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Beer Class is the Best Class – Beer Exploration Society at Ohio Beer Garden

Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz afterwards.  However, we do have two questions for you.  Do you like beer and do you like learning about beer?  If you’ve answered yes to both of those, then Ohio Beer Garden’s Beer Exploration Society is for you.

Speaking of beer, it’s no mystery that we at It’s Always Ohio like beer…and in fact, we like learning about beer.  The Rail and Ohio Beer Garden have this sweet little class dubbed the “Beer Exploration Society,” which is exactly as it sounds.  Top breweries from around Ohio come in, produce an awesome lineup of new beers, pour them for everyone and then chat about what makes them so tasty.

The Rail Facebook

One session has us particularly fired up this month and that’s because one of our favorites, Market Garden Brewery, is rolling in to the Ohio Beer Garden on April 19th with a ton of awesome brews.  They’ll be featuring Hellamango IPA, Prosperity Wheat, Citramax IPA and Progress Pilsner.

Ohio Beer Garden Facebook

We’re not sure about you, but we’re getting a little thirsty just looking at those bottles.  If you’ve never been to a Beer Class yet, the cost is a meager $12/person and with that you get plenty of beer tasters and appetizers to go along.  The easiest way to book a seat is by calling (440) – 979 – 1001.

If you can’t make it to the Ohio Beer Garden on April 19th for Market Garden, there are three others you can meander to:

  • Beer Exploration Society at The Rail Strongsville – Jackie O’s Brewery
    • Thursday, April, 20th @ 6:00 pm
  • Beer Exploration Society at The Rail Canton – Columbus Brewing Co.
    • Thursday, April 27th @ 6:00 pm & 7:30 pm
  • Beer Exploration Society at The Rail Fairlawn – Four String Brewing Co.
    • Thursday,  April 27th @ 7:00 pm
Ohio Beer Garden Facebook

For more information you can visit www.therailburger.com or www.ohiobeergarden.com.  You can follow along on Twitter @TheRailBurger & @ohiobeergarden.  Side note: Looking for a ridiculously tasty Certified Angus all-Ohio steak? Check out City Square Steakhouse, their sister restaurant in Wooster, Ohio.

Cheers!

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Love Ohio Craft Beer? FeBREWary at The Rail is Back, Bigger and Better Than Ever

If you’ve visited It’s Always Ohio before, you’d know that we aren’t shy about how much we like The Rail.  Their burgers are ridiculously tasty.  Their beers are ridiculously tasty.  And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s all OHIO!  So when we got word about them bringing back FeBREWary, we had to share. Check out the deets below.

  • FeBREWary has been expanded to include all of Mike Mariola’s concepts —All four Rail locations, Ohio Beer Garden and City Square Steakhouse in Wooster, Ohio.
  • Month-long event will comprise of a variety of draft beers not available anywhere else in Ohio.
  • Featured breweries include Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, Warped Wing Brewing and Zaftig Brewing.

New year, new beer.  The Rail, one of northeast Ohio’s staple craft beer and burger bars, is bringing back beer-centric FeBREWary for a second straight year.

The Rail Akron Ohio

While the exciting event will once again feature rare Ohio craft brews that can’t be found anywhere else, The Rail has stepped up their game by expanding the map and featuring a lot more beer.  Restauranteur Mike Mariola’s other two creations, Ohio Beer Garden in North Olmsted and City Square Steakhouse in Wooster, Ohio, will also be taking part in the fun.

The Rail’s affinity for everything Ohio is already well known amongst northeast Ohioans, evident by their use of local ingredients and Ohio only brews. 2017’s FeBREWary however, will up the ante by offering rare, delicious craft beers that won’t be available at any other space in Ohio.

“We’ve always known Ohio is on the forefront of the craft beer scene,” says Mike Mariola, award-winning chef turned restauranteur and craft beer aficionado. “That’s why we created FeBREWary.  It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase some of our favorite Ohio beer and have other local fellow beer lovers join us.”

Mariola’s deep involvement in the event even has him driving a U-Haul across the state to pick up these highly coveted kegs.

Beer Flight The Rail Ohio

These scarce brews will spread across the style board and include Driftwood IPA, Daybreak Clear Sky Cream Ale and Hop Smoothie IPA from the Columbus-based Wolf’s Ridge Brewing.  Gamma Bomb IPA, Trotwood Lager and Jolly Tar Dark Brown Ale from Dayton’s Warped Wing Brewery as well as A-Crop Blacklight Stout and Wee Heavy Scotch Ale from Zaftig Brewing in Columbus.

Follow the FeBREWary journey on The Rail Burger Blog and on social media at The Rail’s Facebook page and on Twitter @TheRailBurger.

8 Places in Cleveland Where We Love Drinking Beer

It’s pretty evident nowadays that Cleveland, Ohio is pretty much the LeBron James of beer towns.  I mean this place has deep, deep roots when it comes to concocting the nectar of the gods and has truly been an integral cog in the wheel of the craft beer revolution.  Every neighborhood you walk into and seemingly every street you walk down has a great place to sit down and sip.

So we thought it’d be useful if we pointed out some of our favorites.  Now with that in mind, let it be known that this list could’ve just as easily run 50 deep because let’s face it, Cleveland has more worthy beer joints than the Browns have injured quarterbacks…for the last ten years.

The Bottlehouse Brewing Company — Their motto is “Good beer for good people.” Simple, but right on.  While this spot is certainly considered a craft brewery, it’s really so much more.  In addition to the eight house beers on tap, they always feature six house meads as well (Our favorite is the City Mead).  Go on the right night and you’ll most likely see a food truck serving up local grub too.  Be sure to try out Trivia night and bingo night — Oh yes, and they have pinball.

Bottlehouse Brewery Facebook Page
Bottlehouse Brewery Facebook

The Rail (Various locations) — We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again.  The Rail is awesome.  Locally sourced, tastebud-melting burgers at a place that takes great pride in everything Ohio.  And if you couldn’t tell, we love Ohio.  If you haven’t already, check out their Beer Exploration Society — Monthly events held at various Rail locations where studious, hop-minded folks get together and chat beer.

The Rail Facebook
The Rail Facebook

Tremont Tap House — This bustling beer bar located on Cleveland’s Southside of historic Tremont boasts more than 100 craft brews, 48 of which you can get on draft.  Let’s say that again.  100 beers with 48 on draft.  That’s an insane amount of beer.  You won’t feel overwhelmed though, because every person that works there can give you cliff notes on every one.  Just one thing to remember, the place is always busy and for good reason.  Get there early and stake your claim because if you don’t, you’ll be standing and drinking beer.  Which now that we think about it, is perfectly fine too.

Dolph M. - Yelp
Dolph M. – Yelp

Great Lakes Brewing Company — If you’re talking beer and you’re talking Cleveland, you have to be talking Great Lakes.  While the entire brewpub is a wonderful place, the basement beer cellar is our favorite.  If you can snag it, grab the standing barrel table that’s perched above the room in the back left corner.  The perfect spot for surveying the scene and sipping one of the coveted pub exclusives.  Last time we had the chance to sample the crazy delicious Belgian Stout called Dark Stone Waters…and by sample, we mean polishing off four to five beers.

La Cave Du Vin — When you’re rolling with a group of friends, some may be dastardly wine drinkers and for them, you have a solution — La Cave Du Vin.  If you’ve ever caught a show at The Grog Shop, than you’ve undoubtedly stopped into this small, almost secretive basement gem.  As you might’ve guessed by the name, La Cave is all about wine, however, it’s huge selection of bottled beers says otherwise.  So much so that I can almost guarantee they’ll have a bottle of something that will surprise the most seasoned hop head.

Hofbräuhaus Cleveland — If swinging around a Bier Stein the size of your head filled with glorious Bavarian brew while munching on schnitzel sounds like a good time, then this place is for you.  Seriously though, this place is unbelievably awesome.  Recreated to look exactly like the original establishment in Munich, Germany, Hofbräuhaus is like a vacation.  I mean c’mon, their beer has to follow the 500 year old Bavarian Beer Purity Law, so you know it’s good.  Bottom line: Some of the most fun you can have in Cleveland.  Prost!

Hofbrauhaus Cleveland Facebook
Hofbrauhaus Cleveland Facebook

Happy Dog (Various locations) — First off, and this has nothing to do with beer, try to say “Happy Dog” without smiling.  You can’t do it.  Second, beer tastes so good with tubular meat and that’s why this place is so special.  Just imagine a topping for your hot dog and I can almost guarantee they have it — And they’re all made in house.  And on top of that, their beer selection is very good.  Combine that with the vintage neighborhood vibe, great live music and boom, you’re one happy, well fed pup.

Happy Dog Facebook
Happy Dog Facebook

Mcnulty’s Bier Markt — For the beer purists out there, there’s Mcnulty’s.  Easily one of Cleveland’s leaders in the craft beer revolution, this spot is serious about Belgian beer and you can tell from the litany of beer advice and info you’ll get.  Ohio’s only Belgian beer bar has more than 100 craft beers to choose from and 30+ rotating drafts, which means there is a zero percent chance you’ll walk out without finding something to tickle your fancy.  Plus, Mcnulty’s is dog friendly, so bring your best buddy along.

Mcnulty's Bier Markt Facebook
Mcnulty’s Bier Markt Facebook

Have another great spot that one of your favorites? Let us know!

Ohio Beer Garden Opens in North Olmsted

If you’ve ever popped into The Rail for a burger or the City Square Steakhouse in Wooster for a mouth-watering steak, you’ve probably noticed whoever owns these spots has a particular affinity for everything Ohio.  We really like that.  That gentleman is Mike Mariola, restauranteur, beer lover and founder of a new joint in North Olmsted dubbed Ohio Beer Garden.  Much like The Rail, the Ohio Beer Garden will share that same love of the state of Ohio…just in liquid form.

24 Ohio Beers on Draught

Ohio Beer Garden, the newest Mike Mariola Restaurants concept located next to The Rail – North Olmsted, is bringing a unique sense of brewing camaraderie to northeast Ohio with a communal gathering place.  Ohio Beer Garden will feature 24 limited-edition beers on draught, Ohio spirits and wines, weekly live music, a shuffleboard table, board games (yes, board games and a shuffleboard!) and TVs for catching the game in this relaxed indoor/outdoor space.  The fun, casual atmosphere is reminiscent of a brewery tasting room/German beer hall. 
ohio-beer-garden-main-room
The fast and simple menu offers pizza and snacks for sharing, and guests are also encouraged to bring in food from home or from their favorite take-out spot.  A small retail area will accompany a mix-and-match bottle selection and lucky for all of us, all draft beers will be available to-go in growlers.

Ohio Beer Garden Patio

The Grand Opening kicks off Friday, October 14 with an official ribbon cutting at 5 p.m. followed by a Growler Giveaway at 6 p.m.
Ohio Beer Garden is open everyday at 3 p.m. and located at 402 Great Northern Blvd.  You can reach them at 440-979-1001 or by visiting www.ohiobeergarden.com.
ohio-beer-garden-logo

Hey Fellas, Here’s a Few Last Minute Valentine’s Day Ideas

No doubt you’ve seen a few Valentines’s Day posts pop up in your FaceBook feed a month or two ago, yet dismissed them with a procrastination that’s unfortunately present in most of us.  This is precisely why I decided to come up with a few ideas four measly days before because let’s face it, we’ve all waited until now anyway.

Fly by the seat of your pants and road trip to an event

Chocolate Daze 2016 — Wooster, Ohio

Celebrate your last minute creativity and pop on down to Wooster, Ohio for their 10th annual Chocolate Daze.  Since this event runs from Friday, February 12 to Saturday, February 13, you’ll really have to beat feet.  The event showcases 25+ merchants offering up confectionary specials during their regular business hours.  And as a bonus you get to explore the streets of Wooster, which are undeniably sweet.

DTWoo
Credit Main Street Wooster

Columbus Symphony — Columbus, Ohio

Valentine’s Day doesn’t always have to involve chocolate and wine.  How about the tasty tunes of a Los Angeles-based Journey tribute band collaborating with the Columbus Symphony?  Time-defying power ballads are always romantic, especially “Faithfully.”  Showtime is 8:00 pm on Saturday and tickets range from $25 – $68.

 

Dinner with a twist or just a very good dinner

Punch Bowl Social Club — Cleveland, Ohio

Playing games together can be really romantic.  Leaning over your loved one while you gently direct the pool cue in the right direction or taking ahold of a bowling ball at the same time during a moment on the lanes — yikes, it’s getting hot in here.  The Punch Bowl offers billiards, bowling, ping pong, old school arcade games, board games, darts and shuffleboard.  Combine that with a locally sourced, organic ingredient driven menu at the GastroDiner and you’re looking at a date night hit.

B & B Riverboat Cruise — Cincinnati, Ohio

It’s tough to find something more romantic than a Valentine’s Day riverboat cruise on the Ohio River.  Like the folks at B & B say, let the captain be your cupid.  While I don’t usually condone buffets, the menu includes chocolate short ribs, which I’m thinking can’t be bad.  Act quickly though as Sunday is the last weekend boat available.  Total price for two is around $110.

Riverboat
Credit B&B Riverboat FaceBook

The Orchard — Port Clinton, Ohio

Much fresher than your old pickup lines, one thing will stand out here: ingredients.  One of the best new restaurants in the area, The Orchard creatively prepares phenomenal dishes that are focused on natural and locally grown ingredients.  Visit their FaceBook page to check out their long list of Valentine’s Day specials, which span the length of the entire weekend.  I’ll put my money on the lobster-stuffed portabella mushrooms.  Make sure to check out there tremendous specialty cocktails as well.

Orchard
Credit The Orchard FaceBook Page

The Rail — North Olmsted, Fairlawn & Canton, Ohio

A burger and a beer may not seem like the most romantic thing ever, but c’mon, their burger of the month is called The Heartbreaker — A blend of Ohio beef & Ohio andouille sausage topped with sweet roasted red pepper cream cheese spread, lettuce and tomato.  Then of course you must wash it down with a rare Cincinnati beer, which are cameoed on tap for the special month-long FeBREWary event.  Painstakingly focused on all things Ohio, it makes perfect sense to celebrate Valentine’s Day Ohio-style here.  Plus, who want’s to dress up anyway?  Just one more suggestion, try the Truth IPA from Rhinegeist.

Burgers W:BackgroundLogo
Credit The Rail

Go outside-of-the-box

Chocolate & Beer Valentine’s Day 5K & 10K — Dayton, Ohio

Now this one could go one of two ways.  It’s either “Wow, that’s such an ridiculously unique and fun idea,” or “Wow, you’re dumb.  Let’s go eat somewhere and get chocolate afterward.”  But of course you know whether or not your significant other is a beer drinker/runner, so it’ll most likely be a fairly educated decision.  The race does come with a box of locally made Kilwin’s chocolates and a cold beer, so that makes it quite a bit more enticing.  The 10K starts at 3:00 pm and the 5K starts at 3:15 pm.  There’s also a costume contest so be sure to dress up and then head over to Brixx Ice Company for the afterparty.

 

The old standby

Tre Sorelle Cioccolato — Sandusky, Ohio

There’s a reason chocolate is the unrivaled Valentine’s Day king and Tre Sorelle is the perfect example why.  Consistently ranked very high among the Ohio confectioner elite, these ladies really turn out the tasty truffles.  Alliteration aside, I’m serious, these things are unbelievable.  Merlot.  Apple Pie.  Raspberry Champagne.  Ice Wine.  Take your pick, you will not be disappointed.  Or just go for the chocolate-dipped strawberries, because those always work.

Tres

Is there a place in Ohio that just has be on this list?  Please share below, on Twitter @ItsAlwaysOhio or on FaceBook!

15 Places in Ohio You Must Visit in 2016

Making favorite lists is terribly hard, but with the new year already upon us it only makes sense to reflect on where we’ve been in 2015.  So although nearly impossible, I’ve tried my best to whittle down a list of favorite Ohio spots into a mere 15.

Disclaimer: 15 could’ve easily turned into 50 and there’s no rhyme or reason to the compilation, just simply locations across Ohio that we thought are swell.

Close Quarters in Avon Lake, Ohio:  With around 20 bar stools, this tiny bar certainly lives up to its name but makes up for what size it lacks in character.  Packed to the gills with wacky memorabilia and old-school patron polaroids, there’s hardly a blank spot on the walls.  If you’re lucky enough to find the charming proprietor present, he’ll take an aforementioned polaroid of your mug, affix it to the wall and further cement you into Cleveland tavern lore.   Make sure to try the chicken wings, which are contest worthy and wash it down with a cold beer from their surprisingly large selection.

CloseQuarters

Katalina’s in Columbus, Ohio:  The state capitol doesn’t lack delicious breakfast spots, but Katalina’s in Victorian Village is the cream of the crop.  Superbly charming with excellent outdoor patio space and locally-made goodness, I only have two other words for you: pancake balls.  Seriously, their signature item is made with local stoneground flour, ridiculously tasty and filled with things like Nutella, dulche de leche and pumpkin apple butter.

Catalina's

Shisler’s Cheese House in Orrville, Ohio:  This old school cheese house is perfect.  From Rita, the story-filled owner to the mazed aisles of homemade trail bologna and countless local treats, it almost feels like a shop that could’ve existed on the Frontier.  Rifling through more cheese in a year than you’ve probably ever laid eyes on, I’m guessing the folks at Shisler’s rarely get stumped playing cheese trivia.

Shisler'sCheeseHouse

Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights, Ohio:  My first visit to this glorious gem of a book store was to hear avid budget traveler, Nomadic Matt, speak to a small group of folks about travel hacking.  Independently owned and operated in the historic Larchmere neighborhood, Loganberry boasts over 100,000 volumes, which is staggering for a bookstore of this size — And we’re not talking Books-a-Million, as this place is meticulously curated with new, used and rare books of all genres.  Plus any bookstore with Oriental rugs and wandering cats is fine by me.

Loganberry Books

Porco Lounge in Cleveland, Ohio:  Located between the historic neighborhoods of Tremont and Ohio City, this Polynesian pleasure is where patrons come to get their tiki fix and escape from the traditional midwest day.  Fine spirits, fresh squeezed juices and house made mixers are intricately meshed together in a lush atmosphere to create potent, delicious libations that would make Don the Beachcomber proud.  My favorite, trying to get through all the levels of Painkillers.  But if you’re really feeling randy, go for the Tiki Bob’s Concussion — Careful, you’re only allowed just one.

PorcoLounge

Tony’s in Athens, Ohio:  Hailing from Ohio University and fresh off a recent trip down memory Tonyslane, it’s imperative that I include at least one of my 57 favorite places in Athens.  Tony’s must be that place.  If you’re looking to relax with friends, throw some darts and have a drink in a quintessential college bar, there’s no place better watering hole.  Grab a Hot Nut shot and treat yourself to some nostalgia old boy.

Johnny’s Little Bar in Cleveland, Ohio:  Best bar in Cleveland. Johnny'sLittleBar That is all.  Oh yes, and try the burger in this tiny alley beer joint.  My grandmother always refers to good bars as “beer joints” and I feel only the best taverns deserve such a timeless moniker.  Johnny’s definitely does.

Hocking Hills in Hocking, Ohio:  Arguably one of the most picturesque places in Ohio, it’s nearly impossible to snap a bad photo here.  Walking around with your pup for a day at Hocking Hills almost feels like a form of mediation — Soothing waterfalls and earthy caves set amongst lush vegetation bring about something everyone desperately needs after a week at the office: peace.  Don’t care much for relaxation?  Zipline over the canopy I’ll be mellowing out in.

HockingHills

Catawba Island Brewing Co. in Catawba Island, Ohio:  Convert an old marine storage facility into a really cool brewery, dish out some tasty craft beer and you have yourself a pretty sweet establishment.  Sweaty summer day?  Try the excellent Whitecap Wit and if you time it right, maybe you’ll get to taste their oddly delicious Habanero Hefeweizen.

CIBC

Old Forge Cafe & Creperie in Put-in-Bay, Ohio:  Beside being the best island in the world, Put-in-bay has an array of places we could’ve included in this list but had to withhold for the sake of brevity.  Honestly, best island in the world — Pretty sure it would hold up in court.  Okay, now that I’ve professed my love for South Bass Island, to the Old Forge.  Their carefully crafted crepes (say that three times fast) taste wonderful on their own, but when you combine the unique atmosphere of a historic island blacksmith shop that’s been brought back to life, they taste even better.  Plus they have an outdoor, Key West-ish garden bar with a phenomenal beer selection.  Go here next summer.  Just hop on the Miller Ferry and go.

OldForge

Volstead Bar in Sandusky, Ohio:  If you fancy yourself a cocktail connoisseur then this place is the nines.  Housed in an old brothel called the Green Door, the Volstead Bar is a perfectly executed throwback to the days when Al Capone toted illegal booze and bar patrons took immense pride in what they imbibed.  With 24 seats, zero televisions and a no-cell phone suggestion, the cozy confines are excellent for those important conversations you were thinking about having at that last bar.  Try my favorite if you like bourbon, the sazerac.  If you don’t like bourbon, then you’re dead to me.  Kidding, kidding…try the popular French 76, the English derived Pimm’s Cup or the classic Aviation.

VolsteadBar

La Dolce Vita in Cleveland Ohio (Little Italy):  Right in the heart of Little Italy, which is a very distinctive area as a whole, La Dolce Vita personifies what true Italian food and Mediterranean atmosphere is all about.  Go for the street side cafe seats outside if the weather’s nice, however the inside of the establishment is just as unique.  You can’t go wrong with the Eggplant Del Giorno for an appetizer and as for the main course, my vote goes to the Veal “Pavarotti” in a marsala wine sauce.  One more thing and I’m willing to live with the finality of this statement, their sangria is the best I’ve ever had.

LaDolceVita

JAFB Wooster Brewery in Wooster, Ohio:  There’s a good chance you’ve seen their beer if you’ve been to a Cleveland Browns game and probably a greater chance you’ve had three or four considering that’s usually what it takes to stomach our beloved NFL franchise.  Ultimately though these fellas are much more than just one canned beer — These Wooster natives are brewing up some ridiculously tasty beverages, as evidenced by their recent silver medal at the Great American Beer Fest for their Rain Delay IPA.  My favorite?  Step Up Pale Wheat or the Mean Bourbon Bean Stout.  Ultimately it doesn’t really matter which brew you choose while you’re here, I haven’t had a bad one yet.

JAFB

Fatheads Brewery in North Olmstead, Ohio:  If JAFB is considered an up-and-coming brewery then this place would undoubtedly be considered an old Ohio staple.  Year in and year out their beers are awarded gold medals at every competition imaginable and somehow just keep getting better.  Beers like the Sunshine Daydream Session IPA and the Hop Juju Imperial IPA tend to be my go to’s, but much like JAFB it’s nearly impossible to find a sub-par beer.  Make sure to bring your appetite though, as their delicious array of signature sandwiches are sure to be bigger than your head — Unless you have an abnormally large dome, then maybe not.

Fatheads

 

The Village Pump in Kelleys Island, Ohio:  Kelleys Island unapologetically does its own thing and that’s cool.  From remote white sand beaches encompassed in limestone piers and 20,000 year-old glacial grooves, to island wineries, breweries and character-laden taverns, this picturesque Lake Erie island is as unique as it is fun.  With the Village Pump, there’s a huge emphasis on “character-laden tavern” part of that description as you’ll soon find out after receiving the obligatory high-five from Gary, proprietor of said establishment.  Start off with a cup of clam chowder, followed by a perch sandwich and wash it all down with their famous Brandy Alexander — that’s Kelleys Island lunch perfection right there.  And if you’re feeling adventurous, head to the bar and shoot back a storm cloud.

VillagePump
Photo courtesy of The Village Pump

Is there a place in Ohio that just has be on this list?  Please share below or on twitter @ItsAlwaysOhio.

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