Mike Roder enjoys hefeweizens. But he also loves hops.
And apparently mango and habanero peppers, too.
Roder, co-founder and brewer at the Catawba Island Brewing Co., has created one of the more unusual beers made in Ohio: Hop’n Mango Habanero Hefeweizen.
“There were quite a few trials and errors,” Roder said about the brew, which also includes coriander seeds and orange peel.
It’s best described as a fruity, hot beer.
There’s a definite fruit aroma and flavor — at first. Then, a slight heat starts to take over. “Enough to make you want to take another sip,” Roder said during a recent visit to the brewery, located just outside Port Clinton along Lake Erie. “Everyone is really enjoying it.”
Catawba Island, a production brewery, opened earlier this month (July). The brewery had three beers on tap during my visit: the hefeweizen, McFadden Red Ale and Foxy Brown. The Gem Beach Pale Ale had run out just before I arrived.
A sampler consisting of four beers costs $8, while a pint is either $5 or $6.
The tap system at the bar has 12 handles so there’s plenty of space for beers. But during my visit, the brewery hadn’t yet fired up its 10-barrel stainless steel brewing system because of a plumbing issue. So Catawba Island was working with a pilot system and simply trying to keep up with demand. The brewery also hadn’t started selling growlers but will as soon as the beer starts flowing more freely.
“We’re pumping it out as quickly as our limited facilities allow us,” said co-founder Shad Gunderson, who sports the typical craft beer industry shaggy beard.
Catawba Island is located in a one-story building along East Harbor Road that once housed a camper showroom and pet store. The brewhouse is behind glass on the right-hand side as you walk into the building.
Gunderson, whose wife Cindy also is one of the owners, said he wanted to make sure the brewhouse was visible. “People want to gawk,” he said.
The tasting room is open and airy, with high communal tables and chairs dotting the floor. In one area, there are couches. The large bar along the back wall is made of large rocks and the top is poured concrete with an epoxy cover that makes it appear almost like granite Metal lights dangle from the ceiling.
Because of the concrete floor and openness, there’s a definite echo in the room.
One thing missing is a television.
“I think it’s distracting,” Gunderson said about the absence of TVs. “There are plenty of sports bars around. The idea is to enjoy the beer.”