About- John Amantea
When you think of Ohio craft beer, much of the time you might think of the brewers up north in Cleveland — where Great Lakes, Fat Head’s, Platform and Thirsty Dog have cemented strong regional footholds. As industry in Ohio has exploded over the last couple of years, it’s the cities a few hours south that are truly beginning to make a statement in the beer scene. Few have ascended quite as quickly as The Queen City of Cincinnati. While big-name Rhinegeist has risen to notoriety more recently, a new crop of up-and-comers are emerging with a variety of great offerings. No brewery has embodied this growth more than Streetside Brewery.
With Labor Day weekend behind us and as summer gives way to fall—and inevitably the annual avalanche of all-pumpkin everything—it’s best to make the most of the waning long days of warmth and sun. To me, it’s tough to beat drinking a cold one on a patio after a long day at the office and that’s exactly where I found myself not long ago.
After nearly three years with two awesome roommates, I’m moving this weekend. And for the first time in 27 years of existing, I won’t be living with someone else. Exciting? You’re damn right. Stressful? You have no idea. Moving is one of those experiences when no matter how sure you are that you’re absolutely sure you have everything under control, there’s always something you’re missing. You might know where every single thing is going to go and the exact layout for your ideal living room, but once someone asks if you have dish rags your whole plan falls to shambles. Luckily, in the grand scheme, this big step and all the accompanying madness will all be worth it. Here are the six beers to get you through your big move.
Full disclosure – I have never been much of a cider drinker. My friends can all attest that whenever we head out to a bar, I’m sticking to beer. Whether it’s the cloying sweetness of some or the champagne dryness of others, I haven’t quite had the best luck when it comes to craft ciders. So when I was recently offered a can of Bubbles by Rhinegeist, needless to say my past experiences prompted me to accept with some hesitation. Luckily, any and all hesitation was obliterated as soon as I took that first sip. It was amazing.
ABV: 4.2% | IBU: 4.3
When people think of Cleveland beer, the first name that comes to mind is Great Lakes Brewing Company – and rightly so. However, as the craft beer market in Cleveland has flourished, other names are coming to the forefront.
ABV: 6.6% | IBU: N/A
It’s cold. Goddammit, it’s cold. For those of you not so blessed to be living below the Mason-Dixon Line, you’re likely in the midst of what’s been a long, cold winter. As the mounds of snow continue to grow and you begin to forget that the sun exists; winter tightens its icy grip this time of year. So, how can you fight back and stay warm? Should you bundle up with extra layers or rely on hand and toe warmers in gloves and socks? While those options are smart and practical, I tend to go another route. I avoid the cold by staying inside with beer, such as Mikkeller Chipotle Porter, the fuzzy slippers of the soul.
ABV: 7.5% | IBU: 30
My friends who know me well know that I love food and I love to cook. From trying different restaurants or expanding my tastes with different cuisines to just staying in and making something for dinner, I’ve always had a knack for knowing my way in the kitchen. Cooking has been something I’ve loved to do for a long time, to the point where I considered going to culinary school after undergrad. I owe a lot of what I know and what I love about cooking to one person: my mom.
ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 20
On Tuesday October 25, 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers opened their season by raising their championship banner and receiving their championship rings for winning the 2016 NBA Finals. No more than 100 yards away at Progressive Field, the Cleveland Indians began the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs – and no more than two years ago that would have been the longest of long shots in baseball (aside from a Mike Napoli rocket over the left field wall). Yet here we are, and frankly it’s a helluva time to be in The Land. The feeling in the city is exciting and electric as we embark on an unprecedented time in Cleveland sports history (except for the Browns – the Browns are horrendous, as is tradition). Not even the most biting breeze off of Lake Erie can temper the mood around town.
ABV: 7.85% | IBU: 64.20
It’s a shock that it’s already October and fall is officially here. The summer was a blur and it seems like Christmas is already right around the corner. Yet, we’re at that awkward point in the year when it often still feels like summer despite the fact that we can officially say it’s fall and crack open those seasonal brews. So, is it still cool to enjoy a hoppy IPA or crisp, citrusy shandy, or are we resigned to force in those maltier, more robust ales and stouts? There isn’t really a satisfying mix of the two to help bridge the gap. That is until now — Lagunitas Brewing Company has introduced to the world its new Wilco Tango Foxtrot.
ABV: 4.1% | IBU: 12
If you’ve ever been to, are from, or know someone from Cleveland, you definitely know a few things: the Browns are terrible but we pull for them no matter what, there’s about a 75% chance something is under construction and that the weather is about as unpredictable as the Power Ball. Within the span of a week, you can experience all four seasons – and that’s just in the month of April. From Arctic-level blizzards to Sahara like spans of heat, the weather on the North Coast tends to run the full gamut.
It’s been said that the best things in life are worth working for – a new job, your dream car, that perfect house. The work put in makes the end goal that much more rewarding. While the motto normally applies to loftier, greater goals, the same can be said for New Glarus Brewing Co.’s Spotted Cow. Only available in Wisconsin, Spotted Cow has been a favorite of mine since I began making college visits to my brother Mark when he attended Marquette University almost 10 years ago and continues on today (except now it’s little brother Matt holding it down in The Good Land).
ABV: 6.1% | IBU: 50
Ahhh springtime… the snow has finally melted way, the sun makes its first appearance of the year, and the season’s best brews make their way into rotation. Among those in this year’s crop is SweetWater’s Goin’ Coastal, the latest addition to their Catch N’ Release seasonal rotation that is bound to make spring and summer more enjoyable for craft beer fans all over.
There’s a lot love about craft beer: the people, the stories, the creativity, and those senses of freedom and abandon from the monotony of big domestics… Oh yeah, and the beer of course. The incredible vastness of the array of flavors and choices mixed with the never-ending search for newer and better makes this craft beer bubble so unique and so fun. Yet in the midst of all this, there seems to be one aspect of it that tends to get overlooked:
ABV: 5% | IBU: 30
I recently turned 26, and while it isn’t a milestone birthday by any stretch, I still felt obligated to live it up while I could because… you know, I’m getting old. I spent the day hanging out with friends and family, going out to dinner and hitting some local bars in Lakewood, a western suburb of Cleveland. As the night drew to a close and the candles blew out on January 2, I took time to revel in the celebration and look forward to the year ahead. I have a feeling it’s going to be a great year filled with good time and better beer.
Avg. Reading Time: 1 min
Co-authored by Kevin Risner
John’s Recap of Friday, August 28
As I made my way past the sand volleyball pits on Whiskey Island, forged up and down the hills of Wendy Park through clouds of gnats and approaching the Old Coast Guard Station, I could feel a different air to 2015’s version of Burning River Fest. The station’s main tower rises above the line of trees, bearing the projected logo of the festival. A clear evening and setting sun over the lake set the perfect environment for an intimate affair, as droves of locals made their way to partake in local food, enjoy the live music of Brian Johnson, Gretchen Pleuss, The Portersharks (among other acts) and to taste the debut of Great Lake’s newest brew, Steady Rollin’.
As summer comes to a close and we make our way into fall, one thing becomes more imminent than anything: FOOTBALL. And what better way to celebrate the advent of a new season than with some brews? As a native Clevelander and lifelong Browns fan, I know the football season brings with it a roller coaster of experiences spanning across a wide spectrum. So, in anticipation of another grueling season, I present to you the 6 Stages of Cleveland Browns Fandom, as described by beer.
Once every few years or so, my Dad will reunite with some old friends and venture north of the border to fish on the French River. They catch up on the years in between their last trip, recant stories of high school, take in the gorgeous scenery and, of course, fish. His most recent sojourn this past weekend, however, yielded more than some 4-foot muskies. My Dad, a steadfast enjoyer of Scotch whiskey, came home with a twelve pack of a beer I had never seen from a brewery I had never heard of. Naturally, I was skeptical: someone who hasn’t had a beer since college asks me to try one of his newfound imports. Though unsure, I was intrigued, and obliged to give it a taste.