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.