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Four Loko finally joins the pack of local hard seltzer offerings

Mike Thomas

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You go to sleep one night, and seltzer is just the fizzy stuff in big glass bottles that clowns used to hose fools down with in old cartoons. You wake up, and it’s the hottest beverage trend since India Paled its famous Ale (or whatever).

While the drink predates this calendar year, there can be no doubt that the summer of 2019 belonged to hard seltzer. Whether you were getting “Truly” hammered, or disregarding all laws with White Claws, surely these fizzy intoxicants were a fixture at many a summer function you attended.

A hit with the fit crowd for their low calorie count and negligible carbs, the alcoholic seltzer sensation has washed over the nation like a carbonated, mango-flavored tsunami. Popular though they may be, these beverages are not without detractors. One article in the San Francisco Chronicle called spiked seltzers “the summer’s biggest scam,” pointing to the fact that in spite of marketing to the contrary, the drinks are not in fact seltzers, but carbonated malt beverages (like Smirnoff Ice and Zima).

With enormous international companies such as Anheuser Busch getting in the hard seltzer game, it was only a matter of time until the forward-thinking minds in our city’s booming beverage scene put their own stamp on this latest and greatest toastable trend.

While not native to Columbus per se, Cleveland’s Platform Beer Co. has won a spot in the hearts of local craft brew fans thanks to its hoppin’ downtown taproom and the consistent quality of their products. Platform is also one of the prominent regional brands to embrace the spiked seltzer phenomenon wholeheartedly.

Available in six-packs, Platform’s rotating series of hard seltzers features some flavors that will be familiar to regular drinkers of the national brands, such as black cherry. Where the brand finds a leg up on the competition is a slate of unique offerings like Passionfruit, Ginger-Lime, and Blood Orange Yuzu.

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Platform’s seltzers clock in at the industry standard 5% ABV, and retain the same near-clear, bubbly appearance as most competitors. While a respected craft brewery dipping a toe in this segment might get the mustaches of snobbish craft beer purists twirling, Platform has never been known for playing it safe—and they’re not the only ones.

Seventh Son Brewing sports ample draft handles in their multi-tiered taproom, giving pilot batches of “out there” brews a place to shine among the pleasing regular lineup. With so much room for experimentation, it’s no wonder that Seventh Son has cracked the hard seltzer puzzle.

A departure from the norm in several ways, Seventh Son’s “Kitty Paw” is a raspberry-flavored seltzer crafted with 100% real fruit juice and zero artificial colors or flavors added. The striking pinkish hue of this feline- inspired booze water also helps Seventh Son’s creation stand out from the pack. Opaque and bursting with tart berry flavors, Kitty Paw should be a hit with fans of fruit-flavored lambic beers. Available on-tap only, this initial offering is just the first of a planned series of hard seltzers being cooked up by the Seventh Son team.

No hard look at hard seltzer would be complete without mention of Four Loko, the “blackout in a can” hooch concocted by a group of OSU grads that mixed copious amounts of caffeine (since removed from the recipe) with alcohol, fueling all of your worst college-era mistakes.

If the notion of alcoholic water at first seemed too absurd to believe, leave it to Four Loko to take that absurdity to the most extreme possible end. In a Twitter post dated to August 11, 2019, the company teased their own accursed foray into the hard water game with a beverage that would pair “a hint of blue razz” with a daunting 14% ABV. At the time of this writing, no such drink has appeared on store shelves, for better or worse (…better).

[Update: After much delay, Four Loko announced the release of its hard seltzer product—a 12% ABV black cherry-flavored drink—on November 5, 2019.]

Only time will tell if spiked sparkling water will make the move from passing fad to permanent grocery cooler staple. Refreshing and all-too- crushable by nature, typically gluten-free, and with a fraction of the calories of even the lightest beer, it’s easy to see why summer drinkers were drawn to the spiked watering hole in droves. With companies big and small experimenting in this increasingly-crowded segment, water may just be the hottest new beverage in town.

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Food & Drink

Restaurant Week Sneak Peek: Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

Regina Fox

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In less than 10 years at its natural sunlight-soaked digs on N 4th Street, Wolf's Ridge Brewing has managed to become a place revered not only for brewing some of the best beers the city has to offer, but also for serving some of the best food.

What better time to experience them both than Restaurant Week January 20-25?

We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of Wolf's Ridge three-course menu before it was released to the public, and we think you're really going to like it.

First Course: Choice of baked brie, endive salad, or bread and butter

The endive salad offered depths with every bite: the brightness of the shaved pear, the fresh earthiness of the endive, the texture of the fennel, the crunch of the walnuts. But the star of this dish was certainly the pool of tangy, creamy blue cheese dressing hiding below the colorful mixture.

Second Course: Choice of salmon, grilled cauliflower, or pork tenderloin

Without a shadow of a doubt, I believe each one of the entrees offered during Restaurant week are slam dunks, but to me, the choice was obvious: pork tenderloin.

The three plump and pink cuts of pork were so tender, they could be easily cut with just a butter knife. The succulence of the meat played well with the sweet, nutty sunchoke puree, and rich smoked hazelnut butter. Like the french origin suggests, the demi-glace soaked into the tenderloin truly was the "icing" on top.

Third Course: Choice of cheesecake or fudge bar

If at the end of your meal you're feeling bright, light, and flirty, the cheesecake is for you. The toasted coconuts coating the mousse-like rum cheesecake, icy pineapple sorbet and orange marmalade will send your palate on an all-inclusive trip to the seaside.

Feeling a little more dense or moody? The punch of the espresso ice cream, thick chocolate bar, and sticky caramel crémeux will have you closing your eyes, and "mmm"ing through every bite.

At $40, the Wolf's Ridge Restaurant deal is quite possibly the best time to experience the creative, elevated menu. But, you and the other 900,000 residents of Columbus already know that, right? So, don't wait to make your reservation!

To learn more about Restaurant Week January 20-25, visit eat614.com.

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Food & Drink

Restaurant Week Sneak Peek: Pig out on amazing deal from Hoggy’s

Mike Thomas

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Longtime fans of barbecue in Central Ohio will remember Hoggy's, the family-owned local barbecue chain which originally opened in 1991. Recent history saw Hoggy's step away from the restaurant game in favor of a thriving catering business. With a newly-renovated store on Bethel road, this OG Columbus BBQ joint is getting back in the retail mix.

Scroll down for an exclusive giveaway

We recently stopped by Hoggy's to preview all the delicious goodness they've cooked up for Restaurant Week. With a deal this sweet, it's time you got reacquainted with this awesome, homegrown barbecue spot!

Restaurant Week Deal: Choose three meats, two sides, and your choice of cobbler or banana pudding, all for $15.

You read that right: THREE meats. While Hoggy's brisket, pulled pork, or pulled chicken are all solid choices, be sure that one of your trifecta of picks is the baby back ribs. These are truly some of the best ribs we've tried in town.

Bonus sleeper pick: we found Hoggy's wings to be exceptionally crispy and flavorful, serving as the perfect delivery method for their great BBQ sauces.

When it comes to sides, you really can't go wrong at Hoggy's. From the potato salad to the "cowboy style" baked beans, each side has the same home cooked flavor that you'd hope to find at a family cookout.

As long as you're treating yourself, don't be afraid to go double-starch in the sides department. The mac and cheese (with both penne and elbow macaroni) is a can't-miss, but then who in their right mind can can pass on cheesy potatoes?

If you have any room left for dessert, either of the available options will be sure to send you over the edge into a food coma. Hoggy's satisfying cobbler is served oven-hot, just like grandma used to make. Likewise, the decadent banana pudding is everything it should be and more, with a fluffy, creamy texture that is unlike anything we've seen elsewhere.

When it comes to Restaurant Week, Hoggy's isn't playing around. For $15, this is one of the best bang-for-the-buck deals on the entire RW lineup. Don't sleep—there will be time for that after you've stuffed yourself with sides, dessert, and all the delicious smoked meats you can handle!

To learn more about Restaurant Week January 20-25, visit eat614.com.

Comment your favorite BBQ side dish to be entered to win dinner for two at Hoggy's!

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Food & Drink

New plant-based diner takes root in Downtown

614now Staff

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From the people who brought us Eden burger comes a new plant-based diner sure to satisfy your hunger.

4th & State is a vegan cafe and diner located in the heart of downtown Columbus under the leadership of Chad Goodwin.

Click here to read more about Eden Burger

Featuring fare aimed at both breakfast and lunch, hours will soon be expanded to cover dinner service to coincide with the launch of the restaurant's beer and wine program.

Below are pictures of a few of the most popular breakfast items thus far:

4th & State is located at 152 E State St. and is open Monday through Friday from 7am- 3pm, and Saturday through Sunday from 9am- 4pm. To learn more, check out their Instagram.

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