Our History

Our History

Two Irish-American brothers with limited brewing experience. A city that shuttered its last production brewery in the early 80s. A neighborhood in need of a boost. In 1986 when Patrick and Daniel Conway opened their fledgling operation in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood, the odds were stacked against them. Fortunately, they surrounded themselves with a staff of passionate, knowledgeable people, and from the start committed themselves to bringing an independent, sophisticated, diverse selection of craft beer to their home state. Today Pat and Dan Conway celebrate over three decades of crafting exceptional beer for their adventurous and discerning customers.


1980's - The Beginning

Founders Pat and Dan Conway incorporate in 1986. They attain a collective 75 years of brewing experience by recruiting Master Brewer Thaine Johnson and Engineer Charlie Price, both former employees of Schmidt's, Cleveland's last operating brewery. Together, the team sets to work designing GLBC's 7-barrel brewing system, which is still used to brew Pub Exclusive beers.

Pat and Dan work with Thaine to develop beers reflective of the styles the brothers enjoyed during their European travels, and choose to honor their local roots with the names of their first beers. Eliot Ness Amber Lager honors the notorious prohibition officer who frequented the tavern that's now home to the GLBC brewpub (how's that for irony), and who once employed Pat and Dan's mother as his stenographer. The Heisman, now known as Dortmunder Gold Lager, is named for football legend John Heisman, who once lived in the Ohio City neighborhood.

From the start, the brothers focus on sustainability, opting to renovate 19th century buildings to house their brewpub, and purchasing used restaurant equipment to stock their space. As GLBC expands, new businesses sprout, and Ohio City gradually evolves into a bustling place to work, play, and brew. In their first year, the team brews less than 1,000 barrels of kegged beer, and hand-bottling doesn't even begin for another year. The first bottles are capped by hand, after being knocked on with a screwdriver to create foam and push out oxygen--thankfully, the brewery has come a long way since those days!


1990's - Building a Strong Foundation

Dortmunder Gold Lager sets the stage for success with its first gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival. Two years later, Christmas Ale debuts as one of the first American spiced holiday ales and quickly becomes the stuff of local legend.

In 1992, GLBC expands into the Fries & Schuele Building (now home to the Beer Symposium). Before long, the brewery outgrows this space, so the main operation relocates to the site of the current production brewery on Carroll Avenue. The brewery's 19th century buildings once acted as stables and storage facilities for the Leonard Schlather Brewing Company.

Now that they have the beer, Pat and Dan set out to find new customers. In their maroon stationwagon, they hand-deliver bottled beer to their first retailer: West Point Market in Akron. Insisting on selling their beer refrigerated to maintain freshness, Pat and Dan outfit the market with a used cooler--committed to quality from the start!

THE 2000's

2000's - Picking up steam

In the early 2000s, GLBC continues to invest in environmental causes. In 2001, the first Burning River Fest takes place in the brewery's tank farm. In 2007 GLBC puts down roots at Hale Farm & Village, founding Pint Size Farm. Two years later, they join a collective to form Ohio City Farm, thought to be the largest urban farm in the country.

All the while, the brewery experiences tremendous growth, first boosted by Northeast Ohioans, then a growing distribution footprint filled with thirsty craft beer drinkers. They pass the 100,000 barrel mark in 2010 after adding three new 300 barrel fermenters.

In 2013 GLBC celebrates its 25th anniversary and refreshes their iconic brand. 

To commemorate 30 years of independent craft brewing in 2018, Pat and Dan Conway introduce an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), making GLBC's staff employee-owners.

In 2020, GLBC launches its first canning line and warehouse operation in Strongsville, just a short trip from the Ohio City production facility. The addition of the canning line brings classic GLBC brands to this desirable package for the first time, and inspires further innovation and variety, including Hazecraft IPA, Crushworthy Lo-Cal Citrus Wheat, and TropiCoastal Tropical IPA. 


Our Philosophy

We celebrate the abundance of the Great Lakes region
in every beer, dish, and story we share.

Passion for our Product - Respect Resources - Foster Relationships - Share Success

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