For the most part, I have steered clear of posting about the local beers unless I’ve had an idea in mind (Local beer article) since I know most of the people who read the site aren’t living in the 614 area code or anywhere close. To close out the year though when news is slow and everyone is doing end of the year lists, you’re getting an article about the best ten beers I have had around Columbus. I am making three exceptions to this list – Buckeye Lake Brewing, Homestead Brewing Company and Hoof Hearted Brewing – which are within a stone’s throw of 270. No Jackie O’s, Ohio Brewing Company or anything delicious I’ve had from Cincinnati. Just the Best of the ‘Bus.
What I’ve Tried
Actual Brewing Company – Winter IPA (From a firkin)
Buckeye Lake Brewery – Christmas Ale, Octoberfest, Oatmeal Stout
Columbus Brewing Company – Summer Teeth, IPA
Elevator Brewing Company – Bear Ass Pale Ale, Belgian Xtra Blonde, Dirty Dick’s Nut Brown Ale, Heiferweizen, Horny Goat, Wicked Goat, Procrastinator Doppelbock
Four String Brewing Company – Backstage Blonde, Big Star White IPA, Brass Knuckles Pale Ale, Cherry Blonde, Skeleton Red IPA, Sun Caster Summer Wheat, Vanilla Porter
Homestead Beer Company – Pine Table Pale Ale, Boat India Pale Ale
Hoof Hearted Brewing – Voltan Russian Imperial Stout
North High Brewing – Hefeweizen, Porter
Seventh Son Brewing Company – Black Sheep, Glad Tidings, Oubliette, Saison Noir, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Stone Fort Oat Brown Ale, Wilderman
Zauber Brewing Company – Buxom Blonde, Myopic Red, Portergeist, Stodgy Brown, Vertigo
What I Haven’t Tried
A lot. The Granville Brewing, L. Hoster Brewing, Neil House Brewery, Rockmill Brewing, Sideswipe Brewing and Wolf’s Ridge Brewing are companies that I haven’t even tried this year. If I stick with my exception, Staas Brewing in Delaware (a shade closer than Homestead and Hoof Hearted) would also be on the list. I haven’t tried all of the offerings from the companies I have listed above either. Trying thirty-six different is a decent start though and pairing it down to ten will be tough.
My Top Ten In Cbus
10. Hoof Hearted Brewing – Voltan Russian Imperial Stout – The best stout from a local company had to make the list and this one was it. Oubliette was in consideration but this one edged it out. Both are Imperial Stouts that made the comparison easy in that they were from the same branch of stouts. This beer ended up being amongst the best during the Cbus Microbrew Festival in the Short North out of a dozen beers that I tried. This Imperial clocks in at 9.5% alcohol content which will help you feel good quickly. They use espresso (which I tasted) dried figs (I don’t remember any sweetness) and licorice (still not remembering sweetness). No matter, even if I didn’t pick those flavors out, this beer is worth a try.
9. North High Brewing – Porter – I definitely haven’t gotten to try as much from this company as I would have liked. I had them at the above mentioned Festival and at a food truck rally for Zauber before the Pittsburgh Penguins first game here in town. I certainly dig that you can go to their brewery and schedule one of their kettles and make your own brew. It costs between $190-240 and yields 15 gallons of beer which equates to 147 12 ounce bottles. Just over a dollar a beer isn’t a bad price for a craft beer of your own making. To the beer though, it’s got a great thick consistency and has just a touch of molasses which also helps to make this beverage a dark brown.
8. Homestead Beer Company – Boat India Pale Ale – Because of their location outside of the 270 confines, I haven’t had much from this brewer either except at the aforementioned Festival. After reading their site more, I have found out that this beer is seasonal so I got lucky to try it. They tell me that they put passion fruit and citrus in it so even though I didn’t notice those flavors in particular, it was a noticeably more balanced IPA between sweet and bitter. Homestead notes that it’s a Pacific Northwest IPA, which I had to look up. The best description I came up with was from the Seattle Times which said
Most fulfill the traditional characteristics of the colonial style: strong hop bitterness, pronounced aroma and high alcoholic content.
Which means to me, it’s an IPA with some extra adjectives attached. Whatever name they put on it though is irrelevant. It’s a tasty beer with a 6.3% ABV that any good beer drinker would imbibe.
7. Zauber Brewing Company – Myopic Red – I had a hard time picking my second favorite beer from Zauber. Their Vertigo hefeweizen was probably the beer I drank the most this past year. I really enjoy their Stodgy Brown too. I went with the German Red Alt won out though. It’s a top fermented beer, unlike a lager which ferments from the bottom. It is matured at a cooler temperature which gives it a fantastic crispness which goes down very easily. It has a red hue to it and carries a 5.0% ABV so it’s a session-able beer for those people who are tailgating.
6. Four String Brewing – Big Star White IPA – This beer may have started my turn towards IPAs or at least towards being receptive to tasting more of them. According to my Google search, White IPAs were only created in 2010 when Deschutes Brewery in Oregon and Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City got together to make an IPA that was mixed with a Belgian Wheat Beer. I do love wheat beers so it explains my taste buds opening up to this version of the style. Coming in at 7.0%, this beer will make you happy along with your taste buds at this cross roads of beers in your mouth.
5. Seventh Son Brewery – Glad Tidings – I tried a lot of Christmas and Winter beers recently. The only two that can compete with this one is Southern Tier Old Man Winter and Full Pint Festivus. Note that I said compete, not better than. Glad Tidings is my favorite Winter beer. If you come here, I suggest doing so during this time of the year to try this beverage. It won’t stay good in a growler for that long.
4. Columbus Brewing Company – Summer Teeth – I became fond of this company when searching for an alternative to Great Lakes Christmas Ale. Their Winter Warmer could be my second favorite winter beer but I didn’t have it this year so it can’t make the list. My favorite beer from CBC though is Summer Teeth which is only available from April until August. It is a perfect beer to be drinking during that time because of it’s lightness that is highlighted by just a hint of lemon to evoke lemonade. It’s a kellerbier or cellar lagered and is not clarified which gives it a hazy yellow look similar to a hefeweizen or blonde. Don’t worry, which ever season it is in the ‘Bus, there’s a tasty seasonal beverage to go with it.
3. Seventh Son Brewery – Stone Fort Oat Brown Ale -This English brown ale is different from all of it’s colleagues on the list and there’s absolutely something right about that. They use roasted coffee, cocoa, leather (Hmmm, maybe I should start questioning my taste buds. Isn’t the other part of the cow supposed to be the tasty part?) and biscuit flavors to come up with a smooth concoction that any visitor from the other side of the pond would be proud to call their own. This beer has an ABV of 5.25% and unlike the two preceding beers, this one is available year round.
2. Four String Brewing Company – Backstage Blonde – I know you can see the number one pick below. Yes, both of them are the same style of beer. It’s kind of hard to pick between the two. They have slight differences in them so that they are distinct. A blonde is a Belgian style of beer that is a light pale ale. Four String admits to using sweet malt, spice (which I suspect is clove or allspice, not coriander) and bananas which are all standards to this style. This tasty beverage comes in at 5.0% so it won’t knock your socks off on ABV but it will rock your socks off in the taste department.
1. Zauber Brewing Company – Buxom Blonde – Their brewery uses much from Germany (Their name meaning “magic” and their slogan Prost! meaning “cheers”), but they split their beer styles between there and Belgium. This beer is originally from the later location and it had me hooked the first time I tried it. This blonde packs a little more punch at 5.5% ABV and uses a similar assortment of sweet malt, spice and bananas to arrive at perfection. I have been bummed that they have been closed the last several weeks (So I haven’t been able to grab any of their beer as Christmas presents this year) as they move from one location to another. Per their tweet (@ZauberBrewing) earlier today
IT’S FINALLY HERE! Soft opening of our full bar at 909 W Fifth TOMORROW January 4th beginning at 4pm
Woohoo! Next time anyone is in from out of town, the bar will be in full swing with full production as they transfer from small brewing to large brewing equipment at the new location. Come and have anyone of these #SippyTimeBeers with me. – Kevin