Bogrolls & Barley Wines
Fat Head’s, Cleveland, Ohio 2010
All good things come to an end, as they say and certainly the love affair that the Bogrolls team had enjoyed with Great Lakes Brewing Co in Cleveland had
come to a close. Lord Ackery’s favourite ale Holy Moses had been replaced with the more herbal Grassroots Ale (although to be fair, I like Grassroots Ale);
my beloved Moondog Ale, an American take on a British bitter had changed out of all recognition to an insipid Moondog ESB, while the general service and
attitude at Great Lakes had taken on a aura of arrogance.
Time for new pastures then and how fortuitous it was that we got wind of Pittsburgh’s famous Fat Head’s Brewery opening a second brewery just west of
We were literally gagging at the thought of no less than nine Fat Head’s beers on tap plus 20 or so other micro breweries represented. So, three weeks after
opening we made our way to Fat Head’s for a royal visit. Off we go…
1) Headhunter IPA (6.2%)
Made with Simcoe, Columbus and Cascade hops, Headhunter is the flagship ale of Fat Head’s and with good reason too. It featured a lovely hoppy aroma with
a similar hoppy taste packed full of citrus notes - especially grapefruit – with an assertive hop bitter finish. Delicious ! 10/10
2) Three Crowns Amber Lager (4.8%)
Over to the Fatherland for Noble hops, this rich, malty concoction presented ripe cherries throughout. Not my cup of tea as I’m not a fan of amber lagers, but
well represented for its style. 5/10
3) Pack-A-Wallop SPA (6%)
What we had here was an American Strong Pale Ale brewed with English malt and “packed” with Columbus hops – so, lots of malts and hops. And this
actually, was rather good. Some good hop bitterness counteracting the malty sweetness with a sprightly hop aroma. Pack-A-Wallop had a warming, smooth
body – ideal for drinking by the fire pit. 9/10
4) Great Scots Amber (5.2%)
Based on the Scottish export style of malty beers, this calamitous pile o’shite was obviously malty with a cringing hop bitterness suffocated by domineering
caramel flavours. It reminded me of a mug of water with a brown crayon dropped in it – the finish was of Christmas cake dipped in acid. Ghastly! 0/10
5) Bumbleberry Ale (5.1%)
The name was worrying from the start and this blueberry ale brewed with Olmsted Falls honey (from Jorgenson’s Apiary, no less) gave a particularly strange
aroma of cold PG Tips tea leaves. Taste-wise, we had loads of blueberries and lavender with more blueberries and lilac in the finish. Couldn’t really pick up
the honey, but a fine beer for sipping on the Scottish highlands. 7/10
6) Rocketman Red Ale (5.5%)
This enticing rich ruby red ale gave a nauseating aroma of petrol, before descending into a malt nightmare with bready notes of liquid Hovis. The finish -
which I couldn't wait for – was of a goose bumping, tart Pepsi-Cola. Throughly nasty! 0/10
7) Tree Hugger (4.5%)
A welcome reprise from the previous mess, Tree Hugger was another beer brewed with Olmsted Falls honey. There was nothing too pretentious with this
golden ale scored with light honey tones. A little bit sticky and syrupy, but very tasty nonetheless. 8/10
8) Goggle Fogger Hefeweizen (5%)
Where do they get these names from? This unfiltered wheat beer, based on the Bundeslega style with an aroma of Liquorice Allsorts gave the classic
bananas and cloves opening before moving into aniseed and stale bananas. The banana-bubblegum finish was even stranger. Funny one, this. 4/10
9) “Bean Me Up” Koffee Stout (5.5%)
Brewed with Caribou Coffee’s Obsidian Dark roast beans, this creamy stout was dark, bitter, with a touch of chocolate in the mix. Towards the end, there were
chicory flavours as if a bottle of Camp Coffee had been poured in the brew kettle. I don’t care for coffee stouts, but this was rather impressive. 8/10
10) Head Hunter IPA – on cask – (6.2%)
The following morning, Lord Ackery and myself returned to Fat Head’s for a photo shoot, during which time we got to meet Head Brewer Matt Cole. There was
just enough Head Hunter IPA left in the cask to pour me a 2/3 full glass, but Gordon Bennett, was this a little beauty! It gave gorgeous, warm, hoppy and
citrus flavours with the same grapefruit as before with a dash of orange at the end. A delightful, smooth cask ale. 15/10
11) Christmas Ale (6.7%)
Fast-forward two months to July 2010 and I found myself at Fat Head’s once again, during 2-days in Cleveland with my company. This time, I was joined by
thedelightful Lord and Lady Galli of Cleveland who showed great enthusiasm towards the impressive array of Fat Head’s beers. In the two months since my
previous visit, the Fat Head’s selection featured six new beers. Now, THAT’S impressive.
So, the Christmas Ale: I really like the American phenomenon of Christmas in July, so it gave this Royal one great pleasure to see a Christmas Ale on tap.
Brewed with cinnamon, ginger, honey, coriander, nutmeg and orange peel, this rich, supremely spiced ale warmed the heart with its Christmas pudding
flavours, Glorious! 9/10
12) Nitro Cream Ale (4.8%)
Any nitro-keg beer (like Guinness) should be avoided like the plague, but I was intrigued by the fact that it’s a cream ale brewed with “flaked” barley and a
“hint” of corn sugar, while being dry hopped with Cascade hops. It had a pleasant lemon grass aroma with a distinct lemon, peppery, almost herbal flavour.
Dare I say, it reminded me of a creamy version of Great Lakes Grassroots Ale. Lots of lemon basil in the finish. Lord Galli and myself both gave this number
a “two thumbs up” despite being nitro-keg. 8/10
13) Battleaxe Baltic Porter (8.2%)
Fermented with lager yeast, my love-hate relationship with porters were not too severely tested with the Battleaxe Baltic Porter. With tastes of coffee mocha
hitting me on all sides, this unusually fizzy porter gave more coffee and liquorice before finishing with a final onslaught of yet more coffee and roasted barley.
Smooth and surprisingly rather good. 8/10
Fat Head’s Brewery is easily the master of Great Lake’s Brewing Co, and being a large brewpub, with seats all over the place, featuring exposed brick walls
and easy parking, they are receiving a royal warrant from Roberts Manor. With such a turnaround of beers, I’m am always going to come across beers that
might not be my cup of Earl Grey, but having nine of their own beers on tap should always be commended. I am very much looking forward to my next visit!
There's some good stuff in them tanks, Master Poldark!
Yes, it's an attractive looking place!
The entrance to Fat Head's in Cleveland.