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The Cleveland Craft Beer Report 

Five years ago, the number of Northeast Ohio breweries barely reached double digits. Now, it seems that every week or two a new project is announced. So, what are the latest breweries entering the Cleveland craft beer scene?

Cleveland Brew Shop and JC Beer Tech have announced that they will partner up to open Platform Brewing Company next summer. The 10-barrel brewery will be located on Lorain near West 41 Street in Ohio City. Not content to be just another brewery and taproom, the owners are pursuing an alternating proprietorship model. This means that in addition to flagships brewed by a professional brewmaster, talented homebrewers can "go pro" using a smaller pilot system and shared licensing and tax resources.

While much of the brewing activity this past half-decade has been focused on the westside, new projects aim to shift the balance eastward. In Playhouse Square, Hofbräuhaus brewery, restaurant and beer garden, which has ties to the original Hofbräuhaus in Munich, will open next year, producing the area's most authentic German beer.

Farther east, the Spillway renovation project in Chagrin Falls finally is moving forward. The plan includes a restaurant, brewery and even a venue for performances. Granite City Brewing, a national chain, should open by the end of the year in the old Joseph-Beth Booksellers space in Lyndhurst. All told, there could be 30 breweries within an hour of downtown Cleveland by the end of 2014!

Hopefully the new breweries will be as successful as Nano Brew, which celebrates its one-year anniversary this month. The West 25th Street taproom serves as the R&D arm of Market Garden Brewery and produced around 25 different beers in its first year. While many offerings fell into the IPA, American amber, American pale or saison styles, the experimentation that Nano's small-batch system allows became evident in creations like Sweet Tart Gruit and Green Tea Honey Wheat. Fans of experimental beers are in luck, as Nano will tap seven different pumpkin ales in September and October. The beers will range from amber to dark and even Belgian spins on everyone's favorite gourd. Some will feature traditional pie spices, while others will feature yeast or even hops as the dominant flavor. While that is impressive, Elysian Brewing in Seattle still is the reigning king of pumpkin ale. The brewery regularly offers more than 20 variations at their Great Pumpkin festival. While Elysian is not yet distributed to Ohio, two different collaborations with San Francisco's 21st Amendment will be on local shelves soon.

Speaking of collaborations, October's fifth annual Cleveland Beer Week will kick off with several "Collaboration Pub Crawls" in both east and westside neighborhoods. Each stop on the crawl will feature one of seven exclusive beers brewed by teams from 16 Northeast Ohio breweries. Willoughby Brewing and Brew Kettle teamed up for Collaborator Dopplebock, a traditional German double bock, while Market Garden, Indigo Imp and Rocky River created a cocoa and hazelnut infused dunkelweizen. Great Lakes and Cellar Rats decided to revive Berlot, their wine barrel-aged strong ale collaboration from 2010. Lager Heads and Cornerstone put a spin on the American porter, adding maple, bacon and coffee to mimic a complete pancake breakfast in liquid form. Fat Heads and Chardon BrewWorks added mango to a 7-percent ABV American IPA and created Wango Tango Mango IPA. Other collaborations include a barrel-aged Black Belgian Tripel from Thirsty Dog and Portside, plus a Belgian tripel with cherries from Buckeye, Black Box and Ohio Brewing.

Returning Beer Week events include Culture Yourself, Ales on Rails, and, of course, Brewzilla. More than 350 events across Cuyahoga County will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

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