CLEVELAND — Ohio ranks No. 5 among states in craft beer production.
Currently, at least 73 breweries are planning to open, according to the Ohio Craft Brewers Association.
Homebrewing started as a college hobby for Vaughn Stewart, the owner of Bookhouse Brewing in Cleveland.
“The satisfaction of making something yourself with your hands," he said.
Stewart said he didn’t always know his passion for beer would become his career.
“An interest, a hobby, a pursuit that just grew naturally over time," he said.
In 2018, Stewart opened Bookhouse Brewing. The taproom is located in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.
“Thinking of beer as something that brings people together, something that fosters community and conversation. The idea is to tie together curiosity, learning, instruction. Those kinds of things, as well as, interaction, sociability,” Stewart said. “So, you take 'book' and you take 'house' and those two come together."
Stewart enjoys the science behind craft beer and takes a gravity sample from every beer, every day.
“What you see is as the sugar goes down, the alcohol content goes up," he explained.
The gravity sampling process allows for repeatability and consistency in taste.
“Brewing is really an interesting field because it is a combination of kind of art and science," Stewart said.
His art comes in the form of about 16 craft beers on tap at any given time. Stewart estimates he's created more than 50 beers since opening in 2018.
“Made in these four walls," he said while standing in the brewery.
And there is a lot of history in those four walls. The building was built in 1866 and originally was the Jacob Baehr Brewing Company. After Jacob died, his wife, Magdalena, became known as “Cleveland’s Widow Brewer.”
She carried on the legacy for nearly 30 years.
Since 1901, the space has gone through many phases of new business, vacancy and restoration.
Today, Stewart aims to make his Bookhouse Brewing brand stand out by offering a unique experience.
“I definitely tend to be, I think, something of a book learner," Stewart said.
He keeps his own personal library of books about brewing on a shelf in the taproom.
“I’ve always found it useful to have references to refer to," he said while sifting through a book titled The Practical Brewer.
It’s not a library or a bookstore but books can be found all around the historic building, including some at every table.
“Partially as decoration because I think there’s a kind of aesthetic beauty to publishing and the written word," he said.
Stewart estimates a couple of hundred books are housed in the brewery, but the book exchange aspect is informal and optional.
“You can take a book if you want, you can leave a book. We’re not policing the collection or anything like that," Stewart said.
Stewart is a brewer crafting a cozy spot for book and beer lovers alike all while paying homage to the building’s beginnings.
“We like where we’re at and who our neighbors are,” he said.