a visit. But if not, just enjoy Thirsty Dog's brews by purchasing them at your local bottle shop.

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