Pass the suds… from Brew Kettle Taproom and Smokehouse

Mike Suglio, Staff Reporter

The Brew Kettle Taproom and Smokehouse is the brewery for brewers. This brewery is quite unique compared to others; not only can you try nine different home brews and 21 different guest beers, but you can also brew beer yourself on the premises.

The Brew Kettle is Ohio’s first “do-it-yourself” brewery. They provide eager brewers 70 different recipes to choose from and, with assistance, you and a small group can brew one to eight kettles of beer. On average, brewers brew enough for six cases of 22-ounce bottles of beer.

Brew Kettle offers 600,000 clipart images to use for labeling your bottles. Patrons are also welcome to personalize their design.

As I sat in the packed bar on a Tuesday afternoon, local patrons were eager to praise the brewery. The patron next to me proudly informed me that he had just brewed a “dunkel bock,” whereas the guy a few seats down chimed in that he had just brewed a “kolsch.” Sitting with several beer lovers tested my knowledge of beer. I passed with flying colors.

The bar is one of the larger wooden bars, if not the largest, that I have ever seen at a brewery. It stretches the entire width of the sizable restaurant. Adorning the walls are old beer signs that act as a memorial to beers that have come and gone. The bar hosts a chalkboard that painstakingly lists all 30 beers on draft and their various alcohol by volume (ABV) and international bittering unit (IBU). I was also handed an updated printout of this list upon seating.

The Brew Kettle beers are as diverse as the brewery and range from a stout to a scottish ale to a raspberry ale. The Vanilla Frambozen was one of the best raspberry ales I’ve ever had. This type is rather rare, so I have not had too many, but the aftertaste was amazing. The flavors of vanilla and raspberry fill your mouth and the aroma is to die for. It would have been perfect with a solid piece of chocolate cake.

I usually find scotch ales to be hit-or-miss. The Scottish Ale had the perfect balance. There was a clear scotch taste, which is usually a turn-off to me, but despite its large presence, the balance of caramel and smoky flavors produced the perfect accompaniment of taste. I followed this with the dunkelweizen, which had a sweeter taste than most dunkelweizens, but still shared the amber taste and color. It was very malty, but like it traditionally does, it tasted like a darker hefeweizen.

Next I sampled the Amber Ale, El Lupulo Libre. This lighter ale was smooth and not too hoppy despite being brewed with Mosaic and other American hops. This beer is brewed with Vienna malt, which adds to the lighter body. This multifaceted drink was a real delight to try.

The Irish Red Ale was decent. I am personally not a huge fan of red ales, but this was a lot lighter and much more malty. It lacked flavor compared to the rest of the beers, but was a good standby.

Seeing that it was Wing Night, I decided to sample some of Brew Kettle’s BBQ wings. I can honestly say these were some of, if not the best, wings I have had in Cleveland. The wings were full wings, not chicken finger-like, and smoked. The BBQ sauce did not take away from the smoky wing taste. The wings are so juicy and cooked to perfection that they fall off the bone.

The next three beer samples were staple beers of Brew Kettle. The Four C’s is the perfect beer for hop lovers. It’s brewed with four different hops: Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and Chinook, hence the name of the beer. Despite the cacophony of hops, the drink is perfectly balanced and the hop flavors are not overbearing, but instead produce a smooth and multi-faceted beer.

Following the Four C’s was the hoppiest beer at Brew Kettle: the White Rajah. Unlike the Four C’s, this beer had a clear India pale ale (IPA) taste but was still rather light and not overbearing in hops. I really enjoy both the White Rajah and the Four C’s for their balance of hops.

The Big Woody had a big malty taste. This light, Munich-style beer was very traditionally German and would have been perfect to drink out of a large beer stein. I would have loved to enjoy this beer with a large soft pretzel.

Lastly, I sampled the Dry Irish Stout on Nitro, which was an incredibly light stout. This beer was dry, dark and lacked the flavors that come from most stouts, but surprisingly had very low ABV and IBUs. I have never had a stout that resembled Guinness as much as this beer, so I was quite surprised when I sampled it. It still has more flavors than Guinness, and would have been a perfect beer for St. Patrick’s Day.

I finished the evening with the bison burger. The bison was lean and juicy and the burger was filled with bacon, mushrooms, grilled onions and gooey pepper jack cheese. The fries were flavorful and tasty, but a little soggy and not very crispy; however, the coleslaw was hands down the best I have ever had. The use of horseradish sauce was the perfect companion and really brought out some excellent flavors.

The best way to describe The Brew Kettle Taproom and Smokehouse is with the word “unique”. Not only is it an exceptional brewpub with 30 different drafts and great food at affordable prices, but it also offers patrons the opportunity to brew their own beer, which seems like a lot of fun. If you are a beer nerd like myself, I would highly recommend you venture to this brewery.