One moment brewmasters are touting hoppy IPAs on their taps. Then before you know it, Eastern European pilsners are making big waves. To find out what Clevelanders can expect in their glasses next, we asked Terrestrial Brewing Co.’s brewmaster Ralph Sgro for the sudsy candidates.
East-Euro Lagers and Pilsners: If you’re tired of hoppy IPAs, you’re not alone. Lighter beers such as lagers and pilsners, popularized by turn-of-the-century immigrants, are making a comeback. You’ll find nods to our Eastern European roots throughout the city from Goldhorn Brewery’s Polka City Pilsner made with Slovenian-imported hops to Platform Beer Co.’s German-inspired New Cleveland Palesner. “Those beers take longer to make,” Sgro says. “There’s a little more precision required. Something that might be served in Germany? That’s what we’re going for.”
Off-Kilter Saisons: Sure, you may have heard of saisons and all the praise for its complex style with yeast tones. The beer has seen a major revival in the last few years and requires a skilled hand to achieve a balance of spice and tartness. While many brewers use orange peels, look for them to experiment with ingredients such as star fruit, ginger and black peppercorns. “I like to try to push the boundaries with unique ingredients that I think will complement that historic style,” says Sgro, who has five saisons on tap.
Sours: Served in a traditional bell glass — like its lambic and saison cousins — sours are the tart candies of ale-style beers. It’s rising popularity and versatility has made sour beer a trend among sippers and brewers. According to the Brewers Association, annual sales of sours have more than quintupled from 2015 to 2016 and the variations of this style run layered and numerous from sea salt, smoked pineapple and watermelon at Platform to fresh pear and lemon grass at Terrestrial Brewing. “It’s the hipster of beers,” Sgro jokes. “Like they say in Portland, ‘Let’s keep [sours] weird.’ ”