Sterle’s Country House has been a Cleveland staple for Slovenian food ever since it opened in 1954. After the passing of Frank Sterle and the subsequent owner, Mike Longo, Rick Semersky took over the Cleveland landmark in 2012. Semersky next opened Café 55 next to Sterle’s, which offers fresh and healthy, made-to-order breakfast and lunch. After breathing new life into an old business yet still maintaining the old traditions, Semersky decided to start a new project by opening a brewery next to Sterle’s.
In 2016, Goldhorn Brewery opened its doors offering excellent German beer and the same superb hospitality Clevelanders have grown to love at Sterle’s. Semersky and head brewmaster, Joel Warger, wanted to not only brew beer for Sterle’s but offer more craft German beer in Cleveland. Together with Sterle’s, Café 55 and Goldhorn, Semersky established what he refers to as “Hub 55,” a revitalization of the East 55th and Saint Clair neighborhood.
The dining area is large and open with several family style, long tables, to accommodate the biggest families or groups of friends. Smaller groups can join other beer aficionados at the beer garden style tables that are a staple of German breweries. The copper-colored bar, which matches the copper kegs behind it, is long and always filled with dedicated, local patrons who love Sterle’s and German beer. Goldhorn’s biggest resemblance to Sterle’s is the fantastic customer service.
I was greeted at the bar by Chris Pate, whose family owns another Cleveland staple, Maple Lanes, a bowling alley on St. Clair. Pate had been going to Sterle’s since he was a child and was offered the position of bar manager when Goldhorn opened. Pate lined me up with a slew of samples which ranged from light pilsners to dark stouts. He mentioned that one beer is brewed exclusively for The Agora Theatre and Ballroom, the Agora Altbier.
I usually enjoy darker beers, but the light beers at Goldhorn are some of the best craft beers I have had in Cleveland. The Polka City Pilsner is a great beer for those who are just getting into craft beer. It has a slight taste of hops, which is unique to a pilsner, but still very refreshing. Its bright yellow color matches the bright Cleveland sun in the summer and is an excellent summer beer choice.
My favorite beer at Goldhorn was the Numbered Streets Wheat, a new take on a hefeweizen. Many of us have tried orange tasting hefeweizens like Blue Moon, but very few have tried one that is banana tasting. This brew had tastes of banana and cloves. At only 5.2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), this is a great summer companion to the Polka City Pilsner.
One of the most popular beers at Goldhorn is the Dead Man’s Curve India Pale Ale. Named after the often challenging curve on Interstate 90, this caramel colored beer is very dry yet not too hoppy. I was rather surprised by how much I enjoyed it despite its dry flavor. The Fire Plug Pale Ale had a super smoky yet original taste.
Goldhorn also offers several bar food staples and, of course, pierogis. Pate also informed me that on Sundays you can get a “growler fill” of any of their beers for only $5, which is easily one of the best deals in Cleveland.
If you are looking for a unique experience or want to grab a drink after checking out Sterle’s, Goldhorn Brewery is an excellent choice.