Jim Lieb is the head brewer at Rocky River Brewing Co., a terrific brewpub located on the west side of Cleveland. He took over the brewing operation after Matt Cole left to open Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon and has kept the beer quality high. As for the brewpub itself, the owners designed the entire restaurant around a clock face that they bought at an antiques show. It hangs above the ample 60-foot long bar.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: I have always enjoyed beer. With a chemistry degree, I thought I should be able to make beer at home. So I went to the local homebrew store bought a kit and went home and got started. I became hooked, worked at the homebrew store and then went to The American Brewers Guild, and then after a few years got a job in the brewing industry.
Q: What sets Rocky River Brewing Co. apart in the crowded beer industry?
A: Rocky River is different because all of our beer is available only at the brewpub. There is only one location, we have a good selection of great food. We have 3 regular beers and then 4 to 5 other beers on tap all the time. If you stop in while I am working, I am usually available to talk to.
Q: Everyone must assume being a brewer is a great job -- you get to work with beer. What would surprise people who did your job for a day?
A: The main thing that brewers do is clean and sanitize. Some days that seems like all you do. With the set up of our building, receiving our grain shipments is quite a work out. Carry 40 to 45, 50 or 55 pound grain bags into the building from the parking lot by hand.
Q: What's your favorite beer that you brew and why?
A: Firelands Pale Ale. Pale Ales are my favorite style of beer, and this strong pale ale is my favorite that I brew.
Q: Which beer -- any beer in the world -- do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?
A: Piraat. This Belgian strong ale is my favorite Belgian style beer. I think they hit the bullseye with this beer.
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