The Columbus Ale Trail has expanded to forty one breweries but I didn’t get a chance to visit any of the additional breweries prior to this writing. Part of the reason for not getting there is finishing a renovation and moving into a house which consumed a lot of time. It also doesn’t help that all four of them are outside of Cbus proper so it takes a little bit of time investment to get to them. It’s also worth noting that Antiques on High, Olentangy River Brewing, Old Dog Alehouse and Somewhere In Particular all opened late in the year. I did get to swing into Somewhere in Particular since it is located near my old condo. It would have been nice to have a brewery in walking distance any of the 15 years I lived there.
Runners Up (By Brewery)
Actual Brewing – Eccentricity – I have stopped by Actual more since it’s in between my new residence and Ken’s household. This French Ale was my favorite of the bunch. It starts a trend I’ll talk about more below.
BrewDog – Hazy Jane – A delicious hazy IPA that is a go to at Blue Jackets games because it’s the highest ABV beer I can buy for my money.
Columbus Brewing Co. – Bodhi – This brewery has only distributed and the beer pub craze hasn’t changed that. They sure do make some delicious beer which is why they’ll continue to pop up on this list.
Combustion Brewing – Oaked Hogscraper – A relative new comer. It’s a beer that probably just missed the top ten.
Ill Mannered Brewing – Powell, Right In The Kisser
Four String Brewing – Motor Breath aged in Borubon Barrels with Vanilla – This year will be the last one involving Four String since it closed. Their dark beers were fantastic and this was an example. The vanilla really popped the chocolate malts and bourbon always pairs well with roasted malts of stouts. RIP.
Hofbrauhaus – Weizenbock – If you want a classic German beer, this place is the place to go. Having been to Germany well before the craft beer craze, I did enjoy the difference of German beer. Going to Hofbrauhaus reminds me of that even if I could also hit on in Cincinnati or Pittsburgh. This beer happened to be one of their monthly specials and it was fantastic
Platform Beer Co. – Never Swim Alone Aged in Wine Barrels, Super Buoyant, Shake Me Down, Seeing Sounds – Platform wins for most tasty beer but also a runners up prize because none of them made the top ten. All four beers are different varieties which shows their versatility as a brewery.
Restoration Brew Worx – Big Bag of Judgement – I always need to mention that I love their food. Their beer is pretty good to boot. They made the short list last year too.
Sideswipe Brewing – Tandem (in conjunction with Lineage Brewing) –
Smokehouse Brewing – Mohbee – Another place that makes fantastic food. Their smoked and grilled wings are outstanding. This Hazy IPA is too.
Staas Brewing – Scottish Ale –
Wolf’s Ridge Brewing – Blood Moon – This Imperial Red Ale almost made me break my “recency bias” rule aka pick beers from November to November since I enjoyed it on December 1 in 2017. It’s really good but not quite good enough to crack the top ten, still. All Treats (in conjunction with Sideswipe Brewing)
Zaftig Brewery – Shadowed Mistress, Hazy Miss Daisy – This brewery is now closer because of our house purchase. I know we’ll be going there more because they lover to brew dark beers and that’s The Wife’s jam.
Left Out –
Buck’s Brewing, Dalton Union Winery & Brewing, Double Edge Brewing and Dankhouse Brewing are the four out of city breweries I mentioned above. I look forward to trying their beverages in the near future now that things have settled down. Will they get into the top ten next year? It’s tough to crack even for more established breweries but I keep an open mind.
10. Seventh Son Brewing – Mr. Owl – Imperial Brown Ale – 8.5% ABV 73 IBU
This beer has been around for a while. Long enough in fact that it has it’s own release party. This leads me into a partial theme in this top 10, going back to some “basics” in the brewing scene around town. Mr. Owl is odd in that there aren’t a lot of brown ales around town and there’s even less Imperial Brown ales. Brown ales do speak to my palette since it’s more malt than hops. Like Imperial Red ales though, hops can be amped up without getting too hoppy and that is certainly the case with this beer. The Imperial part of the beer certainly made the mouth feel of the beer more akin to a porter than a traditional Brown ale. I had a flight at the brewery with a couple of variations of it which convinced me to buy a bottle before leaving. It’ll get a nice audio review on OHPA one day in the near future.
9. Rockmill Brewery – Saison – 7.0% ABV 20 IBU
Another beer that has been around but struck my palette differently. Maybe it was the scenic view when you’re at the main brewing facility down in Lancaster OH. I’m not sure exactly. This brewery knows how to knock out their Belgian style beers though so it’s no surprise this one popped up on the list. Because of the cardamom & nutmeg made it taste similar to a hefeweizen. It’s a light, easy beer to drink and one that is readily available in the area.
8. Lineage Brewing – Spacefruit – 7.0% ABV 71 IBU
This beer breaks off the “Old School” beer list which will always happen for me since I like trying new beers. This IPA is definitely a good one if you like grapefruit. It had a juicy mouth feel to it which is not always the case for IPA. They tend to dry out the palette and this one did not. The hops didn’t have a piney edge either which makes me like an IPA more. Lineage knocks out some good beers and they’re on my list of “should go to more” since they don’t distribute.
7. Pretentious Barrel House – Truculent w/ Cucumbers & Lime – 5.1% ABV NA IBU
Pretentious is new to the scene in Columbus though they’ve been around for slightly more than a year. They only make sour beers and this beer is the only sour to make my list. I had this beer at the end of summer and think it is a perfect middle of summer beer. It is the most refreshing drink on this top ten list. It’s juicy which is aided by the cucumber but also has a nice sour tang that is accented well by the lime. I’ll look forward to my second trip to their brewery. I will also look forward to the bomber from Pretentious sitting in my house just waiting to be reviewed on OHPA.
6. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing – All The Breakfast – 10.7% ABV 21 IBU
Cream Ales could be underrated as far as a beer style goes. Wolf’s Ridge makes a couple of delicious Cream Ales. Clear Sky Daybreak is their regular version and it is delicious. All The Breakfast is the Imperial version and it is also delicious. Even though I don’t drink coffee, I understand why it is in All The Breakfast. It was my least favorite part of this beer but it was not an overwhelming flavor. None of flavors are overwhelming which is impressive considering the list of breakfast tastes involved – cinnamon, the already mentioned coffee, maple syrup, milk and orange peel. It also needs to be mentioned that cacao, coconut and vanilla are also in the flavor party which I don’t necessarily associate with breakfast even if you can find them in some breakfasts. This beer is a fantastic smorgasboard of breakfast flavors. Now let me go grab a Genesee Cream Ale to reminisce about Old School cream ales.
5. North High Brewing – Milk Stout – 5.3% ABV 23 IBU
We’re headed back to the Old School with this one. There is nothing fancy about this beer. It’s a stout that has some sweetness added because of the milk. It’s fantastic because of it’s simplicity. Most stouts these days have a heavy chocolate component to them. That is not the case this one. It is more akin to a classic Dry Stout like Guinness. It’s not overly sweet which does happen frequently. If you want a classic that won’t let you down, snag this beer.
4. Buckeye Lake Brewery – BLB IPA Experimental – 6.5% ABV 65 IBU
This beer may not be the same now as it was when I tried it. If memory serves, they were using different combinations of hops hence the “Experimental” label. Like most of the other IPAs that I have enjoyed, this one had a nice combination of hops and wasn’t overly piney or bitter. The description on Untapped has “raspberry” in the descriptor but I remember nothing of it being that type of fruity. Maybe they found the crowd favorite experiment and went with it full time. I haven’t been there in almost a year, seems like time to head back out there.
3. Ill Mannered Brewing Co. – So Much Room For Activities – 6.2% ABV 47 IBU
This beer was a collaboration beer in conjunction with Three Tigers Brewing, which is outside of Cbus proper by a good amount. Ill Mannered is not too far from my office so one would think it would be a frequent stop but I haven’t even been up to their new facility yet! I’ll correct that problem soon enough. As for this beer, it was a Hazy Pineapple Wheat beer. It comes in second in the refreshment category because how the sweetness of the juicy pineapple complimented the wheat notes in the malt. I’m also assuming that they used a pineapple flavored hop to help amp up that aspect of flavor because it did have a nice light hop vibe. I’ve said before that Pale Ales are more up my alley and 47 IBU comfortably fits in that category. One of the reason I should get up there more is because their beers have a habit of finding their way on to this list and they’re one of the new-ish breweries.
2. Sideswipe Brewing – Bourbon Barrel Defaced – 10.5% ABV NA IBU
This beer qualifies as both Old School but it has a touch of new to it since it was aged in OYO Bourbon Barrels. I like this beer quite a bit without the added Bourbon but it really compliments the maltiness that comes from an Imperial Red Ale. It cuts the sweetness very well. Red ales are definitely another beer that hits my palette consistently better than other type of beers and this one is the King of Imperial Reds in Columbus.
Staas Brewing – 3 Year Biere De Garde – 9.5% ABV NA IBU
Last year, Sideswipe had my favorite beer of the year and Staas was runner up. This year, they switch places with different beers. I got to taste this gem on a solo trip to Staas for their 5 Year Anniversary. It had been in a Bourbon barrel for more than half of their existence and yet, this beer was not overly bourbon-y. It has aged so well. They gave me a small pour because of the limited quantity and I almost immediately chugged it. I don’t want to do that very often but this beer made me want to. I can’t think of a better way to compliment it. I did however savor it but not for too long, because it was simply the most delicious beer I had in the Cbus region all year.