Around the World in 100 Beers

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It’s a great time to be in Cleveland, especially for the beer lover. Northeast Ohio is filled with craft breweries, and more places will be coming in the near future. The scene is so hopping it’s difficult to imagine a time there weren’t as many options for good beer.

Before Fat Heads and Buckeye Brewing, before Thirsty Dog and Great Lakes, the Winking Lizard provided a fix for local beer connoisseurs looking for something with more taste than Bud Light.

This is the 28th year for the Lizard’s World Beer Tour. The Tour challenges beer lovers to try 100 different beers from the Lizard in a calendar year. It also challenges the Lizard to provide a wide selection from breweries around the world year after year. Those doing the Tour this year have close to 400 beers to choose from, with a list of 100 bottles, and new beers on tap each month.

The Tour allows beer newcomers to explore different styles and learn about tastes. It gives aficionados a chance to try something new. The Lizard has taken this concept further with their three Lizardville locations, a beer supermarket where beer lovers can browse brews from around the world.

The Lizard brewmasters have built strong relationships with breweries, resulting in an ever evolving beer list. Every month the Lizard offers limited availability bottles in addition to the normal list. Some of the draughts are even special brewed for the Lizard. And if you feel the need to stock up on new beer glasses, there is the Glass of the Month. Drink the beer and keep the glass.

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Beyond the beer, the restaurants themselves are fun. The locations tend to have their own flavor despite being part of a local chain. Several locations are blended into their neighborhoods in interesting old buildings. The spot in Peninsula housed a nightclub in the 30s. The Lakewood location had a working bowling alley in the basement until the Lizardville recently moved in there.

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The food is unpretentious, with burgers, ribs, and sandwiches. The artichoke dip is a favorite that can be an appetizer or a main dish. I also suggest the pulled pork, the shells and cheese, and the black bean burger.

But the real star is the beer. With good prices and one of the best selections in the area, Winking Lizard is still the go-to place for any Cleveland beer fanatic.

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Wizard to Rocker

When I heard about the CBGB movie the casting of Rupert Grint as Cheetah Chrome struck me. Ron Weasley as a Dead Boy? Seemed an odd choice.
I finally saw the movie and enjoyed it. Grint pulled off the punk aspect (and Cleveland non-accent) well, helping break away from his Harry Potter years. He even looks a bit like the 70s edition of Chrome.
What surprised me about the film is how much focus they put on The Dead Boys. With all the bands that went through CBGB I thought the not-as-well-known Dead Boys would be relegated to background. But they get more focus than many of the bands, due to the story following Hilly Cristal’s promotion of the band.
Fun movie if you like those bands from the 70s.

If You Don’t Like the Weather…

…just wait a few minutes.

Mark Twain is supposed to have said that regarding the weather of New England. Those in Northeast Ohio can relate. Especially during the winter/spring transition.

Here’s a picture from Tuesday evening:
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Temperatures in the mid and high 50s, a beautiful day to get outside, and the feel of spring being close.

And here’s this evening, just about 24 hours later:
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Gotcha, winter’s not over yet.

At least opening day isn’t too far off, even if spring isn’t.

Woolly Winter

I missed the Woolly Bear Festival this year, but saw this one on a walk the other day.  The caterpillar that Dick Goddard made famous, at least around here.

DSC_0461The legend is the width of the bands predict how bad the coming winter will be.  The wider the brown section in the middle, the milder the winter.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac website has some information on the legend for those who want to know a little more.

Looking at this guy, get ready for an average winter.  Maybe…

Ohio Sandstone

I found this stone last summer while laying a patio.  It reminded me of a certain state I’m fond of.  A little chiseling to clean up the Erie shoreline, and some red paint from the wife, we now have a lovely reminder of home, wherever we may be.

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It’s Still Yesterday in Cleveland

As Cleveland moves forward into the future, it is important to remember where we have been and how we got there. This documentary from 1967 shows how cities like Cleveland were struggling or succeeding to redevelop their city centers. The video paints Cleveland’s redevelopment at the time in a poor light, and gives kudos to cities like Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The contrast is especially interesting today given that many of us here in Cleveland do not consider both of those cities to being extremely well or better than Cleveland.

Check out the almost hour long video here: It’s Still Yesterday in Cleveland

Center Stage

WVIZ showed a good program last night about the saving and renovation of Playhouse Square.  The program, called “Staging Success”, featured the dreamers and movers that made Playhouse Square a reality.

To me, Playhouse Square has always been there.  It’s hard to imagine a time when it was in danger of being turned into a parking lot.  As prominent as Playhouse Square is in the fabric of Cleveland, the program opened my eyes to what allowed this gem to become reality.

Imagine if we didn’t have those theatres, the second largest theatre complex in the United States.  $43 million per year that the city would lose, as reported by the program.  Imagine the gaping hole on Euclid Avenue between 14th and 17th.

It’s sad to think.  Not only the money and reputation, but the culture and art that would have never been.

Lucky for us, Ray Shepardson saw in those rundown movie houses what could be.  He found others that supported his vision, and the dream got legs.  Cleveland is much better for it.

This story gives us lessons we can still use.  First, the power a small group can have to pump life back into Cleveland.

Second, how something as simple as a theatre can be the catalyst to rejuvenate an entire neighborhood, along with the means to go about doing that.

Peter van Dijk, the architect in charge of the theatres’ redesign, worked with those at the Playhouse to envision a new neighborhood to surround the theatres.  From that idea, we now have that vibrant area along Euclid Avenue.

“Staging Success” will be shown again tonight at 9 p.m. on WVIZ.