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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%).

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

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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Food & Drink

Draft Picks: Local craft brews to please the mainstream beer drinker

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It’s football season again, and what better game-time beverage is there than cold, refreshing beer? Maybe you want to support local businesses instead of handing more money to Corporate America, but you know some of your squad will at out refuse to drink your favorite IPAs and ales, and will ask you for a Bud Light.

Or maybe you even want a break from those big flavors and want something drinkable, with a lower ABV, to go with your chips and burgers. What to do? We have some answers.

THE FOUR-LETTER WORD

Much of the mainstream beer drinker's hesitation with, and even aversion to, craft beers lies in one ingredient: hops. Americans have a love a air with hops. Many, if not most, craft breweries center their offerings around the almighty IPA. Hops are citrusy, pungent, flavorful...and bitter.

For those mainstream beer drinkers, “hops” truly is a four-letter word. Sure, hops balance sugars and add crispness and flavor, but flavor is a funny thing.

There’s a lot to be said for individual tastes. One person’s “I can’t drink mass-market beer; I need a beer with flavor” is another person’s “OMG, how can people drink IPAs? I need a beer with flavor.”

KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

Look for low IBUs—and by low, I mean in the teens or even single digits. While an “average” IPA has bitterness in the 40-60 range, and IPAs in the 20s and 30s are fairly mild, anything with an IBU over about 18 had Erin grimacing and sticking her tongue out with a vehement “No. No way.”

Another appeal of mass-market brews is their low ABV and the associated low carbs. Corporate beer is seen to be healthier, by those standards. But most of the craft beers we tested have similar ABV to the mass market beers.

The biggest drawback to these local beers is that you can’t grab and go at the corner gas station or even in most mainstream grocery coolers. Giant Eagle and Kroger carry a few; smaller groceries like Hill’s and Weiland’s carry some; specialty beer and wine shops carry some, but many are only available on draft, by the growler, either in the brewer’s tap room or at a specialty store.

The upside to this is that breweries are happy to tell you where to find their products, and buying by the growler ensures that you’re getting some of the freshest beer available. And, anyhow, you have two or three half-used packages of Solo cups already, right?

THE RUNDOWN

Lagers, pilsners, Oktoberfest, and Kolsch-style beers are going to be your best bets for low-ABV, low-IBU, mainstream- friendly options.

Dayton’s Warped Wing Brewing Company sells its Trotwood lager in cans as well as draft. Called “a beer’s beer” by the company, it’s malty and smooth, unassuming and balanced, a lot like Budweiwer and a little more flavorful.

Nocterra’s outstanding Trail Break helles lager, made with all German malt and hops, is easy drinking at its easiest. Another excellent choice is Old Dog Alehouse & Brewing’s Monk’s Tale—a smooth helles that started as a summer brew, but will be extended into the fall.

If crisp pilsners are more your thing, check out North High Brewing’s Life sparkling ale, full of complex flavor, or Commonhouse Ales’ Czech Please, a clean, no-frills brew with a nice finish.

Elevator’s Heiferweizen and Grove City Brewing Company’s Jolly Orange are similar to Blue Moon, delicious with a slice of orange, each having its own slightly distinct character—Heiferweizen a little lemony, Jolly Orange a little spicy.

Mexican-style lagers, similar to Corona, are generally easy-drinking and popular, with or without limes. Grove City’s A Poco was Erin’s closest estimation to a cold Corona. Land Grant’s Urban Sombrero has faint spicy and oral notes that add character.

Combustion’s Sir Veza was a universal hit with my friends. Curtis described it “light, like a light beer, but with the flavor of a lager.” At 4.5% ABV, that’s not far off.

“I'll tell you what, it smells good,” Zack said. Janie chimed in, “This would be a great beer pong beer!” Now, maybe you’re not having “that” kind of tailgate (or maybe you are), but any beer that stands up to beer pong is a testament to drinkability.

Oktoberfest-style beers generally also fit the bill. Elevator’s Oktoberfest is heavy on the malt, similar to Rolling Rock, but other brands are sweeter and heavier, reminiscent of Sam Adams beers.

Looking further into fall, Grove City’s Alumni lager is scheduled to return in November. Around the same time, Chicago’s Forbidden Root Brewing Company is scheduled to open its Easton brewery and taproom, including their super- drinkable Hoodie Weather Vienna lager.

For something slightly different (and a little further out of Central Ohio) but still excellent with salty snacks and grilled burgers, seek out Catawba Island Brewing Company’s Hot Blonde Mango Habanero Ale. It’s not like anything you’ll buy in the beer cooler of your corner store, but it’s slightly fruity, a bit spicy, and will add a little kick to your game-time cookout.

Not so much of a beer drinker, or having an upscale morning tailgate? How about mead-mosas? Yes, you read that right. Mead-mosas. Skip the wine-aisle bubbly, head to one of many specialty groceries or the taproom on the East side, and grab one of Uprising Meadworks’ bottles, like the ginger-lime Copper Knob, to mix with your orange juice.

So pass up the drive-through this football season, and try something local. You’ll find easy-going selections with flavor, reasonable ABV, and great drinkability, that your mainstream- beer-fan friends, and even you, will love.

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Food & Drink

You’ll hardly recognize newly-renovated GasWerks, fun features added

Regina Fox

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After a months-long renovation, Park Street enthusiasts can finally return to one of its most popular establishments: GasWerks.

The bar reopened over the weekend, debuting several new features including two live music stages, a large dance floor, and a food menu prepared right out of a vintage COTA bus permanently located inside the bar.

Guests can also test their skills at new games like skee-ball, and a 15-foot Space Invaders game, as well as other classics on vintage systems.

Outside, the patio features corn hole, new chairs and tables, and an open-sided Airstream camper with comfortable seating for social gathering.

What hasn't changed is GasWerks great drink specials, playful atmosphere, and welcoming spirit. The bar is located at 487 Park St. and is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5pm- 2am, Friday from 4pm-2am, Saturday from 3pm- 2am, and closed Sunday through Tuesday. To learn more, visit gaswerksbar.com.

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Food & Drink

Beloved local burger joint opening Downtown location, more neighborhoods soon

Regina Fox

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In a very small amount of time, Preston’s: A Burger Joint by chef Matthew Heaggans and chef Catie Randazzo's went from a cultish pop-up to the home of many peoples' favorite burger.

With the help of a newly-created hospitality group, Heaggans and Randazzo will be expanding Preston's into more neighborhoods.

"We know Columbus wants to eat more Preston’s burgers and we want to make that dream a reality," said Reed Woogerd, CEO of Muse Hospitality.

The flagship location for the Preston’s expansion will be at 15 W. Cherry St. in Downtown. More locations throughout Columbus are planned with hopes of tapping into the Cleveland and Cincinnati markets, as well.

"We want Preston’s to be Ohio’s burger," said Woogerd.

Click here to read more about the smash burger

Matt Heaggans and Catie Randazzo are two of the most respected chefs in the restaurant scene. Together and individually, they have created some of Columbus’ most beloved concepts, including the most recent: Ambrose & Eve (which will operate under the Muse Hospitality umbrella).

Randazzo is the creator of Challah food truck, featuring the chicken sandwich with the biggest cult following in the city. Challah is no longer operating as a food truck, but recently was featured as a pop-up menu at Ambrose & Eve and could see a full brick and mortar comeback as the group expands.

Heaggans and Randazzo created Preston’s: A Burger Joint that has been racking up the accolades, including best burger in Columbus. Currently you can find Preston’s operating as a food truck, at Woodland’s Tavern and Woodland’s Backyard.

With around 70 years collective experience in the industry, Muse Hospitality's mission is to continue to guide and push the elevation of the Columbus food scene and culture.

Letha Pugh's Bake Me Happy will continue to operate independently, but will be bringing a gluten-free edge to the Muse concept.

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