Pull up a barstool and peer beyond the draught handles at Lake County’s first brewpub since Prohibition, Willoughby Brewing Co. (18.81 miles east of downtown). Behind a glass wall, you’ll see six giant copper and silver vats containing brews in various stages of fermentation. Formerly a rail-car repair depot, the brick building is now one for contemplating what’s possible with wheat, barley and hops. Distinctive microbrews, including Lost Nation Pale Ale, Willoughby Wheat and Wild Irish Red, have been luring beer connoisseurs since 1998.
4057 Erie St., Willoughby; willoughbybrewing.com
There’s a reason people move to newer suburbs: They’re safe, easy, clean, convenient and generally pretty nice. The flip side is that life there can feel sanitized. The same can be said for Mulligan’s Pub & Grill (21.64 miles west of downtown), a great place to get a meal and/or a drink in an attractive and lively setting. Not as interesting as Tremont, but way better than the bar at Applebee’s. You might even hear a Grateful Dead song!
38244 Colorado Ave., Avon; (440) 934-6666
Waiting outside in line to see your college buds is the norm at Ray’s Place (38.4 miles south of downtown), but once you’re granted access into the two-story, brick-walled bar, it’s filled with a mix of locals, college students and graduates who just can’t stay away. The downstairs vibe is mellow, while upstairs it’s not uncommon to take part in Neil Diamond sing-alongs.
135 Franklin Ave., Kent; raysplacekent.com