When it comes to drinking beer, everyone has a few favorites. You know, those go-to brews you simply can’t resist. Whether it is the Pabst Blue Ribbon 12-pack filling your packed fridge door or a bottle of some rare beer you sold your firstborn to have, an admiration lies deep within us all. We asked the local brewers and owners of some of the best breweries Ohio has to offer what makes them tick when it comes to beers, and we got some fascinating answers. We hope you enjoy the read and even find a new love of the brew in the process. MATT CHAPPEL INDIGO IMP BREWERY Cleveland’s Indigo Imp Brewery is a family-owned and -operated microbrewery that handcrafts small batches of real ales produced by way of open fermentation, giving all their beers a very distinct taste. I am always trying some new beer that I come across or that someone has recommended to me. The variety of beer that is available right now is just amazing. If I am thinking about my all-time favorite beer, I have to go back to some classics. It comes down to a tie between Chimay Red Cap and Saison Dupont. I love the depth of flavor and unique character of the candi sugar in Chimay, but I also am a huge fan of the spicy and “farmy” flavors that are in Saison Dupont. Both are true classics and have influenced my own recipes and brewing techniques. BRAD CLARK JACKIE O’s This southeast Ohio brewery has become a bit of a legend these last few years throughout the craft-beer world, thanks to brewmaster Brad Clark and his sensational stouts and sour ales. From the East Coast to the western shores of California, beer enthusiasts from all over are clamoring to get their grubby hands on a bottle from this Athens, Ohio, powerhouse. Rodenbach Grand Cru: Drank this on Sundays at the Map Room in Chicago when I was going to the Siebel Brewing Institute (2007). This was my sour-beer epiphany. It really sparked some serious creativity within. Love the beer in so many ways; watershed moment for me. Goose Island King Henry: This beer is awesome. I haven’t been this infatuated with a beer in a long time. One of the best barrel-aged beers I have had, and takes me to another place when I drink it. So complex, so much body, every sip is better than the last. So freakin’ good. Bittburger: This is my analytical shutdown beer. I don’t pick it apart or overthink it. I just enjoy it, usually four at a time. When I go home and don’t want to think about beer but want to drink one, this is it. Very important beer in my day-to-day life. CHRIS McKIM THE BREW KETTLE Strongsville’s The Brew Kettle is the home of arguably some of the best beers Ohio has to offer. If their excellent beers don’t immediately draw you in, the brewery also houses a brew-on-premise facility for those adventurous enough to brew their own batches. Home-brewers, rejoice. To narrow it down to one beer is impossible. My taste on any given day is really based on weather, time of day, how many beers I am planning on having, if I am looking for a thirst-quencher or a snifter to linger over, not to mention any food or snack pairings that may come into play. I do know that Sierra Nevada is my favorite brewery, not only because they have something to fit almost any occasion but the fact that they have stayed current and relevant, produce consistently superior products and are true to the “craft culture” without a doubt places them at the top of the heap in my mind. SAM McNULTY MARKET GARDEN BREWERY Located in the heart of Cleveland’s Ohio City, Market Garden and its co-owner Sam McNulty have become an important part of the Northeast Ohio craft-beer scene. McNulty, who also runs The Bier Markt, a Belgian beer house, hopes to open a new small-batch brewery called Nano Brew Cleveland in the coming months. For now, beer drinkers can savor the tastes of Market Garden. That’s a tough one. Usually it’s any of the hopped-up “pub exclusives” at Great Lakes. Always best enjoyed on a breezy summer night on their patio. Lately, I’ve also been enjoying Fat Head Brewery’s Headhunter IPA, brewed by hop-genius Matt Cole. I enjoy these beers, like all beers, best when with good friends and family. Savoring the flavor in the midst of conviviality and conversation is always a great way to end the day. JOHN NAJEWAY THIRSTY DOG BREWING CO. Originally begun in 1997 as a brewpub in Canton, Thirsty Dog has become a staple of the local beer scene in Ohio, with a permanent home in Akron. Najeway, who creates a wide array of brews that NEO simply can’t resist, has been a major player in the area’s budding craft-beer scene, thanks to his involvement in events such as Blues & Brews and Winter Warmer. I have two two favorites. One is the style of stouts, from Guinness Dry Irish as a go-to session beer when I want more than one beer at a time with a tremendous amount of flavors and complexity, then moving on to Russian stouts like [Thirsty Dog] Siberian Night or [Great Lakes] Blackout Stout for one beer session, barrel-aged when available. My other favorite is sour beers of Belgium and, most recently popping up from the U.S., I love the flavors presented in the sours and how totally different they are than what you expect when taking the first sip. I spent some time in Belgium, tasting and watching how they age and blend to create this fascinating style, and was so impressed that we started a sour program as soon as I returned, with the first to be released from Thirsty Dog this fall.