Letís get this out of the way up front: The new Fat Headís brewpub in suburban Canton has a tentative opening date of March 5.

Thatís what everyone wants to know: When? When? When?

The anticipation has been building ever since the Middleburg Heights-based brewery announced plans to open in a strip mall in Plain Township in the Belden Village area. Itís not difficult to understand the enthusiasm.

Fat Headís has taken home an astounding 21 medals at the Great American Beer Festival since its brewpub opened in 2009 in North Olmsted ó and another six medals at the biennial World Beer Cup.

In other words, a world-class brewer is putting down roots in Stark County.

The Canton location, at 3885 Everhard Road, was appealing to Fat Headís for several reasons. Itís in the restaurant-rich and heavily trafficked Belden Village area, has easy access to Interstate 77 and features ample parking.

The breweryís philosophy is on full display in a neon sign as you walk in: "Chill out man, have a beer!"



The 10,000-square-foot brewpub has an open feel ó different than its segmented brewpub in North Olmsted. It features a U-shaped bar with a live edge wooden bar top, big-screen televisions hanging above the bar, plenty of different kinds of seating with high-top tables, booths and low top tables, and glass garage doors in front that can be opened during nice weather.

Thereís also an outdoor patio area with a fire pit, game room, a wall showcasing all the Fat Headís awards and a giant Fat Head's logo, which features a fat guy's head painted on a red brick wall.

The 10-barrel JV Northwest brewhouse is behind glass, but the stainless steel fermenting tanks are exposed.



"We wanted to create a nice warm spot that has character," said brewmaster and co-owner Matt Cole, who hopes the Canton site drives retail sales and brand awareness for Fat Headís in the community.

He described the design a mix of rustic and industrial.

Cole and Will Polensek, who is the head brewer at the brewpub, have been busy making test batches in anticipation of the opening. Bumble Berry, a honey blueberry ale, was the first beer made on the new system.

Beer drinkers can expect award-winners such as Head Hunter IPA on the beer menu. Polensek, who started at Fat Headís as a line cook and worked his way up to brewer, also will have the freedom to brew a couple beers specifically for the location.

Cole expects to have six beers available at the opening that were made at the brewpub, with other brands brought in from the Middleburg Heights brewery and some guest beers.

The food menu will be similar to the North Olmsted brewpub and Pittsburgh restaurant. Fat Headís is known for sandwiches that are as big as someoneís head ó thus the name of the place.

It will be Fat Headís second brewpub. (A Portland, Ore., location has been rebranded.) It also operates a restaurant in Pittsburgh and is building a new production brewery and tasting room in Middleburg Heights along Interstate 71. As far as the Middleburg Heights opening, the tentative date for that brewery is June 1.

Fat Head's is joining a Stark County craft beer scene that already is home to the Canton, Maize Valley, Paradigm Shift, Royal Docks, Sandy Springs and Shale breweries.

Cole is excited for the opening.

"I hope people come out and try us," he said.