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The Brews of Summer: Find your delight this season at Columbus breweries

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It’s blazing hot. You’re tired and thirsty. Or maybe you’re ready to party when the sun goes down. What’s better than a cold summer brew? A cold summer local brew, that’s what. With dozens of craft breweries around Columbus putting their literal creative juices to work, and many more around the state, there’s bound to be something that can quench your thirst and satisfy your taste buds.

Fruit’s Still Forward

Fruit- flavored brews are still the rage, with citrus, peach, and tropical fruit abounding in juicy infusions. For those of you who like a little grapefruit flavor but don’t like the intensity of most grapefruit beers, check out Parsons North Brewing Company’s grapefruit wheat. The flavor is more floral than citrus, smooth without the usual bitterness of zest.

If you do like the intensity of traditional grapefruit brews, go for North High Brewing’s Grapefruit Walleye APA. It has the tartness and bitterness of the full fruit, but remains balanced and juicy.

Cleveland’s Saucy Brew Works plans to open their Columbus brew pub in late summer, but in the meantime, look for cans of their Don’t Stop Wit It Belgian- style Tangerine Wit. With the spice of coriander plus the fruitiness of tangerine, this one is a perfect all- day poolside refresher.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

For a heartier fruit-forward beer, Homestead Brewing’s Bimini Road double IPA bursts with pineapple, mango, and mint avors that complement the intensity of its hops.

If you’re looking for something unique, Wild Ohio’s tea beers (yes, that’s a thing) are great for summer. With flavors like peach, lemonade, and blueberry with a hint of lavender, most of their brews are light and refreshing—sort of a slightly fizzy, alcoholic iced tea, and much more enticing than the term “tea beer” sounds in print. One of the best things about these brews is that, being brewed from tea leaves instead of barley, they’re an option for gluten- sensitive drinkers.

Backyard Best Bets

Combustion Brewing’s Sir Veza Jalapeño Infused Mexican Lager has the distinctive aroma and avor of jalapeño, with none of the bite. It seems impossible with every sip, yet it’s true. This is a beer that could be equally at home with the chips and salsa tray or riding shotgun in your mower’s cup holder.

Nocterra’s Mexican Lager, on the other hand, has the sweet fullness of corn first and foremost. My mind instantly went to the backyard barbecue, with smoky, grilled burgers, tangy sauces, and creamy side dishes. This is a beer that can bring an extra dimension to summer food.

Zaftig’s Alina Pale Ale is another light, summery, easily-drinkable selection. It’s refreshing, with an all- around hoppy balance perfect for outdoor events and parties. Likewise, Land Grant’s Pool Party Pilsner is crisp, aromatic, and great for any hot- weather occasion.

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Summer Sours

Maybe you’ve always wanted to try a gose but were wary of its sour and salty sides. Nocterra has two brews that might change your mind: The Tahitian and Hawaiian Swell Lines. Tahitian Swell Line is fruit-punch-quality pink guava forward, with a finish of strawberry; Hawaiian uses passionfruit and mango. The salt and tartness balance the sweetness of the fruit. They’re complex, but not overwhelming. If a salted slice of juicy watermelon is your thing, Warped Wing offers a “funky” Magic Melon gose, slightly salty, just a little sweet, and tart with juice.

Ill Mannered Brewing Co. brings its Pseudo Insubordination Berliner Weisse to the party, this time infused with peach—semi-sour, fruity, and bright. Sour and peach may sound like a contradiction in terms, but Ill Mannered makes it work nicely.

Still Not Convinced?

If you really, really, aren’t willing to drink craft beer, you could go with something from the big corporate brewery and still support the local workforce. But, really, why not try something more creative? If the selections so far don’t pique your interest (while they should), there’s more variety to be found.

Brew Brothers’ Staycation, a margarita- inspired gose, is refreshing and crisp, with coriander, sea salt, and lemon/lime zest. It’s not a true margarita, but it might be the next best thing, with a low ABV that will treat you better than tequila will.

MadTree Brewing, in Cincinnati, has a brut rosé IPA that is bolder and heavier than many other rosé brews. Brew Brothers’ Jerry is a sour red ale but infused with cherries and aged in wine barrels for another intense experience.

If you’re more of a stout drinker, The Brew Kettle (located in Strongsville) offers the smooth and summery Kitka coconut chocolate milk stout. Or go high-ABV with Zaftig’s 17%-intense Ol’ Rugger Russian Imperial Stout, available with a coconut variation.

No matter what your preferences are, make it a point to try these or some of the many other local seasonal brews. You may find some new hot-weather favorites.

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Food & Drink

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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