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Great Lakes Brewing - Cleveland, Ohio

Our Mission
Great Lakes Brewing Company is a principle-centered, environmentally respectful and socially conscious company committed to crafting fresh, flavorful, high-quality beer and food for the enjoyment of our customers. We aspire to maintain our status as the premier craft brewery in the Great Lakes region and are dedicated to uncompromising service, continuous improvement and innovative consumer education.

The Beginning
From its earliest beginnings, Great Lakes Brewing Company made an unwavering commitment to offer customers the most flavorful, freshest beer in the business by settling in a neighborhood that was once the heart of Cleveland's brewing industry. Established in 1988 by brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway, Great Lakes Brewing Company became the first microbrewery in the state of Ohio and today remains Ohio's most celebrated and award-winning brewer of lagers and ales.

Possessing a healthy respect for the fine art and science of brewing, the Conways invited Master Brewer Thaine Johnson (1921-2005) to join them during the company's earliest days. Johnson (whose three decades of experience as a brewer included managing Cleveland's last remaining brewery, Christian Schmidt) played a key role in working with the Conways to develop the recipes for their first beers. "From the beginning, we incorporated the techniques of brewing used by European brewers in our own craft brewing process," explains co-owner Patrick Conway. "We were determined to use only the freshest ingredients with no preservatives or chemicals. We also refused to succumb to pasteurization, which ultimately compromises flavor."

Approximately 1,000 barrels were produced during the first year. The first brew, a Dortmunder-style beer originally called The Heisman (named for the famed football player who lived around the corner from Great Lakes Brewing Company) was an overnight success. The flagship brew was eventually renamed Dortmunder Gold and was joined by other award-winning brews including Blackout Stout, Burning River Pale Ale, Christmas Ale, Commodore Perry India Pale Ale, Conway's Irish Ale, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Eliot Ness Amber Lager, Holy Moses White Ale, Nosferatu Ale and Oktoberfest.

Brewery Expansion Supports Growth
Great Lakes Brewing Company's first expansion in 1992 to the adjacent Fries & Scheule Building made it possible for the company to meet the growing demand for its products. In 1998, driven by increased market demand and regional growth, Great Lakes Brewing Company began renovations to a building across from the Fries & Scheule Building location and transformed it into a 75-300 barrel system.

The brewery consists of six buildings, three of which originally served as horse stables and kegging facilities for the Schlather Brewing Company - an operation that was built in 1878 and once brewed up to 90,000 barrels a year. This brewery, established by German immigrant Leonard Schlather, was one of more than 30 that thrived in Cleveland during its "Golden Age of Brewing" (before Prohibition in 1920). After Prohibition, all that remained of this famous brewery was the gutted shell of the horse stables until 2000 when GLBC unveiled its newly expanded brewery. As a result of this $8 million brewery expansion, Great Lakes Brewing Company's distribution area now extends to Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Owners
Patrick Conway's love affair with beer began while he was bartending to get through graduate school at the University of Chicago and continued when he left for Europe and enjoyed his own informal tour of the small breweries throughout Europe. Returning to the United States to teach in Chicago, he became convinced that Americans were gravitating toward the European style beers that he so admired.

A native Clevelander with a passion for the city that equals his passion for beer, he came back to his hometown to pursue his dream of opening the first craft brewery in Ohio. He, with the help of his brother Daniel, chose Ohio City, the urban neighborhood that is also home to the historic West Side Market.

In 1985, Daniel Conway was busy pursuing a career in commercial banking. For years he had the entrepreneurial appetite yet knew he needed to learn more before taking the plunge. Just prior to starting at Huntington National Bank, he sought to open his own "incubator cell" with an accompanying venture capital fund, but at 23 years old, had neither the experience or credibility to pull off such a plan.

During those years, he often spoke at length with his brother Patrick about their shared appreciation for beer and the European breweries each had admired while studying in Europe. Armed with new knowledge of business operations from his banking experience, he thought the microbrewery idea was "the one" and a "can do" attitude soon became Great Lakes Brewing Company.

Year Round Beers
Burning River Pale Ale
Commodore Perry IPA
Dortmunder Gold Lager
Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
Eliot Ness Amber Lager
Holy Moses White Ale

Seasonal beers
Conway's Irish Ale
Prohibition Pils Pilsner
Oktoberfest Lager
Christmas Ale
Blackout Stout Imperial Stout
Nosferatu Ale

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