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4 brewers talk past, present future of C-bus beer scene

Mike Thomas

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With the rise of craft beer, celebrations of America’s most popular alcoholic beverage are nearly as plentiful as the varieties of suds found on supermarket shelves.

Whether it’s a day set aside in honor of a given style (IPA day is observed Aug. 2) or a pseudo-holiday cash grab from a major international brewery, (Arthur’s Day is not a thing, Guinness) beer fans have plenty of occasions throughout the year to toast their favorite drink.

In honor of Columbus Craft Beer Week (May 17-25), (614) spoke to Columbus brewers Colin Vent at Seventh Son Brewing, Dan Shaffer at Land-Grant, Craig O’Herron at Sideswipe Brewing, and Chris Davison, at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing in order to explore the beginnings of brew in the capital city, where it stands today, and what the future might hold.

(614): When you think of Columbus beer history, what comes to mind?

Vent: The recent history is pretty young. We were 7th or 8th six years ago, and now there’s over 50. Barley’s, Smoke House, Elevator, Columbus Brewing Company—those were around for 10 or 15 years, then all of the sudden, Four String, us, North High, and soon thereafter Land Grant popped up, and from there it’s just been crazy. Obviously all of Columbus [beer] history goes back hundreds of years; there used to be major production. Hoster was one of the largest breweries in the country.

Shaffer: I think of Barley’s, CBC, the people that were there at the beginning. We’re all standing on their shoulders. Obviously it’s all come a very long way. I’m trying to think of what the first craft beer I had in Columbus was. It was probably a CBC IPA.

(614): What are some prevailing trends that you see happening with beer in Columbus today?

O’Herron: I feel like we’ve gotten over a lot of the recent trends. We saw a lot of the New England IPAs, and then Brut IPAs to a lesser extent. I don’t know if there’s a trend that’s happening right this moment, but I’m sure we’ll see something new and wacky come around.

Davison: The national trend has been IPA, IPA, IPA, and I think Columbus is a microcosm of that. Ohio is an IPA state, and Columbus is an IPA city even more so than some other cities in the state. We’ve got a lot of the top-tier IPA breweries right now, a lot of people making really good IPA. I think that’s going to continue to rise, and I think we’re going to continue to see more styles [of IPA].

(614): What does the future hold for Columbus Beer? Have we reached a saturation point on how many breweries the city can sustain?

Vent: I don’t know that Columbus could take another 10 or 20 Land Grants and Seventh Sons, but I think it could take another 10 or 20 [breweries] that just want to have an awesome neighborhood brewpub. As many breweries as an area can sustain, that’s what there will be.

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Davison: I think it all comes down to what those breweries are trying to accomplish. Trying to be a production brewery that’s distributing cans across the entire state is going to get harder and harder, not that some won’t continue to grow and do that. I think there’s a ton of room for local brewpubs that don’t even want to sell their beer outside of their own bar. Every bar in this city could theoretically brew its own beer, and there’s no reason the city can’t sustain 500 breweries that are tiny like that.

Shaffer: Obviously people are gravitating towards local. I think it’s really cool that every neighborhood, instead of a watering hole, can have a local brewery. I think we’ll probably see more sours, probably more specialization. IPA’s aren’t going anywhere—there will be more IPA variants. When there is this much competition, you can’t afford to be a generic beer brewery anymore. There has to be something you’re passionate about, whether it’s Belgian or English styles, or pilsners, high-gravity stouts—whatever. There’s got to be something that you can say “this is what we’re all about.”

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Rye In July: The Ward 8

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We partnered with Brown-Forman, Jack Daniels Rye Whiskey, and local bartender Ben Griest from Giuseppe’s Ritrovo to bring a fun twist to your summer cocktails. Rye in July is your go-to weekly drink feature to make while stuck at home for ideas of cocktails. We are featuring The Ward 8 in today's video! This thirst-quenching, summer-ready fresh cocktail is what you need on a hot day like today!

The Ward 8

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Barrels, get your whiskey barrels here!

Julian Foglietti

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Middle West Spirits has just announced a new sale program to unload their growing surplus of whiskey barrels. Barrels will be available for pickup and sale from their warehouse, 470 E. Starr Ave., Sat., July 18,  8 a.m. to noon.

Middle West will sell 30-gallon and 53-gallon barrels for $50 and $75 respectively. You may also pick up barrel staves for $3. 

The barrels for sale were used for either bourbon, rye, or wheat whiskey, and the barrel type can be specified upon purchase. 

Whiskey barrels, and bourbon barrels, in particular, have a long history of reuse in spirit aging internationally. This is a wonderful opportunity for home distillers to snag a barrel for their own experimentation. 

And if your skills lie outside of the world of homebrewing, there are more than enough craft possibilities in one of these recycled barrels.. With projects ranging from bars, to chairs and tables, the DIY-er will have endless options for creativity. 

Barrels will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and can also be reserved by emailing the barrel size and whiskey type to [email protected]

Barrel Bar

Barrel Chair

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Westerville’s Wine Bistro has a new name—reopens Thursday with makeover

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Even though City Brands announced that the Wine Bistro in Worthington wouldn’t be returning, there were initial rumors that the Westerville location also wouldn’t be making a comeback.

Original reports were wrong, and City Brands announced the return of the Westerville Wine Bistro, 925 N. State St.,on July 9 after a light remodel. You can find the (614) report on the City Brands reopenings and closings here.

The remodeling isn’t the only thing that’s going to be new about the Wine Bistro in Westerville, though. Or as we should we say now, NAPA Kitchen + Bar. With locations  in Westerville, Dublin, and Montgomery, Ohio,  NAPA Kitchen + Bar is a sister concept to The Wine Bistro.

“We feel the NAPA Kitchen + Bar concept will really appeal to a wide range of guests in Westerville. We wanted to undertake this conversion for quite a while but never found the right time to close down for the renovations,” Tim Rollins, President of The Metropolitan Companies and owner of NAPA kitchen + bar, said in a press release on Thursday.

The restaurant will be open Monday through Thursday, 4 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4 to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 4 to 8 p.m.

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