Tap Talk Vol. 5: Craft Beer Bar
“Researchers”: Alex Hall & Mike Searl, 12-12-2019

The facade of the newly-expanded Craft Beer Bar on Front Street in Downtown Cuyahoga Falls.
Stephen Mulé
Let’s be clear: the presence of no less than four breweries in Cuyahoga Falls—to say nothing of the many breweries in the surrounding area—is one of the many reasons we love this city. Still, there are other drinking venues that are not breweries, and for this fifth edition of Tap Talk, we thought we’d check out one in particular: Craft Beer Bar.

Craft Beer Bar, which has been open for just over five years, is located at 1846 Front Street, across from High Bridge Glens. Having recently expanded into the space formerly occupied by Pandora’s Cupcakes, it now offers a meeting room available for reservation. A small menu of food offerings, including salads, appetizers, sandwiches, and pasta, situates the business as a gastropub with help from the multicolor shiplap wall décor and repurposed beer barrels. As for the food, we sampled the Baked Pretzel—a Tap Talk tradition—and though the garlic-buttered soft pretzels themselves were delicious, the bacon queso seemed like it would have been better without the bacon (strange, we know), yet the raspberry porter mustard was a nice accompaniment. We also ordered the house made garlic parmesan fries, which overshadowed the pretzels, but would probably be better with a more creative dipping sauce than ketchup, like a basil aioli, sun-dried tomato paste, or balsamic reduction.

What is really cool about Craft Beer Bar for beer drinkers, though, is the variety of craft beers. There are nearly thirty beers on tap, with a broad selection of brew types, and all but two were from Ohio when we visited in early November. The bartender informed us that new beers come into the rotation as kegs are kicked, so the beer menu has to be updated every few days. While there were plenty of IPAs available when we visited, there were also stouts, porters, browns, pilsners, and lagers, plus a few sours, a couple of holiday brews, a tripel, and a cider. While it’s nice to visit a brewery and sample all its wares, Craft Beer Bar allows customers to get a flight of beers from a wide selection of breweries, so you could, in theory, try a flight of nothing but IPAs or stouts from four different breweries. Flights are more or less the going rate—$10 for four pours—so we put together two, sampling eight beers total.

Since neither of us are big on holiday brews, this was a good chance to try a couple without committing to a pint—specifically Citra® Noel by Columbus Brewing Company in Columbus, Ohio and Holiday Donut Cookie by Platform Beer Co. in Cleveland. The Citra® Noel was easy drinking, tasty, and relatively mild given the 7.3% abv, but it didn’t seem especially holiday-ish except in name, which the brewery’s website seems to corroborate—it’s merely a mild ale for the holidays. Platform’s Holiday Donut Cookie, on the other hand, did taste of the holidays, but not of donuts or cookies. Our first impression was that while it smelled nice, and perhaps faintly of donuts, it tasted like potpourri, and, ultimately, weird. If it had been called Holiday Fruitcake, the name might have made more sense, but it did not live up to the title of Holiday Donut Cookie.

Our favorite beers were the North High Wired Coffee Stout from Columbus and the Masthead Dreamcrusher from Cleveland. The Wired Coffee Stout was smooth and drinkable for a stout, and its flavor was like chilled coffee. We agreed that we could drink a couple pints of Wired Coffee Stout, and the 5.5% abv would make doing so a bit less dangerous than, say, a triple New England IPA with a 9.6% abv, which describes the Dreamcrusher. We, however, would describe Dreamcrusher as a funky, thick, citrusy beast with a lot of haze and sweetness.

All in all, we found Craft Beer Bar a great spot for a beer tour of Ohio and beyond. We obviously love breweries here at Tap Talk, but Craft Beer Bar provides craft beer one-stop shopping, which is nice whether you want to do an IPA or other brew type shootout without having to visit four or more breweries or if you just want to expand your beer horizons without driving to Columbiana or Columbus, much less Cleveland or—gasp!—Akron. With Butcher & Sprout set to open in the same plaza this month and HiHO nearby as well, Craft Beer Bar is poised to help draw more people south of Broad Blvd., and we can see why—we think you will too.

Craft Beer Bar is located at 1846 Front Street across from High Bridge Glens and open evenings, Monday-Saturday.

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