Our History

Our History

Two Irish brothers with limited brewing experience. A city that shuttered its last production brewery in the early 80s. A neighborhood in serious need of a facelift. In 1986 when Patrick and Daniel Conway opened their fledgling operation in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood, the odds were stacked against them. Fortunately, they surrounded themselves with a staff of passionate, knowledgeable people, and from the start committed themselves to bringing a sophisticated, diverse selection of craft beer to their home state. Two decades, multiple awards, and a whole lot of stories later, Pat and Dan Conway celebrate over two decades of brewing exceptional beer for their adventurous and discerning customers.

1980's
1990's
2000's

1980's - The Beginning

Founders Pat and Dan Conway incorporate in 1986. They attain a collective 75 years of brewing experience by recruiting Master Brewer Thaine Johnson and Engineer Charlie Price, both former employees of Schmidt's, Cleveland's last operating brewery. Together, the team sets to work designing GLBC's 7-barrel brewing system, which is still used to brew Pub Exclusive beers.

Pat and Dan work with Thaine to develop beers reflective of the styles the brothers enjoyed during their European travels, and choose to honor their local roots with the names of their first beers. Eliot Ness Amber Lager honors the notorious prohibition officer who frequented the tavern that's now home to the GLBC brewpub (how's that for irony), and who once employed Pat and Dan's mother as his stenographer. The Heisman, now known as Dortmunder Gold Lager, is named for football legend John Heisman, who once lived in the Ohio City neighborhood.

From the start, the brothers are focused on sustainability, opting to renovate 19th century buildings to house their brewpub, and purchasing used restaurant equipment to stock their space. As GLBC expands, new businesses sprout, and Ohio City gradually evolves into a bustling place to work, play, and brew. In their first year, the team brews less than 1,000 barrels of kegged beer, and hand-bottling doesn't even begin for another year. The first bottles are capped by hand, after being knocked on with a screwdriver to create foam and push out oxygen--thankfully, we've come a long way since those days!

INTO THE 90's
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1990's - Building a Strong Foundation

Dortmunder Gold Lager sets the stage for success with its first gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival. Two years later, Christmas Ale debuts as one of the first American spiced holiday ales and quickly becomes the stuff of local legend.

In 1992, we expand into the Fries & Schuele Building (later home to our Beer Symposium). Before long, we outgrow this space and move our main operation into our current production brewery on Carroll Avenue. The brewery's 19th century buildings once acted as stables and storage facilities for the Leonard Schlather Brewing Company.

Now that they have the beer, Pat and Dan set out to find new customers. In their maroon stationwagon, they hand-deliver bottled beer to their first retailer: West Point Market in Akron. Insisting on selling their beer refrigerated to maintain freshness, Pat and Dan outfit the market with a used cooler--committed to quality from the start!

THE 2000's
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2000's - Picking up steam

In the early 2000s, GLBC commits more deeply to environmental causes. In 2001, the first Burning River Fest takes place in the brewery's tank farm. In 2007 GLBC puts down roots at Hale Farm & Village, founding Pint Size Farm. Two years later, they join a collective to form Ohio City Farm, thought to be the largest urban farm in the country.

All the while, the brewery experiences tremendous growth, first boosted by Northeast Ohioans, then a growing distribution footprint filled with thirsty craft beer drinkers. They pass the 100,000 barrel mark in 2010 after adding three new 300 barrel fermenters.

As GLBC celebrates 25 years in 2013, the team looks forward to another brewhouse expansion, new markets, and the company's first brand refresh.

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