As undergrads at Ohio University, Luke Brevoort and Vaughn Stewart often philosophized about The Third Place, that alluring zone distinct from the home and workplace where people can express themselves freely. If they teamed up to create such a place, what might it look like? When they met their wives in Cleveland, the duo knew at once their Third Place would pay homage to the city. Thus, they opened Bookhouse, their living love letter to the 2-1-6, in September 2018.
The location they chose was once the domain of German immigrant Magdalena Baehr. Known as Cleveland’s “widow brewer,” Baehr ran the brewery, from 1873 to 1898, after her husband’s death. According to Luke, the Bookhouse team took inspiration from the “precious little that was left” of the brewery’s original life. Tin salvaged from the basement became the ornate ceiling of part of the taproom. The tables crafted of red and white pine so fragrant, Vaughn says, the carpenter could identify them by smell. They are made from the bar’s original floor joists. Bookhouse’s flagship beer, the crisp, bitterly refreshing Magdalena Pilsener, is named in Mrs. Baehr’s honor.
The past remains alive through books as well, of course, and Bookhouse is a bibliophile’s utopia. Luke deepened his appreciation for literature as an employee of Half Price Books, deciding his ideal brewery would be a shrine to the written word. Bookhouse therefore doubles as a free library, inviting patrons to bring tomes to swap with the myriad texts housed in the taproom’s nooks and crannies. The collection is eclectic. Luke says they have a complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica, as well as a staggering amount of sailing manuals. While the free library operates daily, there’s also a dedicated book swap on the first Tuesday of every month.
Luke and Vaughn are keen on modern-day collaboration as much as on historic preservation, procuring malt from Haus Malts in Cleveland, and West Branch Malts in Brunswick, and hops from Barn Talk Hops in Wadsworth. They also serve hot buttery pasties from Larder Delicatessen and Bakery, and every Sunday they host Waffle Bar, a pop-up waffle stand headed by former X-Games snowboarder George Gazdick. The pasties (savory turnovers) and waffles pair well with what Vaughn calls Bookhouse’s “sneaky interesting beers.” Stop in for a pastie accompanied by the aforementioned pilsener, or a waffle and (when it’s ready and finished with the aging process) a chocolate coconut stout aged to perfection in tequila barrels to toast to their one-year anniversary.
Bookhouse Brewing is open Tuesdays through Thursdays, 4pm– 10pm, Fridays, 3pm–midnight, Saturdays, noon to midnight, and Sundays, noon–8pm. Bookhouse is located at 1526 W. 25th Street in Cleveland. For more information, visit Bookhouse.Beer.