CLEVELAND - "One pint at a time for 20 years," is the motto and mission of John Patrick Najeway, owner of Thirsty Dog Brewery.
Celebrating 20 years making craft beer, Akron-based Thirsty Dog Brewing Company is joining recent Flats East Banks tenants Margaritaville, Collision Bend Brewing Company, Dante's Inferno and Backyard Bocce.
The brewery sits center stage on the Flats East Bank complex with a 2,500 square foot patio overlooking the Cuyahoga River and venues surrounding the bank.
Prior to locating to the Flats, Najeway said they looked at several neighborhoods in the Cleveland-area before deciding on the current location.
"We looked at the resurgence of what was going on down here and the investment in this particular area and the plans for the rest of the Flats East Bank," said Najeway.
The options are endless for beer enthusiasts. At 6,900 square feet, the brewpub has a 10-barrel system that will feature new beers brewed onsite along with Thirsty Dog favorites on 42 tap handles.
"It's nice to have this size system as a pilot production facility so we can do a lot of different test beers," Najeway said. "It's one thing you lack when you have a production facility, you have a limited tasting room. Here, we can talk to people over the bar and get their instant feedback. It's something we have missed for years until we added a tasting room to our Akron location."
Brewmaster Tim Rastetter and Brandon Benson, head of beer operations, are constantly reinventing the beer wheel for consumers and credit unusual smells and tastes for their inspirations.
Rastetter recalls when he was smoking meat and baking chocolate chip cookies in his kitchen he got a thought "wow that would be good notes to produce in a beer."
Another moment of inspiration came for Najeway when he drank a beer and had a chocolate mint, hence a peppermint patty beer was born.
Turning to the menu, customers will see familiar items like pierogis, sourced from The Pierogi Lady and sausages—all of which are locally sourced from Cleveland vendors. The cheese on the menu is a French country-style hard cheese made from Mayfield Road Creamery in Orwell, Ohio, who in return use the brewery's Siberian Night to wash and age the rind.
Najeway and his staff even went as far as to recommend guests certain beers for specific dishes. Dinner entrees include house-smoked meatloaf, Cleveland-made kielbasa, and pretzel crusted chicken.
When Najeway opened locations in Akron, Canton and Dayton in 1997, Thirsty Dog Brewery lead the charge in producing craft beer. Since all other brewpubs closed in 2005, aside from the tasting room in Akron, the new location will be the brewery's sole flagship location.
"There is a synergy of craft beer in Cleveland so to be a part of that is great," Najeway said.