Ohio Brewing Co. is back.
The brewery, which shuttered its Highland Square location in Akron in late 2017, has opened its new, long-awaited brewpub at 2250 Front St. in Cuyahoga Falls.
"It's a beautiful place," co-founder Chris Verich said with a smile during a recent tour. "This is a relaunching of Ohio Brewing."
The brewery occupies a two-story, red brick building at the corner of Front and Stow Avenue within the city's former pedestrian mall. It joins a thriving craft brewery scene in Cuyahoga Falls that already features HiHO, McArthur's and Missing Mountain.
The building, which once housed the Fox Buick auto dealership and showroom, had to undergo more than a year's worth of renovations to be ready for the 15-barrel brewing system, tasting room and restaurant. The developers received a $249,000 state historic tax credit for the project.
"It's been a long haul," Verich said about the construction.
He describes the brewery as spacious. Indeed, the open and airy first floor is awash with colors from Ohio Brewing's logo — red, black, yellow and white. The well-worn hardwood floors also stand out.
"This is the original floor," General Manager Toni Davis said. "We tried to keep the quirkiness of the building."
The brewpub offers a variety of seating ranging from picnic tables to high-top tables to a 25-seat copper top bar. The Heritage Equipment stainless steel brewing system is tucked in a back corner, while tanks line one wall.
The brewpub also features large windows that look onto Front. An outdoor patio will curve around the front and side of the building.
The basement has another bar, along with pool tables, pinball machines and video games. The top floor is being renovated into an events space.
The main bar offers 32 taps, with a blend of Ohio Brewing and guest beers. The brewery had only a handful of its own beers available when it opened, but is adding them with time, with the hope that half the beers eventually will be from Ohio Brewing.
Mark Harris, 32, who previously served as a brewer with the McMenamins chain based in Portland, Oregon, is overseeing the brewing. He's originally from Illinois and said he was looking to escape the high cost of living in the Pacific Northwest.
He is excited to help Ohio Brewing launch brewpubs in Cuyahoga Falls and Columbus, and oversee both locations. The Columbus site is still under construction.
"I like challenges," Harris said.
He plans to produce Ohio Brewing staples such as Verich Gold and flesh out the beer menu with new modern styles.
"You're going to see New England, hazy styles and big, flavorful stouts," he said.
He promised a wide variety, along with barrel aging and mixed fermentation down the road. Verich said he wants to launch an IPA program that will showcase a new IPA released each month.
Ohio Brewing has invested in a canning line and will distribute its beers.
Meanwhile, the food menu also is still growing. Right now, it features everything from chicken wings to a half-pound Angus beef burger to a grilled chicken breast salad to an Italian sausage sandwich. But people can expect more offerings soon, including vegetarian dishes.
"I don't want to be a burger joint," Davis said.
Ohio Brewing — which previously operated locations in Akron, Youngstown and Niles — is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. A grand opening has yet to be scheduled.
Not Jolly in Richfield
The Jolly Scholar isn't coming to Richfield, after all.
The brewery, which operates on the campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, announced plans earlier this year to open a new brewpub focusing on barbecue and barrel aging, wild fermentation and quirky beers in a building at 3404 Brecksville Road that already houses Dental Ceramics Inc.
But owner Matt Vann said the community won't grant a zoning variance to allow the brewery. He said he withdrew his application for a state brewing permit about a month ago.
"It really does stink," he said.
"It's not 100% dead," he added. "It's 95% dead and trending up."
He plans to revisit the project in November, but doesn't expect the local zoning board to change its mind.
He was encouraged to explore other locations in Richfield, "but didn’t see another spot that fit what our needs would be out there," Vann said. He is looking in the Independence, Broadview Heights and Brecksville areas, but hasn't found anything he likes.
Meanwhile, the Jolly Scholar is taking over The Rough Riders Room in Carlton Commons on the Case Western campus and will turn it into a barrel-aging facility and small eatery. The restaurant will open soon, but it will be awhile for the permitting to be approved related to beer-making, he said.
The Rough Riders Room will retain its name, as opposed to adopting the Jolly Scholar name. Case Western's athletic teams were once nicknamed The Rough Riders.
Eighty-Three Brewery will host its grand opening 2-11 p.m. Aug. 23.
The Akron brewery, founded by Chris and Stephanie Surak, is located in the former Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. headquarters at 1201 E. Market St.
"We’re just excited to see everybody stop by and try our beers," Chris Surak said.
The brewery will offer eight of its beers to start, along with some guest brews. Chris Surak, who is the brewer, said he's partial to his saison and Berliner weisse so far.
The regular business hours will be: 2-10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; noon to 11 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.Eighty-Three will be the 20th craft brewery to open in Summit County.
Thirsty Dog Taphouse, 587 Grant St., Akron, will offer a bonanza of barrel-aged beers 4-9 p.m. Thursday.
The rundown will showcase: Wulver Latte, Saison D'Chardonnay, Brandy Barrel Aged Wulver, Bourbon Barrel Aged Doppelbock, Rum Barrel Aged Bloodhound Orange, Rye Barrel Aged Siberian Night, Grappa Barrel Aged Imperial Porter, Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian Strong Ale, Bourbon Barrel Aged Bernese Barley Wine, Coconut Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Porter, Bourbon Barrel Aged Orthus Belgian Dubbel and Bourbon Barrel Aged Siberian Night with Coffee and Maple.
The Butcher and the Brewer is up for a national toilet award — and it’s a good thing.
The Cleveland brewpub, 2043 E. Fourth St., is a finalist in the Cintas Corp.’s 18th annual America’s Best Restroom Contest. Butcher and the Brewer is competing against the likes of the Nashville Zoo, LaGuardia Airport Terminal B in New York City and the Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts.
In all, there are 10 finalists.
So what makes the brewery’s toilets so special? For starters, it’s a restroom with a common entrance and handwashing area for both men and women. Inside that common area, there are private stalls for women on one side and men on the other.
The Cintas nomination also notes the green and white subway tile that provide a unique look.
“Everyone loves our bathroom,” brewer John McGroarty said. “It’s not something you see every day by any means. People take notice.”
He said there’s even one gentleman who has confessed to coming to the brewery just to use the bathroom.
The 10 finalists were chosen based on cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality and unique design elements, the company said. The winner will be entered into the America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame and receive $2,500 in facility services from Cintas.
People can vote online for their favorite through Sept. 13. To vote, go to: http://www.bestrestroom.com/us/vote.asp.
In case you missed the story last week, Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser and Bud Light, has acquired Cleveland-based craft brewery Platform Beer Co. You can find the full story at www.ohio.com/lifestyle/beer.
The craft beer industry continues to grow.
The Boulder, Colorado-based Brewers Association reported last week that there were 7,480 active craft breweries nationwide as of June 30 — up from 6,464 at the same time last year. It also noted that an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 breweries are still in the planning stages.
Meanwhile, the association reported that the craft beer production increased 4% during the first half of this year. That mirrored the 4% growth reported for 2018.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his daily beer blog at www.ohio.com/beer. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.