Cocky Little Asian Guy and Small City Taphouse

We visited CLAG, a brewery that I think is one of the best in Ohio.

On our first night in Sandusky, when the owners of Sandusky Wine Merchant found out that Bhavna and I were craft ale fans, they recommended we visit [CLAG Brewing]. There is another brewer within easy walking distance of the hotel, but Alana and Kevin were adamant that CLAG was the one to visit.

CLAG, Sandusky, Ohio
Friday 2 September 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

I met a short Asian man outside the brewery just as we entered the building. I told him that he looked like the owner's photograph on the website. I asked if that was him. He gave a vague answer, and our conversation continued until we got to the taproom, where Emilia, our taproom attendant, confirmed that the man I met at the entrance was indeed the owner.

CLAG, Sandusky, Ohio
CLAG’s owner, Kha Bui · Friday 2 September 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

CLAG, an acronym for Cocky Little Asian Guy, is owned by the same family that owns Small City Taphouse, one of Ohio's premier craft beer bars. The owner, Kha Bui, and his business partners, including his brother An Bui, invested about $1.2 million to start Clag Brewing Co. on Columbus Avenue. Kha’s brother, An, owns The Answer Brewpub in Richmond, Virginia. The Answer Brewpub is a 2018 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalist. The Bui family has a history of creating popular eateries and pubs. The Buis are natives of Vietnam who have lived in the USA since the 1980s.

CLAG, Sandusky, Ohio
Friday 2 September 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

We are used to the small spaces of many micro-craft breweries in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, usually located in former industrial sections of old towns or restored barns on historic farm properties. The size of the space is enormous. The brewery and taproom are in one building, and the restaurant, the Small City Taphouse, is in the adjacent building.

The beer is excellent and is the best beer I’ve had in Ohio, although, to be truthful, I have not had a lot of beer from Ohio’s breweries. I was told that Dong is pronounced just as we would that vulgar word in English. Few brewery owners put their faces or likeness on their beer labels, but Kha is a brewery owner like no other. Kha continues with his tongue-in-cheek nature in the names of his IPAs, among them One Million Dong, Two Million Dong, Three Million Dong, and One Floppy Dong, with a caricature of his face on each label. We also tried his Hoppy No Ending, Juicy Bui and Yellow Moon ales.

CLAG, Sandusky, Ohio
Friday 2 September 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

Kha isn’t the only Bui to grace a CLAG beer label. Kha’s parents have their beers named after them: Mama Bui triple IPA and Papa Bui double IPA. We didn’t try these beers. While both have been available on tap dating back to CLAG’s grand opening, Mama Bui and Papa Bui are now released in cans once a year on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, respectively.

We spent the rest of the night at the bar, hanging out with Kha and some of his friends, staying hours after the taproom had officially closed. Kha told about how he opened the Small City Taphouse and then, inspired by his brother’s success in Richmond, bought the adjacent building, and knocked out a space in the wall between them to connect his brewery and tap room to the restaurant. Kha has plans to renovate the top floors of the building to create a boutique hotel.

Thursday 1 September 2022 · Apple iPhone 11 Pro · iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 4.25mm f/1.8

It was a very late night, and perhaps because the conversations were so enjoyable, I didn’t take any photographs of the restaurant space in the Small City Taphouse. But we returned the next day for an early dinner. The photos I took of the tap room don’t quite show the enormity of the space, nor does it include the hundreds of bottles of spirits that line the wall from top to bottom.

I found the menu at Small City Taphouse overwhelming, full of succulent and authentic Asian cuisine, which features something for just about anyone. I wanted something with intense flavour. Our server suggests the Spicy Lemongrass Sauce with Onion and Pork. It was delicious.

Sandusky Boat Basin

The revitalisation of Sandusky is more apparent in the residential area near the lakefront with condominium units that reminded me of the Jersey Shore.

Our walk through Washington Park complete, we returned to our hotel to freshen up and rest. When it was almost noon, I suggested to Bhavna that we have lunch on the lakefront. We quickly scanned Google Maps and settled on Dockside Cafe, on the western side of Shoreline Drive. We had hoped for a different view of the lake, and the food looked good in the photos on Yelp.

The revitalisation of Sandusky is more apparent in the residential area near the lakefront. The newly constructed apartments and condos don’t match Sandusky’s historic architecture. The ones shown here remind me of the Jersey Shore.

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Dockside Cafe is a "dockside bar" offering traditional pub food such as fish and chips, burgers, hotdogs and french fries, along with an assortment of chilled wines, canned beer, and outdoor seating. We could see Johnson's Island in the distance. We sat and enjoyed the lake view but not for too long. Unfortunately, the area near the "cafe" was attracting a lot of flies. We ate quickly and explored the area around the dock near Chesapeake Lofts.

Chesapeake Lofts is a condominium complex built inside what appears to be an old warehouse. According to their website, the building was initially constructed by Hinde & Dauch Paper Co. in the early 1920s but was occupied by Chesapeake Display before the conversion to housing. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Hinde and Dauch Paper Co. invented corrugated boxes and became the largest producer of corrugated boxes worldwide.

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Bhavna and I had talked about returning to Sandusky in the future, and we were wondering whether some of these condos might be available on Airbnb. Indeed quite a few of them were available1 at this time of the year. We looked at some of the units available. The outside of the building may be nondescript, but the inside offers various condominium layouts. We found large units suitable for a family vacation and smaller one-bedroom units that would suit our needs.

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  1. I have the Airbnb app on my iPhone. 

Grand Army of the Republic, Clock at Washington Park, Washington Park

Bhavna and I explored the Washington Park, Washington Row, and Jackson Street.

After leaving Vita, Bhavna and I explored Washington Park, Washington Row, and Jackson Street. In Washington Park, between the streets of Washington Row and the Grand Army of the Republic, we found the Clock at Washington Park which is a historical landmark. The clock is a working clock. Natural plants and grass make up the numbers and the date. Every day the grass and plants are tended to ensure the date is updated. A lot of work has gone into making this park a great addition to Sandusky's downtown area, making it an even more appealing park.