Monday, August 17, 2015

Brew Fest: Lorain, Ohio

We'd seen a couple of signs for what's currently the only brew festival in Lorain County, Ohio:  Brewfest Waterfront District in downtown Lorain, Ohio.

Then we saw an article in the local newspaper that quoted one of the organizers as saying; "There's a misconception out there about's not the cesspool that people seem to think it is."

Probably not a Chamber of Commerce-approved message. But we went. And it was great.

For $30 per person, we each got coupons for 15 four-once beers and an over sized shot glass to drink them. 

First we walked around the couple of blocks of downtown Lorain that were blocked off, scoped out the beer tents (and the two wine tents ) and the food trucks. Then we stopped at our favorites.

I'm a dark beer lover and had four samples. The most interesting was SpinDoktor Hard Root Beer out of Hudson, Ohio, which was exactly what it sounded like: spiked root beer. I also tried and liked Milk Street Stout by Franklin Brewing of Elyria (and whose owner, we found out after the fact and who we talked with at length, was the organizer who made the "cesspool" comment. Enthusiastic brewer and a great organizer.)

Jim is an IPA lover and had quite a few more samples than I did.  First because he can handle way more beer and secondly because IPAs are what every brewery seems to be making these days. (I drove home, by the way.) Jim thought the Black Frog IPA out of Toledo -- owned by the first African American commercial brewer in Ohio -- was OK but a little sour. He really liked the JackieO's Mystic Mama IPA out of Athens, Ohio. He also liked the Head Hunter IPA from Fat Heads in Middleburg Heights and the Citra Dog IPA out of Thirsty Dog Brewing Company from Akron. The latter is brewed with citra hops which are becoming Jim's favorite hop variety.

Lorain is on Lake Erie and dissected by a large river, which seems like the perfect location for a city. So why is it so depressed?  Vermilion, Ohio, for example, is just ten miles to the west and touts itself as the "crowning jewel" of the south shore of Lake Erie. It's a lovely town with sailboat-filled lagoons, lovely homes, restaurants  and shops. Then there's Lorain, i.e. the cesspool. But it's not a cesspool and it has so much potential. Years ago Vermilion bet on boat harbors, beaches, recreation, and tourism.  Lorain bet on steel, ship building, and the Ford Assembly line. We all know how that worked out.

Lorain can turn around and one of the leaders in the comeback seems to be Lorain's mayor.  We saw him at the festival and he looked like he was about 18.  I researched him on line; he's actually 30 and is one of the youngest mayors in the country for a city the size of Lorain's (68,000).  He was 27 when elected and is running for a second term.  

You go, mayor. And you go, Lorain. Actually, everybody out there go to Lorain. If nothing else visit Lorain's beautiful Lakeview Park, maybe one of the few beaches in the country where you walk through roses to get to the water.  Then buy something and support Lorain.

Jim with a beer in front of the Brew Kettle, a Strongsville, Ohio brewery we've been to before. The festival's brochure said that 40 breweries were at the festival.  We think it was more like about 30.  Whatever the number, there were plenty of choices. Plus the food was great.
The festival was held in downtown Lorain, Ohio,  which has so much potential:  It's right on a Great Lake, next to a large river, and has some beautiful old buildings. One thing that might help:  If marijuana is legalized in Ohio (legalization will be on the ballot this fall and it's still a big if) Lorain will be home to one of 10 state growing/processing centers.  The grow site will be just east of the location above in an industrial park.


  1. As one of the original organizers I looked up your blog today. This is a personal invitation to return to Lorain Saturday, August 13, 2016 for the third annual Brewfestwd. Hope t5o see you here!

    1. Just saw your message, Bob. So glad you found our blog. We missed the Lorain Brew Fest this year -- but if we are in Ohio next year we will certainly go. It was great! Congrats to you and the other organizers on a wonderful event.