Cleveland beer pairing event connects hops and heroes

By Douglas J. Guth

Beer is meant to be versatile as it is diverse, providing complementary experiences when enjoyed with a variety of foods. Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop recently teamed with Great Lakes Brewing Company for another kind of crossover, one that paired six different GLBC craft beers with a like number of comic books.

Tasting Room

The hops-and-heroes hook-up was hosted by GLBC in its tasting room on Cleveland’s near west side. About 80 comics-and-beer enthusiasts were in attendance as CNJ owner John Dudas and pub brewer Joel Warger presented hand-picked beers and books connected by theme, flavor and personality.

Tasting Room 2

Guests at the Oct. 22 shindig received  swag including a six pack of the selected brews along with their associated comics. Classing up the proceedings was Brad Ricca, a professor at Case Western Reserve University and author of Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster—the Creators of Superman.

Coinciding with Cleveland Beer Week, the affair was the first of its kind in Cleveland. With both industries carrying such knowledgeable fanbases, linking the two was easier call than Commissioner Gordon picking up the Batphone.

Brad Ricca

“People into craft beer and comics know what they like and want to share what they like with others,” says Dudas.

Among the pairings was Captain America #1 with Great Lakes Eliot Ness Amber Lager. Outside of the irony of a smooth, citrusy beer named after a tough-as-adamantium anti-booze cop, the connection between Ness and the do-right Sentinel of Liberty lies within their shared core values of morality and patriotic heroism, Dudas says.

The spooky season, meanwhile, was the reason for the coupling of Great Lakes Nosferatu Imperial Red Ale and the opening issue of Batman: The Long Halloween. A blood-colored brew to drink while paging through a noirish Dark Knight murder-mystery? All that’s missing is a stormy night to complete the frightening picture.

“It’s a classic book that links with a seasonal beer,” says brewmeister Warger.

Kate and Jonathan Beveridge

The easiest pairing of the night went to Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold Lager and All-Star Superman #1. Both Cleveland born and bred, the Man of Steel and GLBC’s flagship craft beer are also celebrating milestone anniversaries -75 for Supes and 25 for Dortmunder.

“Putting them together was a no-brainer,” Dudas says.

After a few drinks

The Cleveland booze-and-comics event was not without precedent, adds the shop owner. A similar venture took place this summer when a Chicago-area brewery designed a beer especially for The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2). Dudas and Warger harnessed the idea with support of GLBC manager and comics’ fan Jefferson West.

The cheerful show of hands from the audience when asked if they came for both the comics and the beer showed Dudas just how well the industries fit together.

“Lots of work going goes into crafting a particular beer, just like it does with a good comic book,” he says.

Though the relationship between comics and beer is not readily apparent – likely due to the perception that comic books are for kids – CNJ patron Mike Milanich believes putting the two together can be an extension of how tastes and palettes refine as discerning beer and/or comics’ fans grow up.

John Dudas, Brad Ricaa, Joel Warger and Jefferson West

“If you want to get to the most basic connection, there is nothing more refreshing than a cold beer after saving the world,” says Milanich. “My favorite comics have heroes who I think would celebrate that way.”

GLBC’s Warger is proud to endorse a colorful collaboration between two industries with similar goals. “Most people who love (making) comics and beer are not going to see huge profits,” he says. “You’ve got to love the craft. It’s exciting to do something you’re passionate about.”


To see all of the photos from the event go to our Facebook gallery HERE