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Willoughby Brewing Co. to expand west to Cleveland

September 1, 2018

Willoughby Brewing Co. to expand west to Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Willoughby Brewing Co. has bought the the brewing assets of the former Buckeye Brewing Co. in Cleveland, it was announced Saturday, Sept 1.

The motivation behind the deal is increased production in draft and retail distribution, said Rick Seibt, brewmaster and a partner in the deal. Terms were not released.

“It’s about a great opportunity for us,” he said. “It will allow us to build on the brand.”

In fact, one of the beers the brewery had submitted as part of the annual Cleveland Oktoberfest brewing competition on Friday began as a test batch at the new facility, he said.

The Cleveland outpost will be for brewing only – no taproom, no restaurant, Seibt said.

Willoughby, founded in 1998, has tried to expand over the years but physical limitations of its current space halted that idea. Taking over the Buckeye Brewing location will boost capacity three-fold, he said. Willoughby brews about 1,000 barrels – 65 to 70 batches – a year.

The dining room at Willoughby Brewing, at Erie Street and Mentor Avenue, has very good accessibility and space. But the brewhouse – where the initial brewing process begins – and room for fermenters is a bit tighter.

The brewery has one of the most sought-after beers in the area and beyond: The award-winning Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter. Willoughby is the farthest eastern brewery in the Cleveland Brewery Passport program, started this year by Destination Cleveland. It also marked its 20th anniversary this year, bringing back former brewers for a celebration.

And while Great Lakes Brewing Co. – the state’s first craft brewery – is known for creating a brewing tree, with former brewers moving on to other places, Willoughby has done the same thing. Its former brewers have gone on to The Brew Kettle in Strongsville, Brim Kitchen + Brewery in Willoughby, Royal Docks in Canton and Fat Head’s in Middleburg Heights.

The expansion means Seibt, a lifelong Lake County resident who has been brewing since 1990, will be making the 50-mile round-trip commute to the acquired space at 9941 Walford Ave., Cleveland. Buckeye Brewing is north of Interstate 71 and south of I-90, located just northwest of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

Buckeye Brewing started a year before Willoughby, in 1997, but closed its doors last year after marking its 20th anniversary.

In 2007 owner Garin Wright opened Buckeye Beer Engine, a nearby brewpub at 15315 Madison Ave., Lakewood. In addition to a full menu, it rotates a well-culled beer list, with about 30 drafts. Currently it has a handful of German Oktoberfests, La Chouffe Belgian Blond Ale, Costa Dei Villa, an American Wild Ale from Jolly Pumpkin in Michigan; several Ohio brews and others.

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