By Vince Guerrieri
The Lake Erie coastal region stretching from Cleveland to Toledo has a lot of nicknames -“Vacationland,” “The Roller Coast,” and “Martha’s Vineyard of the Midwest” among them. It’s a part of the state dotted with cottages, water parks, amusement and theme parks – and as of late, breweries.
They’re found on the Lake Erie Islands: on Catawba Island, where the brewery’s Lake Erie Love Light is not just refreshing, but socially conscious (a portion of the proceeds go to the Lake Erie Improvement Association); Put-in-Bay, whose brewery also makes its own distilled spirits; and Kelley’s Island, where a brewery’s samples are served on a carved tray in the shape of the island. They can be found on the mainland, too, with two more microbreweries slated to open this year in Sandusky – out of another 60 breweries somewhere in the planning stages throughout the state, according to Mary MacDonald of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association.
But beer isn’t just available on the beach in Northwest Ohio. The small towns that dot the area – and they are numerous – also have their own local breweries, from Flatrock in Holgate to the Bowling Green Beer Works to Findlay Brewing to Father John’s in Bryan, its name a nod to its home, a former Methodist Church.
And of course there’s a vibrant brewing scene in and around Toledo, too, including the Maumee Bay Brewing Company in the historic Oliver House and Sugar Ridge in the Toledo suburb of Perrysburg.
“There are so many different towns, and people who live there want to do something in their community,” MacDonald says. “It’s your home, and you want to do what you love and serve your community.” Across the state, she adds, the trend among craft brewers is toward sour beers and barrel-aged beers – something to whet your thirst on your next road trip to Vacationland.