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Home Beer Brewery Spotlight: Great Lakes Brewing

Brewery Spotlight: Great Lakes Brewing

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Every Great Lakes beer has a story; brewery co-founder Patrick Conway shares the tales behind his five favorite brews.

Dortmunder Gold Lager

“This used to be called The Heisman, named after John Heisman of Heisman Trophy fame. His home is kitty-corner from the brewery, and we thought that was an interesting story, plus the Heisman name is German. The organization that gives out the trophy said they would sue us, so we backed away from the name, but it had just won a gold medal at the 1990 GABF, so we ended up calling it Dortmunder Gold. It’s won numerous medals and is our biggest seller.”

Commodore Perry IPA

“Commodore Perry is the fellow responsible for the American victory over the British in the War of 1812. They fought a battle off of the shores of Cleveland. He was the one that infamously came up with ‘Don’t give up the ship,’ so our label says ‘Don’t give up the sip.’ It’s probably our staff’s favorite beer. It has a terrific balance: It’s well-hopped with a nice fruity finish, but there’s a good malt presence so it’s not clawing. It goes great with spicy dishes and bold cheeses.”

Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

“A lot of Clevelanders and people from northeast Ohio died on the voyage of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which unexpectedly sank in Lake Superior in 1975. My friend’s dad was first mate and went down with the ship. We asked the family if they’d mind us calling the beer Edmund Fitzgerald, and my friend said, ‘My Dad would be honored.’ It’s got that bittersweet chocolate-coffee taste with bold hops, and goes great with oysters and barbecued ribs.”


“I’ve always liked this one because of its terrific flavor profile. It’s heavy-hopped but balanced and really rich with flavor. Nosferatu is the German vampire from the 1920s film [of the same name]. He adorns the label, so we call it ‘The beer with the bite.’ It’s an American red ale and pretty strong at 8.0% ABV. It’s really complex and not for the faint of heart, but for people looking for an explosion of flavors.”

Christmas Ale

“Our Christmas Ale is extraordinarily popular. We only sell it for eight weeks—from November through December—and it’s made with ginger, honey and cinnamon, so it’s very expensive to make. We get 15 semi-truckloads full of 55-barrel drums of honey, which costs us over a quarter-million dollars. The cinnamon sticks and ginger are cut by hand. It’s probably one of the fastest-selling beers in the whole country at that time of year. It’s $11 and sells like it’s for free.”


Where: 2516 Market Ave.;

Founded: 1988

Recent News: Undergoing a $6 million expansion


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