Inspiring an industry

In 1986, Pat and Dan Conway were determined to bring the brewing tradition back to Cleveland, inspired by the fresh, flavorful styles they’d sampled in their travels throughout Europe. In 1988 they opened the doors to Ohio’s first craft brewery, inspiring a movement in their home state and beyond with a diverse portfolio of award-winning craft beers.

From the beginning, Pat and Dan adopted a “triple bottom line” philosophy, placing equal emphasis on financial, environmental, and social sustainability. They “repurposed” historic buildings in Cleveland’s Ohio City and sparked the revitalization of the then dilapidated neighborhood, and were early proponents of local sourcing, farm-to-table, and urban farming in their brewpub. Since 2001, GLBC has hosted the annual Burning River Fest, a music festival on Cleveland’s waterfront that brings awareness and raises money for groups working to protect our freshwater resources. The brewery’s newest 325 watt USA-made solar panels have helped produce over 32,600 cases of beer using 100% solar power since their installation in 2017. These are just a few of the many ways GLBC strives to “brew good.”

But what about the beer? GLBC is well-known around the world for brewing balanced, consistent, and delicious brews like their decorated Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Dortmunder Gold Lager, and the new Great Lakes IPA. Over the years GLBC has continued to innovate and experiment on the same 7-barrel system where those iconic styles were first developed (lovingly named Brewhouse No. 1). Visit the GLBC brewpub to be the first to try one of Pub Brewer Steve Forman’s latest creations like the thirst-quenching Good Talk Russ Rice Lager or the bold Dark Signal Belgian Quad. The most popular offerings often get promoted to package, like new seasonal Buckin’ Mule, a Moscow Mule inspired ale (which was originally created on the GLBC small batch pilot system!). And GLBC loves teaming up with friends. You’ll find several unique collaborations throughout their distribution footprint, like the brewery’s most recent collab The Mighty Lager, brewed with the band O.A.R.

GLBC doubled down on innovation near the end of 2017, adding a 2-barrel pilot system to their production brewhouse. This scaled replica of GLBC’s 75-barrel system allows for continuous research and development, and provides opportunities for employees to collaborate and experiment. So far since 2018, GLBC’s brewpub has served exciting and unique brews created by their electrical and engineering departments, Northeast Ohio sales team, 2nd shift bottlers, and brewpub staff.

None of GLBC’s success would be possible without their exceptional family of employees who have represented the company with passion, hospitality, and hard work for three decades. Recognizing this, Pat and Dan Conway surprised their co-workers at the 2018 GLBC staff summit with the announcement of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), making each and every member of the GLBC family a shareholder in addition to the many benefits they enjoy. GLBC is now proudly employee-owned.

After over three decades of hard work, growth, and countless special milestones and moments, GLBC continues to share award-winning, balanced, and innovative beers with their customers, from the most discerning drinker to the craft beer first-timer. Fortunately, they’ve found that some of the most passionate and inspiring craft beer lovers happen to live right where it all started: Ohio. Great Lakes Brewing Co. has proudly sponsored Ohio Brew Week since its inaugural year, and will continue to support the communities that have helped shape the Great Lakes story.