The Cleveland Craft Beer Report

Cleveland Beer Week 2013 might have ended, but the party continues on the shelves of local craft beer stores. Several notable new products made their debut during Cleveland's annual craft beer celebration and remain available for purchase.

Victory launched Dirtwolf Double IPA as a contemporary successor to its aging Hop Wallop. Dirtwolf has a savage amount of Citra, Chinook, Simcoe and Mosaic hops that combine to create a taste that will leave hopheads howling at the moon. Goose Island has added two new Belgian-style wild farmhouse ales to its Vintage Collection. Gillian is partially aged in wine barrels with strawberries, honey and pepper, while Halia is aged in wine barrels with peaches.

Closer to home, Akron's Hoppin' Frog bottled and distributed Cleveland Crusher for the first time. Additionally, a brewery release of barrel-aged DORIS the Destroyer had many Northeast Ohio craft beer fanatics making the short hop down to Frog HQ.

It wouldn't be November without the reappearance of spiced holiday ales. The 2013 edition of Great Lakes Christmas Ale started flying off store shelves this week alongside returning favorites like Sierra Nevada Celebration, Tröegs Mad Elf, Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs, Hoppin' Frog Frosted Frog and Southern Tier 2XMAS. Tired of the same-old holiday ales? Dark Horse's 4 Elf Winter Ale tones down the spice, while Revolution's Fistmas Ale showcases orange peel and hops.

In addition to all these great beers, a few more breweries recently announced Ohio distribution plans. Virginia's Blue Mountain Brewery made their Ohio debut during Cleveland Beer Week. Full Nelson Pale Ale and Steel Wheels ESB are available in canned six-packs, while Blitzen Belgian Dark Strong Ale, Dark Hollow Barrel-Aged Stout, Long Winter's Nap Imperial Maibock and Local Species Belgian Strong Pale Ale are all packaged in corked 750-ml bottles. Lazy Magnolia is about to reach Ohio shelves with a range of products including Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale, which is said to be the first beer in the world made with whole roasted pecans.

Finally, while no official announcement has been made regarding the impending launch of Deschutes in the Buckeye State, Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter might appear in cans at select establishments as soon as early January.

With all these great options, will the Cleveland craft beer scene support a brewery that doesn't even brew its own beer? We'll soon find out when a Granite City outpost opens its doors in the coming days in Lyndhurst.

Over the past year, the Minneapolis-based chain has spent more than $5 million renovating the old Joseph-Beth Booksellers store at Legacy Village. While Granite City calls itself a brewery, the term "fermentary" might be more appropriate.

In 2001, the company patented a two-stage process called Fermentus Interruptus, which effectively takes the brew out of the brewhouse. First, wort (the sweet liquid that precedes fermentation) is created at an Ellsworth, Iowa, facility. The wort is cooled, loaded into tanker trucks and transported across the country to each of the 29 Granite City locations. When the wort reaches each store, yeast is added to kick-start the fermentation process and the resulting beer is carbonated and served to patrons. While the company claims the process ensures quality and consistency, press releases have also included phrases like “improve margins” and “enhance overall profitability.”

Whatever the reason, Cleveland Craft Beer drinkers will soon get the chance to vote with their palates and a vacant space at a popular shopping destination will be filled. Those who don’t approve will have to stick to their usual favorite spots or wait until 2014 when the Chagrin Falls Spillway Brewery and Euclid’s Cleveland Brewery projects bring even more new options to thirsty Eastsiders.

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