Northwest Ohio Craft Breweries

. September 12, 2018.
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Love craft beer? The Glass City offers a great selection as Northwest Ohio boasts over a dozen craft breweries. Find a speciality brew to fill your glass at one of these local businesses.

Toledo

Earnest Brew Works

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4342 S. Detroit Ave., 419-340-2589.
Earnestbrewworks.com
4-10pm, Wednesday-Thursday. 4-11pm, Friday. Noon-11pm, Saturday. 1-6pm, Sunday.

Southsiders rejoice! Earnest Brew Works is an oasis for craft brew lovers living in surrounding south side neighborhoods, but you will find their beers on tap all over the city. Scot Yarnell and Keefe Snyder began operations in 2016, and Earnest has been steadily growing in popularity ever since.

It is easy to pass by the place if you are not paying attention but go there once, and it could become your go-to hangout spot. Dog-friendly, there is a roomy outdoor seating area, which is a bonus for smokers. The relaxed atmosphere, friendly owners, and accommodating employees will keep you coming back. They love to talk about their craft, and the whole staff is enthusiastic about new creations. Because I love stouts, Big Oatis Double Oatmeal Stout is my favorite, but the New Sincerity IPA and the Peanut Butter Worker’s Porter (available for a limited time) are also excellent.

The Earnest Brew Works Facebook page has information about their many events, which include exercise classes (one example is “Beers and Booty Shaking”), trivia nights, and group bike rides.

Black Cloister Brewing Company

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619 Monroe St., 419-214-1500. Blackcloister.com
4pm-midnight, Tuesday-Thursday. 11:30am-midnight, Friday-Saturday. 1pm-10pm, Sunday.

The name of this warehouse district brewery is an homage to the original Black Cloister in Germany, the monastery where Martin Luther studied and his wife Katie brewed her own beer! Sporting a monastic motif, the ambiance here is hard to beat. The reason behind the theme: one of the founders and CEO of the company, Tom Schaeffer, is a Lutheran pastor who used to host bible studies/beer tastings in his home. He also happens to be the founder of the Glass City Mashers home brewing club. Members of that club have started many of the breweries in this area.

A percentage of the proceeds go to the church, but you need not be religious to enjoy Black Cloister. I enjoyed the Passion of the Grist double IPA, and there is a fall brew that has gotten great reviews on Untappd (people reading this will probably want to download this app. if you haven’t already) called Nature’s Breast, another double IPA.

You can also book events at Black Cloister, participate in their trivia nights, and take advantage of their Mug Club Membership.

Maumee Bay Brewing Company

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27 Broadway St., 419-243-1302. Mbaybrew.com
Maumee Bay Brew Pub Hours: 3pm-10pm, Monday-Thursday.
3pm-11pm, Friday-Saturday. Noon-8pm, Sunday

Housed in the historical Oliver House, a building that opened as a hotel in 1859 and went through many changes in ownership over the next century and a half, this brewing company offers a number of venues, in a single location, where you can enjoy their brews. History buffs will enjoy learning about the history of the Oliver House and the brewing industry in Toledo from the displays lining their walls.

Maumee Bay Brewing Company opened in 1995, and brewmaster Jon Koester started brewing here in 2007. The brewery is best known for the iconic Buckeye Beer, but IPA lovers should try Glass Hopper. I am also a big fan of the Cherry Vanilla Porter when I’m in the mood for something with sweet undertones.

This brewery offers a number of food options as the Oliver House also houses The Café, Mutz Sports Bar, Rockwell’s Steakhouse, Rockwell’s Lounge, and the Maumee Bay Brew Pub. They also host a number of events like tours of the Oliver House and live music at Mutz. All the venues are popular for private events. Learn more on their website.

Suds in the Suburbs

Upside Brewing

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5692 Main St., Sylvania. 419-882-6061. Jandgpizzapalace.com
4pm-midnight, Monday-Saturday. 4pm-10pm, Sunday.

J&G Pizza Palace houses this nano brewery, owned by Mark and Jill Dallas. It is right across the street from Inside the Five, so if you are looking to sample different brews and get a completely different kind of ambiance, you should visit both while you’re in Sylvania.

The restaurant, open since 1971, still has that very down-to-earth, small-town pizza parlor vibe.

Despite being very busy, the wait time wasn’t bad. There is no tap room or bar, so you’ll be enjoying your beer in the main dining area, which is a little dark and crowded, but I thought it was charming. For me, this place was the perfect date night on a budget, the kind of place where you can share a flight of beers, a pepperoni pizza and then take a stroll down Main Street to walk it all off.

Their flight of beers is served on a modified pizza paddle, and includes five 4 oz. samples for $8.75, a great price. You’ve got to try the Toasted Martian, a stout brewed with toasted marshmallows. If you are in the mood for a New England IPA, we suggest Upside Your Face as the way to go.

Black Frog Brewery

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831 S. McCord Rd., Holland. 419-389-7136. Blackfrogbrewery.com
4:30pm-10pm, Friday. 3pm-10pm, Saturday.

This small batch brewery was founded by Christopher Harris, a brewmaster who got his start using a Mr. Beer kit, before starting Black Frog Brewery out of his garage in Holland. The first minority-owned brewery in the Toledo area, Black Frog’s name comes from Toledo’s nickname, Frog Town, and the fact that Harris is African American. In 2016 he moved operations to a small strip mall, opening a tap room where visitors feel at home.

Black Frog keeps it simple. They don’t serve food, but you are welcome to bring your own grub. What you will get are quality craft beers like Cream of the Frog (a cream ale), Amphibian (a pale ale), and Froglicious (a honey brown porter). To quote one customer’s review, Black Frog is like “having a perpetual beer festival in your own neighborhood.”

Because it is so small, you will often find Harris there working, always ready to talk about his craft. The atmosphere is very comfortable, and you are sure to find new drinking buddies when you visit Black Frog.

Inside the Five Brewing Company

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5703 Main St., Sylvania., 578-408-7212. Insidethefive.com
11am-11pm, Sunday-Thursday.
11am-midnight, Friday-Saturday
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Brandon Fields and Chris Morris opened Inside the Five earlier this year, brought together by their passion for craft brews and their love of football. You don’t have to be super into football to enjoy this place, but for NFL fans, you are in for a treat. The brewing company offers a membership program called a Draft Class that begins on the first day of the NFL draft every year. Check out the website for details.

With live music every Sunday and Thursday, 18 taps, a full bar, and a full-service kitchen, Inside the Five, which opened in May, is already a Sylvania favorite. It’s kid friendly, clean, and has a helpful staff who are knowledgeable about their brews. As for their food menu: You can go classy with a charcuterie board or keep it real with some loaded beer chips or chicken and waffles (their most popular option).

Conducting some research, with a flight of beers shared with another craft brew enthusiast with solid taste, we agreed on two favorites: Boss Stout on NITRO, a rich coffee-flavored delight with hints of chocolate, and Beware The Turk, a Belgian quad not for the faint of heart. You might want to bring along a designated driver if you plan on doing more than sampling The Turk!

Heading Upriver

Wild Side Brewing

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24195 Front St., Grand Rapids, OH. 419-389-2776. Wildsidebrewing.com
4-11pm, Thursday-Friday. Noon-11pm, Saturday.
Noon-8pm, Sunday.

Noelle and Nicholas Scott opened Wild Side Brewing Company in April of this year with a focus on barrel-aged beers made with local, seasonal ingredients. Their taproom features six guest taps and their own Sugar Kriek American Wild Ale, cherry flavored and aged in American oak. Be ready to taste lots of mature, fruity flavors unlike any you’ll find from other local breweries. Other popular brews from Wild Side are Zachary (aged in a wine barrel, then combined with cherries, blueberries, and strawberries) and their Rum Barrel Native Star, a brew that begins in wine barrels, is transferred to rum barrels, then combined with blueberries.

The taproom is cozy, with exposed brick walls. The people who work on the Wild Side are friendly and knowledgeable about the beer. They have live music often, a ladies’ night, and a Syndicated Membership, with benefits including discounts and monthly members only events.

Neon Groundhog Brewery

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13554 Mohler Rd., Grand Rapids, OH. 419-875-6474. Majesticwinery.com
Noon-8pm, Thursday-Saturday. 1-5pm, Sunday

Majestic Winery owners Doug and Laura Rufenacht opened their wine tasting room in 2013, and Neon Groundhog Brewery followed two years later. The ambiance of this small batch brewery is special because of the idyllic scenery of a country vineyard.

If you like citrusy IPAs, you will want to try the Varmint IPA, which is made with fresh squeezed blood oranges, or Nacht Up, a double imperial IPA with grapefruit and lemon undertones. Because this is a small batch brewery, they might not always have all seven or so of their craft beers available at one time. For your non-beer-drinking friends, this place has many wines to sample, and their sweet reds are especially popular.

Neon Groundhog Brewery has indoor and outdoor seating, open mic nights called “Tacos & Open Mic,” live music, yoga, and painting classes. A little something for everybody.

Great Black Swamp Brewing Company

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26611 N. Dixie Hwy., Perrysburg. 419-973-1256. Greatblackswampbrewing.com
4pm-midnight, Monday-Friday.
2pm-2am, Friday. Noon-2am,
Saturday. Noon-6pm, Sunday.

One customer described Great Black Swamp Brewing Company as the place “where everybody knows your name.” This place clearly has the Cheers Factor. The brewery itself was founded in 2009, but with the opening of the bar in 2015, Great Black Swamp has gained a reputation for being a very warm and personal place to gather.

Besides the atmosphere, Great Black Swamp offers some amazing craft brews, including the popular Mosquito Red, their Labyrinth Dunkel lager, and the Bull Frog Stout. If you are there at noon on a Sunday, it might be a good time to have one of their Bloody Marys.

Great Black Swamp offers pub food and free popcorn, Beer Yoga, live music, and trivia on Mondays and Thursdays. Go to their Facebook page for updates on upcoming events and specials.

Bowling Green

Beer Works

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322 N. Grove. St., Bowling Green. 512-299-2101.
5-11pm, Monday-Thursday. 4:30-11pm, Friday.
1-11pm, Saturday-Sunday.

Brewmaster Justin Marx founded Bowling Green Beer Works, the city’s first nanobrewery. According to one patron, the brewery has a “garage door warehouse feel.” Another compared it to a speakeasy.

One of the main things people appreciate about this hangout spot is its low-key atmosphere. It definitely has the Cheers Factor, so get ready to socialize and meet lots of new folks.

While you’re there, buy a pretzel and enjoy some of their high rated homebrews: the Redtail Red Ale, Dubble Date (brewed with dates! Yum.) and BG’s Big Brown Ale. The variety of their home brews seems to satisfy both craft beer purists and people who are typically Bud Light drinkers. Not an easy feat. Bowling Green Beer Works hosts events ranging from book club meetings to their own celebrations. Follow them on Facebook to see what they have coming up.

Worth the Roadtrip

4KD Crick Brewery

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211 Carpenter Rd., Defiance. 419-576-5822. 4kdcrickbrewery.com
4pm-10pm, Wednesday-Thursday. 4pm-11pm,
Friday. 11am-11pm, Saturday. 11am-8pm, Sunday.

4KD Crick Brewery is a small place, so get ready to get cozy with your neighbor – it really only adds to the charm of this small-town brewery. Aside from delicious craft beers, 4KD Crick has 69 cent smoked chicken wings every day, live music every week, and you can enjoy a game of cornhole or jumbo Jenga outside with your buddies.

Their manager and brewmaster is Ozzy Finnegan, and his brews have gotten rave reviews. You’ll find Defiants, a West Coast IPA, Boba’s Bounty IPA, Ole Ransom Russian Imperial Stout, a German Hefeweizen, and the Instant Snowman New England IPA, which seems to be the most popular.

Though its name might suggest frigid temperatures, it is actually a fruity IPA with notes of guava pineapple, and papaya, so Instant Snowman is meant to cool you down when temperatures are soaring.
Go to their Facebook page for updates on their live music and other events, which include book club meetings and fundraisers.

Flatrock Brewing Company

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Brew Pub: 127 W. Washington St., Napoleon. 419-868-8114. Flatrockbrewery.com
4-10pm, Thursday. 4pm-midnight,
Friday-Saturday. 2-8pm, Sunday.

Owner Lawrence Pritchard started Flatrock Brewing Company in 2012. Since then, it has become known as the place to be, not only for craft beer experts, but for novices as well. Pritchard and his helpful staff are known to help educate people who are new to the craft brew scene. Plus, if you bring someone along who isn’t a beer drinker, they have lots of other options to choose from, as Pritchard also owns a winery and distillery.

Flatrock’s down home atmosphere, outdoor games, and incredible prices keep people coming back to this small taproom. While you are sampling their craft beers, wine, or spirits, have some of their artisan pizza, which has gotten great reviews.

Which brews should you try? Definitely any of the Joe E. Brown ales, which have different flavors (pumpkin, for example) depending on the season. Other popular options are the Jalapeño Cucumber Mead and the Hopgoblin American IPA.

Father John’s Heavenly Devilish Brewing Company

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301 W. Butler St., Bryan. 419-633-1313
3-10pm, Tuesday-Thursday. 3pm-midnight,
Friday. 11am-midnight, Saturday. 11am-4pm, Sunday.

John Trippy founded Father John’s in 2013, turning an old church into a totally unique restaurant, bar, and concert venue. Just to give a little taste of the medieval cathedral, spooky décor: there is a “Crypt Room” that has a table shaped like a cross and a plexiglass floor with a coffin underneath.

Visitors are encouraged to wander around the old sanctuary and hang out in the surrounding gardens. Father John’s also hosts varied events like painting classes, stand-up comedy, and even a zombie walk. Food favorites include cheese curds and pretzels and people have given their Paradiso Wheat pale ale, Eureka! Freaka Imperial IPA, and Enlightenment Cidar excellent reviews.

Be forewarned: you should make reservations if you plan to eat at Father John’s as the wait can be quite long on busy nights. Even people who don’t live anywhere near Bryan will drive over an hour for the food, ambiance, and tasty craft beers.

Findlay Brewing Company

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213 E. Crawford St., Findlay. 419-419-2739. Findlaybrewingcompany.com
11am-10pm, Wednesday-Thursday. 11am-midnight,
Friday-Saturday. Noon-7pm, Sunday.

Findlay Brewing Company began in the way that so many breweries begin—with a group of friends making home brews in a garage. Brewmasters Steve and Susan Treece, Aaron Osborne, and Josh Heitkam started the company in 2009 with great success, thought they haven’t been without their struggles. In 2016, a fire caused damage to their first location, forcing them to find a new home. They bounced back quickly, and the new place has a lovely beer garden!

This brewery offers Taproom Yoga (seems to be a big trend), live music, and games. They also have a full-service kitchen. Word on the street is that you must try their Antelope Burger and the Glazed Donut BLT (if you’re feeling decadent). As for their home brews, Brilliant Blonde, Ohio Weather (a cinnamon vanilla porter), and Natural Bridges IPA are the way to go. One customer described the latter as “malty, hoppy deliciousness.”