Five award-winning brews will be on tap this week as Great Lakes rolls into Northern Virginia. Great Lakes has two beers in the lager category, including Eliot Ness Amber and Dortmunder Gold. Eliot Ness Amber is named after the prohibition era officer made famous by the film Untouchables, while Dortmunder Gold is humbly named after the sheer number of gold medals it has received from the world beer championships.
The Great Lakes Brewery of Cleveland, Ohio is set to enter the Northern Virginia market with an ambitious agenda of tap takeovers and samplings across the region. With a suite of gold medal awards in the lager, porter and ale categories, area beer aficionados can hardly wait for a chance to fill their glass.
“Great Lakes is a classic American craft brewery, it’s established as a benchmark,” said Greg Engert, beer director at Rustico. “They make a great lager, it’s impressive because of their restraint. A low alcohol, cleaner beer is difficult, you can drink a few of them. It’s approachable and affordable.”
Rustico hosted a tap takeover of Great Lakes beer at both the Arlington and Alexandria branches on Feb. 27. The Monday evening event featured all five of the top standards including Commodore Perry IPA, Burning River Pale Ale, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Eliot Ness Amber Lager and Dortmunder Gold Lager.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase the five styles all at once,” said Lauren Boveington, a spokesperson for Great Lakes Brewery. “We’ve always had plans to continue growing in the area, people have been begging us to cross the river.”
Great Lakes entered Washington, D.C. in July of 2010, and the enthusiastic reception from a market known for its sophisticated taste in beer has given company officials encouragement to expand.
Demand concerns persuaded the company to make significant investments in the Cleveland-based brewery, which recently completed a series of expansions that has allowed for a doubling of capacity.
With a wide area of coverage, however, including markets in 13 states, Great Lakes had to choose strategically where to best develop. At least one reason for selecting Northern Virginia was the sheer number of area residents from Ohio who want a taste of home
“There’s a lot of hype surrounding the launch,” said Boveington. “A lot of Cleveland transplants are excited, especially in Arlington and Alexandria.”
“It’s a big deal, when you think of beer in Ohio you think of Great Lakes,” said Attiya Mahmood, an Arlington resident who studied in Ohio. “My Ohio friends are very excited, it’s exciting to get a piece of home over here.”