Great Lakes Brewing Co. (GLBC) will celebrate its silver anniversary with a family-style block party on Sept. 6 in the Market District.
Brewery co-owner Patrick Conway said they will close off Market Street from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the company’s 25th anniversary date. Music for the party will be provided by five bands, including the Spazmatics at 6 p.m. Ohio City eateries and businesses will set up stands with food and merchandise, and the brewery will have a beer garden on the patio. Cleveland’s favorite sports mascots will attend. There will be free photos at the Red Eye Photo Booth from to 8 p.m., along with free face painting by Faces and Fun Entertainment.
Conway said he and brother Dan Conway opened the craft brewery in 1988 to fill what they perceived as a market niche. “I was working as a bartender in Chicago, where I attended college. I noticed that we were selling a lot more beers like Heineken and a lot less Bud Light,” Pat Conway noted. “I saw what I believed was a change in the American palate that the big breweries weren’t responding to.”
When the Conway brothers opened their brewery’s doors, they brewed 1,000 barrels of beer that first year. In 2012, GLBC reported 131,777 barrels of beer produced. Since creating their first beer, Dortmunder Gold Lager, the craft brewery has grown to bottle and distribute 14 year-round beers in addition to numerous draft-only pub-exclusive beers.
“In the 1850s, there were 30 breweries in Cleveland. When we opened in 1988, they were all gone,” Conway noted. “We were the only craft brewery in the city. In 1988, Cleveland was just starting to go through a renaissance. We thought that you can’t have a renaissance without beer.”
In commemoration of its silver anniversary, GLBC’s bottles will be topped with a limited edition silver crown featuring the official 25th anniversary seal. The seal will also be printed on the company’s packaging and point of sale advertising throughout 2013.
In addition to packaging updates, GLBC will produce two commemorative beers. The first is a collaborative effort with Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery. It is a smoked porter that will join Deschutes’ “Class of ’88” collaboration series. The second is GLBC’s official 25th anniversary beer. Silver and Gold, released this summer, is a variation on the original Dortmunder Gold recipe.
Prior to its anniversary celebration, GLBC will sponsor the annual Burning River Fest on July 26 and July 27, from 6 to 11 p.m., at the historic Coast Guard Station on Whiskey Island. The event is designed to raise awareness of environmental issues affecting the Great Lakes region and Cuyahoga River ecosystem. To date, more than $320,000 has been raised to benefit the Burning River Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides resources for the sustainable future of our waterways.
Burning River Fest features educational exhibits from environmental groups, food from local farms and eateries, live music by 25 bands on three stages and a special appearance by GLBC’s legendary Christmas Ale.