Saison Season: Derive Brewing brings its cans to Clintonville
Tucked in an unassuming corner of a parking lot between Lucky’s Market and a post office, Derive Brewing quietly opened up shop at 2808 N. High St. in late August. While the sign out front is still temporary, the patio firepit is permanent, and it’s been put to good use throughout this winter as a spot to sip saisons and Derive’s other craft beers.
Derive took the space over from SIP Local, whose owners occupied it for less than a year before offering it to Derive’s co-owners, Peter Steffes and Luke Sherrill. The takeover was an outgrowth of a partnership that developed over the summer while Steffes and Sherrill were still working at North High Brewing, building the Derive brand on the North High taps through a contract brewing arrangement. SIP approached them, asking for help to launch a new production space in Gahanna. “The whole idea was that if we helped get it up and running, then we could start doing some contract brewing there at the Gahanna spot,” Steffes said.
Steffes and Sherrill were glad to get involved. Their interest was in crafting unique and refreshing beers that are not widely available in the Columbus market, including saisons. “We do a lot of clean, barrel-fermented stuff,” Steffes said. Preparing the space in Gahanna required everything from thorough cleaning of the fermenters to contracting experts for electrical work. When the rehab was complete, they got another generous offer from their friends at SIP.
“They brought us here one day and just kinda asked us point blank, like, ‘Hey would you guys want to take over this spot?’” Steffes said. “We jumped at the idea to take it over because we’ve always loved Clintonville. … It's just such a good demographic and market for craft beer connoisseurs.”
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Given the closeness between the SIP and Derive brands — and the people behind them — the takeover featured minimal changes; some of the art on the walls is different, but the outdoor firepit and upscale bar food menu remain. Many of the changes are adaptations for the COVID-era, including canned beers and takeout and home delivery through Uber Eats.
Grabbing a four-pack to go has become a popular pastime: Steffes estimates that 70 percent of the beer they’re selling right now is in cans. A cooler in the corner is stocked with both beer and to-go cocktails. Recent carry-out options included the crisp Not Making Cents saison, the refreshing Turtleneck and Gold Chains IPA and French Toast Dark Web pastry stout — a beer that tastes like dessert with an ABV high enough that it’s probably safer to drink from the comfort of your kitchen.
While selling in cans was something Sherrill and Steffes had always talked about doing, COVID accelerated the timeline. “I think we’re gonna always have to do that now. That’s just a thing of the future. People … like drinking at home,” Sherrill said.
There are more changes to come, including an updated food menu. But like everything these days, things are moving on a slower timeline. “Even the process of getting a sign is slower right now,” Sherrill said.
Despite the difficulties that come with opening a brewery during a pandemic, Derive is succeeding in offering something for everyone. “I think we’re doing some things that are popular that everyone wants, but I think we’re also doing some things that are underrepresented in the Columbus market,” Steffes said.
In other words: A visit to Derive is guaranteed to please picky eaters and craft beer lovers alike.