by Sandy Maxwell
A mischievous rabbit with lightning in its ears. A logo that appears to be flipping you off. The insinuation that #mcbcisacult. I couldn’t ignore the emergence of Magic City Brewing Company once these themes started appearing on the local beer scene. To say this aesthetic appeals to me is an understatement.
In 2019, they moved from the original Barberton location to Akron. After visiting them at 2727 Manchester Rd., I’m now displeased with myself for not investigating sooner.
Historically, the word “cult” has negative connotations, alluding to small groups of people with secretive or sinister religious practices. Now, the term “cult favorite” refers to a product or phenomenon that causes unequivocal fanaticism. My belief is that MCBC exists somewhere between these definitions. Not to say there is anything negative or sinister about this brewery, but there is a distinct feeling that a covert operation is going on, and I’d prefer to be among those in the know.
At 4 pm on a Wednesday afternoon, I was welcomed inside by the strains of Tool’s “Lateralus” playing over the speakers. The soundtrack continued with Gojra, Mastodon and Alice In Chains, which meant this metal fan was definitely settling in to stay awhile. The after-work crowd started piling in right around 5 o’clock, but there was more than enough space in the beer hall for everyone. Large cafeteria style tables and a self-serve water tap with a Miller Lite tap handle contributed to a comfortable and playful mood.
I briefly contemplated calling this the “Sandy Sips Stouts and Sours’’ edition, as I feel that’s what they do best. Or maybe it’s the fact that the taplist felt heavy on these styles. Your Vanity is Showing is a delicious berry smoothie of a beer, potent, creamy and tart but not overly sour. Mockingbird is a mouthwatering herbal gose with the coriander spice providing a nice contrast to the fruit presence. Everblack is a boozy 10% ABV stout that really packs in the vanilla, reminding me of a white russian cocktail minus the cream. (I hear they made a salted caramel version, which — much like the white rabbit — catch it if you can!) The pastry stout Dark Empress was reminiscent of chewing a dense chocolate donut for breakfast and washing it down with good coffee.
However, I was most impressed by the hazy Imperial IPA Prison Mike. While they definitely hooked me with the The Office reference, the hop profile in this beer reminded me of a childhood favorite dessert. The taste is a mandarin/marshmallow/coconut explosion of ambrosia, all at once sweet, nutty and vegetal. What an absolutely fantastic brew.
Cult Kitchen operates inside Magic City, and their menu is fun and eclectic. Fried cauliflower was crispy and complimented well by a kicky peach BBQ sauce. Bar staples like loaded fries are revitalized with the addition of carnitas and a ton of fresh cilantro. My tastebuds were in overdrive and I was in heaven.
After a flight, a pint and some thrilling bites, I had to take a spin on the Iron Maiden pinball machine to truly complete my experience. Everything about Magic City Brewing is unconventional, from the beer to the atmosphere. Looks like they’ve acquired yet another fan(atic).
Magic City Brewing Company
2727 Manchester Rd., Akron
Wednesday-Friday 4 pm-midnight
Saturday 12 pm-midnight
Sunday 12-8 pm
Sandy Maxwell is the bar manager at Pavona’s Pizza in Northwest Akron. She loves beer, whiskey, kayaking and pretentiously complicated progressive metal.
Photo: Sandy Maxwell