Beer Guide: Local brewers reveal their favorites from the competition

Elizabeth Weinstein, Columbus Alive contributor

Craft beer is clearly having a moment in Columbus. With 17 breweries in town (and many more a short day trip away), you would think competition between local brewers would be fierce. Instead, we found quite the opposite to be true.

"The cool thing about the craft beer industry is that we all just love beer, and there's plenty of room for everyone to keep growing," said Jay Taylor, sales and marketing manager of Elevator Brewing Co. "We all get along, drink each other's beers and are just really supportive [of one another]."

As Angelo V. Signorino, Jr., brewmaster at Barley's Brewing Co., put it, "It doesn't seem that long ago that there were only a few breweries in town. There are so many these days - we hosted 20 for our Twentieth Annual Afternoon with the Brewers this June - that I couldn't possibly keep track of all of the great beers out there at any given moment."

We asked a handful of local brewers to name their favorite beers - from other breweries - and they were more than happy to oblige. Here's what they had to say.

Jay Taylor

Sales and marketingmanager,Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus

Favorite Elevatorbrew: Mogabi Hoppy Wheat Ale.

Why: "It's a really crisp, summery wheat ale beer with a citrusy bite at the end. When it's out in the summer I drink it like crazy."

Favorite Competitor(s): Temperance Row Brewing Co.'s Hatchetation Pale Ale on nitro.

Why: "The nitro gives it such a smooth body."

Also: Musk of the Minotaur, from Marengo, Ohio's Hoof Hearted Brewing, which recently won the inaugural King of Ohio IPA contest.

Collin Castore

Brewingpartner, Seventh Son Brewing Co.

Favorite Seventh Son brew: Humulus Nimbus Super Pale Ale

Why: "Humulus Nimbus has a special place in my heart come summer. We designed it as a light bodied hop-forward summer beer and I think it fits the bill perfectly."

Favorite Competitor(s):Columbus Bodhi DIPA and Dalton, from Columbus Brewing Co.

Why: "Columbus Brewing Co. really nails their hops."

Jason McKibben

Brewmaster, North High Brewing

Favorite North High brew: The Pale Ale.

Why: "It's an American-style pale ale that's easy on the malt and dry-hopped with Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin hops, [which gives] the beer an amazing aroma of tropical fruits, citrus and berries. The bitterness is clean and the finish is crisp."

Favorite Competitor(s): Syzygy by Seventh Son Brewing Co.

Why: "It's a double IPA. Aromas of the modern hop standards were fresh and bright. Bitterness was resinous without being lingering. It's appealing to me because it's balanced, well-crafted and flavorful."

Also, Point of Origin, a Belgian golden ale created by Barley's once a year in honor of The Origins Game Fair at the Convention Center.

Why: "I happened to stop into Barley's when it was on tap this year and was impressed … The fruity esters from the abbey ale yeast were delicate and distinctive. The body was full and smooth."

Walt Keys

Creativedirector, Land-Grant Brewing Co.

Favorite Land-Grant brew: The Greenskeeper Session IPA.

Why: "It delivers on satisfying my hop craving while only packing a 4.7% ABV. It's just so refreshing and leaves you still feeling lucid after a few."

Favorite Competitor(s): Oast Oat Pale Ale by Seventh Son.

Why: "Oast by Seventh Son is a session ale brewed with oats that's pretty damn tasty. I tend to try whatever is new or different when I find myself at any of the local taprooms, but I definitely get an Oast whenever they've got it on."

Also: Rockmill Brewery's Saison Noir.

Why: It's "a dark and tasty farmhouse beer."

Craig O'Herron

Owner/brewer, Sideswipe Brewing

Favorite Sideswipe brew: The Pixelated Sun.

Why: "It is a hoppy wheat beer released for the summer. We go pretty heavy on a hop variety that lends a bright, citrus note, with a crisp, clean finish. It's a great thirst quencher that draws a lot of praise."

Favorite Competitor(s): Wolf's Ridge Brewing's Buchenrauch.

Why: "It's an old-world smoked beer that isn't overly aggressive. There's a good balance between the flavors, which is what you expect from a German-inspired beer. It's great to have another local brewery offering a smoked beer. Elegant Hoodlum is ours, but as a stout the styles are quite different. We use a smoked malt to give ours an added layer of character without overwhelming the expected flavors. It's a delicate balance, so we appreciate when somebody gets it right."

Also: Actual Brewing Co.'s Curiosus

Why: Because it's a harder-to-find brew, and "sours can be tricky, but they do a good job. We hope to do some sours in the future and hopefully we will have similar success with them. It seems like people are getting turned onto sours these days, which is fun."

Michael Byrne

Headbrewer/co-owner,Lineage Brewing

Favorite Lineage brew: Touche de Gris, a Grisette.

Why: "It's low gravity, meaning I can drink a couple. It is fermented with a Lactobacillus culture, giving it a really nice sour/tart finish, which I love. And it is a unique style that I don't come across very often."

Favorite Competitor(s): Weasel Boy Brewing's Plaid Ferret Scottish Ale.

Why: "It has wonderful smooth caramel malt flavor, a touch of sweetness and just drinks so easy. It's also low gravity, so I can have a few or five."

Also: Buckeye Lake Brewery ESB.

Why: Because "it's a biscuity, delicious brew with a subtle hop presence."

Angelo V. Signorino, Jr.

Brewmaster, Barley's Brewing Company

Favorite Barley's brew: Citrajectory, a single hop multi-grain saison.

Why: "It's got a juicy hop flavor and aroma, [is] not as bitter as an IPA, and has complexities, thanks to Belgian yeast."

Also: Infinity Grand Cru, a Belgian dark strong ale available in July.

Favorite Competitor(s): "I'm a fan of hoppy beers. The only way to beat [Columbus Brewing Co.'s] Bodhi is with [Columbus Brewing Co.'s] Creeper. Those beers epitomize hop-forward and have won the awards to prove it."

Also: Seventh Son Brewing's Strong Ale.

Why: It "is a solid, well-balanced version of the American style."

Brent Halsey

President/brewer/co-owner, Zaftig Brewing Co.

Favorite Zaftig brew: The Too Cans IPA - especially when it is aged in bourbon barrels.

Why: "It's a 12% IPA with a huge malt bill but balanced by an equally huge amount of hops."

Favorite Competitor(s): "I gotta give it to my boys at Elevator. The Horus (and Bar Bar) are beers that really speak to me. [I] love the big, high gravity, full-bodied beers, and I think these beers really hit a home run in that category."

Chris Davison

Head brewer, Wolf's RidgeBrewing

Favorite Wolf's Ridge brew: The German Helles Lager Gold Standard.

Why: "It's crisp, drinkable, and still my go-to beer, especially at lunch or when bringing beer to a party."

Also: The spiced Imperial Stout Canis Mexicanus.

Why: Because "it's our big and roasty Dire Wolf base beer that we spice with cinnamon, vanilla bean, cocoa nibs and chilies sourced from North Market Spices and espresso from One Line coffee. We just did our first bottle release at the brewery and sold out in under two hours."

Favorite Competitor(s): The Hoof Hearted South of Eleven DIPA.

Why: "It was a nice take on the style. The bitterness wasn't offensive like some double IPAs can get and the aroma was super dank and resinous. It was very drinkable despite the higher alcohol."

Also: A lager from Gordon Biersch.

Why: "I'm a sucker for good lager, and they produce lagers that rival even Hofbrauhaus."

Mike Rockwell

Brewer and chiefmarketingexecutive, Pigskin Brewing Co.

Favorite Pigskin brew: The Gose All the Way.

Why: "It's a very refreshing beer of an ancient style. Gose has a sour tang, a salty mid-tongue feel, with a slightly sweet coriander finish. Our answer to Summer Shandy."

Favorite Competitor(s): Seventh Son's American Strong Ale.

Why: "I was drinking [it] all day during the Fourth of July. It reminds me a little of our Amber, where there is a strong malt backbone, balanced with delicious fruit flavors from hops from Northwest United States and New Zealand."

Also: The White Rajah from the Brew Kettle, in Strongsville.

Why: It "has been an inspiration to us for our IPA brewing. It has little to no malt backbone, with a strong fruity hop character that makes for a great, smooth drinking IPA."