The local beer scene continues to expand
It's the common theme year after year in Columbus brewing: growth. There are changes, renovations, closings and canceled plans, to be sure, but by and large beer — and brewing — in Columbus is only expanding.
And it's not just in the city proper. Nearly every suburb has or will have a brewery to call its own. More and more smaller towns outside Columbus boast their own breweries, from Newark to Heath, Lancaster to Marysville. The Columbus Ale Trail, which encourages beer aficionados to trek across Central Ohio in search of beer, saw a record number of completions this year, and the new trail — the fourth annual — now features 41 stops. By comparison, the 2015 inaugural trail featured 20.
And as usual, more is on the way. Every neighborhood, from the existing to the emerging, will soon claim its own watering hole. Parsons North Brewing Company is coming to Parsons Avenue, Nocterra Brewing will join Powell this fall, Olentangy River Brewing Company is under construction in Lewis Center. Arizona-based Blasted Barley Beer Company seems to be making progress on their brewpub by the Columbus Commons. Ohio Brewing Company, based in Northeast Ohio, is planning a huge brewery and taproom in Milo-Grogan. And that Columbus Brewing Company brewpub is still in progress.
Here's a look at what Columbus breweries have been up to, and what's on the horizon.
The Actual Brewing Company
655 N. James Rd., East Side
Style range: rye beers, stouts, light lager, saisons
Signature: Fat Julian imperial stout
Actual continues to brew, bottle and can with “tender loving science” from its East Side taproom, although the operation is preparing a westward expansion. The brewery is aiming to open a taproom on the southern end of Clintonville this September. Sitting in the same plaza as Lucky's Market, the taproom will include a small patio, a secondary brewery run by veteran Columbus brewer Scott Francis and a menu crafted by Alana Shock of the now-shuttered Alana's Food & Wine.
Barley's Brewing Company
467 N. High St., Short North
Style range: English styles
Signature: MacLenny's Scottish ale
Barley's refreshed its branding and revamped its menu last year, and this year it continues on the steady. The brewpub plays host to local crowds and visitors from the Convention Center across the street, all while making use of the Brewcadia arcade and bar upstairs, along with private events in the Underground space. In addition to the mainstay beers, Barley's continues to brew exciting one-offs and to offer Firkin Friday specials.
The Brew Brothers at Scioto Downs
6000 S. High St., South Side
Style range:pale ale, amber ales, stout
Signature: Redhead amber ale
Brew Brothers is now in its third year as the in-house food and drink option for the Scioto Downs entertainment complex. The brewpub pairs house-made brews with an easy-to-like menu of pizzas, burgers and other pub favorites. Stylistically the brewpub plays it safe, but it draws visitors with a large restaurant space, live music, a patio and plenty of food and drink specials.
96 Gender Rd., Canal Winchester
Style range: IPAs, stouts
Signature: Punk IPA
BrewDog didn't hesitate after opening its massive production and distribution facility in Canal Winchester last year. No sooner had the doors opened than BrewDog announced the DogHouse, a partly crowd-funded hotel connected to their new Overworks sour beer facility. Before you could blink, BrewDog USA CEO Tanisha Robinson was pushing the plunger to blow a hole in the earth, in a typical BrewDog groundbreaking for the hotel. The other big news is the addition of Short North and Franklinton brewpubs; the Franklinton stop features a rooftop patio looking toward Downtown. Community involvement has been the other focus, from special events and collaborations, to floating the idea of buying the Columbus Crew SC.
Columbus Brewing Company
2555 Harrison Rd., West Side
Style range:American IPAs
Signature: Bodhi IPA
CBC has hit its stride with its West Side production facility, offering a larger rotation of bottled beers like Bodhi, Creeper, Thunderlips and the SFW farmhouse-style ale. This year the brewer launched volume one of its Insane Wanderer IPA, a recurring series that uses a different blend of hops each time. Owner and brewmaster Eric Bean says plans continue for a taproom at the production facility, as well as development of a CBC brewpub in the proposed East Market in the renovated Franklin Trolley House near Franklin Park.
Combustion Brewery & Taproom
80 W. Church St. #101, Pickerington
Style range: blonde ales, IPAs, stouts
Signature: Combustion IPA
Combustion Brewery has entered its second year of serving Pickerington as the neighborhood brewery, and it seems to have been warmly embraced. Located in the former Pickerington Creamery building, the brewery has expanded its tap list to include a wide range of styles, all of which are augmented by a menu of house-made bar snacks, plenty of live music and a steady rotation of local food trucks.
535 Short St., Brewery District
Style range: California common, IPAs, wheat beers
Signature: Six.One For Good Ale
Commonhouse Ales continues as the city's only certified B Corp brewery, which means it is held to rigorous accountability standards and sends a portion of its proceeds to the Commonhouse Shares fund through the Columbus Foundation. To date Commonhouse has given over $10,000 to local nonprofits through the fund. Its offerings, bottled and sold around the city, have expanded to include the Czech, Please pilsner and the IPA for the People, a brew created through a public tasting and vote.
Elevator Brewing Company
165 N. Fourth St., Downtown
Style range:German lagers, IPAs, red ales
Signature: Bleeding Buckeye red ale
Elevator continues operating its 13th Floor Taproom in its Fourth Street brewery and its companion restaurant on High Street, Elevator Brewery & Draught Haus. The brewery keeps busy with steady production of bottled beers, and Elevator has also hosted more specialty bottle releases.
Endeavor Brewing Company
909 W. Fifth Ave., Grandview
Style range: lagers, IPAs, Belgian strong ales
Signature: Latin Lager
Endeavor is a new brewery in an old space. Last fall, Zauber Brewing closed its doors and the space was quickly flipped into Endeavor. Although the branding, beers and menu have changed, the large communal seating, the easy-drinking brews and the dedication to showing Premier League soccer have remained the same.
Four String Brewing
985 W. Sixth Ave., Grandview
Style range:pale ales, IPAs, lagers
Signature: Brass Knuckle pale ale
Like Elevator, Four String Brewing continues to operate two facilities: the original Grandview taproom and a West Side production house and taproom. Both taprooms are humming along, while the production facility contract brews for a number of breweries, including a few in town. This year Four String supplemented its already-popular Hilltop Heritage Lager with a light version.
Gordon Biersch Columbus
401 N. Front St., Arena District
Style range: German lagers, IPA
Signature: Golden Export
Colorado-based Gordon Biersch continues from its Arena District outpost, maintaining a roster of German- and Czech-style brews like the Golden Export lager, Marzen, Maibock and others to pair with the restaurant menu.
Grove City Brewing Company
3946 Broadway, Grove City
Style range: pale ale, IPA, porter
Signature: Indian Trails IPA
Like Combustion Brewing in Pickerington, Grove City Brewing Company has been warmly embraced as the neighborhood brewery. The owners of Plum Run Winery in Grove City are into their second year of operating the brewery, and it just seems to get busier and busier. The brewing operation, headed up by Trevor Luther, supplements a full food menu and events like trivia nights, live music, yoga classes and special beer tappings.
800 Goodale St., Grandview
Style range: German
Signature: Premium lager
The Hofbrauhaus chain, modeled on the Munich brewery, is nearing four years in Columbus. The operation is significant, with a burgeoning portfolio of beers, expanded food menus and a total liquid output in the hundreds of thousands of liters. The operation features four year-round beers: a light lager, a dunkel, a premium lager and a hefeweizen. A specialty brew is tapped at a ceremony the first Tuesday of each month.
Hoof Hearted Brewpub & Kitchen
850 N. Fourth St., Italian Village
Style range: Hazy IPAs
Signature: Musk of the Minotaur, Everybody Wants Some
Hoof Hearted's Italian Village brewpub is entering its third year of serving up colorful dishes to go with its irreverently branded and much-sought-after beers. A member of the brewery has also excelled at roasting coffee, which is used at the brewpub and its partner restaurants and brewed into an addictive cold brew. Hoof Hearted is also the only brewery in Columbus to boast its own pool; in warm weather guests can sip hazy IPAs and lactose-infused pales poolside.
Ill Mannered Brewing Company
30 Grace Dr., Powell
Style range: IPAs, hoppy wheat, stouts
Signature: Bitter Ex Double IPA
Nearing its third anniversary, Ill Mannered is poised for significant change this year. After maxing out a Powell taproom, the brewery is building a new standalone space in the same plaza, with a larger capacity brewery and taproom, a full patio and space for food trucks. The new brewery is set to open this fall.
505 Morrison Rd., Gahanna
Style range: saisons, wits, sours
Signature: Hawaiian Shirt
Kindred operates both a tasting room and a production facility in Gahanna. Open to the public, the tasting room is the spot to enjoy local food trucks and a growing rotation of beers, from the Hodad IPA to the Hawaiian Shirt American blonde to the Salvage porter. More and more of Kindred's sours are making their way to bottle while the mainstays are canned regularly.
Knotty Pine Brewing
1765 W. Third Ave., Grandview
Style range: porter, IPAs, blonde ale
Signature: Cherry Wood Smoked Porter
Knotty Pine continues brewing a rotating portfolio of beers, with standards like Mirror Lake IPA and Cherry Wood Smoked Porter ranking as favorites. The easy-drinking brews pair with a creative brewpub menu of bar snacks, pizzas, sandwiches and weekend brunch.
Land Grant Brewing Company
424 W. Town St., Franklinton
Style range: IPA, kolsch, brown ale
Signature: Stiff-Arm IPA
Land Grant Brewing has become one of the mainstays of the Columbus brewing scene, with its Franklinton taproom and brewery a popular hangout for all sorts of events, and the brewery's canned beers available everywhere. A second taproom on Concourse B of the John Glenn International Airport welcomes thirsty travelers. This year the Franklinton brewery was augmented by a new beer garden across the parking lot, bolstered by the Ray Ray's food truck onsite.
2971 N. High St., Clintonville
Style range: cream ale, IPA, sours
Signature: Aunt Bernice Berliner Weiss
At just over three years in business, Lineage is a popular hangout for Clintonville residents and avid beer-seekers. Customers' loyalty has allowed the brewery to expand both its beer production and food selection. The kitchen gets creative with hand pies, tortas and snacks, while beer offerings range from saisons, stouts and pilsners to IPAs, barleywines and infused variations on the popular Aunt Bernice Berliner Weiss.
Loose Rail Brewing
37 W. Waterloo St., Canal Winchester
Style range: IPAs, saisons, stouts
Signature: Dead Man's Throttle IPA
Loose Rail Brewing embodies the modern brewery and taproom: take a historic building (the old electrical building for the Ohio Valley Traction Company); brew a steady roster of drinkable beers; host food trucks, trivia nights and live music; and become a favorite neighborhood hangout. True to Loose Rail's locomotive-themed location, it has named beers things like Blast Pipe blonde ale, Full Steam saison and Derailed double IPA.
North High Brewing
1288 N. High St., Short North
Style range: pale ale, hefeweizen, IPA, milk stout
Signature: pale ale
Although North High's brew-on-premises facility has scaled back in size over the years, the taproom and production facility continue at full steam ahead. Cans of North High's IPA, hefeweizen, pale ale, milk stout and imperial stout are ubiquitous on grocery store shelves, while seasonal and special releases like Tree Tapper maple brown ale and Stardust to Stardust imperial IPA join the pack.
Pigskin Brewing Company
81 Mill St., Gahanna
Style range: IPA, cream ale, gose, hefeweizen
Signature: Undefeated IPA
The athletic-themed Pigskin is Gahanna's brewpub, sporting a roster of over a dozen house beers to go with a full gastropub menu. House brews range from the Undefeated IPA and variations on Pigskin's gose, to cream ales, stouts, porter, more IPAs, bocks and barleywines.
Platform Beer Co.
408 N. Sixth St., Downtown
Style range: IPAs, sours, pilsners, stouts
Signature: Speed Merchant white IPA
Cleveland-based Platform continues a steady takeover of the state of Ohio, and its Columbus outpost remains a favorite hangout. The long, industrial taproom and small rooftop patio play host to a rotating selection of 25-plus beers, local food trucks and regular can releases of all manner of experimental beers.
Pretentious Barrel House
745 Taylor Ave., East Side
Style range: sours
This past year saw the opening of not one, but two, breweries completely dedicated to sour beers. The first to open, Pretentious Barrel House, joined the ranks in late 2017. The taproom and brewery is located just north of I-670 on the East Side, and includes arcade games and food trucks. Brewery tours are offered regularly, too. Pretentious typically features a dozen sours on tap, often infused variants of its Truculent, Derisive, Sybarite and Erudite brews. A few of the beers have also been released in bottles.
Random Precision Brewing Company
2365 W. Dublin Granville Rd., Linworth
Style range: sours
Signature: Misconstrued Sarcasm Brett IPA
Random Precision was the second sour brewery to open in Columbus, opening on Dublin Granville Road in Linworth on St. Patrick's Day. The cleanly designed and welcoming taproom includes a small bar, communal seating and a view of barrels aging in the back. So far only three of the house sour beers are on tap, but more will be revealed in November with official celebrations.
RAM Restaurant & Brewery
6632 Longshore St., Dublin
Style range: IPAs, stouts, lagers
Signature: Longshore Light Lager
Until this year, Washington-based RAM Restaurant & Brewery operated two Central Ohio brewpubs, but the first, located in the Short North, closed abruptly in June after barely a year and a half in business. The second location in Dublin's Bridge Park development keeps on trucking, serving house-made brews and a large brewpub menu.
503 S. Front St., Brewery District
Style range: Belgian-style brews
Led by Chef Andrew Smith, Rockmill Tavern has become a destination for creative dining that pairs well with house-made beers. The Brewery District location is an outpost of the Lancaster-based brewery, known for its portfolio of saisons, farmhouse IPAs, stouts and cask-aged beers.
Seventh Son Brewing
1101 N. Fourth St., Italian Village
Style range: ales and IPAs
Signature: Seventh Son American strong ale
Seventh Son recently completed one big project and is working on a second. The Italian Village taproom opened a huge expansion behind the original space, offering a large increase in production and canning capacity, plus a second-floor rooftop patio and bar. The second big step is on the way: a sister brewery called Antiques on High in the Brewery District, focusing on sours and Belgian brews.
2415 Scioto Harper Dr., Columbus
Style range: IPA, smoked stout, saison
Signature: Fisticuffs IPA
Sideswipe continues to have a significant presence in bottled and canned beers, while its expanded taproom and brewery is a hidden gem for ale-seekers. The full bar there features a growing lineup of beers, plus picnic tables, board games, darts, a small patio and visiting food trucks. Owner Craig O'Herron supplements standard brews like the Punch Out pale ale and Elegant Hoodlum smoked stout with concoctions like the Hoppy Amber inspired by local band MojoFlo.
Smokehouse Brewing Company
1130 Dublin Rd., Grandview
Style range: English ales, cask-conditioned ale
Signature: Centennial IPA
The pit barbecue-focused Smokehouse brewpub remains a destination for smoked and grilled meats while brewing its popular staples like the Centennial IPA and MacLenny's Scottish ale, while expanding its portfolio to more barrel-aged beers, firkins and other specialty offerings. Owner Lenny Kolada continues to use Smokehouse as the testing ground for his second brewery, Commonhouse Ales, which utilizes the former Columbus Brewing Company space in the Brewery District.
Temperance Row Brewing
41 N. State St., Westerville
Style range: English ales
Signature: Scofflaw Scottish ale
Temperance Row Brewing, housed inside Uptown Deli & Brew, is nearing its fourth anniversary, providing good beer in the neighborhood that was once the epicenter of the temperance movement. Scott Francis, owner of the Winemaker's Shop in Clintonville, and the brewer who helped start Barley's, CBC and Smokehouse, continues to brew English styles that pair with meals from the deli up front.
Wolf's Ridge Brewing
215 N. Fourth St., Downtown
Style range: stout, smoked beers, cream ales
Signature: Dire Wolf imperial stout
Wolf's Ridge has solidified its reputation as a destination for both creative dining and experimental beer, thanks to the skill of head brewer Chris Davison and Chef Seth Lassak. The restaurant and brewery continues to win awards, while Davison's bottle releases see fans lining up down the alley outside the taproom. The brewery is expanding two-fold: first with another row of fermentation tanks on a platform above the existing ones, and second with an event space next door to the restaurant.
Zaftig Brewing Company
7020A Huntley Rd., Worthington
Style range: Anything high gravity
Signature: Shadowed Mistress strong ale
Zaftig marked the occasion of its fourth anniversary this spring by brewing a massive 17 percent ABV stout called Ol' Rugger. It's a fitting celebration for the brewery named for the Yiddish term for “full-bodied.” From its Worthington taproom, Zaftig hosts a steady roster of community events and food trucks. It also brewed the Westerville Blue New England IPA to raise funds for the families of two fallen Westerville police officers — a great example of many breweries creating special beers for fundraising efforts.