Blogging about an event that just happened yesterday??? What is this?! (I really don’t know what’s gotten into me.)
Cleveland Beer Week 2021 kicked off on Friday, October 15, and we decided to go to two events on a blustery Saturday that finally felt like fall. The first was Oyster Fest, held annually at the Buckeye Beer Engine in Lakewood. Oysters aren’t typically on their menu, so this event is a big deal for them. They got in a ton of oysters—Kumamotos from the West Coast and Pemaquids from the East Coast—and they also partnered with a brewery from each coast. Rogue was their West Coast brewery and Maine Beer Company was their East Coast brewery. Raw oysters on the half shell are very much our thing, but for those that prefer their seafood cooked, they were also serving friend oysters, as well as po’ boys with oysters and soft shell crab.
We’d been to Buckeye Beer Engine (listed as just Beer Engine on Untappd) once before, earlier this year. They have a great selection of beer and fun decor for beer nerds, with signs and cans from a wide variety of breweries on their walls. Like many places around, they have had some staffing issues, but are up front about their challenges without casting a lot of shade, and we’ve always had good experiences with the staff. At this particular event, they were well staffed to handle their limited menu and indoor space, but the patio was not open. It was also a bit chilly and the threat of rain was in the air, so perhaps they made the call to close their patio based on weather as well. So there was already a bit of a wait when we arrived at about 11:15am, but the fella asked if we could grab a beer and hang outside on the patio. The hostess explained that there wouldn’t be any service outside, but we were welcome to order from the bar. A few people were waiting around inside, but standing around a bar with a toddler is a little difficult, so we were happy to wait outside and enjoy the crisp autumn breeze. I let the fella go inside and make a good choice on my behalf, and he came back with two pumpkin beers.
Pumpkin Patch Ale by Rogue Ales: features actual roasted pumpkin as well as the traditional pumpkin spices. Really solid, just about everything I expect from a pumpkin ale. I was sad that this existed and didn’t get distributed to the Bay Area when we lived there, where I was constantly let down by the terrible/non-existent selection of pumpkin beers. But I was happy to finally experience it this year, in Cleveland, which I should point out, is much further from Oregon than California is. Anyway. 4.25 stars from me, 4 stars from the fella. A great start to the day.
Pumpkin Kerfuffle (2021) by Prairie Artisan Ales: an imperial sour with pumpkin pie spices and toasted marshmallows. The marshmallow perhaps just lightened up the texture a bit and didn’t come through for me as a flavour. I thought it was funky and interesting, but probably not something I would seek out again. Fella liked it a bit better, so he’s holding it in the photo. 3.5 stars from me, 4 stars from the fella.
We got the call that our table was ready before we even finished our beers, and the fab hostess helped us juggle our kiddo, our beers, and the multiple bags full of stuff that we take with us whenever we bring our kid out in public, and led us to a booth in the corner. We put in an order for 12 oysters (6 of each, $36) and asked for some extra time to peruse the beer list. After a few minutes and some Untappd research, fella decided to get 5oz pours of all four of the Maine Beer Co offerings, and I got two 5oz pours of some high-gravity stouts. We also ordered brunch and some snacks for the kiddo.
The oysters were served in paper containers without any ice, which made me a little skeptical, so we tried to eat them as fast as we could. We liked the Pemaquids fairly well (creamy, mild) and we generally like Kumamotos well enough, but most of our Kumamotos had the seawater shucked out of them, which isn’t ideal. I’m also not used to paying $3 for a Kumamoto oyster, but I get it, this is a special event. They had two mignonettes available, a champagne vinegar one and a red wine vinegar one, and we liked both.
Peeper by Maine Beer Co: their “original hoppy American ale.” Fella found it clean and crushable and gave it 3.75 stars. I was not a big fan, but found it drinkable.
Lunch by Maine Beer Co: An IPA with a heavy dose of floral notes for us. Fella gave it 4 stars, which is about as high as he’d rate a floral beer. I refused to rate it, because floral IPAs are virtually undrinkable for me.
Wolfe’s Neck by Maine Beer Co: another IPA, specially brewed with local ingredients from the Wolfe’s Neck region near the brewery. Fella loved all the hop flavours and gave it 4.25 stars. I liked it more than Peeper and Lunch, but declined to give it a low rating because I respected the craft.
Dinner by Maine Beer Co: the star of the morning for the fella. This double-dry-hopped IPA was dry and refreshing and a little bit tropical. Predictably, the fella loved it a lot more than me and gave it FIVE STARS, but I didn’t hate it and gave it 3.5 stars. I could have finished a full pour if there had been one in front of me, but I just took a couple of small sips and let the fella enjoy the rest.
Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2020) by Rogue Ales: Stout aged for 9 months in Rolling Thunder barrels that had previously held Rogue whiskey. I found the barrel flavour to be really strong, and it was boozy, but I have definitely tasted boozier. Dark chocolate notes as well, and obviously some whiskey flavour. It was good, but didn’t rate well for me compared to other similar beers. 4 stars from me, 4 from the fella.
Rum Coquito Dire Wolf by Wolf’s Ridge: This Columbus brewery took their Dire Wolf stout and aged it in rum barrels, then added coconut and vanilla to give it a coquito (Puerto Rican cocktail) treatment. I loved the combination of flavours, but the texture was a bit syrupy, which held me back just a touch. Still, very good, and something I would order again. 4.25 stars from me, 4 from the fella.
Overall, the event was fun, and we’ll probably come back again next year. Fella loved his introduction to Maine Beer Company and will try to seek them out more regularly. There are a few places in the area that seem to have a good distribution relationship with them.