Monday, August 15, 2011

Brewery Review: Fat Heads Brewery & Saloon - North Olmsted (Cleveland), OH

400th post! This was the first brewery we stopped at during the trip up to New York for a wedding. It's an easy find right off 480. Anyway I had heard of this brewery from Scott (my boss and Brewmaster) at Great River, and we decided it was worth a try. We had some of the best service from Sam (almost a look-a-like of the logo) and I was able to meet the head brewer Matt, who had originally come from Great Lakes. Anyway, they maintained an awesome selection and these are the beers I tried:

Head Hunter IPA - Extremely light in color (Bear Racer 5?) and a foam film head. Huge tropical and grapefruit aroma. In the taste, bitterness takes over almost immediately. Grassy aftertaste. Some biscuit malt taste between the mid+finish. The only subtraction is the high carbonation and I wish it was a lower ABV (7.4%) for me, not for the style. Citrus!
Star Light Keller Lager - Bright yellow/gold while remaining clear and watery looking. Entire head and a strong carbonation. An apparent peppery aroma braces the nostrils. Excellently spiced. Lemon. Biting carbonation. Very in your face and upfront flavor. Drying bitter finish. Almost a toasted aftertaste.
Duke of Lager Fest Bier - Coppered amber. Film lacing. Carameled and earthy. Orange and light fruitiness present in the mid to finishing taste. Rich formal malt bill. As it warms more of a peat malt flavor arises.
Goggle Foggler Hefe - Hazed and clouded, looking like a dense orange drink. Shining yellow with no other alternative hues to upset a defined color. Pungent and bready. Huge clove taste and less banana. Yeasty and spiced ... almost a bit peppery and rich. Bigger bite in the finish than others I've tried. Way to go!
Kulmacher Black Lager - (At first I thought it read Kombucha, and I got REALLY excited) Brown with an extremely clear red hue, especially for not filtering. Strong head. Mellowed malt bill and certainly nutty. Soft foamy mouthfeel, more dominantly at the end. Smoked, but extremely mellow.
Hop Juju Imperial IPA - Still, a lighter IPA. Carbonation is persistent. Sweet, hot and bitter, but nevertheless well balanced for and Imperial IPA. Biscuit, as well as toast in which follows is a big citrus and pine flavor that all but outweighs the malt.
Battle Axe Porter - Dark brown with a hazed light brown around the edges where light can penetrate. Minimal head. Smokey with a finishing taste definitely of alcohol. Rich malt chocolate bill in the beginning that is further accentuated as the beer warms. Finishes bittersweet but with a sure yeast component.

FatHeads is located West of Cleveland, OH and literally 2 miles from the highway on Loraine Rd. and Columbia. They have a very nice lodge looking building within a corner strip mall parking lot. Their entrance is shrined with their logo symbol of a chubby faced bald guy with a billowing stash. Upon entering you see to your right the brewhouse which is literally in your face. To the left is an extension of the brewery to make room for more fermenters. As you walk further in towards the dining area you pass a mass of bar space with chalk board menu and curious-looking glassware which undoubtedly is part of their mug club. Overall very clean looking. To my knowledge the brewery was originally Avery Ale Works, but 2.5 years ago they went under and from that arose FatHeads. The overall theme reminded me of a spacey log cabin, decorated with coaster art and very impressive, large hand-painted labels of other well known brewery's like Great Lakes, Sierra Nevada, Flying Dog, Dogfish Head, Founders and Ommegang on their walls. Iron rafters brace the ceiling. I noticed a lot of memorabilia especially on the way to the restroom complete with pictures of fans all over the world with their FatHeads. Their beer list is given on a paper menu due to often updates and new brews. As for the beers, The Head Hunter IPA is their flagship award winner, with many of their beer not far behind. They do not filter which I found impressive for several were quite clear for only temperature drops. Because we were on a tight schedule the visit is not in complete detail, but we ordered their beer-battered mushrooms and the four of us split their veggie pizza with goat cheese loaded atop (lots of goat cheese, Jen was a fan). I found the crust to resemble more of a fast food restaurant, and they certainly only give you a very minimal amount of veggies on it. Oh well, the beer was good nonetheless. Thanks to Sam, our fantastic waiter/server who was incredibly informative, I was able to meet Matt, the Brewmaster, who, like many others at FatHeads, originated from Great Lakes Brewing Co. Matt answered many questions pertaining to systems and equipment. I was also fortunate enough to try their newest beer, not even on the menu yet, made with 200 lbs of pumpkin with cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar:
Spooky Tooth - Reddish bronze with a bubbly foam ring. Subtle microbubble carbonation. Mellow on the fall spices which was a sure plus and a difficulty in fall/spiced beers such as these. Big brown sugar and cinnamon come through the most. Pumpkin is amazingly incorporated as it battles the brown sugar for a dominant sweetness. Mild caramel undertone. All very well balanced. ABV: 9.x%

Overall this is a fantastic brewery to visit if you are heading through Ohio (even if your intention is to hit Great Lakes) and I really recommend getting their wealthy sampler of beer to get the full gist of flavors. We had each ordered pints of the IPA, Hefe and Keller.
Check them out at:

Brewery Review: 46/50

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