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1662 Merriman Rd, Akron
Merriman Road in the valley offers a plethora of small businesses to explore. From bicycles and flowers to food and drink, the stretch of road alongside the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad is filled with unique shops and tempting flavors. Sandwiched between a short row of buildings on one side and a multi-story office complex—home to akronlife—on the other, one of these intriguing places is R. Shea Brewing Co.’s tasting room. Owner Ron Shea opened the brewery in September and runs it himself.
A native Akronite, Shea grew up about a quarter mile away from his brewery. After years of working with a home brewing kit, he decided to dive into the business when the right location opened up. “It had all of the main things, like parking space, [and] it’s a main thoroughfare, so there are cars lined up all day,” Shea says. “It all came together and it was enough space to start big enough to be able to [grow] and take that next step, instead of starting too small.”
With degrees in biology and chemistry, Shea applies his knowledge to crafting a variety of beers that a wide range of people can enjoy. He brews the beers himself and works hard to craft a product that many people will be able to enjoy to the fullest. Shea says that his customers represent a broad spectrum of age groups, from mid-20s to mid-80s. “It’s a nice spread of people,” he says.
One element that helps attract such a wide range according to the brewer is a lower proof. “The way I make beer is that I want to drink a pint and have another pint, and not get hammered,” says Shea. With brews like Rubber City Red (4.5 percent abv.), Uncommon Blonde (5 percent abv.), Chocolate Coffee Stout (6.50 percent abv.) and East Coast Amarillo IPA (6 percent abv.), patrons can enjoy their beverages without forgetting the experience. The lower proof is perfect for what Shea describes as “gulpers.”
“I’m not a ‘sipping beer’ guy, I’m a ‘gulper.’ I like to take good gulps. That’s why I have a lot of wheats, a peach and a blueberry with low alcohol. It’s good for a hot day so that you can just guzzle and you’re fine.”
Sitting at the beautiful wooden bar, visitors can take their pick from a wide array of beers. From the colorful menu to the wooden tap pulls—handmade by Shea himself—the options are bountiful. “People are surprised that there are 12 taps and the variety. I like variety. I’m a seasonal drinker; if it’s hot outside, I’ll drink one thing. If it’s cool, I’ll drink another,” Shea says. Whatever the weather, there are lots of things to try.
In the New Year, Shea hopes to keep patrons in his establishment for not only drinks, but also dinner. “We’ve noticed that people will come in after dinner and they’ll fill the place, but it’s after dinner. So, getting people in before then is the next step.” Food is an absolute must while enjoying a good brew. Over the last few months, R. Shea has been a B.Y.O.F—bring your own food—establishment. “People need food when they drink,” says Shea. Because of its location in the valley, patrons have easy access to pizza, sushi, Mexican and Greek food to pair with their pints.
For more information about this new brewery, visit their website at rsheabrewing.com, or better yet, test out the drinks yourself with a visit. Located at 1662 Merriman Rd., in Akron, R. Shea is currently open Wednesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Email them to Molly Gase at email@example.com.