Childhood is a magical time, a period where wonder and information enter our little brains and bodies at the speed of light. During school, the next best thing to summer vacation was the field trip. We’re herded on to the yellow buses that take us to an interesting, educational, and hopefully fun location. Such was one field trip of my yesteryear to a local potato chip factory. I’d never really thought about the process that went into the making of something that is so easily available and yummy. After learning about how the potatoes were cleaned, sliced, dunked in oil and given a shake of salt, we were all given a complimentary bag of chips. What a treat, to get a behind-the-scenes view of a commonly consumed product, only to leave with an edible gift! Not only did I leave the trip with good information to store in my noggin, I left with grease stains on my t-shirt. Life was good.
Nowadays, there isn’t much wonder as to how things are made, thanks in part to television shows like “Unwrapped” and “Modern Marvels.” Gone is the mystery behind the hot dog you eat or the fireworks you gawk at on the 4th. While there is something to be said about ignorance being bliss, these types of informative programs open up a plethora of important and sometimes inane information for the average person. Fascinated with the process of those consumables, why not visit a brewery and get down to the nitty gritty? To love someone or something is to know him, her or it from the inside out, from the humble beginnings. It’s no surprise then that my love of knowledge, travel and beer led me to go on a brewery tour.
Cleveland, Ohio: situated on Lake Erie, gateway to the Midwest, and home of rock and roll (or at least the museum). I’ll admit, I’m not very familiar with this city or its history, and didn’t have much time to explore it on a recent trip. However, I did manage to make it to the Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC) in the Ohio City neighborhood. Founded in 1988 by two brothers, Great Lakes operates its brewery and brewpub in several buildings that were once horse stables, keg facilities, a bottle storage, hotel and tavern. Its restaurant brewpub is impressive, with many options to pull up a chair and order a tall cool one. I opted for the Beer Cellar, a rathskeller that was nice and cool on a hot sunny July day. Before the tour I sampled Market Street White, a classic hefeweizen and one of GLBC’s pub-exclusive beers. It was perfect with my pizza and the flavors worked very well together.
It was time for the tour, an hour-long excursion to learn all about the brewery’s history, the beer making process, and to leave with a parting gift. We had to cross the street from the gift shop to get to the brewery – we didn’t hold hands as was mandatory in the elementary school days, but just like the potato chip factory tour, the big kids got together and stayed in groups. Would this tour be all that I was anticipating? Does Cleveland really rock? Stay tuned…