Cleveland, Ohio. A city that, throughout time, has developed a number of monikers – The Mistake by the Lake, The Forest City, The North Coast. But it’s Cleveland’s most recent nickname that has perked the ears of beer lovers across the country: The Best Beer City in America, according to Huffington Post’s Amy Plitt. Though the title may be up for debate (here’s looking at you, Denver and Portland), Cleveland has certainly made its presence known in the craft beer world. With Great Lakes Brewing Company, arguably the most renowned brewery in the area, leading the charge with its award-winning lineup, it’s the smaller, up-and-coming breweries that are excelling in buttressing Cleveland’s newfound reputation. With names like Nano, Platform, and Market Garden standing out among locals, it’s Fat Head’s, and their sterling Head Hunter IPA, who continue the city’s surge to craft beer notoriety.
Fat Head’s, with production based in Middleburg Heights, OH, set roots as a brewery in Cleveland in only 2009. The original Fat Head’s Saloon opened in Pittsburgh in 1992, and quickly earned the reputation as one of the area’s best restaurants and tap houses. The restaurant teamed up with acclaimed brewer Matt Cole, formerly of GLBC, to establish production (and another saloon) in Middleburg Heights. With 5,000 barrels brewed in its first 3 years, Fat Head’s saw instant success and expanded to full-scale production in 2012.
Among its long (and growing) list of brews, Fat Head’s Head Hunter IPA stands as its most recognized and most decorated, earning a litany of accolades:
• Silver Award – American-Style IPA – World Beer Cup – 2014, 2012
• Silver Medal – American-Style IPA – Great American Beer Festival – 2010
• Bronze Medal – American-Style IPA – Great American Beer Festival – 2011
• Top 25 Beers in the World – Draft Magazine – 2009
• Grand Champion – National IPA Challenge – 2012, 2010
• Gold Medal – West Coast IPA Fest – 2012, 2009
• Gold Medal – Denver International Beer Fest – 2011
Head Hunter, named for its aggressive hoppiness and burst of flavor, is golden in color, with a light, thin head. On the nose, there’s an immediate citrus aroma, though not overwhelming and more subtle compared to other IPA’s. That citrus flavor continues in the beer’s taste, with a subtle, subdued pineapple flavor coming through, and a pine-y aftertaste emerges on the back end once consumed. Touting its aggressive hoppiness, Head Hunter’s bitterness isn’t overpowering, but is impactful and accents the overall citrus flavor well. The beer stands well on its own, whether you’re hanging out with friends, watching a game on TV, or just relaxing after a long day. I find it best paired with chicken (wings, especially when there’s a game on) or a white fish, but Head Hunter can be enjoyed with a good burger, too.
I would recommend any Fat Head’s brew to anyone looking for something new to try, or just looking for good beer. Whether you’re in the mood for something hoppy, dark, fruity, or spicy, Fat Head’s can accommodate any palate. But it’s Head Hunter that will always be at the top of my list. So, whether you’re out at a bar, or stocking up for home, grab a four-pack and a buddy, and enjoy one of the best crafts that America’s Best Beer City has to offer.