Breweries, bars, and restaurants are often noisy and sometimes chaotic places. The sounds of music, multiple TV sets, dishes clanking, and the chatter of dozens of people often drowns out conversation, forcing you to lean uncomfortably close to someone just to be able to understand them. You might go the whole night without one meaningful conversation.
Excessive noise and thumping basslines won’t be a problem at Cleveland’s latest brewery, Bookhouse Brewing (1526 W. 25th St.), simply because they do not have TVs, loud music, or any other unnatural noises. Instead, hundreds of books and indoor plants are sprawled throughout the facility on shelves and desks. Wood trim, wood floors, exposed brick, and dark paint gives off a studious mood (they do offer WiFi).
“We’re committing to the cozy vibe,” said co-founder and book expert, Luke Bevoort. “No TVs — it’s about conversations, it’s quieter than your average taproom, and it should reek of thoughtfulness.”
The brewery is truly unique, and I honestly couldn’t tell if I was in a library, a bookstore, or a coffee shop at first. Even the main bar is fairly non-traditional, with custom-made wood trim. Additionally, there are several rooms that offer even more privacy if you want to get away from bustle of the main bar. Bevoort told LOTL that the atmosphere is what helps differentiate themselves from the rest.
“For one thing, we were trying to make the taproom we wanted to hangout in,” said Bevoort. “And also, the fact we’re on W. 25th St. and a half mile from like ten other breweries, (we thought) what could we offer that’s a little bit different that’s maybe complimenting what’s already going on, rather than trying to compete with it?”
While Bevoort and Vaughn Stewart (his business partner and brewer) designed the interior to their liking, the structure already fit their vision. Built it 1866, it was originally a brewery — Baehr Brewery — which was run by Jacob and Magdalena Baehr (the brewing couple’s portraits are framed behind the main bar). Jacob died seven years into their business, but Magdalena ran it successfully till 1901. Because of this rich history, Bevoort said Cleveland Brew Bus tours will be adding Bookhouse in their schedule.
“It’s been a real honor to clean it up and bring it back to life,” Bevoort said.
But how was the beer? I ordered a flight of five of their house brews: 1. Celestial Map (American IPA / 7.3%); 2. Far From Wallonia (Saison / 6.4%); 3. Hardly Art (Burton Ale / 8.1%); 4. Three Out of Five (Sour — Gose / 4.8%); 5. American Idyll Wet Hopped Blonde Ale (Blonde Ale / 6.2%). I didn’t have their Antwerp Afternoon (Pale Ale / 5.3%), Young Hearts (dry cider / 6.9%) or their Freethinker Porter (English Porter / 5.8%), but I’ll certainly try those next time. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed their beer. I thought Celestial Map, Far From Wallonia, and Hardly Art were the tastiest. I was especially impressed by the Hardly Art Burton Ale, as that is a very rare style of brew that pre-dates IPAs.
Current guest breweries include Collision Bend, Butcher and the Brewer, Sibling Revelry, Noble Beast, and Perennial Artisan Ales. Wine is offered, and non-alcoholic options include cold brew coffee from Duck-Rabbit and ginger ales. There is no food as of now, but they sell popcorn and will feature guest food at times. Their current full menu can be found here.
I’ve long said that Terrestrial Brewing Company is one of the most unique breweries in the CLE, but now I think Bookhouse Brewing is giving Terrestrial a run for it’s money. With its cozy atmosphere, the lack of noise, and its delicious beer, Bookhouse Brewery is your LOTL Hangout of the Week. Check it out this weekend and bring some friends or family. And plan to attend their official grand opening, which is slated for Oct. 6 and will have food trucks parked outside the brewery.