When John Najeway was approached by a friend to go work at the newly opened Thirsty Dog brewpub in Canton, Ohio in 1997, he scarcely could have imagined how far his decision would take him. Thirsty Dog celebrates seventeen years in business this February, and in that time have gone through two brewpubs in Centerville and Akron then began production brewing in 2003. In 2007 Thirsty Dog was proud to open their own production facility on Grant Street in the heart of Akron, Ohio. Their location is in the old Burkhardt Brewing Co. building, which has its roots back to the 1800’s.
Thirsty Dog has been doing so well since 2007, they’ve needed to expand to accommodate five new 90-gallon tanks added last spring. The added production capacity brings Thirsty Dog’s total capacity to 25,000 barrels of brew a year, which they distribute in 14 states, and most recently became available in New York City. This added production capacity has also allowed Najeway and Thirsty Dog to roll out new lines that have excited their fans.
One such line of recipes are their sour recipe program which began in 2011. The brewmasters have been perfecting their sour recipes at their tasting room in the brewery, and are getting ready for their first sour release. Cerasus Dog Flanders Style Red Ale is set to release in 6-packs of bottles this April. The expanded production capacity also allows Thirsty Dog to roll out more of their wildly popular 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale which has become a winter favorite of Ohioans everywhere. Also, Thirsty Dog has been able to devote an entire room in their facility to barrel aging in both wine barrels and wine barrels.
Thirsty Dog has been able to grow an impressive rate, but points to the success craft brewing has had in Ohio in the recent past. And John Najeway has more to do with it than simply producing great beer at Thirsty Dog. Najeway also co-founded the Ohio Craft Brewer Association, a group of Ohio brewers looking to raise awareness for locally produced beer. Najeway and the Brewer Association also began a tradition ten years ago called Blues and Brews, the largest craft brewing festival in Ohio, which celebrates the great music and beers from around the Akron area and to raise money to give back to the community which shows them so much support. Since the association was founded in 2007, the number of craft brewers in Ohio has jumped from 24 to an amazing 105. Najeway’s work at both Thirsty Dog and the Ohio Craft Brewer Association has helped the buckeye state achieve status among the nations best states for craft beer.
While Najeway has been busy growing Ohio brewing as a whole and expanding the capacity of Thirsty Dog, he hasn’t lost sight of how he got to this point. Thirsty Dog Brewing is known for great beers with clever canine names, such as Barkotoberfest, Labrador Lager, and Whippet Wheat. If you can’t decide what to start with try the Kennel Collection, Thirsty Dog’s variety pack with seasonal offerings. Thirsty Dog’s two original recipes, Old Leghumper and Siberian Night remain in production and among Thirsty Dog’s best sellers. Thirsty Dog currently offers 16 varieties available in bottles with 10 additional varieties available in draft only.
Thirsty Dog has also brought back a piece of their history to celebrate how far they’ve come in the past years by hanging their original sign from the Canton brewpub above the Akron production facility. It seems fitting bring back a piece of their history as they get set to take a major step forward after years of expansion. So remember, while dog might be man’s best friend, a thirsty man’s friend is a Thirsty Dog beer.
A robust porter, dark brown in color and full-bodied with a malty sweet taste. Deep roasted, yet silky-smooth! Two types of roasted malts, including deep-roasted chocolate malt are used to give this porter a rich, chocolatey taste. Available year round.
World Beer Cup – Gold Medal in 2002, Bronze Medal in 2000
ABV – 6.7%
Siberian Night Imperial Stout
Imperial Stouts are by their nature very, very dark and rich, and Siberian Night is no exception. With a deep-roasted, satisfying flavor generated from massive amounts of roasted, toasted and caramel malts. It’s creamy and full-bodied character is perfect for those that demand a rich and flavorful stout. Also available in Bourbon Barrel Aged version, which is aged for 11 months which perfectly blends the chocolate flavors of the malts with the vanilla flavors from the barrel. Original available year round and Barrel Aged variety available November through February.
Great American Beer Festival – Gold Medal in 2005, Bronze Medal in 2003 and 2006
ABV – 9.7%
Twisted Kilt Scottish Export Ale
This Scottish Ale gets its unique flavor and aroma through a special, time consuming, extra long and vigorous boil. The wonderful caramelized flavors produced blend perfectly with the balanced flavors of roasted barley and complementing hops. Raise a glass of this very drinkable beer to ANY occasion! Available year round.
ABV – 5.3%
Rail Dog Smoked Black Lager
This lager has the most complex grain bill of any in Thirsty Dog’s lineup. They roast grains in their ovens and add their own proprietary apple-smoked grain for even more complexity. The final result is a smooth, easy drinking, lightly smoked, delicious brew. Available year round.
ABV – 6.7%
Labrador Lager Dortmunder
Quintessential as the breed its named after, this recipe is true to style down to the European hops and yeast. This brew loyally follows the German brewing traditions of lagering or aging. When you unleash the flavor of this light golden colored, perfectly balanced beer, you too will become a loyola friend of Thristy Dog Brewing Company. Available year round.
ABV – 6%
Citra Dog American IPA
An American IPA bursting with citrus aromas and flavors. You’ll find evidence of tangerine, grapefruit, orange and mango in the aroma from the multiple additions of a single hop variety, Citra. There is also a nice malt balance in this bitter, full bodied, delicious IPA that is a citrus lovers delight. Available year round.
ABV – 6.5%
Hoppus Maximus American-Style Amber Ale
The complex character of American hops and amber colored caramel malts make this beer very crisp and refreshing that simply will not disappoint! Available year round.
Great American Beer Festival – Silver Medal in 2001, Bronze Medal in 2003 and 2005
World Beer Cup – Silver Medal in 2004
ABV – 5.9%
Irish Setter Red Irish Style Red Ale
A medium body with freshly ground caramel malt flavor and little to no bitterness. The combination of American caramel malt and the finest Kent Goldings hops from England add an inviting, nutty toasted malt aroma. Available January through March.
ABV – 5.9%
Whippet Wheat Hefeweizen
Simply the most popular beer style in Bavaria, hefe(yeast) and weizen(wheat) is an unfiltered yeasty wheat beer. That’s the only simple thing about this great brew. This Hefeweizen combines 50% wheat malts with only the purest German yeasts. The trademark yeast-cloudiness produced holds all the aromas of clove, vanilla, and banana that make Whippet Wheat a truly unique and flavorful beer. Available May through September.
ABV – 5.2%