The Brewery Passport is a really fun way to find new places in Cleveland, but it only really shows you 30 places in a city that is sprouting more and more destinations every day. For instance, Bookhouse Brewing is a quirky microbrewery that doesn’t appear anywhere in the Passport. But we went there anyway.
Some of the guys we bowl and brew with had mentioned that they were going to check this place out while doing an Ohio City bar crawl to get those stamps for their own Passports. Then serendipitously, the adult literacy organization I volunteer for, Seeds of Literacy, announced they were having a fundraiser at Bookhouse. Naturally, I added it to my schedule.
Bookhouse is farther north on West 25th than most of the other popular hangouts, which might have accounted for its quieter atmosphere– that and the fact that it was a Thursday night in the dead of winter in Cleveland. This was in no way a negative; it only added to the illusion that you were actually walking into a museum instead of a bar, especially when partnered with the history of the building.
Way back in 1866, Jacob and Magdalena Baehr built the Baehr Brewery and the adjacent saloon. Magdalena took over the whole business while raising eight children after her husband Jacob passed away in 1873. The Widow Brewer ran and even grew the business for the next 25 years and eventually sold it to the Cleveland & Sandusky Brewing Company, who kept it open in that location until 1901 before moving it down the street a bit to merge with one of their other breweries. And now, it is once again fulfilling its intended purpose.
Along with the ambiance and the backstory, Bookhouse Brewing also has, well, books. Everywhere. On tables, on shelves, and even some in display cases. They also do monthly book swaps– which just so happened to coincide with the Seeds event. So we had a couple of beers and flipped through the books spread out on several tables and took in the turn-of-the-century decor.
The beer was okay. I’d like to give it another try before coming to any conclusions; I would go back for the passionfruit IPA, so props there. But there was a very wide selection, and I imagine it would be easy to find something else to enjoy here. They don’t have a kitchen but regularly have food trucks and pop-ups, and when there’s nothing scheduled you can order food in. Yes, we got a double order of the heavenly garlic knots from Pizza Whirl delivered from down the street if any of you are wondering.
Overall, it was a wonderful evening for a good cause ($1 from every full pour of house beer went to Seeds!), and we discovered a new and interesting place to grab a beer and read a book. Who could ask for anything more?