About- Kevin Risner
ABV — 9.5%
IBU — approximately 20
It’s that time of year. Yes, Christmas is coming up, quickly, and this year the amount of early Christmas seems to have reached an even higher level! Hints of the season have already begun popping up all over the place: in department stores, specialty shops, on your friends’ Facebook feeds. Truth be told, you don’t have to go to Bronner’s in Michigan to get your taste of the holidays early anymore. Additionally, Christmas ale releases have already happened, much to many people’s delight. Even though one the biggest cult beer followings in Cleveland is the Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Company—which is awesome this year, by the way, better than the last couple of years—Platform Beer Company has released a very nice, very different style of ale for your holiday imbibing needs: Esther Belgian Christmas Ale.
This piece was co-written by John Amantea and Kevin Risner.
August 28th & 29th: 6pm – 11pm
When you think about craft beer in Cleveland, one of the first breweries that pops into your head is Great Lakes Brewing Company. And for good reason. For over 25 years, GLBC has been brewing some awesome beer that has won many awards and has struck the fancy of people across the eastern US and beyond its distribution wingspan, which has been on the rise recently.
GLBC is not just known for its stellar selection of beers, the variety of which has expanded from its famed Christmas Ale to approachable IPAs like Chillwave, and unique surprises, such as one of its most recent session ales: Sharpshooter. They also have an excellent mission, centering on sustainability and eco-consciousness.
Ever since 2001, GLBC has put together a more unique beer festival that isn’t just about the beer, but a reflection upon the brewery’s legacy and its hope to protect its product, which is around 90% water. The Burning River Fest is named for an (in)famous event that occurred multiple times in the history of the city. Beginning in 1868, the Cuyahoga River has caught fire numerous times, the most noted of which occurring in 1969, as a result of heavy pollution and a dearth of industry regulation. From that point on, amidst a flurry of ridicule and scorn, Cleveland has shifted a greater focus to sustainability and cleaning up its waterways. The positive effort has led to this more mindful festival, focusing on these local issues.
ABV — 6.8%
IBU — 80
I had the great pleasure of attending my friend’s bachelor party last month in Michigan. The original plan on that last Saturday in June was to go to a baseball game. Rain put an X through those plans, and we detoured to Ann Arbor instead. One of our stops was to Arbor Brewing Company, where I indulged in what is now one of my favorite beers of all time: Sacred Cow IPA.
Good day to all you fine folk. It is I, one of PD’s Cleveland beer reviewers, with another local beer for you to try if you ever make it to the Buckeye State, or NE Ohio. Platform Beer Co., one of the newcomers to the Cleveland beer scene with its one-year anniversary on July 4, has another wonderful summer brew for all the thirsty folk in town: Speed Merchant White IPA.
Sometimes change can be scary and uncomfortable. We tend to embrace constancy in most situations. When something unfamiliar greets us, there may also be skepticism. I noticed this when Great Lakes Brewing Company revealed their brand refresh. There was some outcry, some fear, mainly from social media users who did not want the labels and the image of GLBC to change. With tried and true marketing and a strong presence in many parts of the United States, why become different? Despite those worries by some, I feel changing things up can also spark interest and excitement. Personally, I was more intrigued when I first learned about the brand refresh. Let me tell you why I like what GLBC has done: the changes that have taken place embrace the 25+ years that this brewery has been a strong presence in the N.E. Ohio craft beer community. The history behind the brewery, its location and its facilities, runs even earlier; and the artwork by Darren Booth pays homage to the brewery and to the city as well. Each label is a story, a collage of images that explores the rich history of Cleveland and also of the company’s presence. Along with the new brand, we now have a new seasonal beer from Great Lakes: the Sharpshooter Session Wheat IPA. It is a tasty IPA that was tapped during the last week of May at GLBC’s brewpub and has just been released to distribution markets on June 1.
Platform‘s New Cleveland Palesner.With summer here, a killer cavalry of refreshing brewskis have arrived. Therefore today, I share with you a delightful beer from Platform Beer Co., one of Cleveland’s newer breweries. Pictured above is a pint of
ABV: 4.75% | IBU: 35
Over the decades, Cleveland sports has had many moments that have been hard to swallow. Despite Cleveland being one of the more pained sports cities, moments of intense optimism do pop up from time to time bringing a refreshing tint to the hues of cynicism. For example, there’s always the start of baseball season and the chants of “It’ll be this year!” Along with that, there’s annually a nice brew to go with that. Turning to basketball though, the return of LeBron James and the acquisition of many other stellar players has allowed my Cleveland Cavaliers to fare quite well in the second half of this year’s NBA season. Hope is blossoming again, albeit with the normal hint of caution. Still, The Brew Kettle, a local brewery in the Cleveland area, has begun distributing its All for One Session IPA to continue stoking the flames of the playoff push that is now imminent. Excitement has definitely returned to the CLE!
For many readers and imbibers, Cleveland may not be the city that first pops up in a conversation about craft beer. Granted, it is not of Denver’s or Portland’s magnitude when it comes to the industry. Despite that, Cleveland and its surrounding environs have blossomed over the past decade when it comes to the quantity and quality of the beer the region produces. You have Great Lakes Brewing Company in greater Cleveland, Thirsty Dog in Akron, and I have also name-dropped a few other places on this wonderful website. Today, I shall provide you with another more recent addition to the beer scene in this fair city: Portside Distillery and Brewery. Their main beer is aptly labeled 216, after the area code familiar to those living in Cleveland.
Photo Credit: http://www.robertburns.org.uk
Next Sunday is the late, great Robert Burns’s birthday. For those who are not familiar with Burns, he was a well-known Scottish poet from the 18th century, considered the national poet of that fair land. Most people know about one of his many poems titled Auld Lang Syne, a little song we all sing tipsily around the New Year. Apart from that small element of Hogmanay, there are others who commemorate his life and his poetry by celebrating his birthdate every January 25. Robert Burns Night dinners have been popular events for many years now: parties that are not wanting in scotch, bagpipers, poetry readings, haggis, neaps, and tatties. In my experience, festival-goers will most likely find themselves at a brewery where there is a fresh tapping of a scotch ale, or more than one! Therefore, what better way to commemorate our dear friend Robbie than with a few of the best scotch ales out there*?
Like many others on this site, I love ginger. Love it, love it, love it. Obviously then, gingerbread cookies are my favorite of all the Christmas-cookie options. Adding insult to injury, or the opposite in my case, there are now quite a few beers out there I can coin as liquid gingerbread. Or something very deliciously close to that. We already have a beer for this year’s 12 Beers of Christmas that is perfect for gingerbread lovers, a stout that is fuller than the typical one you would place in the “Christmas Ale” section at the store. Therefore, let’s have another example of ginger doing the right things: Revolution Brewing Fistmas Ale. Yes, our waltz with gingerbread can be sated once more!
Krampus: an under-appreciated mythic figure during the holiday season. That is, up until recently. We have always received the stories and quaint images of good old St. Nicholas, the jolly fellow who gives the “good” kids gifts in their stockings. Krampus is the imp-like figure that, depending on the European myth, bestows upon the naughty kids bad gifts or even kidnaps them and brings them to his lair. Sounds pleasant…
Thankfully, the Krampus that I will be talking more about today is the complete opposite from our devilish comrade; it is a present provided to us from Southern Tier, and it is the perfect refreshment for any of your December festivities.
Photo credit: McEwan’s.
If I had to give you the pivotal year that launched my love of beer, it would have to be 2007. Despite my initial enjoyment of cask ales and the Guinnesses I had had in England a few years before that, I had not yet expanded my beer repertoire back in the United States. This beer expansion seven years ago had a lot to do with what I had found at a local bar here in Ohio, which had (and still has) a World Beer Tour with rotating beers from the United States and also across the world. That is where I found McEwan’s Scotch Ale, and that is when I knew that I had found one of my favorite beers and beer styles out there. With its import hiatus to the United States from approximately 2009 to 2013, I did not have the privilege of enjoying occasional pints of what I considered to be the nectar of the gods. However, after stumbling across a discussion board post online last year, I found out that Wells and Young’s had bought the McEwan’s label and decided to begin distributing this particular scotch ale across our great nation once more.
I never really was a big fall guy. Tons of my friends are all about it. I just love summer, and I wail and moan when the first frost hits. What I do enjoy, however, about this time of year has to be the smells, specifically the hint of bite to the air as the temperature lowers and the winds pick up. Particularly, when the nights get really cold, the bonfires in backyards become commonplace, and the smell of firewood catches in the air and on one’s clothes. To go along with the welcome-to-fall fires, I have a Dogfish Head beer that I have, strangely enough, just stumbled upon: the Palo Santo Marron, a brown ale that packs a mighty punch.
With the end of September comes the wrapping up of the Oktoberfest season, or what I would coin as Märzen Madness. Fairs across the U.S. have had their seasonal stein-raising festivals full of oom-pa-pa music, some of the more widely known tipples with German names and an array of food that may cause indigestion for most. In Munich, those millions lucky enough in attendance have a few more days before the nonstop imbibing ends and a cleanup of epic proportions begins.
To emulate this spectacular party still taking place abroad, to profess my love for the seemingly simple but still complex Märzen and to give one last hurrah to the summer, which is why this party takes place, I have provided you with the quintessential collection of some of the better Oktoberfests around.
Mid-September: that between-the-seasons limbo. Labor Day has passed. The first day of fall has not yet arrived with its tantalizing cool. With a nod to many individuals’ preferences for certain beers hitting stores at just the right moment, I present to you a sweet and approachable Märzen from the state of Ohio, Thirsty Dog’s Barktoberfest, perfect for this time of shifting seasons.
The craft beer industry, at least from what I have seen and experienced, has embraced the average beer imbiber’s attempt at brewing a beer that one might enjoy from home. Though this write-up will not be exclusively about a brewery, I must provide some background before delving too deep into the specific beer I am showcasing. So, without further delay, let me provide you with one more summertime bevvy for your enjoyment: White Rajah IPA. This beer is one of the Brew Kettle’s best, and it is the perfect option for those who revel in hops, citrus in smell and flavor and a relaxing afternoon lounging at the pool: my place of choice for this sunny beverage.
If you explore the brief description on Spacewalker’s carrier, it reads:
“Perhaps one of space’s great mysteries is why so many of its explorers hail from Ohio. In honor of the 25 courageous astronauts who have called Ohio their terrestrial home, and the nine Ohio men and women who’ve logged hours walking in space, we present this adventurous brew.”
After years of not doing so, I decided in 2010 that the time was right to put together some of my favorite songs of the moment onto a CD. I would play these songs in my car as I drove around the city or along the interstate with the windows down, basking in the summer months and the sun and the warm weather.
It’s become a tradition now to do this every year. At the start of the year, I closely explore a variety of songs that might fit well together. Soon after I begin looking for summer-y songs, I notice a possible theme emanating from the endless songs I find or are recommended.
Summer will be here in less than two weeks. My palate begins to water (as do most of my pores) when I think about the more humid, sunnier climes that have begun to take shape as May has ended and June has begun. As I dust off the porch seats and steel myself for the incessant weed trimmers humming next door and kids screaming across the street, I anticipate with great relish the moments sitting down with some friends and cooling off with a nice, bright, somewhat hoppy ale.
Chillwave Double IPA – 9.4% ABV
I honestly had no idea there were people who willingly went onto the chilly lake in the dead of winter off the shores of Cleveland to surf. My ignorance lasted until I watched the Cleveland episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Bourdain was brought to the rocky shores, snow blanketing the sand, and he got to watch the surfers out on the ice-cold lake attempting to catch a few waves, before needing a couple beers themselves.