It’s no secret that I’ve got a thing for old buildings. When I heard that a food market was coming to the Schmidt brewery complex I was intrigued. After I heard that Keg & Case was also going to have a craft brewery in their ranks they flashed brightly on my radar! Immediately after they opened I drove over for lunch to check things out. Not only were the food stalls unique and lunch options amazing (Revival Smoked Meats anyone?) but the brewery on the mezzanine called to me. It didn’t take long to get a group of coworkers to visit Clutch Brewing Company for a couple of beers.
You can’t help but notice the care that went into the building that houses the Keg & Case market. It was the old keg house (hence the name) of the Schmidt Brewery and I’m guessing the interior is barely recognizable. Large square windows line every wall of the light brick building. The stalls are bright and airy. An enclosed mushroom tower looms above one corner, bees buzz in a windowed column, artisanal cotton candy spins before your eyes, the overwhelming smell of smoked meats dominates the air, and a gorgeous fine dining restaurant featuring all wood fired meals anchors one corner of the building. It’s like Willy Wonka for hipsters!
After taking a tour of the market and letting Pure Imagination run through my mind I climbed the steps onto the mezzanine. This is where Clutch Brewing is located. Depending which stairs you ascend you will either find yourself near the bar or one of the seating areas. I entered near the bar. The counter has a mosaic of pennies epoxied into it and behind the bar is a backsplash with a black and white geometric design and glass blocks. I grabbed a couple of tasters, and took a walk to the far end of the building. You’ve got a handful of choices when it comes to seating. You can sit at the bar or near it on a handful of regular tables or you can venture along the mezzanine and arrive at a group of seats that feature comfortable couches, chairs, and lamps. It’s more like a lounge or a cocktail room really. Luckily, as I arrived there was a group leaving so I reserved a couch and some chairs for my co-workers that soon followed.
I can’t stress how unique and lovely an area that Clutch resides. From upstairs you get a clear view of the food market below. Lift your gaze and you’ll spot a row of shiny fermenters on the opposite end of the building. I never expected those to be on the second floor and structurally, I’m amazed that they can be supported. It certainly makes for quite the striking view. There is no shortage of natural light that floods the taproom either, the large windows on the walls and ceiling make quick work of that!
I tasted four beers during my initial visit. Cream Pale Ale, Exhaustdead Smoked Black IPA, Straight 8 IPA, and Sweet Jane Nitro Stout. The biggest surprise for me was the range of styles available. Straight 8 was fruity, tropical, and clean. The Cream Pale Ale was hop forward with decent balance and leaned more crisp than smooth like I’d expect. My favorite was Exhaustdead. I enjoy smoked beers when they are done well and this one hit the mark. Nice notes of herbal hoppiness rounded out by a Bamberg smoked malt backbone. I’d order that one in a heart beat!
I’ve returned to Clutch Brewing Company several times since my initial visit. The novelty has yet to wear off. Not only do I love eating and shopping at Keg & Case market, but the Clutch taproom is one of the most unique in the entire city. While they’ve got a way to go to earn stripes for their beer, they’ve got an excellent base to work from!