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Off the Grid

My GPS is confused. I’m a couple of miles east of the one-stoplight village that is Marengo, Ohio and Siri is in obstinate mode, insisting that I turn left down an uninhabited gravel path of which she doesn’t know the name. I briefly imagine running out of gas and the Texas Chainsaw scenario that could [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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My GPS is confused.

I’m a couple of miles east of the one-stoplight village that is Marengo, Ohio and Siri is in obstinate mode, insisting that I turn left down an uninhabited gravel path of which she doesn’t know the name. I briefly imagine running out of gas and the Texas Chainsaw scenario that could follow, but instead decide to hike up the hill in thirst/search of the current holy grail of Columbus breweries, Hoof Hearted.

Trevor Williams, along with brothers Jarrod and Ryan Bichon, all have reputable day jobs, but this lifelong trio of friends slave over their “dank and dark” beers on marathon weekends in an unassuming barn turned mad-lab. It’s a wholly bucolic setting, with pigs and cows on hand to dispose of spent grain, small tracts of land dedicated to growing hops, and an absolute freedom that allows them to blare Van Halen while developing their obscure libations in handmade tanks unfettered. When I arrive, they’ve just finished a batch of their newest creation, Belloq – a mild English ale with a “massive coffee rogering” promising the consummate beer nerd a “competitively intellectual flavor that makes you feel smarter than you look.”

“It’s craft beer as prolonged adolescence.”
If you haven’t gathered by now – just say the name “Hoof Hearted” quickly to yourself a few more times – irreverence is at the heart of the trio’s mission. The peculiar names they give their brews – Musk of the Minotaur, South of Eleven, Wangbar – could double as high-school metal bands borne of stoner basement jams. The art that accompanies them (the vibrant work of Columbus ex-pat Thom Lessner) only adds to the cartoonish and juvenile “break from normalcy” that has quickly earned them a reputation since debuting on discriminate taps in 2012. They’ve even collaborated with local psych-rock band EYE on a black IPA called Cultrider. Farther out, Williams informs me of a Mexican-styled beer inspired by David Lee Roth’s Spanish version of Eat ‘Em and Smile and another devoted to Ohio legends Guided By Voices. It’s craft beer as prolonged adolescence.

“Not just in the beginning, but even today we do have a problem with people not taking us seriously,” says Williams about the name and the Hoof Hearted aesthetic. “But this is a passion project and the beer is probably the only thing we do take seriously.”

Among the crowded local craft beer renaissance, there’s become a fervent following for their more diabolical selections that tend to go one step beyond. Though most breweries are content with a double IPA, the Dragonsaddle goes for a triple, with tropical notes and pungent “herbal” aromatics abound courtesy of Hoof Hearted’s “no expense spared” philosophy in acquiring exotic hops. It’s a pint that has even the most experienced drinkers questioning their tolerance and sanity. Equally brutal, the Permafrost, their flagship porter, rides the darker side of the spectrum, boasting a 6.66 percent ABV and a huge chocolate indulgence.

“Instead of trying to make everything under the sun, we focus only on what it is we do,” Jarrod says about the unrelenting proliferation of upstart Columbus breweries and Hoof Hearted’s penchant to keep it simple. “Some people like a raspberry wheat, but that’s not what we drink. Some might like lemonade in their beer, but it’s not really what we are about.”

That defiance towards trends hasn’t stunted growth for Hoof Hearted and like many smaller artisanal brewers, they’ll need to consider expansion in the near future since demand has now far outweighed production. Though the guys have their eye on a facility not far from the Lion’s Den off the deserted Marengo exit, they seem to prefer to go with the flow. For now, they are able to control brewing variables from afar via an iPhone app and though sessions this past winter were grueling trips, they appear to thrive in their over the road setting.

“We are one half complete hillbilly and one half high-tech,” concludes Bichon.
“Somehow it all averages out.” •

For more information on where to find Hoof Hearted, visit www.hoofheartedbrewing.com.

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Food & Drink

Restaurant Week Sneak Peek: Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

Regina Fox

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In less than 10 years at its natural sunlight-soaked digs on N 4th Street, Wolf's Ridge Brewing has managed to become a place revered not only for brewing some of the best beers the city has to offer, but also for serving some of the best food.

What better time to experience them both than Restaurant Week January 20-25?

We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of Wolf's Ridge three-course menu before it was released to the public, and we think you're really going to like it.

First Course: Choice of baked brie, endive salad, or bread and butter

The endive salad offered depths with every bite: the brightness of the shaved pear, the fresh earthiness of the endive, the texture of the fennel, the crunch of the walnuts. But the star of this dish was certainly the pool of tangy, creamy blue cheese dressing hiding below the colorful mixture.

Second Course: Choice of salmon, grilled cauliflower, or pork tenderloin

Without a shadow of a doubt, I believe each one of the entrees offered during Restaurant week are slam dunks, but to me, the choice was obvious: pork tenderloin.

The three plump and pink cuts of pork were so tender, they could be easily cut with just a butter knife. The succulence of the meat played well with the sweet, nutty sunchoke puree, and rich smoked hazelnut butter. Like the french origin suggests, the demi-glace soaked into the tenderloin truly was the "icing" on top.

Third Course: Choice of cheesecake or fudge bar

If at the end of your meal you're feeling bright, light, and flirty, the cheesecake is for you. The toasted coconuts coating the mousse-like rum cheesecake, icy pineapple sorbet and orange marmalade will send your palate on an all-inclusive trip to the seaside.

Feeling a little more dense or moody? The punch of the espresso ice cream, thick chocolate bar, and sticky caramel crémeux will have you closing your eyes, and "mmm"ing through every bite.

At $40, the Wolf's Ridge Restaurant deal is quite possibly the best time to experience the creative, elevated menu. But, you and the other 900,000 residents of Columbus already know that, right? So, don't wait to make your reservation!

To learn more about Restaurant Week January 20-25, visit eat614.com.

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Food & Drink

Restaurant Week Sneak Peek: Pig out on amazing deal from Hoggy’s

Mike Thomas

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Longtime fans of barbecue in Central Ohio will remember Hoggy's, the family-owned local barbecue chain which originally opened in 1991. Recent history saw Hoggy's step away from the restaurant game in favor of a thriving catering business. With a newly-renovated store on Bethel road, this OG Columbus BBQ joint is getting back in the retail mix.

Scroll down for an exclusive giveaway

We recently stopped by Hoggy's to preview all the delicious goodness they've cooked up for Restaurant Week. With a deal this sweet, it's time you got reacquainted with this awesome, homegrown barbecue spot!

Restaurant Week Deal: Choose three meats, two sides, and your choice of cobbler or banana pudding, all for $15.

You read that right: THREE meats. While Hoggy's brisket, pulled pork, or pulled chicken are all solid choices, be sure that one of your trifecta of picks is the baby back ribs. These are truly some of the best ribs we've tried in town.

Bonus sleeper pick: we found Hoggy's wings to be exceptionally crispy and flavorful, serving as the perfect delivery method for their great BBQ sauces.

When it comes to sides, you really can't go wrong at Hoggy's. From the potato salad to the "cowboy style" baked beans, each side has the same home cooked flavor that you'd hope to find at a family cookout.

As long as you're treating yourself, don't be afraid to go double-starch in the sides department. The mac and cheese (with both penne and elbow macaroni) is a can't-miss, but then who in their right mind can can pass on cheesy potatoes?

If you have any room left for dessert, either of the available options will be sure to send you over the edge into a food coma. Hoggy's satisfying cobbler is served oven-hot, just like grandma used to make. Likewise, the decadent banana pudding is everything it should be and more, with a fluffy, creamy texture that is unlike anything we've seen elsewhere.

When it comes to Restaurant Week, Hoggy's isn't playing around. For $15, this is one of the best bang-for-the-buck deals on the entire RW lineup. Don't sleep—there will be time for that after you've stuffed yourself with sides, dessert, and all the delicious smoked meats you can handle!

To learn more about Restaurant Week January 20-25, visit eat614.com.

Comment your favorite BBQ side dish to be entered to win dinner for two at Hoggy's!

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Food & Drink

New plant-based diner takes root in Downtown

614now Staff

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From the people who brought us Eden burger comes a new plant-based diner sure to satisfy your hunger.

4th & State is a vegan cafe and diner located in the heart of downtown Columbus under the leadership of Chad Goodwin.

Click here to read more about Eden Burger

Featuring fare aimed at both breakfast and lunch, hours will soon be expanded to cover dinner service to coincide with the launch of the restaurant's beer and wine program.

Below are pictures of a few of the most popular breakfast items thus far:

4th & State is located at 152 E State St. and is open Monday through Friday from 7am- 3pm, and Saturday through Sunday from 9am- 4pm. To learn more, check out their Instagram.

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