HiHo Brewing Co.’s riverfront taproom is a prime hangout for kayakers who have paddled their way through the Cuyahoga’s rapids — and are looking to quench their thirst. “We’re cleaning up mud all the time,” says Jamie Sipps, the brewery’s community coordinator. “It’s a place for people to take a break and take a rest, then get back on their way.” To help promote the natural resource right in its backyard — and the newly designated Cuyahoga River Water Trail, which launches next month to promote recreation and tourism — HiHo and 17 other breweries are partnering on the new Cuyahoga River Brewery Trail. While it’s not your typical passport program, all participating breweries will offer the I Paddle Around beer, an IPA that each spot can put its own spin on. “We made it easy enough that people could make it their own and brew within their means,” says Sipps, who is also the co-organizer of the brewery trail. “Each brewery has different sizes they can handle and different amounts they can make.” We talk to Sipps about the mission of the trail and more.
Q: The brewery trail kicked off on the 50th anniversary of the 1969 river fire. What does this say about the community and what it values?
A: It’s a reminder of where the river was 50 years ago, and it shows where we’ve come. Fifty years is not that long ago. A lot of people were still alive when that was happening. It’s showing that progress forward. It’s showing that we’re keeping our natural resources in mind and protecting them so we’re able to access and use them safely.
Q:Where did the idea for I Paddle Around originate?
A: It was a collaborative idea with all of the breweries. We wanted to do something that wasn’t too restrictive. It was set with a few standards in mind: It had to be an IPA style, around 6 or 7% ABV to keep it somewhat sessionable, and made with local malt.
Q: You collaborated with Missing Mountain Brewing Co. to make your I Paddle Around. What makes this one unique?
A: It’s a New England-style IPA with a 7.2% ABV, brewed with local malt. It has El Dorado and Mosaic hops, mango and a touch of rhubarb. It’s a nice summer beer, and summertime is really the height of paddling season.
Q: How does the beer fit into the mission of the brewery trail?
A: We thought, Why not create a beer that really brings out the message? The point of the name is to bring awareness to the brewery trail. Having that beer is an active way to take part, even if you’re not a paddler.