Breweries come in all shapes and sizes, and can be found practically anywhere. Many breweries I reviewed have been within the city of Cleveland or the suburbs, but not out in the country like Lagerheads Smokehouse and Brewing Company. These establishments are known for creating economic growth in more urban areas like Ohio City, but breweries found away from the city lights have more space available to work with.
After driving through rich farmland, houses and barns in Medina, I found a quaint smokehouse. Walking in, I met the wood bar and tables, and saw large boar heads and turtle shells adorning the walls. I only needed hay on the ground and I would have felt like I was in a barn myself.
I smiled at the Ohio shaped handles and asked for a sample of their seven beers on draft. As the bartender poured the beer I noticed the several deer skulls that prominently filled the back wall. Next to them was a sign that read, “If you can read this you’re in range.” I decided to keep my nose in the menu.
The first beer I sampled was the Barnburner Lager: a perfect German lager that was not too light like most American lagers. Instead it was smooth, crisp and had a strong wheat smell after every sip. Few beers offer as wonderful of an aroma as this beer.
Next was the Kilt Em All Scottish Ale. An intense malty ale, this golden drink had a toffee taste to it, without any overbearing scotchiness. Note: It’s best drunk under a smiling boar head.
I am not personally a fan of red ales, but the Bed Head Red had a great caramel and roasted malt taste. Its bright red color almost looked dyed. It would be tasty companion to Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day.
One of my favorite beers of the visit was the Smokie Robbins Smoked Black Lager. Black lagers are also known as Schwarbier and usually are lighter beers, unlike porters or stouts. These drinks also have hints of coffee or chocolate: Imagine the taste of Guinness, but not as thick. This beer followed the hype with its incredible flavor, and was quite possibly one of the best black lagers I have ever had.
I then tried the Savage Stout, which was dark, deep and intense, but with less flavor than the Smokie Robbins Smoked Black Lager. The beer, however, had much more flavor than a typical stout or Guinness.
The last two beers I tried were both citrus ales. First up: The Tyranny American Pale Ale. This was a strong pale ale with a citrusy flavor, but it couldn’t even touch what I tried next. The High Five IPA had a stronger citrus presence, with the perfect level of hops, as an IPA should. I had never had such a diverse and flavorful beer before, and I regretted that I had not brought my growler to take some home. This was my favorite beer at Lagerheads.
But, seeing that I was in a smokehouse, I decided to then try the Smokehouse platter for dinner. The pulled pork melted in my mouth, a nice surprise after the dry, overcooked pulled pork I’ve had in the past. The ribs were smoky and fell off the bone as I ate them. My two sides were a heap of crispy hushpuppies (which put Long John Silver’s hushpuppies to shame) and bacon-flavored Brussels sprouts (which were instantly awesome because they included bacon).
The pork loin came in two large and tender pieces, but the real gem on the dish were the wings. The wings at Lagerheads are actual full chicken wings, not breaded shapes that are supposed to resemble chicken fingers. These monsters were coated with garlic Parmesan sauce, but they had extensive wing flavors to pick from. Some of the best wings I have ever had.
With my face full of barbeque sauce I smiled as I saw farmers and construction workers come into Lagerheads for an after-work beer. The TV’s were playing Fox News and ESPN, and country music twanged in the background. This 10-year-old smokehouse and four-year-old microbrewery was a nice change from Cleveland’s urban life and a true testament to the diversity Ohio has to offer.