The proliferation of brewpubs and microbreweries continues unabated in Northeast Ohio, and apparently the market and customer base for such places just cannot be satiated.

I'm cool with that fact.

Particularly when interesting places keep popping up, trying to offer something unique in an effort to separate themselves from the rest of the (frequently) bearded area brewmasters.

On the outskirts of Kent in a large, visually unassuming warehouse sits MadCap Brew Co. It's been around for a couple of years, so it's not exactly the new kid on the block, but it is different than many of the archly hip beer-making spots in the area.

The company logo proudly declares "no masters, no snobs" and it's an apt slogan. The floor is industrial-grade concrete and there's no fancy wood bar repurposed from the original benches at the Rubber Bowl or some such local lore. Heck, there's no bar at all (yet), and forget the increasingly standard brewpub accoutrements such as fancy drop lighting, stylishly exposed ductwork or the dreaded antler chandelier.

The environment inside the cavernous building, which holds the actual brewery and the tasting room/pub, is kind of a combination of the biggest neighborhood bar you've ever been in and a really old-school Chuck E. Cheese, minus the terrible pizza, desiccated animatronic and costumed characters and embarrassing brawling adults.

In the main room, there are a couple of large screens, and in a large room to the right are plenty of tables and benches for parties and gatherings, as well as mega-Jenga, cornhole and a leg lamp (it’s still a major award). Off that room is a newish and sizable patio area that the MadCap crew plans to put to use as the weather warms.

There is no kitchen, but it does have a basket full of takeout menus, and most nights a local food truck parks right outside the front door.

But it's in the room on the left of the entrance where the really cool stuff lies. MadCap has nearly 20 games, more than half of them pinball, along with skee-ball and a few video games. The pinball games cost 50 cents to $1 and there is a nice mix of fancy newer machines ("Deadpool," "The Walking Dead") and some from the last century ("Dirty Harry," World Cup Soccer).

MadCap takes its pinball fairly seriously and hosts a free knockout tournament every Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Kent denizens Mick Kemp and Dave “Bonecrusher” Terkel are big pinball fans and frequently compete in the weekly tournament.

“I like the whole environment, the employees, the fact they have food trucks. It’s just chill,” Kemp said.

“I like that people can bring their kids. The pinball tournament here is friendly, unlike some other places in Akron where it’s just a bunch of grumpy old dudes. We get competitive, but it’s still friendly,” Kemp said.

Terkel, who also goes by “Deathsave Dave,” is an actual wizard of pinball who has been a part of the area scene for about six years, and considers MadCap's stable of tables to be among the best in the area.

“I’m kind of the guy who shows up and cares so much about pinball. Other people are like 'Wow, there’s that much to pinball?' The fact that they’ve grown this many competitive-level tables that they keep up is a major draw,” Terkel said, noting that although Pittsburgh is a major pinball hub, the Northeast Ohio scene is on the rise.

Deathsave Dave is very serious about his pinball but also appreciates the family atmosphere.

“People seem to talk to each other and they actually play the [board] games. I really do love this place, I’m here every day,” Terkel said.

Meanwhile on the other side of the warehouse, Keerie Shastop of Akron and her friend Mike Uzel of Kent were carefully moving mega-Jenga blocks around and trying not to make a mess. Uzel is a longtime customer and big fan of the IPA and suggested MadCap to Shastop. One of the draws for both is that although MadCap is in Kent, it’s not a stereotypical “Kent bar.”

“I love the atmosphere because I’m several years out of college and I don’t like to deal with the college crowd right there in the downtown area,” he said, drawing a nod of agreement from Shastop, who worked at a dive bar that catered to an older, “respectful” crowd.

“I’m college age and I hate college bars," Shastop said. "But I like this place. I think it’s cool they brew their own stuff so you know it’s quality and they put their hard work into it. The bartenders are very respectful and very prompt which you don’t see at all the Kent bars. They are on top of it. I like that."

Currently, MadCap Brew Co. has a Kickstarter campaign going to upgrade the taproom, including building a full bar, acquiring some high-top tables, gussying up the concrete walls and getting some new lighting (please, no antler chandeliers).

MadCap Brew Co. may not be the most conveniently located place to go drink and chill, but it's worth the trip if you like a good variety of beer and a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.

 

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at mabram@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.