Celebrate the anniversary with a daylong party this Saturday, Jan. 27
Craig O'Herron's story, like many of today's brewers, begins with home brewing. He kicked off the hobby about a dozen years ago, and after returning from teaching English abroad in Thailand and South Korea, he found himself at a crossroads.
“I was deciding if I wanted to go down the teaching route,” O'Herron said, “but at the same time my home brews were better than what I was getting off the shelf.” He leased a small space at 2419 Scioto Harper Dr., in a light industrial area just west of Downtown and south of I-670, and opened up Sideswipe Brewing.
His timing was spot-on, as O'Herron managed to catch the early wave of new breweries opening in Columbus. When he started what would become Sideswipe, there were five breweries in the city. But by the time he officially opened, there were 11.
“Things have changed drastically,” O'Herron said. “The taproom law changed after we signed our lease. … We didn't know taprooms were going to be a thing in Columbus. When we opened it, we said, ‘Let's see if people show up.' Now the taproom's a great addition.” Traffic at the taproom, which is decidedly off the beaten path, has been steady enough that he leased the space next to him a year and a half ago, built out a larger taproom and doubled his brewing capacity with a five-barrel system.
On Saturday, Jan. 27, Sideswipe Brewing celebrates four years in the brewing business. During the festivities, O'Herron will tap OYO barrel-aged versions of his Mastermind imperial stout and Defaced imperial red ale. He will also debut the latest edition to his Sparring Rounds series, an extra-hoppy super pale ale. He'll also host Fetty's Street Food and Schmidt's food trucks.
Of all the developments over recent years, O'Herron notes the camaraderie of the Columbus brewing community as one of the most significant. “It's amazing how friendly everyone is, and how many feel like legitimate friends of mine,” he said. “We all get along really well, which doesn't happen in every industry.”
“Great businesses have also grown up around the brewing community,” he continued. “The Columbus Brew Adventures tours are awesome, and the Ale Trail book — we couldn't have known they would show up when we started.”
As for his next steps, O'Herron just signed a deal with Ohio Beer Co. to distribute his beers across Columbus and then eventually to the rest of Ohio. He's also hoping to do some limited canning runs this year.