Bottoms up, Cleveland! Tomorrow kicks off the sixth annual Cleveland Beer Week, a nine-day celebration of Cleveland’s hopping craft brewery scene with more than 350 events. Need the abbreviated tour for your liver’s sake? Here are Winking Lizard co-owner and Beer Week co-founder John Lane’s must-attend events:
1. Great Lakes Tap Takeover: Sat. Oct. 11 @ 11 a.m.
Great Lakes Brewery takes over the Winking Lizard Lakewood’s taps with 43 different Great Lakes beers. Yes, you read that correctly. In addition to the Ohio City brewery’s standards, Great Lakes' brewers have been stashing special elixirs and planning a few surprises to keep the beer flowing in the name of Lake Erie. A handful of beers will only be on tap for a few hours (or as long as it takes for the tap to run dry), with the last one hitting the bar at 5:30 p.m. “We are tapping a barrel-aged Christmas Ale. That’ll be the highlight of the day,” says Lane. “Christmas Ale is already revered in this city, but to have it barrel-aged is superb.” Winking Lizard Tavern Lakewood, 14018 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, 216-226-6693, winkinglizard.com
2. Culture Yourself, Tue. Oct. 14 @ 6-9 p.m.
What’s better than beer? Beer and cheese, of course. This ticketed event ($40 for 20 pairings) will feature 17 breweries — including local favorites Brew Kettle, Buckeye and Great Lakes — for an evening of beer and cheese pairings at the West Side Market in Ohio City. “This is the first time the West Side Market has opened their space for [any group] other than themselves in its entire history that we know of,” Lane says. One of the cheese stands will be open for some expert help. Lane’s favorite combo? “I love when you get a nice stout with a really nice blue cheese,” he recommends. “I’m a freak about blue cheese.” West Side Market, 1979 W. 25th St., Cleveland, 216-664-3387, westsidemarket.org
3. Brewzilla, Sat. Oct. 18 @ 6-10 p.m.
“A Monster of a Beer Tasting” is this event’s subheading, and for good reason. “We’ll have probably 120, 130 different breweries,” says Lane, with many breweries offering several types of beer. In the past, Brewzilla has been Cleveland Beer Week’s culminating event. It’s followed for the first time this year by a bluegrass festival on Sunday, but this is still the king of beer events. VIP tickets are already sold out, and general admission tickets ($50 per person) are going quickly. 5th Street Arcades, 530 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 216-583-0500, 5thstreetarcades.com
For tickets or for more information about the nonprofit Cleveland Beer Week or the Malone Scholarship Fund it supports, visit clevelandbeerweek.org