Ohio Brewery News
Friday Six Pack with Veronica Bagley, Great Lakes Brewing Company
A new feature for 2022, we ask an Ohio craft brewery owner or employee to answer six questions about their path to the brewing industry, what sets their brewery apart and their thoughts on craft beer in Ohio.
Today we’ll chat with Veronica Bagley, the gift shop and tours manager at Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland.
What made you decide to get into the craft brewing industry?
I actually started working at Great Lakes as a part time tour guide. I was a big fan of craft beer, as I grew up around it with my father being a craft brewer. I have an educational background in history and anthropology with a focus on public education, so I thought being a tour guide and educating people about craft beer would be the perfect career for me! Once I got into GLBC as a tour guide I sought out other opportunities within in the company and ended up in my position today managing our public tour program and gift shop.
Which of your beers do your customers enjoy most and why?
Christmas Ale is always the most popular beer: I can’t even begin to guess how many people ask us to brew this one year-round! We’ve also released quite a few new beers this year including some new Imperial IPAs like our Dank Demon Imperial Dank IPA and Tidal Fury Imperial Hazy IPA, both in our Imperial IPA series, which have been receiving great feedback from both customers and our staff! We also typically have some pub exclusive beers available on draft in the brewpub and on tours, ranging from barrel aged beers to small batch beers from our pilot system.
What should a craft beer fan expect when visiting your brewery for the first time?
I think one of the things that sets us apart is that we’ve got so much history here. Not only are we the oldest craft brewery in Cleveland today, but the buildings that make up our brewpub are also beautiful historic buildings with so many stories. I may be biased as a tour guide, but I’d recommend taking a tour if you can when you visit us: you’ll hear about the history of our buildings, the company, and of course take a close up look at how we brew, cellar and package our beers (all with a beer in hand, of course).
What’s one fact from the Great Lakes brewery tour that someone who’s never taken it might find surprising or enlightening?
My personal favorite part of the tour is being able to share the history of our company and the buildings that make up our brewpub and brewery. Most of these buildings have been around since the late 1800s, so it’s really fun to be able to share some of those stories. For example, the bar in our Tap Room is actually one of the oldest bars in the city of Cleveland, dating to the early 1900s. Our brewery is also inside a historic building: it was once part of Leonard Schlather Brewing Company, a German brewing company that operated in the late 1800s. Given the age of these buildings, there are also quite a few ghost stories about them. If that’s something you’re interested in, we also offer Haunted History tours of the brewpub in the fall!
Besides your own, what Ohio craft breweries impress you the most and why?
My personal other favorite in Cleveland is Noble Beast, a smaller brewery downtown. They’ve always got great beers and a great range of beer styles on draft. I appreciate how wide their variety of beers is: when I was there last they had everything from sours to sweet potato saisons to imperial stouts. I also really like quite a few of Fat Head’s beers: Hop Juju is in my top five favorite beers of all time. There’s also a really cool spot in Mansfield, OH that I like called Phoenix Brewing Company. They’ve recently started packaging and distributing their beers in Ohio and always have new and unique styles available as well.
Where do you think craft beer is headed? What do you think craft beer will look like 5 years from now?
Craft beer is always evolving so I think it’ll be interesting to see where it is at in 5 years. I know for us at GLBC we’ve gotten into a few newer styles, including hazy IPAs, low calorie beers like Crushworthy Lo-Cal Citrus Wheat, and even seltzers (we just launched our brand new Agave Twist Ranch Water Hard Seltzer). We’re seeing more and more craft breweries evolve and innovate in these areas and it’s cool to be a part of that. I’m excited to see what innovative new beers we’ll come out with in the future, and excited to see where craft beer is headed!