Pass the suds…

...from Beer Engine

Mike Suglio, Staff Reporter

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Have you been to Lakewood? If you haven’t, then you have not experienced the very diverse selection of dining establishments. Signature Cleveland franchises like the Winking Lizard Tavern and Melt Bar and Grilled reside there, as well as local favorites like Around the Corner. But like any rapidly growing area, there is of course a brewery. Lakewood is no exception and it houses the brewpub, Buckeye Beer Engine.

After trudging through piles of snow, I warmed up upon entering this very traditional, wooden brewpub. Inside, the dim lights created a mellow atmosphere. The bar was a colossal, wooden circular figure surrounded by colossal wooden bar stools. Bar handles hung from the ceiling as if they were looking down at you, waiting to see what drink you would choose.

The menu was extensive with several guest beers, but also had six house beers. Buckeye Beer Engine is not like the other breweries I have reviewed; however, the brewery is very near to the pub. I ordered a flight of all six of the house beers, but would have loved to have also sampled some of the other exotic beers from other places.

The food menu was one of the most extensive food menus I have seen at a brewery. I found myself spending a lot of time milling over my food choices. Besides having some of the most exotic burger choices in Cleveland, there was an equally extensive Hungarian food selection. The brewpub had Hungarian décor so this was very fitting.

I decided to go with the burger of the month, the Yaxi’s Relleno de Papa. It was a half-pound burger with mashed potato dumplings, pico de gallo, chile threads and just the right amount of jalapenos. After ordering, it arrived within minutes. The burger was juicy and flavorful, and a perfect amount of spice: The burger wasn’t too spicy and was down in seconds. I was in complete bliss.

I requested onion rings on the side and they did not disappoint. They were large, crispy and there were so many that they almost escaped from the plate. Lastly, and not in the least of the food choices, a perfectly-made fried pickle that topped off the very end of the meal.

With so much food, saliva and extra napkins, I had forgotten about the beer; the food was truly exceptional.

My first beer was the Buckeye Alt. I’d had an altbier the previous week at The Bottlehouse Brewing Company, so I was excited to try this one. The beer was a lot darker and richer than the one I had Bottlehouse, but this darker amber-colored liquid was not as flavorful. It was an incredibly smooth beer, however, which made it perfect to accompany my burger.

The next beer was the Buckeye Nighty Night, which clocked in at a whopping 11.5 percent Alcohol By Volume (ABV). It was a strong Belgian Ale with such an excellent warming sensation, it would be the perfect beer to sip during a snow-apocalypse. However, the drink also had a strong alcohol taste and very little flavor; after a few sips it was almost undrinkable. I tried to pass it off to my co-sampler, but she pushed it away with a smile and said “No, thank you.”

Moving on to a much lighter beer, the next drink I sampled was the Buckeye Martian Marzen Lager. Similar to the Buckeye Alt, the Martian was a very smooth beer to have with food; it was light and crisp, but also not very flavorful. The Martian tasted like many of the other marzen or pale lagers I have had in the past and did not stand out.

I began to become rather discouraged until I tried the fourth beer in the flight. The Buckeye Hippie India Pale Ale (IPA) was by far my favorite of the bunch. Brewed with Northern and Cascade hops, this incredibly earthy IPA was brewed just right. I gladly would have had another sampling of this beer.

The last two drinks were both porters, the Buckeye Cleveland Porter and the Buckeye Cold Prickly. Both were very dark, malty beers. The Cleveland Porter was roasted and malty because it was brewed with eight different hops, which added to the diverse flavor. The Cold Prickly was 9.8 percent and again had a rather strong alcohol taste that could have been hidden with various malts like the Cleveland Porter did.

When the checks arrived, I was absolutely shocked at how low the beer prices were. Buckeye Beer Engine house beers are incredibly affordable, and a perfect price for students on a tight budget.

This seven-year-old brewpub, which was once an ice cream parlor, brings a different business than the previous breweries I have reviewed. Though the beer is good, it isn’t exceptional. Still, the food is amazing and everything is rather affordable.

During the summer, the brewpub offers summer bike nights where if you ride your bike to the pub, you get an in-house beer for only $2. The pub also offers $1 off beer and $2 off burgers during happy hour.