Closing time…another Cleveland Beer Week in the history books. And what a week it was! There were so many events I wanted to get to, but since I don’t have a clone, I couldn’t possibly make them all. I enjoyed reading posts and tweets from others who made it to the tappings and tastings I couldn’t get to. A big thank you and a grateful burp to all those who planned and participated in this endeavor.

When I last posted, I was looking forward to attending the Chardon BrewWorks clam bake out on the square in Geauga County. It was a delicious fall dinner served by the proprietors themselves, Mike and Donna Nedrow. Mike is a corporate pilot, and Donna is a Registered Nurse by trade–but both have their hearts in beer. They opened Chardon BrewWorks in March 2010–the first brewery in the county since Prohibition. Each course (and there were many!) was served with a taste of Mike’s delicious brews–from the light honey cranberry kolsch with the seasonal salad, to the tasty Pride of Geauga Maple Porter with warm raspberry oatmeal bars for dessert. But I think my favorite pour of the evening was Mike’s Private Reserve Homegrown Hops IPA–really well-balanced and just hoppy enough to keep your tastebuds humming. 

On Wednesday evening, Paul and I revisited one of our favorite Cleveland restaurants: Lolita in Tremont, Michael Symon’s original Lola. Lolita’s Matt Harlan (now with Symon’s B-Spot restaurants) and the ever jovial Dogfish Donn presided over an amazing happy hour meal that included a fall rhapsody of rabbit gnocchi with chestnuts; a wood fired pizza with butternut squash and sausage; and a plate of homemade charcuterie, each accompanied by a great beer. From the 60 Minute to the Punkin Ale to the rare and wonderful Bitches Brew–each sip was better than the last. I’d love to see that rabbit gnocchi on the menu going forward. This event was easily one of my favorites of the week.

Thursday night arrived, and with it, another Beer Week Flagship event, Culture Yourself, held at the Market Garden Brewery. It was another chilly, rainy October evening–like so many we’d experienced already this month. This meant that the beautiful patio at the restaurant wasn’t available for use–so waaay too many people were crammed into the back half of the brewpub. The cheeses and beers were top notch–but I could barely get from one side to the other to enjoy them without being bumped or jostled. Holding a plate and glass and an information sheet under these circumstances just wasn’t working for me.  I understand that the crowd cleared out after a while (due to many people leaving because of the overcrowding), and it was quite enjoyable then. But Paul and I had the teens at home who needed some help with homework, so we left after no more than 45 minutes.

My two favorite pairings that night were Mackenzie Creamery’s toasted pumpkin chevre on a graham cracker with Hoppin’ Frog’s Double Pumpkin Ale; and the New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk (an old favorite) with a really funky bleu cheese. Both were fabulous, and I’ll serve them at home the first chance I get!

Friday brought another dreary day–perfect for a trip to Parnell’s Pub in Cleveland Heights. This wonderful hole-in-the-wall next to the Cedar-Lee Theatre is a treasure. It’s a true Irish pub without the schtick–owner Declan Synnott is a true Irishman. His American beauty of a wife, Liz,  is most often found behind the bar–her wisecracks all part of her charm. It was Thirsty Dog Litter Night–and I enjoyed a taste of several, including the new 330– made from Summit County hops. A nice contrast to their Hoppus Maximus.

This brings us to Saturday, and BREWzilla, A Monster of a Beer Tasting. What can I say? BREWzilla rocks, and having the chance to taste so many fantastic brews with so many great Cleveland beer people in one place–it was the perfect wrap to the week. At one point in the evening, many of us gathered for a photo–thanks to Renee C., that other Cleveland beer-loving gal with the great name–for taking this photo!

Once again, cheers to everyone responsible for putting on this year’s Cleveland Beer Week–it was a monster of a great time!