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Out There: Ambitious new brewery opens taps south of Columbus

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As one drives south down US-33 from Columbus, the city skyline fades into the background, and signs of

inhabitance are temporarily reduced to the occasional gas station or car dealership. Because of this, it’s easy enough to drive right past Outerbelt Brewing, the newest production brewery in Central Ohio.

But there’s something fitting about this, as the brand-new Outerbelt Brewing is attractive not for ashy packaging or catchy gimmicks, but its quintessentially Midwestern approach to service: make the beer that people want to drink, do it well, and try to enjoy things along the way. In fact, it seems the company has embraced this regional watermark head-on.

“It’s a very Ohio or Midwestern term, to say “outerbelt,” or “beltway.” I think it’s probably because each of the three major cities in Ohio have an outerbelt. Columbus is the most clear because it’s not cramped by a lake or a river; it’s I-270.” said head brewer and co-owner Dan Griffin. “So yeah, our name is kind of a nod to that. It’s also a nod to the other owners [David Landis III and Robert Landis] who ran a trucking company. The road theme, the logo, the name, it was all an acknowledgement of those guys; without them we couldn’t be here.”

It was several years ago that the Landis brothers, alongside Griffin and a handful of other co-owners, purchased the 25,000 square-foot industrial space at 3560 Dolson Ct. in Carroll, Ohio. The building, which is a stone’s throw away from US-33, previously housed a Lowe’s location and several other businesses before its conversion. Currently, Outerbelt boasts a 5,000 square foot taproom, an adjoining 4,000 square foot brewing space, and a 1,000 square foot patio.

The décor, like the company’s Ohioan charm, is tasteful, streamlined-cool, and understated: the roomy warehouse housing Outerbelt’s taproom features enough modern touches to appear welcoming and fun. Its pleasant aesthetic is perfectly explained by one of the t-shirts offered for sale at the small merch table in their taproom. The shirt, with small white font on a polyblend gray background, features only a single, narrow, vertically-oriented tire with the brewery’s name perched just above it. Nothing more, because there doesn’t have to be.

All of Outerbelt’s beer production is headed by Griffin, a native of Reynoldsburg, who after receiving a master’s of science in brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, worked at Long Trail Brewing Company in Vermont before returning to the Columbus area to work for Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant.

Currently, the new brewery is offering 10 house-made brews on tap (with 16 in-house draft lines, this is likely to be expanded in the near future), meaning there’s something for everyone.

And while it’s too early to tell what will sell best or become a taproom favorite, Griffin has already christened their American IPA, named Outerbelt, as the brewery’s flagship offering. Packed with Centennial, Columbus, Crystal, and Mosaic hops, the crisp, dry ale comes in at a solid 7% ABV. If the hoppy bite of a west coast IPA sounds like too much, you may want to look toward one of their New- England style IPAs, such as Gravel Donuts (7%), or Olaf (a double at 8.6%).

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Outerbelt’s tap list features a little bit of everything. On tap now is an Irish Stout known as Clover Leaf and a Hefeweizen called Kings to You. For lighter, warm weather options with a less boozy punch, the brewery is also offering its Summer Ale at 5.3% ABV; Golf Cart, a golden ale at 5% ABV, and Two Day Shipping, a Berliner Weisse, at 3.8% ABV.

Keep an eye out for beers from the company’s barrel program throughout the year as well. Beginning with a modest handful of whiskey and maple-syrup bourbon barrels, assistant brewer Dom Kirchgessner, who specializes in barrel work, will be given the reigns to create everything from massive wood-aged stouts, to delicate, oaky sours.

“We’re hoping to fill [a portion of our brewery space] with barrels for Dom to play with, and then see what we can come up with.” said Griffin. Lucky for Columbus beer drinkers, one of Kirchgessner’s first specialty offerings, put on wood earlier this year, is currently on tap. Clocking in at a whopping 11.1% ABV, Overo, a full-bodied imperial porter with notes of bourbon and vanilla imparted from the barrel, is available on draft.

While many young breweries focus at first on building only their taproom, Outerbelt already has a plan in place to can and distribute a significant portion of their output in 2019. According to Julia Pikor, Outerbelt’s director of sales, the brewery will put roughly one quarter to one third of its total production into cans.

“We will be canning a fairly large variety of our beers and we currently have labels developed for six of them, with hopes to grow that number as we go,” she said. Initially, the brewery has plans to can three different beers: its Glasstown Pale Lager, Outerbelt IPA, and Gravel Donuts. In the near future, according to Pikor, Clover Leaf, Golf Cart, and the brewery’s session IPA will also see the canning line. All varieties will be packaged in a 4-pack of 16 ounce cans.

The nascent brewery is not wanting in confidence either. Aside from canning and distributing from the jump, Outerbelt is already eyeing growth, and Griffin is hoping their location, which many might first peg as a setback, will actually begin to work in their favor. “You know, Columbus is growing, Canal Winchester’s growing, Lancaster’s growing; all these cities are growing and we’re kind of right between all of them.”

Outerbelt Brewery is now officially open, serving from 3:00-10:00 PM Monday-Thursday, 12:00 PM-11:00 PM Friday and Saturday, plus 12:00 PM-8:00 PM Sunday. Visit outerbeltbrewing.com.

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Restaurant Review: El Lugar and Alpine bring Spanish, German tapas to German Village

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Displayed proudly along the wall behind El Lugar’s bar are rows and rows of canned seafood—not the ingredient of choice one might expect from an upscale tapas and pinchos restaurant, located in a city with a culinary scene that typically fawns over either traditional American, or fresh and local food. Nevertheless, the Espinaler cans of tuna, razor shells, and cockles reside there like a dare for those with adventurous enough appetites to try some of the finest seafood in the world. 

Photos by Julian Foglietti

El Lugar is a shared effort by co-owners Enis and A.J. Ndreu and Elidon Hizmo to bring new and authentic European flavors to Columbus. Their two new restaurants, El Lugar and Alpine, sit next door to one another and provide different, yet complementary experiences of Spanish and German cuisines. One side boasts a more family-friendly selection of meats, cheeses and hearty vegetables, while the other is fresh Mediterranean flavors of citrus and seafood. Both share an intriguing selection of signature cocktails. 

In contrast to El Lugar, Alpine features cuisine that showcases flavors from across Germany. Nicholas Paxton, the executive chef at both restaurants who was tasked with transforming the owners’ vision into menus, is neither German nor originally familiar with German food, so he brought in consultants more familiar with the region to help develop the recipes. “I love the authenticity that we provide here on the Alpine side,” Paxton said. “There’s a broad spectrum of what German food can be.”

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Alpine is continuing the tradition of authentic regional food that has helped characterize German Village, where it and El Lugar are located. The two restaurants replaced Juergen’s Bakery, a community staple that provided Columbus with Bavarian-style fare for 50 years. Co-owner A.J. Ndreu said they’d been looking for a spot in the area to open up another German restaurant (they also own Wurst und Bier in Worthington), so when the opportunity presented itself, they jumped.

“I used to buy all my pastries from Rosemarie [Keidel, Juergen’s Bakery’s owner],” A.J. Ndreu said. 

“We just connected and she’s like, ‘I’d love for you to take over and make a German restaurant out of it.’ ”

With that, he and his cousin launched into bringing to life their concepts for German and tapas restaurants, which they’d been developing for a decade.

One of the most instrumental sources of inspiration for A.J. has been traveling around Europe. He lived in France, where he fell in love with French food. But once he experienced all the different ways Spanish cuisine used seafood, beef and pork, he was convinced otherwise. “I thought French food was the best cuisine in the world until I started going to Spain.”

The simplicity of Spanish food is a challenge for Paxton, who says his tendency when developing a recipe is to mess with its components. Spanish cuisine, in contrast, consists of ingredients that can speak for themselves; all Paxton has to do, he says, is figure out how they work together and wait for inspiration to hit.

Back in 2008, Anthony Bourdain traveled to Catalonia for his show “No Reservations” to explore the same flavors that intrigued Ndreu and Paxton. At a little bar about half an hour outside of Barcelona, Bourdain tried Espinaler’s canned seafood, and asked, “How can any chef do better for you than that?” Ndreu was captivated.

“I was like, ‘What the hell is he talking about? It’s canned,’ ” Ndreu puzzled. “So […] I went, and I was amazed. It’s unbelievable. It’s some of the best seafood I ever ate.”

After that, A.J. spent years trying to find a way to bring Espinaler’s products to Ohio, and he finally uncovered an opportunity in El Lugar. But besides the seafood, El Lugar also features Vermut Lacuesta—not the vermouth used for lining a martini glass, but a wine-like drink to be enjoyed on its own or in a cocktail. It also offers the Spanish serrano and ibérico hams, which can be cured for years. The more expensive of the two, ibérico ham comes from black pigs fed an acorn diet and can take up to five years to reach peak flavor.

Next door, Alpine’s menu describes dishes like leberkäse (a meatloaf) and wurstteller (a selection of sausages). Diners can also order raclette, available by the scrape, over any meal. But not forgetting that it’s still in the United States, Alpine offers a handful of American classics during happy hour. These include mini cheeseburger sliders, tater tots with beer cheese dip, and fried chicken wings, among others. 

Alpine and El Lugar present their guests with foreign foods that encourage diners to explore the culinary diversity of Europe. Portion sizes, particularly at El Lugar, may be a bit smaller, but Paxton hopes Columbus diners will recognize the value in great, unique-tasting food and finding excellence in unexpected places.

“We don’t want you to fill up on it. We want you to taste some amazing flavors that nobody else is doing,” Paxton said.

Alpine and El Lugar are located at 525 S 4th St. in German Village. Find out about Alpine at alpine614.com and El Lugar at ellugar614.com.

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They’ll be nothing to wine about at these 9 local wineries

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Everyone knows that Columbus is a craft beer city, but fortunately for those who never got acclimated to the yeasty drink, there’s wine. We may not have the best climate for grape growing, but these nine wineries around Columbus are breaking down barriers and serving up delicious bottles to vino lovers.

Camelot Cellars Winery | 901 Oak St, Columbus

Camelot Cellars, an award-winning Urban Boutique Winery, handcrafts all their own wines sourcing premier juices from vineyards all over the world. Offerings include retail wines by the bottle, wine tastings, flights, and event spaces.

Via Vecchia Winery | 2050 S High St, Columbus

This family-owned, urban winery is tucked away off a private lane and hosts 7700 square feet of exclusive venue space. With original exposed brick archways, wood ceiling beams and limestone walls, every experience is sure to be unforgettable.

Wyandotte Winery | 4640 Wyandotte Dr, Columbus

Wyandotte Winery is the first and oldest winery in Central Ohio, conveniently located just miles from Easton Town Center. With wines made from Ohio grapes and a beautiful patio to enjoy them on, you’re sure to enjoy your experience at Wyandotte Winery.

Signature Wines | 3816 April Ln, Columbus

Unlike many urban wineries, Signature Wines makes wines predominantly from whole grapes  and juices brought into Columbus from predominately California and Ohio using traditional, small scale winemaking techniques.  Stop into the Winery to enjoy a glass of wine in a comfortable atmosphere.

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Hidden Lakes Winery | 650 Winchester Pike, Canal Winchester

Hidden Lakes offers a delightful selection of house-made, award-winning wines and unique craft beers. Along with beverages, enjoy food from the newly-updated kitchen while taking in the scenic lakeside view.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant | 4230 The Strand, Columbus

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants celebrates moments that matter with chef-crafted food, award-winning wines, and life-long friendships. Outstanding wine, modern fare, Napa-inspiring tasting room: Cooper’s Hawk.

Good Vibes Winery | 2 S State St, Westerville

Good Vibes Winery is an urban winery located in Uptown Westerville, offering guests a wine experience, bistro samplings, and a beautiful environment to be enjoyed by friends and family.

Plum Run Winery | 3946 Broadway, Grove City

Plum Run Winery is a family-owned winery focusing on small batches of quality wines made from locally sourced fruit. A 3-acre vineyard located five miles south of the winery provides many of the grapes for the estate wines. Stop by and enjoy the wine and hospitality!

Powell Village Winery | 50 Liberty St, Powell

As one of the first wine négociants in Ohio, Powell Village Winery sources, blends, and produces small lots of high quality vinifera wines from America’s notable grape-growing regions. From bold & dry to sweet & fruity, they strive to create a diverse range of distinct wines for every taste.

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Tuttle Mall getting a lot sweeter thanks to 2 newcomers

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Malls have changed a lot over the years. Remember Waldenbooks? Was KB Toys your go-to as a kid? Heck, even Sears will soon be nothing more than a memory.

While mall establishments are frequently lost to the sands of time, it’s rare that you see a former retailer return to a mall it’s already vacated once. Well brace yourselves, sweets fans, because a gooey, sugar-frosted favorite is making a comeback at Tuttle Mall.

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Of course we’re talking Cinnabon, which was last in operation at Tuttle some years ago, and is now listed as “coming soon” on the mall’s directory. But wait! As tempting as it will be to fill up on cinnamon rolls after this long absence, you’ll want to save room for this other coming attraction: it seems Duck Donuts is also setting up shop in Tuttle.

Hop on the treadmill and give your dentist a heads-up, mall lovers—sweets are back at Tuttle in a big way!

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