CLEVELAND – Ohio is ranked 5th among states for craft beer production.
Currently, at least 73 breweries are planning to open, according to the Ohio Craft Brewers Association.
Homebrewing began as a college hobby for Vaughn Stewart, the owner of Bookhouse Brewing in Cleveland.
“The satisfaction of doing something yourself with your hands,” he said.
Stewart said he hadn’t always known his passion for beer would turn into his career.
“An interest, a hobby, a pursuit that developed naturally over time,” he said.
In 2018, Stewart opened Bookhouse Brewing. The taproom is located in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland.
“Think of beer as something that brings people together, something that fosters community and conversation. The idea is to link curiosity, learning, instruction. That stuff, along with the interaction, the sociability, ”said Stewart. “So you take ‘book’ and you take ‘home’ and these two come together.”
Stewart loves the science behind craft beer and takes a gravity sample of every beer, every day.
“What you see is that when the sugar goes down, the alcohol content goes up,” he explained.
The gravity sampling process allows repeatability and consistency of taste.
“Brewing is really an interesting field because it’s a combination of art and science,” said Stewart.
His art comes in the form of around 16 craft beers on tap at any given time. Stewart estimates he has created over 50 beers since opening in 2018.
“Made within these four walls,” he said as he stood in the brewery.
And there is a lot of history within these four walls. The building was constructed in 1866 and was originally the Jacob Baehr Brewing Company. After Jacob’s death, his wife, Magdalena, became known as “Cleveland’s Widow Brewer”.
She carried on the legacy for almost 30 years.
Since 1901, the space has gone through many phases of new activities, vacancies and catering.
Today, Stewart aims to make his Bookhouse Brewing brand stand out by offering a unique experience.
“I definitely tend to be, I think, something of a book learner,” said Stewart.
He keeps his own personal library of books on brewing on a shelf in the faucet room.
“I’ve always found it helpful to have references to refer to,” he said, perusing a book titled The practical brewer.
This is not a library or bookstore, but books can be found all around the historic building, including at every table.
“Partly as decoration because I think there is a kind of aesthetic beauty in editing and writing,” he said.
Stewart estimates that a few hundred books are housed in the brewery, but the book exchange aspect is informal and optional.
“You can take a book if you want, you can leave a book. We don’t monitor the collection or anything like that, ”said Stewart.
Stewart is a brewer who creates a cozy place for book and beer lovers while paying homage to the building’s beginnings.
“We like where we are and who our neighbors are,” he said.