This past weekend, part of the LOTL crew went out to iconic Great Lakes Brewing Company in Ohio city for their brewery tour.
The tour is quite a deal: for only $5, you get a one-hour tour and four 7-oz samples of beer fresh from the tap. But for me, the most impressive part of the tour was the content. Some brewery tours focus exclusively on the science and process of making beer, then you get your samples and the tour is over. The Great Lakes tour, however, also dives into the history of the buildings that make up the brewery. History that includes a shootout at the main bar (more on this later), a brothel, and previous breweries.
Our guide was funny and very thorough in his presentation, and he kept things interesting from start to finish. You get a good overview of how craft beer is made on a the scale that Great Lakes is at (interesting fact: our guide said the brewery is pretty much at max capacity right now), and you learn some interesting tips on the shelf life of bottled beer, too.
The samples can be drank at the beginning (at the gallery/symposium), the middle (in a private party room upstairs), or the end of the tour (back at the symposium). The symposium is a clean gallery that displays the art that is on GLBC bottles. It includes a giant poster that has the history of GLBC and another art installation that his comprised of bottles (see below)
But let’s round this back to the historical aspect. The history of the buildings that GLBC occupies was fascinating. Parts of the brewery were originally another brewery from the early 1900s, and you can see some stone signs from that brewery during the tour. Additionally, the main brewpub off of W. 25th St. has had some interesting experiences, such as when legendary detective Eliot Ness, who was a frequent (and heavy) drinker at the location, was shot at by gangsters. Ness, who lived in Cleveland in the 30’s and 40’s when he was a prohibition agent and later a safety director, survived the shooting, and to this day you can find bullet holes at the main bar. He also has a year-round beer named in his honor: the Eliot Ness Amber Lager. Another fascinating tidbit was when our guide explained that the current offices for GLBC, including the HR department, used to be a hotel that doubled as a brothel.
There is much more history mentioned on the tour, including the history of GLBC itself, which brought craft beer to Cleveland for the first time back in 1988. Great Lakes is now the largest brewery in Ohio, and its influence cannot be overstated. LOTL highly recommends checking this tour out when you have a free weekend.
Brewery tours run on Fridays and Saturdays from noon – 8 p.m. Private events can be scheduled, too. Tours cost $5 and include four 7-oz samples. For more details, check out their website.