Tricky Tortoise to Open in Former Willoughby Brewing Company Spot

Willoughby Brewing Company, launched in 1998 by T.J. Reagan, helped spur the revitalization of downtown Willoughby while simultaneously making some damn fine craft beer. The award-winning brewpub, set in a 120-year-old railcar repair depot, enjoyed a remarkable run under a handful of owners until January 2020, when the landlord locked out the last owners for nonpayment of rent.

Since then, the hulking property has sat fallow. But as luck would have it, entrepreneur Bobby Ehasz was looking for his next craft beer project. Ehasz, a career military guy, is a partner in Pompatus Brewing, a nano brewery in Bainbridge. While scouting locations for possible expansion, he was pointed in the direction of downtown Willoughby. While the former brewpub was not a good fit for Pompatus, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, he says.

“In `96, `98 when they were building this place out, they had some real vision,” he explains. “Whoever did that was brilliant; they really did a beautiful job getting this place built.”

Already work has begun to convert the former Willoughby Brewing into Tricky Tortoise (4057 Erie St.). It’s a hefty undertaking considering the building’s current state of affairs, but Ehasz is already knee-deep into the venture.

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A Tempest in a Tankard Belgian Beer Café Vignettes: Pelikaan, Antwerp

Antwerp offers some of the best beer cafes in the country for beer travelers willing to venture beyond the well-worn path between Brussels and Bruges. Cosmopolitan yet compact, Antwerp is the kind of place where you don’t have to walk far to find an excuse to take a break from all that sightseeing.

A fine place to do just that is Pelikaan, a corner café on the eastern edge of the Grote Markt and in the shadow of the magnificent Our Lady. You can’t miss it as you make your way from the train station: A neon sign stretched across a black cornice above patterned stained glass windows spells out the name of the café.

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Will Anchor Brewing Workers Really Be Able to Buy the Historic San Francisco Company?

On July 27, the last day of bottling beer at Anchor Brewing’s historic Potrero Hill plant, shop steward and packaging lead Patrick Mochal cried as he and his co-workers signed their names on the final bottle headed into the final case of steam beer. They’d worked the plant to the bone, until the packaging floor ran out of glass, even overturning old boxes to scrounge bits of material to feed into the machine at the end. Once supplies finally ran out, everyone got together and celebrated the finale, toasting to all that went before — and all they hoped for ahead. Mochal says phones were out, archiving the terminus. “These were our last moments together,” Mochal says. “It’s the end — for now.”

Anchor Brewing had announced its closure just over two weeks prior, on July 12. The pioneering company, founded in 1896, invented the California common beer — widely known as steam beer — and has weathered a string of close calls with closure during the past century. The company was dragging financially in 1965 when dryer scion Fritz Maytag bought the business; a similar scenario played out when Maytag sold it in 2010 to beverage company.

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A Beer Judge’s Diary: Oh, Where, Oh, Where Have All The Beer Events Gone?

    How most of our tasters made it to this quaint railroad town with no roads going to it!

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
    Festivals, competitions, tastings… seems beer events are waning.
    Oh, I get the superficial reason. COVID kind of put a kibosh on a lot of this. Clubs that ran competitions have backed off. HEY, IT’S A LOT OF WORK! And getting volunteers is often an issue. I ran a few myself and I would still be running the one I alone invented if not for…
    A. COVID, B. My fellow organizer hadn’t tossed me under the brew bus too late in the game. It didn’t help we kept getting the same winner, like we did at another competition in Nashville: Let’s Get WEIRD!
    But the festivals seem to have waned too. I understand: again COVID and some folks don’t know what the &%$! they’re doing. There were 2 competitions that died. Millie and I were to blame, partially, for killing one. When COVID slammed into the nation like a plane hitting our health instead of the towers we had to back out. People started abandoning the sinking brew ship, making rats seem braver than the band on the Titanic. But with all who died I can’t blame them. It didn’t help the organizer had no idea he had to tell us what style the beer was and other parameters. You can’t just say “IPA.” Brut, NEIPA, Black… we learned to judge the style without such help.
    Another one was right next to big lake with the wind blowing off it. He tried to get 3 of us to judge 40 beers in 2 hours (My comment was, “Unless you want 3 very drunk judges we need a 4th.) …and the festival goers were all around us. To be fair they left us alone, mostly. But not what I would call a great environment to judge beer. It also doesn’t help someone called the cops who hovered around the entrance to the park. I was WAY under everyone else because, well judging beer is not a “get drunk” experience But I had, at the time, maybe you guessed it, out of state plates. luckily (?) some jerk passed me on the wrong side speeding and he was off to at least another ticket. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Oh, Where, Oh, Where Have All The Beer Events Gone?”


Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Baden-Württemberg is a panoply of delightful beer experiences. Just across the Danube from Bavaria, Ulm is one of Germany’s more underrated beer destinations. The university town of Tübingen, where Goethe once studied, makes for an ideal beer stop en route to the Black Forest. Freiburg is home to a hilltop beer garden surrounded by vineyards. And, of course, there’s Stuttgart, home of an autumn beer festival every bit as enjoyable as Oktoberfest.

Over the years I’ve introduced you to numerous beer gardens across Bavaria. Since many of you don’t confine your travels to Bavaria, and since Baden-Württemberg brews beers every bit as good, I thought you might want to hear about some of the shaded beer groves in this region. Here are a few worth putting on your beer travel itinerary.

Close to France and Switzerland, Freiburg is one of those towns that combines the best of beer and wine. With its soaring filigree cathedral steeple and medieval gates standing sentry at different entry points around the city, it’s a beautiful city worth a trip for more than just the beer.

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