Boris Music, owner of Ohio City’s Hansa Brewery, knows perfection isn’t baked over night — it’s the long haul that matters most. It took three years for the longtime owner of Hansa Import Haus to renovate and expand his German market into today’s 10-barrel brewery.
In 2017, Slovenian chef Frank Urbanij took over the kitchen, building out a more robust menu and convincing Music to get into the fish fry business. Their first try at the fry wasn’t meant to compete with longstanding church traditions, but as a way to offer a slightly boozier alternative for those who like their Lenten meal with a side of European-style craft beer.
Now entering Hansa’s second Lenten season, they continue to tweak the menu by featuring a breaded perch ($13.95) and a grilled branzino ($19.95), a flaky semi-sweet Mediterranean sea bass served with grilled squash, peppers and carrots, sour-based, European-style coleslaw, and a choice of either home fries or square french fries.
“[Fish fries] are based on a pattern of immigrants that used to come to this area,” says Music, himself an immigrant from Slovenia. “All immigrants kept their traditions — Croatians, Germans and so on — and this is what we see now.”
In honor of Bavarian monks who traditionally brewed bock beers during Lent, Music recommends rounding out the European experience with the brewery’s namesake beer, the Hansanator Doppelbock ($6.50 for 12 ounces), a caramel concoction that’s light on hops but clocks in at a whopping 8.2 percent alcohol by volume. For those who like a darker beer, Music recommends pairing the fish fry with Hansa’s toffee-flavored Black Flag Schwartzbier ($6 for 16 ounces), made with floral German hops.
“We’re putting out stuff the way it’s supposed to be,” Music says. “I’m trying to bring to people true European flavor.” Fridays during Lent 11 a.m.-9 p.m. 2717 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, 216-631-6585, hansabrewery.com