15315 Madison Ave., Lakewood (216) 226-2337 buckeyebeerengine.com
The Buckeye Beer Engine is a Lakewood interpretation of a microbrewery. Located in the former Martini’s space, it’s too small to house the brew kettles — or, sometimes, all the patrons clamoring for a seat. The Engine pumps out seven beers at its brewery on Cleveland’s West Side, including the Buckeye 76 IPA and our favorite, the caramel-laced Buckeye Sasquatch. A menu full of inventive burgers such as the Butter Burger, an herb-infused patty soaked in garlic butter, enhances your drinking experience. And with more than 100 bottled brews and 27 rotating drafts (try the Ommegang Witte), it’s better than your neighborhood bar. Microbrewery, bar or brewpub — no matter what you call it, just know there’s plenty of beer.
Take it home: On sale at Chuck’s Fine Wines in Chagrin Falls and at various stores in Lakewood. Also on tap at Edison’s Pub in Tremont.
Garin Wright Brewer Buckeye Beer Engine
Brewing Since: 1997 How he went pro: When Wright’s father expressed interest in opening a brewpub, the Cleveland native quit his jobs — he worked at UPS and as a construction worker — and went into the family business. The pair opened Bedford Heights’ Buckeye Brewing in 1997, but later moved to a Lakewood location in 2006 — where they could serve a full menu — and started the Buckeye Beer Engine. On-the-job training: Wright had never brewed before opening Buckeye Brewing, and opted to learn the skills on the job rather than go through formal training. “I just dug in and learned it all on my own. To really understand the business, that’s the only way to do it. It’s all about repetition. The more batches you brew, the better you become. It’s that simple.” Best part of the job: “Every decision comes from me. I formulate the recipes and name the beers. I like that I have the flexibility to make the decisions.” Favorite type of beer: German Pilseners top his list of favorite beers. “They’re extremely challenging beers to make, and when they’re done properly, you can tell there’s so much that goes into the brewing process to make them taste good.” What he wishes more people knew about beer: “The one thing I would like to see people think about — and many of them already do — is to try to purchase beer in their own city or state. I just want people in Ohio to recognize that some of the best breweries around are right here in their own state.” — Anne Hartman