Willoughby Brewing Company
4057 Erie Street
Visited on June 18, 2008
How to pick the next brewpub to review my review of? How about the last one on the list alphabetically?
I drove about an hour with a friend from my parents house in northeastern Ohio to get to Willoughby Brewing Company, simply because it was the last one in the Cleveland area that I had not yet been to. The brewpub is in a beautiful historic location right off of Willoughby’s small and cute downtown. The interior has been jazzed up quite a bit, however. It seemed surprisingly chic with blue lights and a beautiful bar in the middle of the space. The food was memorable, mostly because I gave a mashed potato pizza a shot, and it was delicious. Mashed potatoes, sour cream, chives, bacon, cheese – what’s not to like? There were also some sort of egg rolls, I think, that were quite tasty. As for the beer, I don’t recall really enjoying any of them very much. I might have bought a growler of a strong stout for my camping trip the next day, though, so it must not have been that bad.
Set in a long, rectangular, old brick building, Willoughby Brewing definitely has style and class. Plenty of seating, beautiful lighting and an interesting location makes for high marks on the location.
I was happy, but not blown away by the food. The buffalo chicken egg rolls sounded too interesting to pass up. They tasted great, but I felt like I could get nearly the same thing out of a supermarket freezer. The walleye sandwich was tasty, but I would have preferred the fish fried. The greatest thing we got was the mashed potato pizza. Yes, you read that right. Once you get over the fact you’re eating mashed potatoes on pizza with chives, garlic and bacon for toppings, you realize you’re eating deliciousness on bread. The bourbon cranberry bread pudding was also excellent, but not quite as good as the bread pudding at Great Lakes.
They have a really great selection—six regulars, a couple of seasonal, and a couple micro batches kept on cask—but nothing really great. The pale ale tasted more like an IPA and was overly hopped and off-balance. Their IPA features one kind of hop for bittering and flavoring, which is a cool idea, but I don’t know enough about hop variety to appreciate it. All the other beers were good but not great. Maybe the best beer was the surplus brew which just takes all the leftovers from their grains for a 10-malt beer. Also interesting was the light lager infused with green tea. My favorites were their Belgian and Imperial Stout, both of which were micro batches and more experimental than regular. I will give them extra points for creativity and variety, but the beer wasn’t really that great.
Our waitress almost bordered on over attentive, and while she was eager to please, she knew next to nothing about beer because she doesn’t like it. But still, I’d much rather have too much attention than not enough.