Market Garden Brewery

From the Source by | Mar 2013 | Issue #74

There was a time when the city of Cleveland was a vibrant and bustling beer town. Before Prohibition, the neighborhood of Ohio City was the heart of the brewing district, and it is emerging as a must-visit for beer drinkers once again. A driving force behind that revival is Market Garden Brewery & Distillery, which was opened in 2011 by a group of business partners looking to expand from beer bars to brewing.

“Great Lakes Brewing is right around the corner from us,” co-owner Mike Foran says. “They were pioneers for the neighborhood. They came down in 1988, but we like to think that in the past seven years, with us being in the neighborhood, we’ve helped speed along its progress.”

In The Blood
Founder Sam McNulty opened his first restaurant 17 years ago, when he was 21—an eatery and beer bar on the Cleveland State campus, where he was a student. Since then, he has taken over a small stretch of West 25th Street in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood—just across the Cuyahoga River, west of downtown Cleveland.

It started in 2005, with the opening of McNulty’s Bier Markt, a Belgian beer bar, but continued to grow with Bar Cento, an Italian restaurant and wine bar; Speakeasy, a pre-Prohibition-style cocktail lounge that opened in 2009; and Market Garden Brewery and Distillery in 2011. Along the way, McNulty and his partner, Mark Priemer, have added Foran and brewmaster Andy Tveekrem to the ownership group.

“It’s always kind of been in my blood, literally and figuratively,” kids McNulty. “All jokes aside about enjoying drinking, I see beer as part of the social fabric of civilization. That sounds all grandiose and crazy, but I think beer plays an extremely important role in the cultural life of cities and neighborhoods. If you look at pub culture and all the great things that have transpired, and conversations and ideas that have grown out of people enjoying beer together and entering into this melting pot, it seems like, Wow, all these places and at last count we’ve got over 200 taps just on this street alone.”

Following the opening of Market Garden, McNulty’s group introduced Nano Brew Cleveland—a former biker bar turned into a bicycle bar, complete with a covered repurposed shipping container bike corral out front and tools for bike repair inside, “so guests can sip on a beer while tuning up their bicycles,” explains McNulty. Nano Brew Cleveland also houses the 20-gallon pilot system that Tveekrem and his brewing team experiment on.

“When the first several places opened up, people asked, Why are you doing this? You’re just going to cannibalize your own business,” McNulty recalls. “After the fourth place opened up, people stopped saying that.” Soon, other businesses began to open up in what had become a craft beer district once again. Says McNulty, “Every time a new place comes, the rising tide lifts all ships.”

In the Garden
There are two things that set Market Garden Brewery apart from your typical brewpub. The first is Tveekrem. Tveekrem started his career at Great Lakes and eventually made a name for himself as the brewmaster for Dogfish Head. “Anybody going into the restaurant or brewpub business, 90 percent of the time they have problems, it’s beer quality or beer consistency,” Foran says. “To bring a guy like Andy in, we just knew from day one that the beer was going to be great, so it allowed us to focus on other elements of the brewpub to make it successful.”

Around the time McNulty, Foran and Priemer were looking to open a brewpub, Tveekrem was back in town looking to open up a brewery of his own. The two took Tveekrem out to dinner at their Bar Cento location and convinced him to join forces with them instead. “We were looking around for places to start a brewpub and out of the blue, I get a call from Sam and his partner, Mark,” Tveekrem says. “They were thinking about this project, they had the land already purchased. It was across the street from their Italian restaurant. We met and had dinner and kind of hit it off, which was the main thing.

“I could just see the potential for letting it grow. It started a brewpub, but it could go beyond that, and that’s always intriguing to me. It didn’t take me too long to figure out maybe I should put my money in with these guys and see where it gets us.”

With Tveekrem at the helm, Market Garden’s beer was all set. The next step was creating the right atmosphere to drink said beer. That’s where the second defining characteristic comes into play, as Market Garden proudly claims to be Cleveland’s first American-style beer garden. “We do a few things that are different than the European tradition,” McNulty says. “We embrace communal tables, which of course they also do in Europe, but ours are cocktail height. And on the surface, that seems like a minor distinction, but if you think about the difference of the reality of standing or leaning on a bar as opposed to hunkering down on a bench at a picnic table—the American version allows for a little more mingling. You’re more likely to meet more people.”

Playing Within Limits
Even with the playground/laboratory of Nano Brew Cleveland at his disposal, Tveekrem doesn’t produce radical ales. Instead of exploring odd ingredients or techniques, something that his previous employer is known for, Tveekrem’s approach is more customer oriented.

“Usually my focus is on drinkability,” he says. “How can I construct it so that it’s actually going to be all the flavors I want in there, but they’re actually going to be something I want to have another pint of, or maybe two. It’s not just about packing as much stuff in a glass of beer as possible, but it’s about finding a way to round it out and have it all work together.”

Tveekrem credits his beer education for shaping his approach to brewing. “I’m an old-school beer geek, I guess,” he says. “I went through the Beer Judge Certification Program and all that, so I’m always kind of looking at styles and what makes a beer correct for a certain style, and how to play within that range.”

With an emphasis on approachability in the forefront, beers like Pearl Street Wheat, a traditional Bavarian-style Hefeweizen with plenty of banana and clove notes, are among the brewery’s most popular. So is the aptly named Cluster Fuggle IPA, an English-style IPA brewed with, what else, Cluster and Fuggle hops. “It’s not a West Coast hop bomb,” Tveekrem says. “It’s got a good malt backbone, and there’s Fuggle hops in the end.”

That’s not to say that Tveekrem is averse to hops, as Viking Pale Ale is every bit an American Pale Ale designed to showcase the Cascade hops. With its focus on drinkability and creating a communal atmosphere, Market Garden Brewery is an example of what a brewpub can accomplish when it keeps its customers at the heart of its decision-making process. The end result is one more step toward revitalizing a neighborhood that is becoming known once again for its high-quality beer.

The Brewhouse
– 10-bbl system based off designs from the defunct Century Manufacturing, but crafted by a local metal shop
– Nine 10-bbl fermentation tanks
– Six 20-bbl fermentation tanks
– 14 serving tanks
– No beer filter

What’s On Tap
Pearl Street Wheat: A Bavarian-style Hefeweizen with banana and clove notes, and plenty of yeast in the glass.  5.5% ABV
Old School American Lager: Market Garden’s take on a pre-Prohibition-style American Pilsner. Rice comprises 10% of the grist. 5.0% ABV
Cluster Fuggle IPA: An English-style IPA that highlights Cluster and Fuggle hops, and supports them with a strong malt backbone. 7.0% ABV
Viking Pale Ale: An American Pale Ale that brewmaster Andy Tveekrem describes as “a balanced beer with a wallop of bitterness” that comes from the copious amount of Cascade hops. 5.5% ABV

What He Said
“Sam and I live in the neighborhood. Andy lives very near by. We’re not the kind of place that just wants to have a restaurant and a bar all in a commercial neighborhood. We live, work and play all in this neighborhood. I think that’s reflective of the rest of the businesses in this neighborhood, and we didn’t want to be an exception to that.” – Co-owner Mike Foran about his business partners, Sam McNulty and Andy Tveekrem