Cleveland’s Old Haunt: Great Lakes Brewpub

Midwest Pub Feature: Part Five

A co-worker and I began arguing one day about whether Ohio is part of the Midwest. He pointed out that geographically Ohio is closer to the East Coast and even lies inside the Eastern time-zone, proof that it can’t be considered the Midwest. While he was right about those points, I felt he missed something crucial that connects Ohio to the rest of the Midwestern states: its culture.

Great Lakes Brewing Company and its adjacent brewpub, set on a small side street outside of downtown Cleveland, make up a corner of the historic Ohio City neighborhood. Walking to the entrance of the brewpub past the gated beer garden on my right, I felt more in Madison than Washington, more in St. Paul than Philadelphia. There was a warmness that exuded from the pub, an unpretentious acknowledgement of its historic identity that made me feel like a local and not just a tourist passing through. Unlike those recreated old bars that are transplanted in a hip neighborhood, the Great Lakes Brewpub belonged.

It was 2:00pm, but the inside was buzzing with patrons crowding the bar and sitting at high top tables and booths along the wall. I waited for a seat near the taps and settled in for a pint, taking note of the wonderful tiger grain-pattern in the wood, a remnant of the pre-prohibition era. The bar has bullet holes storied to be from the gun of Elliot Ness, the “untouchable” federal agent who brought down infamous Chicago gangster, Al Capone.

I ordered a pint of Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, the namesake of the ill-fated freighter that mysteriously sank on Lake Superior, when I realized that Great Lakes Brewing was built on the legends of the Midwest and Cleveland itself contained the very same lore. It’s as if the history and culture of the Midwest spread across the Great Lakes with the sailors who braved their waters, making this old haunt, the Great Lakes Brewpub, undoubtedly Midwestern.

Find more information about Great Lakes Brewing Co. and the Great Lakes Brewpub at their website.


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