Pass the suds…


Mike Suglio/Observer

Brew Mentor brings visitors into the beer-making process, among other beverage-making activities.

For craft beer nerds, Brew Mentor brewery is nirvana. The educational do-it-yourself experiences allows you to sip new brews and learn how to make your own.

Located in my hometown, Mentor, Ohio, about 25 minutes east of campus, Brew Mentor was the first on-site brewing establishment to open in this Cleveland suburb. The brewery’s name is a play on words due to its location in Mentor, and also the fact that owners Brian Seelinger and Rick Mack will mentor you in the beer-making craft.

Brew Mentor sells all the supplies and ingredients you’ll need to start your passion project of brewing. They also offer all the supplies to make your own wine, mead and coffee from Rising Star Coffee Roasters. As Seelinger pointed out, “We start you off in the morning and finish you off at night.”

Seelinger opened this “brew school” in 2010, after years of brewing at home and winning awards in home brewing competitions. He provides weekly classes on basic to advanced brewing, wine making, kegging and coffee roasting.

But, besides being a retail shop, Brew Mentor also has a small tasting bar so patrons can sample some of Seelinger’s award-winning beers as showcase of what kinds of beers you can potentially make at home.

The first beer I sampled was the aggressive blonde ale, Headlands Blonde Ale. At 23 International Bittering Units (IBU) and 5.5 percent Alcohol By Volume (ABV) this easy-drinking, malty blonde ale had a noticeable and unique hoppy taste. The ale contains crystal hops, which are from the noble family of hops usually in Illinois Pale Ales (IPA), but Seelinger brewed what he called an “American version,” which tasted more like an American Pale Ale.

Next was the Cardinal Red Ale, named after Mentor High School’s mascot, the fighting cardinal. This brew was a crisp, roasty and red-colored ale, which I enjoyed despite typically not liking red ales. Similar to the Headlands Blonde, it was low in IBU and ABV at 25 and 5.25 percent.

After trying some of the “lighter” beers, Seelinger treated me to his heavy-hitting flagship beers, which were fantastic. The Lakeshore Porter was simply one of the best smoked porters I have ever had. This dark and strong beer emits a smoky scent as you lift it to you lips. It is no surprise that this beer won Seelinger a gold medal at a home brewing competition. At 6.6 percent ABV and 36 IBU’s, this beer was my clear favorite of the bunch.

The Plaza Pale Ale was original in taste and smell. Brewed with the rare mosaic hops and at 5.9 percent ABV and 40 IBU, this beer has a floral-like aroma. The beer was incredibly cloudy and allowed me to create a mini-tornado every time I shook the glass. Despite being brewed with dry hops, the beer was incredibly smooth and was surprisingly hoppy for a Pale Ale.

My final sample was the James IPA Garfield. Though Garfield’s middle name was Abram, IPA is a pretty cool middle name; I believe Garfield would have been proud to have this beer share his namesake. At a whopping 8.1 percent ABV and 81 IBU’s, this well-crafted beer was designed to match the ABV percentage and IBU’s to the same single year Garfield was president, 1881. Like the Plaza Pale Ale, this brew is made with mosaic hops and has a hoppy and floral taste, yet a much heavier and warming taste to it.

Though Brew Mentor is not a traditional brewery, it is a great place to start your own brewery and a fun visit for any beer nerd.

Brewery: Brew Mentor
Location: 7295 Mentor Ave., Mentor OH, 44060
Price Range: $$
Rating: 4.5/5 stars