What a whirlwind week with the Father of Craft Beer! Little Jackie Snowflake (a name Jack dubbed himself after Boston Beer’s Jim Koch introduced him at GABF as “the first snowflake in the avalanche of craft beer”) made it into CLE last Monday evening with the snow and the coldest temperatures Northeast Ohio had seen in four years.
Before we even went home, Jack wanted to stop for a burger and a beer upon his arrival. We hit the Market Garden Brewery and had a chance to chat with partner Sam McNulty as we sipped some of brewmaster Andy Tveekrem‘s beers and enjoyed some warming food. Later in the week we stopped by again and Jack had the chance to see the operation as brewster Jennifer Hermann and brewers Andy and John showed him around. Jack was particularly interested in the distilling operation, as he’s been doing some of that himself lately.
The next day we were off and running. After lunch on Tuesday at my local Eagles Club (Jack’s kind of joint, really) Jack was the man of the hour at The Greenhouse Tavern, where Chef Jonathon Sawyer hosted a happy hour meet and greet. We had a nice evening tasting many delicious offerings from the kitchen staff, and the New Albion Ale was flowing freely. Jack found himself surrounded by appreciative fans, as usual.
Wednesday we made a trek north to Willoughby Brewing Company, for lunch and a brief tour with brewers Rick Seibt, Don Trivisonno and Wyatt Routson. Jack loved the old railroad building setting and the beers, as well as talking about the brew business in Northeast Ohio.
From there we crossed the snowy countryside and made a stop into Chardon Brew Works for a tasting at the bar. I knew Jack would love seeing brewmaster/owner Mike Nedrow’s Brew-Magic set-up and talking flying with a fellow pilot. Donna Nedrow shared her namesake “Donna Do You Wanna” Hefeweizen and other beers with Jack. He was duly impressed.
That evening we headed west for another meet and greet, this time at the Lizardville Rocky River location. A nice group came out to say hello and share the New Albion Ale on tap–we kicked that barrel pretty quickly! The staff was busy cooling bottles the rest of the evening with the handy 6-minute chilling system!
Come Thursday, we made the trek back up to Cleveland for lunch at Cleveland’s oldest brewery since Prohibition, Great Lakes Brewing. Co-founder Pat Conway even stopped by for a toast, and the two Irishmen chatted away about the beer biz. It was such a pleasure to listen in to their conversation.
Thursday night we were back at the east side Lizardville location in Bedford, where we packed the place with New Albion Ale drinkers. Sir John Lane popped in for a visit with Jack, and Jack highly praised his business–he loves the spirits as much as the beer–he was enamored with the bar’s concept. Overall, Jack was completely impressed with everything he saw while visiting my hometown.
There was no rest for the beer-weary come Friday. Jack and I hopped on the highway in more snowy weather, and headed southwest to Indianapolis for more meeting and greeting. This time it was an appearance at Scotty’s Thr3e Wisemen Brewpub in Broad Ripple. What a fun area of town for craft beer lovers! Once again, we killed the keg in record time. The turnout was amazing.
On Saturday, Jack appeared at the Indiana Brewer’s Guild Winter Brewfest at the invitation of local beer writer Rita Kohn and World Class Beer. I enjoyed walking among the brewery tables and tasting so many new-to-me Indiana beers while Jack chatted with craft beer lovers who stopped by to try the New Albion and meet the man himself.
I personally can’t thank everyone enough for the fabulous reception of Jack in Cleveland and all his other stops, for making the time to try the beer and say hello. Little Jackie Snowflake honestly can’t believe the avalanche he’s created, and he couldn’t be more proud of the efforts to keep it growing. Cheers to all of you!
P.S. (Keep an eye on this post for updates on Jack’s travel schedule in the next couple of weeks if you’d like to meet him.)
P.P.S. This month’s Cleveland Magazine offers a nice overview of the CLE beer scene, including a little blurb about what beers are in my fridge!