Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ohio Shenanigans - Great Lakes Brewing Company and Beautiful Cleveland

While I was visiting Pittsburgh and surrounds, waiting for my daughter to finish up classes before Thanksgiving, I found myself with a free day on Monday.

I figured "Cleveland isn't too far away, I'll go to Cleveland!"

I made the arrangements for face to face meetup with Bill and Stacey of Nothing But Love. I've had mutual admiration and blog friendliness with them for going on a decade now through my official blog (a)musings. It would be great to meet them live and in person.

I picked the Great Lakes Brewing Company so I could sample their food and brews. With a two hour drive ahead of me and a smile on my face, I departed for what some people call "The Mistake by the Lake." More on that later.

The restaurant was doing a booming business for a Monday lunch. The place was packed, one could even say mobbed. It was almost like everyone in Cleveland was there all at once. I got the impression that it isn't just the beer people are there for, but the food. At some brewpubs,  you know people are there for the beer first and foremost... this was definitely the eatery destination for the district.

We sat in a beautiful sunny side room that had a nice bright atmosphere, instead of in the bar area, which was beautiful, dark wood and noisy. Our waiter was darling, and started me off with Truth, Justice, and the American Ale, which was a tad weak and not too exciting but very crisp and clean so it went nicely with the delicious Stilton Cheese Soup that I ordered. Stacey got the fish bites off the appetizer menu. They were beautifully done, light and crispy, and a ton of them adorned the plate along with the spiciest cocktail sauce ever.

Bill ordered the Black and Blue burger and I ordered the Macaroni and Cheese with chicken. The chicken was diced into tiny cubes, and there was plenty of it, but it was very dry and not really tasty. The mac and cheese itself was fantastic. I hoped that the chicken would moisten up with the cheese sauce but that didn't happen.

Bill's burger was rather a disappointment to him. He expected a nice mound of bleu cheese atop the patty. But instead it was a slice of what the waiter called bleu cheese. None of us had ever seen a slice of bleu cheese, and he said it tasted awful. He ended up sending it back, with his complaint that it just wasn't what it was supposed to be. The waiter said that they were trying a new cheese out but that several people had complained about it.

Lesson learned -- don't mess with what is a standard.

I then tried their Christmas Ale, which was not overwhelmingly over spiced, the way so many holiday beers are (specifically the pumpkins of the world). It was crisp and tasty, very refreshing and Christmassy.

In the gift shop, I showed Stacey their Burning River Pale Ale and said "Cleveland can never get away from its past, can it?" For those who do not know about the event,  in 1969 the Cuyahoga River actually caught fire because of pollutants and oil in the water.

Click here for more information if you'd like to learn .

Stacey thanked me for the reminder, and I said that those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it, no?

After we left the brewery,  Bill and Stacey took me to The Christmas Story House, and showed me the church from The Deer Hunter.

They showed me around their beautiful city, and nowhere did I see anything that could be considered a "mistake" by the lake. The city is beautiful, wonderful residential neighborhoods and a thriving downtown. Bill and Stacey are very proud of their Cleveland, and I was very happy to share some time there with them and seeing it through their eyes. Thank you Bill and Stacey!

I will be back to enjoy much more that the city has to offer, and more of the great beers at Great Lakes.

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