Cleveland and Pittsburgh don’t always see eye to eye — at least when it comes to professional football. When it comes to beer, though? That’s different a different story.
The award-winning Fat Head’s brewpub and production brewery in suburban Cleveland grew out of the original Fat Head’s restaurant in Pittsburgh.
And now Buckeye Brewing, a production brewery in Cleveland, and Rivertowne Brewing, which has both restaurants and a production brewery around Pittsburgh, are collaborating on a special pale ale set for release either in late February or early March.
The beer, called OH-PA Session Pale Ale and brewed at Rivertowne, will be available in 12-ounce cans and on draft. (Attached is a prototype label, which features the slogan “Beer Without Borders.”)
Rivertowne brewmaster Andrew Maxwell expects the beer to be about 4.5 percent to 4.7 percent alcohol by volume.
“When you get session beers like that, you have to make sure that they don’t lack flavor,” he said. “And what we’ll do is have a real nice hop flavor and ... a small bite.”
Garin Wright, the brewer and owner at Buckeye, said it was important to him not to play up any rivalry between the two cities when creating the beer or label artwork. OH-PA is a collaboration, he said.
“It’s a fun endeavor,” Wright said.
OH-PA Session Pale Ale was the brainchild of Heinen’s beer buyer Ed Thompkins who’s well-known for his beer knowledge and support of local breweries. The beer will be available exclusively at Heinen’s grocery stores in the Cleveland market. It also will be available at the usual Rivertowne locations in Pennsylvania.
The collaboration idea stemmed from a conversation over a few beers during Cleveland Beer Week last year. That talk included Thompkins and Buckeye and Rivertowne brewers. Both breweries are distributed in the Cleveland market by Beverage Distributors.
“The next thing you know we’re in Pittsburgh getting the plan together,” Thompkins said. “This shoots down the theory that you can’t drink beer all day and still have good ideas. Because the OH-PA came to me after multiple beers.”
He predicts the beer will be a big hit.
“I want to make a big deal about this,” he said. “This is where beer is fun. It’s relevant and it really attracts an audience because there are no boundaries. This has never been done before. You still kick over stones and find these new opportunities even as the market kind of gets saturated or the bubble builds. There are still cool things that you can do.”
Maxwell said the collaboration is a first for Rivertowne, which started distributing in Ohio last year.
“We went into Ohio and I honestly have made so any friends there,” he said. “Ohio is just a fun state. ... It’s an honor to part of the Ohio family. It sounds a bit political but it’s not. It’s true.”
Thompkins said he’d like to see the Buckeye-Rivertowne collaboration continue with other beers.
“Who knows where it’s going to lead or end,” he said.