Cleveland Beer & Restaurant News From's Marc Bona - 7-22-21

Marc Bona from PD - spoke to Bill about Brew at the Zoo scheduled in Akron - Great Lakes Brewing Co. brings back Joe Thomas’ 73 Kolsch; dinner with Browns great sold out - Maize Valley Brewery’s award-winning brewer keeps chugging along

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Brew at the Zoo scheduled in Akron

SCHEDULED for 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 20, in ENTERTAINMENT

AKRON, Ohio –TheAkron Zoo’s secondBrew at the Zooof the year is Saturday, July 24.

The beer and wine tasting will be 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and offer samples from 16 Northeast Ohio breweries and wineries.

Scheduled to participate:

Akronym, Akron

Blue Monkey, North Royalton

Bookhouse, Cleveland

Crooked Pecker, Chagrin Falls

Hoppin’ Frog, Akron

Lock 15, Akron

Maize Valley, Hartville

McArthur’s Brew House, Cuyahoga Falls

Modern Methods, Warren

Nauti Vine, Akron

Penguin City, Youngstown

Phoenix, Mansfield

Thirsty Dog, Akron

Two Monks, Akron

Railroad, Avon

R. Shea, Akron

Food-truck vendors are Avorrito, Cheezylicious and Cocky’s Bagels.

Tickets are $33 ($28, Akron Zoo members). Designated-driver tickets are $22 ($17, zoo members) Tickets – which must be purchased online in advance include eight tastings and after-hours admission. Full-pours also are available.

Upcoming Brew at the Zoos:

• Saturday, Sept. 4

• Saturday, Oct. 2 (Halloween-themed)

• Thursday, Dec. 9 (holiday special)

Great Lakes Brewing Co. brings back Joe Thomas’ 73 Kolsch; dinner with Browns great sold out

CLEVELAND, Ohio –Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s 73 Kolsch is back.

The Kolsch-style ale was brewed initially in 2018 in collaboration with Joe Thomas, who graced the Browns’ offensive line for 11 seasons in his No. 73 jersey. It will be available in retail distribution in limited-edition six-packs of 16-ounce cans beginning Monday, July 26.

It eventually will be out on draft in the brewpub and cans in the gift shop, according to the brewery, which did not release a date.

Kolsch is a drinkable hybrid style between a lager and ale. 73 Kolsch remains at 5.7% alcohol.

A four-course brewmaster’s dinner with Thomas on the Great Lakes brewpub patio on Tuesday, Aug. 3, is sold out. Like the beer itself, it was created in collaboration with Thomas. The first course is “The Pride of Wisconsin” – a selection of Wisconsin cheeses and condiments. Thomas was born in the Badger state and was a first-round draft choice out of Wisconsin.

After Thomas announced his retirement in 2018, theAkron RubberDucks offered Hey, Joe!– a hoagie-roll sandwich with butterfly-sliced bratwursts, craft-beer cheese, onions and peppers.

Maize Valley Brewery’s award-winning brewer keeps chugging along (photos)

HARTVILLE, Ohio – If something challenging happens in the brewhouse, if a problem arises or an obstacle like a pandemic pops up, Maize Valley brewer Jake Turner can handle it. If you’ve spent time serving in combat as an Army medic and as a firefighter, a few problems making beer really aren’t much to worry about.

Maize Valley is one-stop shopping of sorts – a winery, brewery, restaurant, market and relaxing destination. It sits along a quiet Stark County road, a grassy meadow rolling behind it.

Labor Day will mark the brewery’s seventh anniversary for the county’s first brewery, but Turner will be too busy to celebrate.

“Our anniversary comes around at a very busy time for the business in general,” he said. “At that time of year I am getting Oktoberfest off, pumpkin beer off, all the fall stuff is getting all locked up.”

Maize Valley Winery is a family affair. Kay and Donna Vaughn, longtime farmers in the area, were involved, though the operation is run by their children, Michelle and Todd, the winemaker; Michelle’s husband, Bill Bakan, and manager Scott Mann. Turner had mutual friends of the owners, and had six to seven years of home brewing under his belt when he came aboard.

The majority of the business, Bakan says, is the special events and experience-based activities along with food service, retail and wholesale wine.

Until 2017, Turner also was a firefighter in his hometown of Alliance. For three years he did double duty between the firehouse and the brewhouse.

“That was miserable,” he said. “That was a bad idea, working 80 to 100 hours a week.”

But he keeps his nose down, most days coming in at dawn to start brewing, seeing the mist through the rising fog on the property. The early routine is born from his time in the military.

Turner, 37, served in the Army from 2002 to 2006. He went to Iraq right after the invasion in 2003 with the 3rd Infantry Division.

“My unit was responsible for taking Bagdad airport, and it was the first unit to use the Javelin missile in combat,” he said.

“Every unit in the entire Army has medics attached to the battalion,” he explained, “so there are a lot of medics in the Army. But there are lot of medics that do front-line work.”

Usually a medic in that position is attached for a year then shifted to work at an aid station “so you don’t get burned out.” Turner wanted to stay in that role, though.

“I didn’t have any kids, I was young, wasn’t married,” he said. “Some of the other guys I was with were a little older, some were married, had kids, had families. I was inclined to say ‘(the heck with) it, I don’t need to go back to the aid station. What do I need to be there for?’ At that point once you do so much training, there’s so much trust interwoven there. … These are my guys. I trained with them, they know what to expect out of me, and I know what to expect working with them.”

So he stayed in his front-line capacity, which came with increased risks.

“Every day,” he said. “Rocket attacks, car bombs, mortar attacks.”

There’s an all-hands-on-deck mentality, to borrow a Navy saying.

“Every guy has a job. They didn’t care that I was a medic. ‘You’re an infantryman – until we need someone bandaged up.’

He added: “I feel like I got very lucky,” he said. “It was always like 30 seconds or a minute between passing by some place and a bomb going off that was intended for you, but they just had bad timing, or the cord was longer than they thought it was, or their phone wasn’t functioning properly right at that moment. It was a lot of luck.”

After he left the Army, he was working at a hospital in Florida and lived near a store that sold the then nascent offerings of craft beer. He discovered the likes ofDogfish HeadandFlying Dog.

When he tastedSierra NevadaPale Ale, an epiphany hit: “Oh (man), beer can be delicious.”

He moved home, and a couple of his fellow firefighters were home brewing. Brewing at home hadn’t occurred to him. His pals eventually got out of it, but the bug stayed with him.

He built a kegerator, increased his brewing techniques, and kept brewing. But one of his favorite beers – or at least memories – isn’t about craft beer but a mainstream lager.

When he flew back to the states his unit landed in Bangor, Maine. In what might be one of the smartest business locations ever, the airport had a Budweiser brewhouse.

“You have a bunch of dudes living in the dust and dirt for a year, they’re missing all their favorite things about being at home. It could have been anything. You don’t care.”

What he does care about is making good beer at Maize Valley, where he works on a 15-barrel system. He has honed his craft and has had to dump only one batch in his entire time at the Hartville brewery, he said. And he has a couple of key awards on his resume.

Maize Valley’s beer is mostly kegged with self-distribution. But three brands are canned: Hopnesia IPA, Peach Fork, a peach-wheat ale; and Monk in Public Belgian Strong Ale – a 2016Great American Beer Festivalsilver-medal winner. Turner also won at GABF in 2018 in the aged beer category. He is in the process of getting beers ready to ship next week for this year’s competition, which is in the fall. He also won the 2019 Stout it Out Loud competition at Butcher and the Brewer, a celebration of beer and oysters. He said that one surprised even him.

When he heard he won, he said his first response was: “Are you sure I won? When you think of all the other Stouts at the fest – I mean, ‘Hoppin’ Frog is here.’ " (Hoppin’ Frogis an award-winning brewery in Akron specializing with big, bold styles.)

Maize Valley has 16 styles on taps. Cumulatively, Turner has made about 80 beers in his time at the brewery, though he says “We’re one of the very few breweries that does not make a hazy IPA. … My goal, by and large, is to make a drinkable beer that you want to have more than one of.”

It’s drinkable styles that compose Maize Valley’s cores – a German-style Pilsner, Peach Fork, Hopnesia, an Amber Ale and Café Cubano Stout - a balanced “Cuban Coffee Stout.” Big sellers are Silo Killer, a Belgian-style Farmhouse Ale; German-style Pilsner, Hopnesia and Peach Fork.

He sees a rebound starting from decreased distribution brought on because of Covid restrictions, when places were closed and the brewery “lost probably 40 to 50 percent of our wholesale distribution during the pandemic. We’re seeing definitely an upswing now in the past couple of months,” Turner said.

But he’s not complaining.

“We had a lot of people say, ‘Oh, brewing’s a hard job’. It’s not an easy job. But when I think about what I have done previously to this, I almost feel like I’m retired working in a brewery. Which is a (messed) up thing to say. But it’s kind of how I feel because I get to do something I really enjoy.”

Six-pack of facts about Maize Valley Brewery

• It’s at 6193 Edison St., Hartville, about 55 miles from downtown Cleveland. Hours: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Huge parking lot on the spacious grounds.

• Maize Valley has a restaurant. Beer flights are four 5-ounce tastes for $10. Growlers are available.

• If you go, check the schedule. Regular car cruises are held, attracting 300 to 350 autos, Turner said. Plus there’s fall-festival events, live music and other activities.

• Closest brewery isAeonian Breweryin Alliance, less than 12 miles away.

• As Covid restrictions ease, Maize Valley looks to do wine- and food-pairing events and beer dinners.

• Turner’s brewing words of wisdom: “Beer should always be kind of refreshing” and “Nothing is too much (over the top). That’s what I aim for. Even for our fruit beers; they’re not daiquiris.”

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