There is an hour wait on weekends for a table at the 140-seat restaurant of the Great Lakes Brewing Co. as patrons jam the bar to guzzle European-style beer brewed on the premises.
“We’re brewing around the clock and selling it as fast as we make it,” said Daniel Conway, 27, who owns the bar with his brother, Patrick.
The brothers restored the tavern--Cleveland’s first--last September and started brewing beer, part of a growing nationwide brewing trend as local brewers apply their craft in “brewpubs” and “microbreweries,” offering a variety of beers to local clientele.
Great Lakes patrons can choose from three different brews at $2.20 a glass with names such as Eliot’s Amber, named for Eliot Ness, who frequented the bar and ran for mayor of Cleveland before gaining fame as a lawman, Daniel Conway said.
Brewer Thaine Johnson, who worked for Cleveland’s former Christian Schmidt Brewing Co., was persuaded to come out of retirement and apply his skills on a smaller scale.
Great Lakes can brew 750 to 1,000 31-gallon barrels of beer a year, a typical amount for brewpubs that offer beer for on-premise consumption.
Microbreweries brew and bottle beer for regional consumption.
In Santa Monica, the City of Angels Brewing Co., which operates a 250-seat restaurant in a revamped furniture store, hopes to offer its ale both for consumption on the premises and for carry-out.
“We are hoping to offer people small plastic, resealable kegs so people can take it home,” said bar manager Jim Lucitt, adding that the brewpub has attracted a number of celebrities since it opened a year ago.
“Michael Keaton stops in every now and then. Wilt Chamberlain was in the other night and Magic (Johnson) stops by,” Lucitt said.
At the start of 1986, there were only 29 microbreweries--breweries which produce less than 15,000 barrels a year--and brewpubs in North America, according to the Assn. of Brewers in Boulder, Colo.
Since then, the number has doubled each year. At the start of 1989, there were 120 brewpubs and microbreweries operating in North America, said Charlie Papazian, who founded the association in 1978 and edits the association’s magazine, Zymurgy, named for the branch of chemistry dealing with fermentation.
At the Rooster Court Bar and Grill in Northampton, Mass., patrons can try a brown ale named Old Brown Dog or, in the summer, a light wheat beer, said Peter Egelston, a co-owner of the brewpub.
“The novelty of the beer is enough to bring people in the first time, but not enough to bring them back,” Egelston said.
In Hartford, Conn., The Chester Fife & Drum Corps will help usher in Connecticut’s new brew Feb. 1 when John Foley, president of the Connecticut Brewing Co., rolls out the first barrel of Nathan Hale Lager.
Foley, 26, developed his interest in beer at the University of Notre Dame where he reviewed the history of brewing for a seminar.
After graduation, he worked in New York in investment banking but continued to study the market for beer and, after raising $500,000, founded the brewing company, basing his beer on a recipe that dates to Colonial America.
“It’s a renaissance back to pre-Prohibition days when Manhattan had over 100 breweries,” Foley said. “There were 4,000 breweries in the United States in 1870 but by 1980, there were only 40.”