Catawba Island Co. [Port Clinton]
Chart a course for Port Clinton, Ohio, a bit off my advertised path of "Northeast Ohio" but when in Rome (or the western side of the state) one should stop in and see what's good. I'm here to tell you Catawba Island Brewing Co. is real good.
Allow me to pause for a second and introduce my drinking buddy/situation for this endeavor. There comes a time in every person's life where they need to pop the question. I came to Port Clinton that 23rd of December to meet with a dear friend of mine from college who has gone on to become a pretty fancy research scientist at St. Jude Research Hospital, and I have no doubt she will cure cancer someday. As such, I had a question for her, the BIG question.....
"Dr. Mo, will you be my yeast consultant for my future brewery and help me set up a cleanroom?"
I'm happy to report that she said YES!! Dr. Mo is not only super smart in the ways of T-Cells and immunology, but also knows a thing or two on yeast cultivation and how to set up a lab. She is also well versed in beer and wine drinking, so I could think of no better person to have on board as a consultant for Fermenting Ohio and any future brewing endeavors we may get into.
So, big questions out of the way, let us get to the brewery and its brews.
Catawba Island Brewing has a nice building with large windows and overhead doors (that I assume come into play in nice weather) close to beautiful Lake Erie with a spacious taproom, industrial feel, plenty of seating and live music. They had a pretty large beer list and with Dr. Mo's help, I was able to capture quite a bit of it.
Here's a sample of our sample list:
- Hot Blonde
- Cookie Cutter Christmas Ale
- Oatmeal Stout
- Coconut Stout
- Hard Cider
- Whitecap Wit
- Seiche, Scottish Ale
Hot Blonde first and foremost. I'm not real quick to pick up on things, and I'm not sure how a blonde ale brewed with habanero peppers and then aptly named eluded me, but it did. Probably for the best because I'm pretty sure I would not have ordered it had I known what lurked behind the "hot" part of the name. I ordered the Hot Blonde thinking it would be a mere blonde ale and the first thing to hit my palate was the mango. It was delightful, it was smooth, it reminded me of less snowy days on the lake. It took me a minute to identify the fruit because of a weird second flavor/sensation that kept popping up after a minute or so, the back of my throat warming and another flavor coming in to wave from the beach with the mango. What is that? Why do I need to take my Christmas sweater off right now? Only with Dr. Mo's deductive reasoning (...like reading the beer list) did I realize I was sipping and enjoying one of those oh-so-popular peppered beers that keep popping up at breweries around the country. I like hot stuff, though on a burrito, not in my beer. But this was awesome. It took me longer than I'd like to admit for me to realize that I was even feeling the heat. The habanero is definitely second fiddle to the mango and they make such lovely music that this hot pepper beer was one of the most well balanced brews I've ever had the privilege of drinking. Really well done!
The Oatmeal Stout got a nice second place for me, I got a HUGE hit of maple flavor, which if anyone has ever tried to brew with maple, you know how illusive this flavor is. Whether or not it was intentional, I don't know, but I will still give it props and it was quite enjoyable. The Hard Cider was also a really enjoyable sip as well.
And check out the growlers, I really dig their logo:
- Large, one seater bathrooms, but the locks seemed sound and at least if there was a security breach not too many people in the taproom would see.
- Taproom is a really fun space with long, wooden tables and lots of games (giant connect four included), there were also a few couches and chairs sprinkled by the windows.
- Only to-go size is a growler, no crowlers or bottles or cans.
- They seem to have some pretty fun events, the night we showed up it was "July in Christmas" and everyone was wearing beach attire (except for Dr. Mo and I who donned Santa Hats and cold weather gear... reading Facebook events for the win...).
- Cops are E'RYWHERE along Harbor Rd, especially haunting near the fast food restaurants up the street from the brewery, so seriously plan ahead or get a Lyft/Uber/Taxi!
Catawba Island Brewing Co. 2330 E Harbor Rd Port Clinton, OH 43452 http://www.catawbaislandbrewing.com