Craft Beer Industry Hopping in Cleveland


Fueling demand for Clevelanders taste for craft beer, the craft beer industry is hopping in Cleveland. Much of the craft beer is consumed at local brew pubs that create their own unique taste and blend. In fact, Cleveland has an entire district devoted to the local craft beer scene. The Brewery District, located in the city’s Ohio City neighborhood is lined with small independent breweries and pubs. And the city is recognized on almost every decorated list when it comes to breweries. GQ magazine, for instance, ranked it 4th in its ranking of “The Five Best Beer Cities in America”, while and Thrillist Media Group ranked it the country’s 13th- and 12th-Best Beer Cities.

Cleveland has had a rich beer history since the 1840s. But a difficult economic climate in the 1980’s forced local breweries out of business. C. Schmidt and Sons was the last remaining brewery until it closed in 1984.  That is until two Irish brothers took a leap of faith and opened the Great Lakes Brewing Company in 1988. Since then more small independent craft breweries cropped up in Cleveland and around Ohio, including Columbus which is arguably the state’s craft beer capital, transforming the once depleted beer industry into an economic powerhouse.

To meet consumer demand and to compete with other states, Ohio farmers are growing more than 30 varieties of hops and barley which not only benefits the craft beer industry, but local farmers as well. “In addition, the state’s pro business environment has also been a big benefit. For example, a law requiring separate licenses for operating tasting rooms has been eliminated. Other business friendly actions have also helped smaller craft brewers, those producing less than one million barrels annually, by significantly reducing the cost of obtaining a brewing license,” mentioned Victor Bierman III, Ohio lawyer and business expert.

As a result, Ohio is flourishing with more than 150 craft breweries with over 20 breweries in Northeast Ohio alone. The state is now 4th in the nation for craft beer production, according to the Ohio Craft Brewers Association. In addition, Ohioan adults consume 5.1 gallons of craft beer per capita every year. According to reports by the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association, the Ohio craft beer industry contributes approximately $10 billion annually either indirectly or directly to the state economy. Furthermore, there are 83,000 workers employed in the beer industry, contributing $1.9 billion in annual taxes.

Other notable brewers that have helped to establish Cleveland as a hot spot for craft beer are Market Garden Brewery, which is upgrading to a 35-barrel system; and Platform Beer Company,  a production brewery with a tasting room that also serves as an incubator for home brewers desiring to become professional beer masters. Cheers!

Image Credit: Edsel Little

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