35 years is a long time, and a lot can happen over three and a half decades. Yet, as much as things change, some things stay the same. In our 35th year, we’re thankful that many of the same people, places, and beers that made us remain key parts of our brewery's story. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and connect the sudsy dots, past to present.
GLBC Co-Founders and Co-Owners Pat and Dan Conway, in the late 80’s (left) and 2023 (right)
GLBC would not be here today if not for the entrepreneurial itch and risk-taking willingness of our Co-Founders, Patrick and Daniel Conway. These brothers from the Cleveland suburbs developed a taste for fresh, full-flavored beers during their European travels and left their day jobs in the mid-80’s to bring those eye-opening and palate-expanding brews to their hometown. We’re thrilled to remain an independent, family and employee-owned brewery to this day, with Pat and Dan remaining the primary owners of GLBC. Chances are you’ll still see them enjoying a shift beer with brewpub regulars after a good day’s work!
Market Ave. in 1963 (upper left); the brewpub patio in the early 90’s (upper right) and current (bottom)
Speaking of beers, our bartenders and servers have been slinging the finest lagers and ales this side of the Atlantic in the very same space since we first opened our doors on September 6, 1988. Our Market Avenue brewpub inhabits three late 19th century buildings that have housed long running taverns (appropriately enough), family run businesses, and some other… colorful activities (ask us about the alleged Eliot Ness bullet holes). Today, you can enjoy a brewery-fresh Midwest IPA or Christmas Ale at the very same bar where we poured our first pints of Dortmunder Gold Lager 35 years ago--and your beer might even be poured by a 25+ year brewpub vet! Plus, Pub Brewer Steve Forman still crafts special pub exclusive goodies in Brewhouse No. 1, the same brewhouse we first mashed in on back in 1988.
30-barrel brewhouse in 1992 (left); exterior of Beer Symposium (current)
After our first few years in business, guests enjoyed our brewpub-fresh beer so much, they demanded we distribute it to stores and restaurants throughout the region. Flattered by the request, we opened a 30-barrel production brewhouse in the former Fries and Schuele department store, fully equipped with an automated bottling line and kegging equipment. Today, this space is our Beer Symposium education center. Take a brewery tour or a Hop College class and learn all about the GLBC beer that was once brewed in the very same space.
Former Schlather distribution center in 1938 (left); current GLBC production facility (right)
These days we're lucky to have so many great Cleveland craft breweries, but this city has always been a big brewery town. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, some of the nation’s largest brewers operated within the city limits. One of those was Leonard Schlather Brewing Co., whose former distribution center now serves as our 75-barrel brewhouse and production facility. As Ohio’s largest brewer today, and the 18th largest craft brewer in the country, we’re honored to be able to brew our well-renowned beer out of a space once inhabited by an original industry leader. We’re also proud to carry on the same community-oriented mindset Schlather had through our Brewing Good efforts, including local food sourcing and farming, and volunteerism.
GLBC’s GABF medals (top); Brewmaster Mark Hunger circa 2000 (left) and current (right)
35 years of rich brewing history isn’t possible without crafting world-class, award-winning beer. Thankfully, that’s been our M.O. since original Brewmaster Thaine Johnson wrote our first recipes, and our 16 awards from Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup back it up. From classics like Edmund Fitzgerald Porter to contemporary favorites like Vibacious Double IPA, we remain as committed to the craft as we’ve always been. And we have the experienced, longtime brewery staff, like current Brewmaster Mark Hunger, to continue crafting delicious and memorable beer for another 35 years and beyond.
All this reminiscence is making us thirsty. Let’s raise a toast to 35 years of GLBC beer! Use our Beer Finder to locate our beer near you.
Words by Michael Williams
Photos by Great Lakes Brewing Co.
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Questions? Email GLBCinfo@greatlakesbrewing.com for more information.