Beer: Neil House Brewery

By Columbus Alive
From the Beer: Neil House Brewery edition

When his homebrew obsession got to be too much, Patrick Kelleher's roommates arranged an intervention.

Weekend brewfests had gotten out of hand, they told him. And when a roommate moves out, you can't just fill the empty space with fermenters and turn it into a brewery.

The young hophead was nearing the end of his studies at Ohio State, so his friends urged him to make a decision.

"They said, 'You need to put this to good use and go pro or spend more time doing something else,'" Kelleher remembered. "That was the beginning of the end."

Along with the ultimatum came encouragement about the quality of his work and offers to invest. It wasn't long before Kelleher began formulating plans to open his own full-time operation.

Located just north of Campus, the Neil House wasn't meant to be a brewery - but it gave birth to one.

Kelleher opened Neil House Brewery & Homebrew Supply Shop last April, and his beers started hitting Columbus carry-out shelves earlier this year.

"I got into brewing to support my habit," he said. "From the very first batch, I was hooked."

Like most brewers, Kelleher is passionate about his craft. Get him talking at his East Side facility, and he'll open up barrels to illustrate the difference between chocolate and black patent malts and let you smell a freezer full of hops.

"I love having the homebrew supply shop, because it brings people in," he explained. "That's one of the things I love about this job - talking about beer and talking about the brewery."

So far Neil House has released three selections to the public: Brewmaster's Select Cranberry Cider, Kelleher's Ohio Red and Buckeye Roots Hefeweizen, a stand-out wheat beer with banana notes and a quick, clean finish.

Bottles of all three are available at Weiland's Gourmet Market and Clintonville Community Market. Varieties also are appearing at bars like Hal & Al's and Crest Tavern.

Later this year, Kelleher plans to unleash a pale ale, a milk stout and a stout aged in bourbon barrels. Within the next six to 12 months, he hopes to upgrade to larger, faster production systems and possibly move the current equipment into a sister brewpub.

"It would give me more of a chance to put out some of my more experimental ideas," said Kelleher, who discussed tentative plans for a maple-bacon stout and sorghum ale. "I could put out five gallons a week and see if people like it."