A brewery tucked between factories


Mike Suglio

Tapstack is the production facility and tasting room for Buckeye Brewing Company.

Cleveland is a classic Midwestern city. Although a lot of industry jobs and factories have left over the years, many still remain and continue to maintain the rusty, gritty tone of the city on the lake.

Cleveland’s booming brewing industry is a sincere throwback to what the city and region was built upon before the rise of the technological era. Large factories filled with hardworking men and women unafraid of getting their hands dirty to make the beer they love reminds me of the steel industry of yesteryear.

Tucked away behind Ray’s Indoor Bike Park and amongst the Walford Industrial Park lies Tapstack, Buckeye Brewing Company’s production facility and tasting room. The tasting room gets its name from its close proximity to a large smokestack.

The tasting room is simple yet resembles Ray’s forest theme décor. A large beer bottle chandelier hangs above the bar and a lone pinball machine lurks in the corner of the room. Men in work jackets and steel-toed shoes hang out at the large bar as they take a break after an eight-hour shift in one of the adjacent factories.

Tapstack is quite different from Buckeye’s other watering hole, Buckeye Beer Engine, in Lakewood. Unlike the other location, Tapstack is not a full restaurant, but instead offers 16 different beer choices straight from the 15 barrel system brewery in the back.

Bartender and Manager Liz Arendt, who is a burst of fun and positive energy, set me up with some of Tapstack’s flagship brews. Arendt recently began brewing beer at the brewery and is, to my knowledge, the only female brewer at any of the major breweries in Cleveland.

I started off with the Hippie, the brewery’s flagship IPA, which Arendt referred to as a “Midwestern IPA.” The beer combined the citrus taste of a West Coast IPA with the hoppiness of the East. It was smooth and not dry and the perfect centrist flavor for any IPA fan. The Martian Marzen was an excellent Oktoberfest beer, which would be great to drink in large volumes over the summer or into the warm and early Cleveland fall due to its light and drinkable flavor.

I also tried one of Tapstack’s “word” series beers, known as Squib. The citrus IPA was brewed with Cascade, Citra, Amarillo, Motueka and Nelson hops. I look forward to more of the beers in the series.

With a big smile Arendt shared her two favorite beers at the brewery, which became my favorites as well. The Snow Belted was a rich rye saison, which had a spicy and hoppy taste along with a citrus and floral taste most saisons have. It was an excellent twist on a signature beer. The Nighty Night is a quintessential “night-cap” beer with a high APV at 11.5 percent. This Belgian Strong Dark ale was black like the night and had a taste of raisin, fig and chocolate along with a clear taste and smell of alcohol.

I finished the evening with a guest sour beer from Earlybird Brewing, who brew their beer at Tapstack. The Say No More Saison was an excellent caramel colored sour beer without an overpowering sour finish, which is a great first sour beer for those who have never tried this increasingly popular type of beer.

Tapstack is easily one of Cleveland’s best-hidden breweries. If you are ever checking out Ray’s, it is a great place to hang out after a day of biking.