Midwest Living Review
This Ohio City watering hole lures both brew sophisticates and regular folks who just want a decent meal and a good beer to its rambling 19th-century building (actually three strung together). Great Lakes makes five year-round beers, nine seasonal brews and countless pub exclusives, but there is just a limited selection of them each day. If you're a Great Lakes novice, ask for a flight ($15), which includes a 4-5 ounce taste (big enough to share) of each of the beers on-tap and a handy sheet profiling each one. Then pick a pint ($4 to $5) of your favorite. The brewpub has a large menu of local-ingredient food items, but beer comes first here and food is simply the accessory. Focus on basic pub grub and meals made with a Great Lakes brew. Ask your sever to recommend the best beer for your order (or use your smartphone to check the online menu for pairing suggestions). Spread your food budget over several sides and appetizers instead of sinking it all on the disappointing entrees. Hand-cut chips with Burning River Pale Ale Cheese Sauce ($5) trades toast for potato chips in a crispy twist on the pub classic Welsh rarebit. The Local and Fresh Plate, a yummy cheese and sausage platter, has just the right mix of flavors to match beer samplings ($13). Brewer's Barley Pretzels ($9) are a favorite, but they're for early birds only -- they always run out. Which gets to the one drawback: It's really popular. The brewpub can be seriously crowded on weekends, with waits of an hour or more for a table. But if you head to the Brew Cellar, you can happily pass the time and may even score a small table where you can order food. Street parking at peak hours can be tricky; drop $6 for valet service, or park for free in the lot at the Westside market and walk a short block to the brewpub. If you think the parking challenges, lines and patchy food are reason enough to look elsewhere, you won't be the first person to make that decision, but Great Lakes Brewing Company is a true Cleveland tradition and worth a stop for drinks -- on a weeknight.