If I had known exactly what The Brew Kettle in Strongsville was, I certainly wouldn’t have made this my last stop on the beer tour. I probably would have gone there when I first got to Ohio and asked them if I could have tossed a sleeping bag in the back and just slept there. It’s pretty much a beer lover’s dream.
The Brew Kettle is a three-in-one establishment. It’s a smokehouse, a brewpub and a brew-your-own for homebrewers. Is there a downside to any of this? As long as the products are tasty, not that I can see. I had heard from my dad about this place, as he went there on a visit to Ohio a couple years ago, and he’s been raving about it ever since.
What I did not realize until going there myself was that they function as a brewpub, sell their own beer on draft in the bar and in bottles for you to take home. I thought it was simply a place that you went to brew your beer and you could have a sandwich while doing so. It’s a far better experience than that.
There are a few pluses and minuses that I see to this type of set up. On the plus side, you basically get to use professional-grade equipment to brew your beer. They have copper brew kettles, a grain mill, a counter-flow wort chiller, refrigerated fermentation storage, a filtration system, a kegging and bottling system, and label design, among all the other odds and ends that you’d need.
I would estimate that to buy all this stuff yourself, it would take at least a couple grand, not to mention where the hell you’d put all this stuff. Oh, and they do all the cleaning and sanitation for you, which is the most time-consuming and annoying part of homebrewing, by far.
The downside comes from the fact that since they are legally a brewery, you have to make one of their recipes. From a legal standpoint, I’m sure due to FDA/ATF/NCAA regulations or whatever, you are renting time at their brewery to make “their” beer. They do have over 80 recipes, and they said they could tweak some here and there to make it your own, so there are a lot of possibilities.
However for me, a lot of the fun I have is in coming up with recipes on my own. It’s more than simply going through the mechanics of brewing beer. I love the creative process that goes into building a recipe, combining styles and attributes from beers I like, tweaking and evolving recipes over time until it’s just right. That’s where the art comes into play.
One other thing The Brew Kettle has going in its favor is that from what I tried, their beer is really good. (You can make the same recipes yourself that they make in the real brewery.) I only had about 20 minutes to sample a few of the beers they had on tap, but I would venture to say that they were my favorite beers of the trip. They were very flavorful and delicious. It makes me sad that I didn’t have more time to enjoy them!
New World Brown
This brown had a sweet, coffee aroma along with a roasted molassas malt flavor. It was slightly bitter, but well balanced. Very tasty!
Pale, cloudy color. This had a very pleasant fruity aroma. It had a very light and refreshing body with pronounced coriander and orange peel.
4 C’s Pale Ale
Not much hop aroma, but hops are definitely present in the flavor. It had an amber color and moderate body. Hop flavor is present throughout and it finishes bitter.
Olde 21 IPA
This one may have won the gold star for the week. It had a wonderful grapefruit aroma explosion. The flavor was all about citrus hops, but it had a solid malty backbone to balance it out. They said they used all Simcoe hops. Excellent, excellent beer.