Why Columbus’ Brewing Scene Kicks So Much Ass

 

Whether you love beer or not (what’s wrong with you…) you have to have caught on by now that Columbus has one hell of a kickass brewing scene. This is why we had to go around to the breweries and one sick meadery- to get the lowdown on why everyone is finally catching on to the fact that we have amazing craft breweries all over the city. So, whether you like stouts, porters, pilsners, or even meads, you’re about to get an inside look at all of your favorite breweries. Yeah, you should be stoked.

1. Actual Brewing Company

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These guys are the Mad Scientists of brewing! Really, though. When it comes to the chemistry of beer, they know their sh*t. In fact, they have a whole lab in their brewery dedicated to the art. In fact, as far as we know, they’re the only brewery that actually has a full lab on site. They’ve also decided to team up with OSU’s Agricultural Science department to provide internships to those who are interested in learning the ways of a brewer (sign us up for that class…). In other words, they have to know what they’re doing if OSU is working alongside them, and after tasting their beer; you’ll definitely be able to affirm that.

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All the science aside, what really impressed us most was the overall drinkability of every one of their beers, especially the Photon “light” Pilsner. Some say it’s the best beer they’ve ever had, others say that it’s nothing special, but, to the trained beer-lover, this goes way beyond your grandpa’s pilsner. Don’t let that distract you from their other beers, though. Their most popular beer, The Fat Julian, will soon return. It’s an Imperial Stout with plenty of richness and complexity, and is perfect for a blustery autumn day.

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Not only is their beer amazing, but they’re also in the business of roasting coffee too. Yeah, it’s also fantastic. Sometimes science really does make all the difference, and this beer is no exception to that. You definitely won’t be able to miss their bottles, either. Their branding is fantastic, which has caused them to catch some of the spotlight in Beer Advocate Magazine. Yeah, they’re pretty sick. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

2. Brothers Drake Meadery

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Okay, okay… it’s not a brewery, and we know that. When we found out the process of how Brothers Drake makes their mead, however, we knew we had to include them on this list as well. Just like beer, they use yeast to ferment their mead, but the key difference is the fact that they use honey in their mix. In case you didn’t know, mead is known as “honey wine,” and Brothers Drake, instead of loading you down with a sh*t-ton of sweetness, aim to create something a little dryer.

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It makes a difference, too. Instead of feeling weighed down after the first glass, you actually feel like you can drink another glass (or five, but who’s keeping count). With 13% ABV, it’s pretty easy to get a little buzzed if you don’t watch out. The buzz is kind of like a wine drunk, but you never get that annoying headache the next day. Not only are they pretty strong, but they also taste fantastic. They’ve recently featured flavors such as Blueberry Chai, but their traditional flavors, such as the sweet, natural-tasting Wild Ohio are sure to please.

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Even better, though, is the fact that Apple Pie is about to come back, and, yes, it actually tastes just like Apple Pie! It’ll be available on October 4th, and people are sure to crowd in to savor its sweet, sweet taste yet again. Not only should you be stoked about that, but they also have a monthly Astronomy Night, where an OSU professor comes in to talk about astronomy. If that doesn’t suit you, they also have Jazz Wednesdays every Wednesday night and Poetry Night once a month. Ah, you gotta love being cultured.

3. Elevator Brewing Co.

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Far from cultured, Elevator Brewing Co. is all about one thing: Bringing you kickass beer. That’s not to say that you can’t do cultured things while drinking the beer… like watching an OSU game while playing Mozart in the background… okay, so no one really does that, but you should definitely catch a game while knocking back one of their beers, especially if it’s their Bleeding Buckeye style.

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It’s not about how you drink the beer, though. It’s all about taking the time to enjoy it. Instead of getting fancy with their brewing process, Elevator Brewing Co. decided to stick with the old way of doing things, and staying true to brewing traditions. So, when they say you’re getting an Amber Ale, you’re getting an Amber Ale, and not some kind of crazy experimental beer that will throw you for a loop, and a lot of that has to do with their Master Brewer, Vic.

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You see, Vic is kind of a stick-to-his-guns kind of guy, and he’s easily one of the most recognizable faces in the Columbus Brewing Scene because of it. Well, maybe a lot of that has to do with the fact that his face is on the Big Vic’s IPA bottle, but, you know, he’s a hard guy to miss. While their Tap Room is only open for limited amounts of time, you can always grab a couple of beers, complete with a food pairing, at the Elevator Restaurant. You’ll never be cringing after drinking one of their beers, either, because every one of them is smooth, and go down easy.

4. Four String Brewing Co.

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So, you think you’re a badass? Well, you’ll probably never reach the level of badass that comes from within the tanks of Four String Brewing, but at least now you’ll have a beer to complement your badassedness. Yeah, we just coined a word because of this brewery, but as soon as you walk in, you’ll see why. Two guitars, complete with a Goat Skull adorn the wall above the bar, and it’s quite a sight to take in.

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Not only is the scenery badass, but so is the way in which they make their beers. Ever heard of the term “Frankenbrew?” Yeah, we hadn’t either. As it turns out, Four Sting is the only brewery in Ohio (that we know of) to use Milk Tanks to craft their beers, and it’s definitely something you won’t see every day. Upon tasting the beer, we definitely noticed that there was something special about this, beer, and it probably has a lot to do with their system.

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While we were a little surprised to see a full list of IPAs as our only options for the night, we were a little surprised, but we soon found out that every one of them had a very, very unique identity. The one that stood out most to us was definitely the Skeleton Red IPA, which had a very unique, almost floral undertone to it. Maybe it was the spices, but we can see why this is their mainstay for autumn. We can’t wait to try their Vanilla Porter once November rolls around. Something tells us it’s going to be epic. Oh, and you definitely want to stop in on Thursday nights, because the movie nights make for a great atmosphere.

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5. North High Brewing Co.

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Ever wondered what it would be like to make your own beer? Well, you’re in luck. Sure, you may know North High for their high-quality beers, but you may not have known that for a price that averages right around $200, you can go in, make your own style of beer, and they’ll even provide you with directions. You’ll even get to make your own labels! Yeah, it’s pretty sick.

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While that program should be enough to draw you in, there’s way more to love about North High than that alone. While they’ve only been at it for about a year and a half now, they’ve already perfect right around thirty recipes, and they already have right around thirty more in the works. If that doesn’t take dedication, then I don’t know what does. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that they run on a two-barrel system, which means they have a lot of room for experimentation.

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Speaking of experimentation, they have one hell of a beer there that’s a little different than anything we had tried before. So, you know how Guinness is nitrogenized? Well, North High decided to do the same thing to a English Ale, and the results… well, it’s not only tasty, but it’s also one of the easiest drinks any of us have ever had. The beer goes by the name of Wildcard, and yes, you do need to give it a try. Speaking of beers that you have to give a try, you need to stop into the Pearl to try North High’s Oyster Stout. You can’t get it anywhere else, and it’s well worth the trip.

6. Seventh Son Brewing Co.

Seventh Son has a reputation for having the best bar in Columbus, and we can definitely see why. The open-air feel of the place definitely makes this place the perfect place to come out to with a group of friends on a Saturday afternoon. Instead of having to fight off the hordes of beer-lovers at night (it gets pretty packed), you’ll have the chance to relax and have some great conversations without having to talk over everyone else.

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While the patio and venue in general is great, you shouldn’t let that distract you from taking a moment to savor the beer while you’re relaxing. Their two most popular beers are their American Strong Ale and Humulus Nimbus (Super Pale Ale). The American Strong is definitely packed with flavor, and had a caramel undertone to it that stuck with us. The Humulus Nimbus, on the other hand, was a little more bitter, but still refreshing. If you like a hops-filled beer that won’t punch you in the nose, Humulus Nimbus is for you.

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Not only are those beers impressive, but they also have a consistent rotation of 4-7 others that are always the talk of the town. They also plan on expanding, and perhaps moving to another location as well. Time will tell, but Columbus’ love for Seventh Son will be eternal. Until then, don’t shy away from having your next celebration at the bar. The staff knows how to help you have a great time and the beer is killer.

7. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

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Talk about some classy beer… Wolf’s Ridge is one of those places where the beer is catered towards melding well with the food, and they do a hell of a job in doing that. Featuring an impressive food menu, which has a beer pairing with every item, Wolf’s Ridge has gained a lot of attention for the overall quality that they provide to everyone who comes in. In fact, it’s one of the only places in town where every one of the servers are Beer Service Certified, so you know that they know what’s up.

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That’s not to say that the beer can’t stand alone by itself. You see, Wolf’s Ridge has an obsession with perfecting Belgian-style beers. They have a variety of tripels an doubles (Alpha and Omega are what’s up), but it would seem that their most popular beer throughout the seasons is their Cream Ale, which goes down easy and would appeal to even the pickiest beer-drinker; if only for style.

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Not only are the beers excellent in their natural state, but Wolf’s Ridge actually uses a lot of their in-house beers as cooking ingredients. In fact, they even use hops in some of their salad dressing and put some of their beer into their doughnut yeast. Yeah, they combine two of your favorite things. Even if you don’t like the restaurant vibe, they’ll soon be opening up a taproom just for the beer-lovers out there, and they’ll have more experimental stuff for everyone to try. We can’t wait.

8. Zauber Brewing Co.

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Damn, what an upscale. We were lucky enough to stop in on the night when Zauber unveiled their new line of continuous beers, and we’re so impressed. It seems like it’s been forever in the making (we wanted their to try their beers so bad), but it’s finally here. Instead of dealing with a one-barrel system, they’ll now have the ability to work with a twenty-barrel system, which means that their productivity is going to increase twenty-fold!

If that wasn’t enough, the space that they have is absolutely perfect. Aiming for the feeling of a German Beer Hall, you don’t have to worry about rubbing shoulders and elbows with everyone in a space that’s as open as this place. They also have Food Trucks on deck all the time, which means you don’t even have to wander out to get food. This only adds to the genuine feeling of the Traditional Beer Hall.

A lot of their recent success, though, has a lot to do with the faith in their mission. Instead of messing with a lot of Anglican styles, Zauber has decided to stay true to German and Belgian beers, and doesn’t want to tinker with them too much. If you really want a treat, give their Oktoberfest beer a try. It’s easily one of the purest, crispest beers that we’ve ever tried. Not only that, but you don’t have to wait until it’s in-season to try it! With beer purity like theirs, it’s no wonder why they’ve grown so quickly, and they’re only going to keep chugging along.

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At the end of the day, the Columbus Brewing Scene is all over the place. There are some traditionalists, some experimentalists, and even some hardasses, but they’re all working towards a greater goal: Putting Columbus on the map as one of the greatest beer cities in the country. Something tells us that it’s only a matter of time…