Lock 15 Brewing Co. brought in a celebrity to help make a splash with its debut beers.

Chuck Ayers, the longtime illustrator behind the popular comic strip Crankshaft and a former Akron Beacon Journal editorial cartoonist, designed illustrations for all the beers at the upcoming Ohio & Erie Canal-themed, chef-driven brewpub in Akron.

Mutton Hill Hefe features an image of three sheep with one of them standing on two legs and downing a brewskie. Towpath Porter shows a mule pulling a canal boat. And 1913 Pilsner has a scene from the great 1913 flood that destroyed the canal.

Lock 15 and the illustrations will make their public debut during the grand opening Aug. 21.



The brewpub, 21 W. North St., is in the old Swinehart Tire and Rubber Co. building at North Howard and North streets and just a few steps from the Towpath Trail, canal lock 15 and the Mustill Store.

Brewpub co-founders Joe Karpinski and Colin Cook reached out to Ayers on a whim. Cook has known the Ayers family since he was a kid and thought it’d be cool to get him involved. It turns out Ayers was part of the founding of the Cascade Locks Park Association and he was more than happy to jump in.

“He was already intimately connected to this whole area,” Cook said.

Lock 15 also hired artist Michael Ayers, Chuck's brother, to create canal-themed murals inside the brewpub.



Karpinski and Cook, along with executive chief John Taylor, are excited to open the doors to the public. While the seven-barrel brewhouse is up and running and pumping out beer, workers are still putting the finishing touches on the kitchen, restaurant and bar.

“The first day coming in here and smelling the brews going was a big moment for me,” Cook said.

The food will be a centerpiece of Lock 15, with the brewpub offering everything from salads to burgers to grilled sirloin to shrimp and grits.

Cook and Taylor traveled to New York City this week to take part in the Cleveland Rocks dinner put on by the James Beard Foundation.

“It’s a huge honor,” Cook said. “To not be open yet but to be included in that dinner speaks to John’s talent.”



Lock 15 will feature 120 seats inside and another 100 in outdoor beer garden. There’s also a sitting area under a pergola and plenty of raised gardens housing herbs and vegetables.

As for the beer, the brewpub will eventually offer 10 on draft: Mutton Hill Hefe, 1913 Pilsner, Towpath Porter, Old Brick strawberry-rhubarb wheat ale, Instigator IPA, Cascades Locks Pale Ale, Mustill Mild, Swinehart Stout, Station 3 Habanero IPA and Signal Tree Tripel.

All the names are pulled from the area or local history.



Lock 15 will be open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. The brewpub also plans to open early for brunch on Sundays in the future.

If you just can’t wait to get a taste of Lock 15, the brewery will be serving two of its beers — the porter and hefeweizen — on Saturday at the Akron Ale Fest.

For more details, click here.