Whiskey’s to tough, Champagne costs too much, Vodka puts my mouth in gear. I hope this refrain, Will help me explain, As a matter of fact, I like beer. –Tom T. Hall
Beer has grown up…a lot. Although many of us remember the days of 3 or so national brands and a few, very few, locally produced brews, our national concept of brewing was large batch commercial beer. The only small batch beers we knew was the dodgy guy two blocks over peddling his “homebrew” at neighborhood picnics.
Those days are gone. According to the Brewers Association, Ohio and Michigan have over 650 craft, micro, or nano brewers combines and that number is steadily climbing. So is the economic impact. Even in a year when overall beer sales declined by 0.8 percent, craft sales rose by almost 4%. In the marketing world, that is more than a trend. It is a movement.
Enter Local Breweries
Don’t let national beer brands fool you, however. They are still produced and bottled locally, or at least regionally. Beer, along with soda and bakery products, have always been produced close to their source. Basically, beer is local.
With craft brews now storming the scene with a vengeance, beers aren’t just produced locally but created here as well. Many of the local breweries are capitalizing on regional ingredients to flavor and add character to their brews (you will find lots of cherry and blueberry in seasonal offerings, making use of our regional production of both of those fruits).
More than just the beer, there are stories. Taprooms are filled with stories about each recipe, each owner, and each person sitting at the taproom listening talking about their own stories. These stylized pubs are fueled by the same sense of community as coffee houses.
Sure, there are great local beers distributed and sold at local markets. However, in this summer of exploring local, take time to visit local taprooms and meet your fellow hop heads and get started on collecting, and telling, some stories of your own.
Top 13 Local Breweries and Taprooms
- Earnest Brew Works; 4342 S. Detroit Ave, Toledo: Brewery and taproom located right in the heart of the south end with an interesting selection of beers. Fairly new to the scene. Some of the names alone are worth it, including AM/PM, a coffee inspired ale.
- Black Cloister Brewing Works; 619 Monroe St, Toledo: Brewery, taproom, and kitchen. Located right in the Downtown Toledo corridor, Black Cloister has an excellent selection of beers and features events including weekly trivia nights.
- Inside the Five Brewing Company: 5703 Main St. Sylvania Ohio 43560, brewery, taproom, and kitchen. Located in the heart of Downtown Sylvania, Inside the Five has a great selection of beers on tap and great food. Be sure to check out their exclusive Draft Class and Monday night trivia hosted by Guy in the 419.
- Patron Saints Brewery; 4730 W. Bancroft # 8, Toledo: Brewery and taproom. Marketing as a “nano” brewery (as opposed to micro), Patron Saints is a 2 man operation. They do offer growlers and have a variety of sizes for tasting and sampling. They have cans to go. They do not serve food but allow outside food and are very proud of their “little growler” friendliness which translates to being kid and dog accessible.
- Black Frog Brewery; 831 S. McCord, Holland: Brewery and Taproom: Started in a garage, Black Frog now has a taproom and is serving select brews from its rotating stock. One of the first African American breweries in the state and a 10-year army vet, Chris Harris’s tap room is the essence of “local” and worth a drop by.
- Maumee Bay Brew Company; 27 Broadway St., Toledo: Brewery, Taproom, Restaurant, Event Venue. Perhaps best described as the “dean” of the local breweries and located at the iconic Oliver House, Maumee Bay is widely available in local groceries. However, why not drink it straight from the “tap”, so to speak. If you haven’t visited the Oliver House in a while now is definitely the time to get back and experience all that the venue has to offer.
- Pavlov’s Brewing Company; 7548 Lewis Ave, Temperance: Brewery and Taproom. Very new to the scene (March of 2019), we can only imagine that the brews are as playful as the names of the beers themselves, including “Sitting Pretty” and “Whip Tail”.
- Neon Groundhog; 13544 Mohler Rd, Grand Rapids: Brewery, Winery, Taproom, Event Venue. Sort of a doubleheader as both N.G. and Majestic Oak are run by the same couple. Open on the weekend with food truck support and featuring local musicians, Neon Groundhog is respectable microbrew located in a “vineyard” package.
- Wildside; 24195 Front Street, Grand Rapids: Brewery, Taproom, Tasting Room, Pizzeria. Originally a brewery then broadening to a taproom and adding a small but high-quality pizza menu, Wildside is nothing but a study in evolution. Each time they make an addition to their operation it is quality and well thought out.
- Upside Brewing and J & G Pizza Palace; 5692 Main St., Sylvania: Brewery, Pizzeria. Even if the beer was just middle of the road, which by all reviews it is not, couple it with one of the best pizzas in town and you have a winning combination. Right downtown Sylvania adds an element of charm as well.
- Original Gravity Brewing Company; 440 County Rd, Milan: Brewery, taproom, pub, snacks, and sandwiches. If you are from Toledo proper it is a bit of a drive but OG Brewing Company is worth it. A great selection of sandwiches, some twists of beers including ciders. Music on the patio during the summer.
- Cotton Brewing Company; 626 Oak St., Adrian: Brewery, taproom, snacks, and pizza. A basic taproom with small-batch ales in store and a small but beer-friendly menu (including paninis and pizza. Music on select days. They feature a 16 seat, 16 tap set up in their taproom and have over 200 beers in their repertoire.
- Twin Oast Brewing; Catawba Island: Brewery, taproom restaurant, outdoor venue. First, it is Catawba so worth a day trip or overnight stay anyway. Twin Oast, however, sits on the Quinstock Farms estate making it not only one of the great local breweries, but an amazing destination to loaf away a long summer night. Both year-round and seasonal offerings plus a respectable bistro menu.