Ohio Brewery Launches 'Spacewalker' Beer to Honor State's Astronauts

Ohio Brewing Company's 'Spacewalker' Beer
The label for Great Lakes Brewing Co.'s "Spacewalker American Belgo" limited-edition beer features an astronaut floating above the Earth. (Image credit: Great Lakes Brewing Company)

The oldest microbrewery in Ohio is tapping into the state's connection to space history to offer a "bold yet balanced" tribute to the Buckeye astronauts.

Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC) this week is launching its new Seasonal, "Spacewalker American Belgo," a Belgian-style ale.

"Perhaps one of space's great mysteries is why so many of its explorers hail from Ohio," the Cleveland beer-maker writes on the "Spacewalker" label. "In honor of the 25 courageous astronauts who've called Ohio their terrestrial home, and the nine Ohio men and women who have logged hours walking in space, we present this adventurous brew." [Space Food Photos: What Astronauts Eat In Orbit]

Among the NASA veterans who have hailed from Ohio are John Glenn, the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth; Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the moon; Guy Bluford, the first African-American astronaut; and Kathryn Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space.

There was even an "all-Ohio" space shuttle mission, STS-70 in 1995, with four Ohioans on the crew of five (the fifth was named an honorary state citizen by the governor).

"No other state has recognized and honored its astronauts quite like Ohio," Don Thomas, a Cleveland-born astronaut, wrote in his memoirs about the all-Ohio mission, "Orbit of Discovery," released late last year. "You can almost feel the envy from some of the other states when they jokingly ask, 'What it is about your state that makes people want to flee the Earth?'"

Ohio's astronauts have been featured on posters, trading cards and on the back of the Ohio state quarter released by the U.S. Mint in 2002. Now a beer can be added to that list.

"Our [Spacewalker] American Belgo is a trans-continental journey [that combines] bold American hops, candy-sweet Belgian yeast, and a complex blend of malts to boldly go where few beers have gone before," GLBC described.

The brewery held a draft-only, pre-release party for the ale on Friday (June 27), during which the pub also introduced "space pong" — a planetary-take on the classic "beer pong" game — in its tasting room. The limited-edition brew "lifts off" on tap beginning Wednesday morning (July 2).

Bottles of "Spacewalker," which feature a label showing a spacesuited astronaut floating above the Earth, go on sale Thursday (July 3) in GLBC's gift shop. The bottled ale will then be distributed through the brewer's regular markets beginning on Monday (July 7).

"Spacewalker" is not the first microbrew to pay homage to the U.S. space program. Last October, Delaware-based Dogfish Head introduced a beer brewed with real, crushed moon rock (from a lunar meteorite). And in February 2012, the oldest craft brewery in Texas, Saint Arnold, released "Endeavour," after the shuttle of the same title (the name was originally suggested by an astronaut).

In the mid-1990s, the now-former Big Bang Brewery of St. Paul, Minnesota, "space-crafted" Apollo, "the beer that fell to Earth." The lager, which was sold in cobalt blue bottles, was said to embody the same spirit that drew mankind to the moon.

The Great Lakes Brewing Company, established in 1988, is also experienced in flight-themed brews. In addition to "Spacewalker," the brewery has also offered the Seasonal "The Wright Pils," named to honor the Wright brothers, the native Ohioans who invented the first successful airplane.

Click through to collectSPACE.com to see a poster of all 25 Ohio astronauts.

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Robert Z. Pearlman
collectSPACE.com Editor, Space.com Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.