Tasting room offers a change-of-pace from the usual brewery experience
You know the drill: Perch your “drink local” butt on a glorified picnic table in a craft-brewery taproom and sip hop-heavy beers while splurging on feel-good meals purchased from a food truck that looks a little beat up.
Yup, that can be fun. Still, been there, done that, right?
Within minutes of visiting the Kindred Beer Tasting Room & Barrel House, you'll realize this sleek operation out in Gahanna — which is about a 15-minute drive from Downtown — is a little different.
First of all, newly rebranded Kindred Beer — which premiered a year ago as “Kindred Artisan Ales” — veers away from hops-mad cliches such as double IPAs, and instead specializes in food-friendly Belgian-style ales. Secondly, Kindred calls its space a “tasting room” rather than a “taproom,” and that distinction translates into an airy, well-appointed tavern with room to roam.
Expect au courant design elements such as Edison bulbs, pew-like seating, an L-shaped wooden bar backed by white subway tiles and garage doors opening onto a patio. Also expect top-shelf liquors, views into a huge barrel chamber, plus the distinguishing feature of a gleaming new, Kindred-branded food truck overseen by an actual chef — Ben Beardsley, who apprenticed under former Columbus kitchen-star Magdiale Wolmark, the owner/chef at gone-but-not-forgotten Till Dynamic Fare and Dragonfly Neo-V.
Beer-wise, take advantage of the $7 sampler. You'll get four exploratory 4-ounce pours from Kindred's 12 taps. These can include the light-and-lemony Kindred Wit; a saison named Standard Operating Procedure made with rye; the richer Brune brown ale; an ESB called 'Tis a Pity; and the potent but versatile Golden Strong, which clocks in at an 8.8 percent ABV.
About 12 menu items — tacos, wings, a nifty spinach salad and several sandwiches — are available to soak up the suds. My favorite: Kindred's de facto signature dish, the gloriously messy Spicy Chicken Sandwich ($8).
Whereas most local versions of Nashville-inspired hot chicken are vinegar-spiked a la Buffalo-style, this craggy and crunchy-battered breast piece on a toasted roll with pickles and jalapeno slaw tastes like its considerable heat largely derives from an authentic Music City-type cayenne paste.
If fiery chicken isn't your thing, the juicy seared Bratwurst ($8) with — in a nod to choucroute garnie — warm, salty sauerkraut enriched with bacon, plus horseradish-scented beer mustard, is another big flavor-bomb. If you want fries with that, stubby hand-cut spuds can be added to any sandwich for $3.