Where am I? That is what I was thinking as I joined the ranks of the pierced, tattooed and bearded at the Eastlake taproom. Walking through the global market spying the wide array of offerings I knew immediately we were bound for someplace different, someplace unique, someplace special. As we made our way around the corner, hopeful there were two seats at the bar I realized, I had arrived, at a place craft beer was meant to pour. To be honest I was blown away. It is no secret that I have been to a lot of taprooms, drank a lot of beer, setup a mobile office at many places, and played a lot of bar games but this place I knew, immediately, was unique. People knew each other here. People liked each other here, and people were here as a community. As we sipped our beer (a good one I must say) and documented our Beer Passports, it became apparent – that we were strangers in a land of regulars. The funny thing was, we didn’t feel like strangers. The warm welcoming from the TapTenders, the familiar banter of the bearded guys sitting next to us, the comfort in the three who were working on their laptops, all made us want to stay, for a long time.
As I listened I learned that Eastlake is going to miss out on wet hops this year – an unfortunate mishap with a truck – but instead of calling it quits from an unfortunate occurrence, they are making due with a new strain of hops they have never worked with before. Risky in a space with over a hundred breweries, maybe some would say; however, watching a regular try this new brew for the first time confirmed that these guys know what they are doing. Smiles, compliments and a serious lean in were what came from the regular’s first sip – and hell if he approves what else matters?
The décor is cluttered in a small place to begin with. Something that would typically be a turn-off for me. However, the décor, as it turns out is much more than that – it’s the hat guy trying to make a living selling branded stocking caps, and the beer soap (I’ve seen somewhere before) the wax for beards and a plethora of other items, items that reminded me that there are many trying to make a ripple in the great beer adventure. So to that I have to raise my glass and salute. Eastlake is a place of friends, a place of chances, a place where anyone can make it and a place, above all, of great friendly beer!
Cheers to the next adventure in beer!