Beer Notes: Great Lakes touts its Ohio roots in ad campaign

By Rick Armon
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Great Lake Brewing Company advertisement

Great Lakes Brewing Co. is protecting its turf.

With fellow award-winning — and big — craft breweries Deschutes and New Belgium starting to distribute in Ohio over the last several months, the Cleveland brewery has gone on the offensive with a statewide advertising campaign designed to remind beer drinkers of its Ohio roots.

The campaign carries the slogan: “We’re proud to brew in the Buckeye State. (We’d yell ‘O-H’ but we don’t want you to spill your beer.)”

The print advertisement has appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal and other newspapers.

“We really do feel having the new breweries introduced here is good for craft, but our job is to keep selling our beer,” Great Lakes brewer Luke Purcell said about the campaign.

Great Lakes, known for making such favorites at Christmas Ale, Burning River Pale Ale, Blackout Stout and Dortmunder Gold, wants to remind Ohioans that “we’re in your backyard,” he said.

The brewery, founded in 1988, is the oldest craft brewery in the state and the largest Ohio-based craft operation. Boston-based Samuel Adams runs a bigger craft brewery in Cincinnati.

Several brewers and retailers have said that Deschutes and New Belgium pose competition for Great Lakes, unlike other smaller craft breweries that have moved into the state. New Belgium and Deschutes are the third- and fifth-largest craft brewers in the U.S. and their names and brands — just like Great Lakes — carry weight with many craft beer drinkers.

Some craft drinkers will likely shift their attention away from Great Lakes — at least in the short term — to sample the new offerings available here. Craft drinkers aren’t exactly known for their loyalty.

“We’re the transfer kid,” Deschutes brand ambassador Lauranne “Lou” Crooks said at a recent appearance in Akron. “Everyone wants to know who we are. Finding out where our accent is from. ‘Where’d he get that dark scar from’ thing. Some people have heard of us. Some people haven’t.”

Asked whether Deschutes will steal any market share from Great Lakes — both breweries offer similar portfolios — she responded: “I think we will but in a positive way,” in terms of growing the overall craft segment.

Great Lakes has a big and loyal following in the state already, Purcell said. But he also noted that it seems that the farther you move away from Cleveland the “cooler we are.”

It’s the they’ve-gotten-so-popular-and-big-I-don’t-like-them-anymore mentality. Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon general manager Ted Lipovan has heard people make those comments and thinks that attitude is silly.

“We’re all standing on Great Lakes’ shoulders,” he said, referring to the fact that the brewery paved the way for every other craft brewer in the state.

World’s best brewers

Akron’s Hoppin’ Frog Brewery and Great Lakes have returned to RateBeer’s annual list of the 100 Top Brewers in the World.

But another perennial top brewer from Ohio did not. Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery didn’t make the cut this year.

The list, based on online reviews done by beer drinkers, was released last week. Unlike previous years, RateBeer didn’t rank the brewers outside of the top five.

The top five (in order) were: AleSmith, Hill Farmstead, Three Floyds, Russian River and Bell’s.

Last year, Hoppin’ Frog was 17th and Great Lakes was 35th. Jackie O’s, located in Athens, was 97th.

To see the full list, go to

Ogrefest underway

The 10th annual Ogrefest, an homage to big beers, is under way at the Brew Kettle, 8377 Pearl Road, Strongsville. It runs through Sunday.

The brewpub will be serving 89 beers, including offerings from Ballast Point, Blue Mountain, Clown Shoes, Columbus, Epic, Founders, Jackie O’s, Stone, Southern Tier and, of course, the Brew Kettle.

For a full rundown, go to

Hop JuJu release

Fat Head’s Brewery is offering beer drinkers a chance to get an early taste of its gold-medal-winning Hop JuJu Imperial IPA.

The beer, which won the award at last year’s Great American Beer Festival, is being released in bottles for the first time this year.

It hits retailers throughout Ohio and western Pennsylvania on a limited basis on Feb. 21, but it will be available starting Thursday at the production brewery, 18741 Sheldon Road, Middleburg Heights. It will be sold in a four-pack for $12.99.

Chillwave party

Great Lakes, 2516 Market Ave., Cleveland, will hold a special pre-release party at 6 p.m. Monday to celebrate the return of Chillwave Double IPA — formerly known as Alchemy Hour Double IPA.

The event includes music, a tropical buffet, raffles and three drink tickets. Tickets are $40 and reservations must be made online at

The Great Lakes brewpub will tap the beer at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 20 and bottles will go on sale at 5 p.m. Feb. 21 at the brewery gift shop.

Crave beer dinner

Crave, 57 E. Market St., Akron, will hold a five-course beer dinner with Samuel Adams at 6 p.m. Feb. 24.

It will feature Boston Lager, Cold Snap White Ale, Rebel IPA, New World Tripel and Stony Brook Red. The dinner is $50, plus tax and tip. For reservations, call 330-253-1234.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or Read his beer blog at Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.

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