Pass the suds… from Market Garden Brewery

Mike Suglio, Staff Reporter

On a warm, crisp, summer day in 2011, I had the pleasure of experiencing Market Garden Brewery when it first opened. As I sat in the packed outdoor beer garden and gazed at the historic West Side Market with a few beer advocates, I realized this was a special place. Hands down this will always be one of my favorite summer spots in Cleveland, but frankly it’s just great year round.

Besides being a perfect summer destination, the warm and cozy atmosphere of Market Garden is a great escape from the snow. Upon entering the dark, rustic bar, one cannot help but notice its turn of the century atmosphere. A large wooden bar fills the room with several lit candles and electric chandeliers light the way. An old-school marquee reads “Beer” in vain of the marquee from the musical “Chicago,” illuminating from the bar.

My fellow beer taster and I sat by the window and peered out into the snow. Our very friendly and tentative server Ashley Alderson greeted us with a cheerful smile. I asked for a sample of all twelve of their beers, still needing time to review the menu even though, at one point or another, I have ordered everything on it.

In seconds, the samples were served in tall glasses in a chic, metal rack, a small but fine detail that positively adds to the décor and experience. The beer ran from lightest to darkest, so you could easily sample the first few beers without ruining your pallet. I wish more breweries would put the time and thought that Market Garden does into drink orders.

The first and lightest beer I tried was the Old School American Lager. The beer was a throwback to how beer was brewed 100 years ago by being very crisp and light. The drink was almost clear colored with a hint of cloudiness. If I did not have 11 more samples to try I would have ordered it in the suggested 32-ounce mason jar to be super “old school.”

Next up was one of my all-time favorite beers, the Pearl Street Wheat. This beer is the perfect Bavarian-style Hefeweizen. There was a clear taste of bananas and clove, which really brought out not only exceptional flavors, but also the perfect aroma in each sip. Following this drink, I tried the Boss Amber Lager, which was a very refreshing Viennese lager. Perfect for summer drinking, this beer goes down rather quickly.

The next five beers were made up of the core pale ale or IPA’s. First was the ADHA 871 (American Dwarf Hop Association), which is named after the experimental hop that is present in this beer. The IPA was hoppy, but not as overbearing as some of the others, and also had a clear earthy taste. The other pale ale, Viking Pale Ale, was more hoppy, having been brewed with several various American hops. A citrus scent reveals itself as you sip.

Next were the three IPA’s on draft. One of Market Garden’s staple beers, the Cluster Fuggle IPA, was an excellent combination of English and American hops. At seven percent Alcohol By Volume (ABV) it was very smooth and balanced and was meticulously brewed. Another staple of this brewery, the Citramax IPA, was an IPA with a clear citrus flavor (hence the name). Both were great IPA’s but paled in comparison to the Market Centennial Extra IPA. This IPA was brewed last year in celebration of the 100-year-old anniversary of the West Side Market. This 9.5 percent ABV IPA has an incredibly light and refreshing taste. The hop and malt flavor fill your mouth and nose and you are left in awe. It is truly the champagne of IPA’s.

Alderson returned with heavenly plates of food. I went with my favorite on the menu, Mustard & Buttermilk Fried Chicken. The chicken was crispy and juicy, with a light mustard flavor. The bacon cheddar grit cake was warm and cheesy and the perfect friend to the chicken. The BBQ kale was different and original and the black beans had an excellent honey taste and put to shame the stuff you get at any burrito chain.

The last few beers of the Market Garden tour were dark but delicious. The Big Wheat Weizenbock was basically a darker version of the hefeweizen. The Bavarian malt flavors really add to the richness and strength of the beer. Even though it was darker, there was a clear fruit flavor like a hefeweizen would have.

Next was the Wallace Tavern Scotch Ale, which was very malty, without an overpowering scotch flavor, which made it a viable option for non-scotch fans.

On the complete flipside was the Cleveland Illuminator Doppelbock, one of my all-time favorite seasonal beers at Market Garden. This amaretto colored, rich, toasty, dark lager is the perfect beer for this polar vortex of a winter Cleveland is suffering through this year. After a few sips of this sweet beer there is a clear warming effect, which gently reminds you that you are drinking an 11 percent ABV beer. Surprise! If you are ever snowed in during a snow-apocalypse, I hope you have canned goods and this beer.

Closing out the run of beer was the St. Emeric’s Stout on Nitro. It is a smooth and robust stout that tastes a lot like Guinness, but with more flavor—but not too much. Then again, my palate was a bit ruined however after I had the intense flavors of the Illuminator, which was my favorite beer of the day.

Market Garden is constantly rotating out their beers and experimenting with new ones. They have several events constantly going on, including Poetry and Prose night and the very popular Science Café. The atmosphere, service and beer are like no other place in Cleveland and truly an experience all CWRU students should have while in school.