New Cleveland Breweries in the Flats

IMG_20170519_154236443_LUCiDWhen we moved to Washington in spring 2015, we committed to going back home to Ohio for key holidays and significant events.

We knew Brian would be heading back regularly to meet with customers and assumed I would tag along for those trips.

We told everyone we would build in plenty of time for visiting with family and friends on those occasions—that it would seem like we never left.

While Brian travels to Ohio frequently to meet with customers, often sneaking in some time with family and friends, my visits home have been few and far between. Several factors have complicated our original plans, including my work schedule and time off, and Brian’s travel arrangements on these trips.

On the five occasions I’ve made it back in the past two years, my time has been almost wholly dedicated to the origin of the trip—Christmas, wedding, funeral, birthday party, Christmas/ birth. These trips afforded little time for visiting, especially if it required any amount of additional travel on our end, given the limited time we were in town (the max we were back for any of these events was three days, the minimum, just one!).

Thank goodness for technology and the ability to keep up with everyone on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Sometimes the photos and storytelling are so vivid, I feel like I’m still there and forget how long we’ve been away.

I finally had the opportunity to tag along with Brian on his last trip home. Granted it was only for three days, but it was enough time to catch up with most of our family members on both sides and a handful of friends.

Author’s Note: If you are not among the family or friends I was able to squeeze into the brief amount of time I was home, I assure you that you are not forgotten and are on the top of the list for the next time we’re home. My schedule for this trip prioritized three things: whether or not you are my grandparents, whether or not you have personally experienced a life changing event (e.g. engagement, marriage, birth or layoff) in the past 12 months, and your proximity to Streetsboro and Marblehead, Ohio.

When Brian finished his work meetings on Friday, we drove to Cleveland for dinner with a small group of friends before continuing on to Marblehead to spend the night and following day with his family.

We had to turn in his rental car before our journey and ended up having a little extra time downtown in advance of dinner. Given it was late afternoon on a weekday I didn’t think anyone would be able to accommodate a time change in our dinner plans, so we took advantage of our single hour together downtown to check out a couple of new breweries in the Flats.

Our first stop was Collision Bend Brewing Company on the east bank. I saw tons of friends posting pictures from the brewery’s patio of the iconic bridges nearby and the sun setting in the background. It just opened in April so lots of people had been checking it out, and I wanted to experience it for myself!

The weather was cool and overcast  so no one was out on the open-air deck, but we got lovely seats on the enclosed patio overlooking the water. We had a great time sharing one of their samplers (the Hef was my favorite) and an order of their roasted mixed olives– delicious and the perfect late-afternoon snack!

The inside rooms were fun and much busier. I loved seeing so many people in work attire having an early happy hour in the Flats!

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After our tasting we still had some time before dinner so we walked along the water, reminiscing about the last time we were in that area.

While we were often in Cleveland, the last time we spent any considerable amount of time in the Flats was for my birthday several years ago. We were exploring the West Side and had the chance to tour the former trolley stations and see some of the old trolleys that used to run downtown. It’s still one of my favorite ‘hidden’ activities downtown. They only open it up for visitors around the Fourth of July– we just happened to be at the right place at the right time!

We walked under the bridge that still hides the remains of Cleveland’s trolley past and cut over to the second brewery we wanted to check out, Brick and Barrel, which opened in December 2015.

While Collision Bend is designed for an after-work crowd of professionals, the Brick and Barrel is a neighborhood watering hole. Everyone was friendly and crowded around the bar, talking to the barmaid and trying to catch a glimpse at the gigantic lab sleeping at her feet!

The bar was covered in chalkboard paint so we could entertain ourselves drawing pictures, and the sign above the bar threatened anyone who tried to talk about politics (one of my favorite moments of our trip and a true sign that I was back in Ohio/home). We had a great time, enjoyed the beer and company, and would go back in a heartbeat.

We only had an hour to ourselves, but we put it to good use and checked out some new places that opened while we’ve been away. We enjoyed both breweries, but they’re very different from one another. If you’re looking for something a little more trendy with great views, outdoor seating and a dinner menu, Collision is your spot. If you want something low-key with low lighting, intimate seating and the distinct possibility of making a new human or canine friend, Brick and Barrel should go on your list.

Or try them both for the full experience– they are a short walk from each other in an area of the Flats that’s come a long way in the past 10 years. I love the work that’s gone into renovating and bringing life back into the Flats and recommended you stop and check it out the next time you’re in Cleveland!

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