Fat Head’s will open its much-delayed tasting room at its production brewery in Middleburg Heights during Cleveland Beer Week, which begins Oct. 18. So pledges co-owner and brewer Matt Cole.
The brewery has been promising to open a taproom for awhile and has had to cancel a couple of planned events because of delays. Cole called it a “tedious process” involving the city and rewriting some zoning laws.
The tasting room will feature sandwiches and a gift shop. Many of the beer events now held at the brewpub in North Olmsted will shift to the production brewery because there’s more space and the events won’t interfere with the restaurant business, Cole said.
That isn’t the only Fat Head’s news:
• Fat Head’s and Troegs Brewing Co. from Hershey, Pa., have collaborated again. They created a beer at Troegs called Second Hand Tropical Stout and it's available now. It’s a sweet stout made with brown sugar, chocolate, lactose and toasted coconuts.
The name refers to the fact that Fat Head’s keeps buying Troegs’ old equipment. Thus, it’s second hand. In fact, there’s a standing agreement that Troegs will call Fat Head’s first anytime it sells equipment, Cole said.
• The brewery is working to create an “Ales for Trails” beer festival next May at Edgewater Park that would benefit the Cleveland Metroparks trail system. The brewery made a special Trailhead Pale Ale earlier this year to support the parks system.
• Cole was taken aback a bit by criticism over Fat Head’s announcement that it will open a location next year in Portland, Ore.
“Portland is going to be a tough one. Fifty-six breweries. We’re from out of town,” he said. “I’m getting a lot of questions about why here. Our response has been: ‘Hey, there’s this western invasion on the East Coast why can’t there be an East Coast invasion on the West Coast?’ They are super critical and it’s quite a food town. We’re going to have to have all our ducks in a row to really light up that market, I think. A tough consumer.”
Cole, who’s won five medals at the Great American Beer Festival in the last four years, said he doesn’t understand why some people are criticizing Fat Head’s entering the market.
“There are already naysayers about what we’re doing, which bothers me ... I just can’t wrap my arms around it. Why wouldn’t you wait until it opens up and you step in the door and taste the product and then make a judgment?”
• Fat Head’s is “still sniffing around” for a possible second location in Cleveland or a site in Columbus. “At this point, we’re looking at what we can get for our money. Does it fit our feel? Is there parking?”
Cole said he hasn’t been as aggressive in finding a suitable location because his attention has been on launching the Portland site.