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Issue Date: February 2010

Best Bars: Brew Masters

Editied by Beth Stallings; Stories by Jennifer Bowen, Amber Matheson, Kim Schneider, Beth Stallings, Erick Trickey, Carly Toyzan & Jim Vickers
Five reasons to love (and drink) local beer.

Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Drinking beer here is like raising a glass to Cleveland’s roots one sip of nostalgically named brew at a time. The craft beers are innovative, and the people are here for the same goal: to eat, drink and be merry. The mix is just the right catalyst for love. 2516 Market Ave., Cleveland, 216-771-4404,

Buckeye Beer Engine
Some breweries are like a bad retail shop forcing you to buy the store-made product. But here, beer lovers have real options (more than 100, actually) in a place designed as a shrine to great beer. The result: We can’t help but order one of its four craft brews (Buckeye Winter Wheat Cloud, please) every time we stop in. 15315 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-2337,

Cornerstone Brewing Co.
A mere 5 years old, Cornerstone has grown up fast in the Cleveland microbrew scene — and we’ve had the hangovers to prove it. Exposed brick walls and ductwork give the brewery a refined sense of maturity that puts you at ease. Go ahead; order another Seven (the India pale ale). 58 Front St., Berea, 440-239-9820,

Willoughby Brewing Co.

A converted rail-car depot, this place is huge. But on weekends you’ll still have trouble finding an empty bar stool as Lake County locals (and those who know it’s worth the drive) pore over fruity pints of Railway Razz and Doubting Thomas Double IPA. 4057 Erie St., Willoughby, 440-975-0202,

The Brew Kettle
Craftspeople have the Home Depot. Craft-brewers have The Brew Kettle. In a place that bleeds hops and barley, you can make your own brew from one of 75 recipes (how cool is that?) and sample one of 24 beers on tap, eight of which are house specialties. 8377 Pearl Road, Strongsville, 440-239-8788,

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