Remarkably, no customers have ever been run over by a forklift at Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.

Before you laugh, it’s not that far out of the realm of possibility.

The Thirsty Dog tasting room is smack in the middle of the production brewery and a forklift sometimes beeps on by the bar.

But that insurance hazard — or occasional charming distraction, depending on your point of view — is now a thing of the past.

The Thirsty Dog Taphouse, a new taproom and kitchen, has opened a few doors from the brewery at 587 Grant St. in a 3,000-square-foot building that once housed Glen’s Train Shop.

The official grand opening is set for Friday, but the doors are open now. As part of the celebration Thirsty Dog will have three-year old Wulver — its bourbon barrel-aged scotch ale — available, along with a bottle release at 11 a.m. Saturday of Rubus Dog, a Flanders-style red ale aged with raspberries.

The Taphouse essentially replaces the brewery tasting room, which will remain open only from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturdays, with tours at 2 p.m.

While the production brewery is squeezed into one of the pre-Prohibition Burkhardt Brewing Co. buildings, the Taphouse is more open and has a more modern bar feel.

“It’s a more comfortable environment for sure,” manager Greg Tisch said about the new space.

There are plenty of similarities and differences between the two locations.

Let’s start with the similarities.

No shocker here: Just like the brewery site, the Taphouse offers plenty of Thirsty Dog beers on draft, along with growlers, six-packs and kegs for sale to go. The Taphouse has 20 taps.

There’s also Thirsty Dog merchandise available and the walls are adorned with posters of Thirsty Dog beer labels.

And now for what’s new:

• The Taphouse takes credit cards. That’ll be a big relief to many who wandered into the previous site and realized they didn’t have any cash.

• There’s a kitchen serving pizzas, flatbreads, sausages and snacks such as a cheese plate and hummus. The food menu will showcase local meats and cheeses from places such as Lucky Penny Farm. There also will be chips from the new Hartville Potato Chips in Akron and barbecue sauce from the Winking Lizard Tavern.

• The bar now stocks several scotches and whiskeys, and a couple of wines.

• There’s a party room with dart boards and games.

• The U-shaped bar is topped with gray and black granite and the hanging lights above the bar are made out of green 12 Dogs of Christmas bottles.

• The Taphouse is climate controlled. The brewery isn’t. The brewery, thanks to the age of the building, can be sweltering hot or chilly depending on the weather outside.

• There’s a large flat-screen television behind the bar. There is no television at the brewery.

• The Taphouse will be open much more often during the week. The hours, which go into effect Friday, are: noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. It’ll be closed Mondays.

• The bathrooms are an upgrade from the brewery.

• There’s more parking out front.

• Oh, and there are no forklifts.

“It’s very nice,” customer David Muntean said last week as he drank a Labrador Lager during a visit. “The other one was carved out of the brewery. This is more user friendly and the parking is better.”

Thirsty Dog co-owner John Najeway is excited to finally have the Taphouse open. The brewery has been working on the project for about a year.

“We continue to be an economic driver in Akron,” he said.

Thirsty Dog already has scheduled a couple of events at the Taphouse.

There’s a small-plate beer pairing dinner set for 6 p.m. March 29. The dinner is $30.

The Taphouse also will host a craft beer talk and book signing with me at 7 p.m. March 14. I’ll have copies of my book 50 Must-Try Craft Beers of Ohio available for purchase.

The Taphouse phone number is 234-571-1456.

Fat Head’s opening

Speaking of openings, the new Fat Head’s brewpub at 3885 Everhard Road NW, Plain Township, will open Monday.

The brewery had hoped to be open this week but encountered delays.

Medina Beer Fest

The annual Medina Beer Fest, a fundraiser for Main Street Medina, runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Weymouth Country Club, 3946 Weymouth Road.

It will feature about 25 breweries, along with music, raffles and food. Tickets are $35.

For more details or tickets, call 330-722-6186 or go to www.mainstreetmedina.com.

McArthur’s news

McArthur’s Brew House, 2721 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls, celebrated its one-year anniversary and debuted a new small kitchen last week.

The first year went surprisingly well, said co-founder Abbey McArthur, whose husband Kevin is the brewer.

So well in fact that they are thinking about upgrading from their two-barrel brewing system to a five- or seven-barrel brewhouse.

“It’s hard to keep up,” Abbey said. “It’s a good problem to have, but it’s also stressful because you can only do so much with a two-barrel system.”

Given the size of their space, they also are considering the possibility of moving the beer production off-site in the future. But Abbey said they are being careful financially with their approach.

The new kitchen features pizza, pretzels and beer cheese, hot dogs and chips. They decided to add the kitchen for a couple of reasons, including the desire to start serving wine and cider.

“We also noticed that people come in after dinner and this might encourage them to come in and eat,” Abbey said. “Plus, food and beer go well together.”

Girl Scout pairing

Wadsworth Brewing Co., 126 Main St., Wadsworth, will host a beer pairing featuring Girl Scout cookies from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

There’s no extra cost to eat the cookies with your beer, although the brewery will be accepting donations for the teen ministry The Garage.

Summit Brew Path

The second annual Summit Brew Path kicks off Saturday.

The passport program this year features 18 stops in Summit, Medina, Portage and Stark counties. I wrote a separate story on the return of the brewery trail.

If you missed it, you can find it at www.Ohio.com/beer.

Royal Docks dinner

Crave Cantina, 2097 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls, will host a five-course beer pairing dinner with Royal Docks Brewing Co. at 6 p.m. April 16.

The dinner will kick off with Backyard Crusher, and then pair Belgian Golden Double with Latin moule frites and steamed mussels; Pendragon with criollo chicken; Cantina Mojito Sour with Peruvian causa; Crime in Passionfruit with curried duck confit empanada; and Deathly Mallows Milk Stout with tres leche cake.

Tickets are $50, plus tax and tip. For reservations, call 330-940-2000.

Art and Ale

The 11th annual Art & Ale beer and food tasting is Friday at the Akron Art Museum. Hopefully you have your ticket already because the event is sold out.

Top beer bar

Brewfontaine has once again been named the best craft beer bar in Ohio as part of Craftbeer.com‘s annual Great American Beer Bars competition.

The Bellefontaine bar also took home the honor last year.

Craftbeer.com, which is part of the Brewers Association, reported that more than 8,000 votes were cast in the online competition. To read the full list, go to: www.craftbeer.com.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Read his beer blog at www.Ohio.com/beer. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.