The historic homestead on Wooster Pike (U.S. 50) just east of Mariemont—the old Heritage Restaurant—sat vacant for years. Then three locals and a Cleveland transplant moved in with tanks, taps, and a big taste for craft beer. Whit Hesser, Blake Horsburgh, and Bobby Slattery opened Fifty West Brewing Company last November. Shortly after, John Tomain joined as chef. Ask Slattery about the brewpub’s name, and you’ll quickly learn that it’s more than a nod to the coast-to-coast route out front. “Fifty West thinks of beer directionally,” he explains. “To the east, there’s tradition and to the west, innovation.” This philosophy gives Horsburgh, the brewmaster, freedom to put his own twists on traditional styles.
Take your pick of 10 to 20 beers, all made in the 1,000-square-foot brewery behind the bar. Taps rotate, though Horsburgh says the Coast-to-Coast IPA is a mainstay (and one of his faves). Hesser spent the winter knocking back the Coffee Please, an earthy American Stout infused with coffee roasted in Madeira, while Tomain favors the Armadillo Crossing Session Brown Ale, a low octane beer sweetened with local maple syrup. As for Slattery, he can’t pick just one.
Tomain’s seasonal menu features fare made with beer and for beer. However, if you want to take beer home, bring your growler, as a full-fledged production brewery is roughly two years away. For now, their focus is the journey, not the destination.
“Fifty West is an exploratory brand,” says Horsburgh. “We want to see something grow organically and locally and slowly. If we work with our community, then we’ll get somewhere.”
Fifty West Brewing Company, 7668 Wooster Pike, (513) 834-8789, fiftywestbrew.com