There are a couple of things that make road trips worthwhile. For example, exciting landscapes with varied terrain can make a long drive slip on by. The toll infested trip from Chicago to Cleveland is not one such journey. I can only play the alphabet game so many times before I start to get a bit stir crazy. However, there is one sure fire cure for a long boring drive and I think you can guess it. At the end of this road trip was The BottleHouse Brewing Company.
Our ultimate destination for the trip was a birthday party for our friend Nicole. When we had established an arrival time we reached out to them to see if they’d have a chance to meet up before the festivities began. After confirming they would have availability and trading some notes we settled on the BottleHouse. There was one reason in particular that I wanted to make a visit; I’ve always wanted to try a meadery. In addition to mead, BottleHouse also brews beer, ferments cider, and experiments with barrel-aged and sour varieties. There’s really something for everyone. They’ve even got Old City Soda available, something my pregnant wife was very pleased to learn. Craft soda was a passion of mine that predates craft beer, and I hope to pay a visit to Old City Libations the next time I’m in town.
We arrived right as our friends were parking and after sharing our greetings we ducked inside to escape the cold weather. The taproom was quiet and had a vibe more akin to a coffee shop than a brewery. We dropped our coats at a long community table in the center of the taproom, and I turned my gaze to their expansive tap list. They had eight beers, six meads/ciders, and five sour beers. Quite the range! It was an easy decision to get a flight, which I split in half: three meads and three beers. Once we sat down I was able to peer at my surroundings while everyone chatted. There are a handful of long wooden tables dotting the room, including some that sit against their large street facing windows. They had instrumental music playing which created a very relaxing atmosphere and functioned as nice background music to our conversation. I really like when music sets the tone instead of becoming the main attraction. It looks like they’ve got live music acts pretty regularly as a large stage is a central feature to the taproom and many acoustic panels dot the ceiling. At the back of the room is a small selection of boardgames, which one couple was taking extended advantage of, and four pinball tables. At this point I think it would be worth it for every brewery to have a little pinball!
Curious about the mead? Lets talk about the beer first. I had their Syklist Pale Ale, East Coast IPA, and Rising Star Coffee Milk Stout. Rising Star was aptly named. It was jam packed with coffee aroma and flavor with a pleasingly smooth feel. Hard to believe that a coffee milk stout would be one of favorite drinks at a meadery. The last time I had mead was at the Renaissance Festival many years prior so I forgot what to expect. I have a devastating sweet tooth, something that gets me in a lot of trouble. It goes without saying that the syrupy sweet nature of the mead range the bell. For those that don’t know, mead is fermented honey that’s mixed with water and other natural flavors. It’s almost like a very viscous fruit wine. The three I had were the Ritual Syrah Grape Mead, The Wanderer Maple Mead with Winter Spices, and Metropolis Blackcurrant Blueberry and Apple Mead. Both Ritual and Metropolis earned a star with the latter being my favorite. Blackcurrant is an underrated flavor which was balanced perfectly with tart apple notes. Simply wonderful!
This is more of a side note than a suggestion but I’ve been looking for distilled mead. I think it could make an interesting offering within the spirits landscape. Tangent aside, I had a great time at BottleHouse. Our visit was cut short due to the impending birthday party, but I would’ve loved to dive into some of their barrel-aged and sour beers as well as their ciders. They had a ton of unique offerings and I’m sure I would’ve found a couple of standouts. Out of the drinks I did have, I was extremely impressed. I highly suggest a visit if you find yourself passing through.