Saturday, Jul 21, 2018
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The Order holds court at Black Cloister

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    The challenge coin is given to members of the Black Cloister's Order mug club.

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    The mugs provided to members of The Order at Black Cloister.

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    Black Cloister manager Mandy Cufr displays the cup used by Order mug club members.

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On Saturday afternoon, at the corner of Erie and Monroe streets in downtown Toledo, the light was on inside the 3-liter goblet sitting on a shelf inside Black Cloister Brewing Co.

The light signified that members of the Order were in the building. Two of the members were husband and wife Don and Ann Maze of Walbridge, who were holding court at the end of the bar — at least Ann was. “I’m the outgoing one,” Ann said as her husband of 35 years nodded in agreement.

The Order is the Black Cloister’s mug club, although mug is a misnomer. Members drink out of a stemmed glass.

“You can look down the bar, and if you see that glass, you know they are in the club,” Black Cloister manager Mandy Cufr said. “The club members have their own Facebook group and merchandise. I was in Denver last year, and someone recognized a shirt I was wearing.”

Besides merchandise and the glass, another feature of the club is the challenge coin — individually lasered with the member’s number. The coin is hung by a tag on a hook under the brewery’s large goblet, but it must be carried at all times. If a member is approached by another member at any bar and asked to produce the coin, he or she better do it, or he or she is required to buy a beer for the member who challenged them. If the Order member leaves the coin at the Cloister, the ransom is ice cream for the staff.

Now entering its third year, there have been about 250 members in each of the first two years. For Don and Ann Maze, the distinctive glass is a conversation starter and a good way to meet people.

“One of the things we like about the Cloister is that when we are here, we can talk to people. There are no distractions like a TV. We can come in, hang out, have a beer, eat a pizza, and meet interesting people,” Don said.

Mug clubs are an effective way for breweries to build loyalty among customers. 4kd Crick Brewery in Defiance has another successful club. The brewery has 206 lifetime members and 26 yearly members.

Each member gets a 20-ounce mug made by a local potter, so each mug is unique in color and style. Crick club members get discounts on merchandise and food. The mugs are hung from the ceiling above the bar.

More information on the Black Cloister’s Order mug club can be found at and

Anniversary celebration

The Great Black Swamp Brewing Co. will host a second anniversary party Sept. 30 at its Perrysburg taproom.

The party begins at noon and continues until 2 a.m. The first 40 guests will receive door prizes. There will be pint glass, T-shirt, gift certificate, growler, and bomber giveaways. There will also be a new beer tapped.

Johnny MF Ramos will perform from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

New brewery coming

If all goes well with the permitting process, the Patron Saints Brewery should open on West Bancroft Street by November.

Homebrewing buddies Aaron Grizaniuk and Eric Pfohl are planning a taproom with 12 of their own taps. Each of their beers will be named after a saint.

“Eric and I each live in West Toledo and we were sitting around drinking beer and homebrewing and saying that we wished there was a brewery nearby, so ...,” Grizaniuk said.

County and city site plans have been approved, but the brewery is awaiting final state and federal approval. went live this week. The site will include a crowdfunding effort, with a goal of $10,000.

Expansion completed

Chris Harris’ Black Frog Brewery in Holland was closed on Saturday for the installation of a new 2.5 barrel system. Black Frog will soon begin canning and distributing.

It has been just about a year since Harris opened his taproom at South McCord. Harris started homebrewing with a Mr. Beer kit and about three years ago began professionally brewing in the garage of his Holland home. It has been impressive growth for the Scott High School graduate.

Contact Brian Dugger at or on Twitter @DuggerCountry.

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