In the 1870s, Cleveland had 30 breweries. By the early 1980s, the last one had shuttered its doors. So when brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway opened Great Lakes Brewing Company on September 6, 1988, it not only signaled a new era in Cleveland brewing, it was also the first microbrewery in the state of Ohio. And the idea of a craft brewery in Cleveland caught on fast, as curious patrons hurried in for a pint crafted in the styles of old and drawn from the taps of the beautiful Victorian era bar. Their commitment to sustainable business practices greatly contributed to their early popularity and success. Before long, Great Lakes Brewing Company had become one of Cleveland’s most popular destinations for both dining and a fun night out.
Great Lake's original beers included The Heisman, a Dortmunder-style beer named for the famed football player (and future trophy) who lived around the corner from the Brewery. It was immediately followed by Eliot Ness Amber Lager. Both were overnight successes; the Heisman was later renamed Dortmunder Gold for both its golden color and the Gold Medal it won at the 1990 Great American Beer Festival. Dortmunder Gold and Eliot Ness were soon joined by an exceptional family of award-winning year round, seasonal and pub exclusive beers including Burning River Pale Ale, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Commodore Perry India Pale Ale, Conway’s Irish Ale, The Doppelrock, Holy Moses White Ale, The Wright Pils, Oktoberfest, Nosferatu, Christmas Ale and Blackout Stout.
|BURNING RIVER PALE ALE||PALE ALE|
|CHRISTMAS ALE||SPICED ALE|
|COMMODORE PERRY IPA||INDIA PALE ALE|
|CONWAY'S IRISH ALE||AMBER/RED|
|DORTMUNDER GOLD LAGER||DORTMUNDER|
|EDMUND FITZGERALD PORTER||PORTER|
|ELIOT NESS AMBER LAGER||AMBER/RED|
|HOLY MOSES WHITE ALE||BELGIAN WHEAT|
|LAKE ERIE MONSTER||INDIA PALE ALE|
|THE WRIGHT PILS||PILSNER|
In 1992, to meet growing demand, the Brewery expanded to the adjacent Fries & Scheule Building—and as the popularity of their beer continued to grow, so did the Brewery. In 1998, they moved into what now consists of six buildings—three that originally served as horse stables, keg facilities and bottle storage for the 1879 Schlather Brewing Company. In 2010/2011, Great Lakes invested $7M in capital improvements that included a new centrifuge; brewhouse additions for increased production speed and quality; filler, rinser, conveyor and packaging efficiency upgrades; a new grain silo, spent grain tank, flooring and piping; and lastly, the installation of four additional storage and fermentation tanks.