Columbus is a city that has a whole neighborhood named after beer, and craft beer is big business in Columbus. Over the past year, we've been lucky to see lots of new development on the brewery front, and three spots have opened tasting rooms in and around downtown Columbus. If you haven't made a beer trek lately, here's what you've been missing:
Wolf's Ridge opened its doors on 4th Street on the north end of downtown Columbus last fall, and its space is appealingly industrial and rustic. The brewery is located downstairs, but a wall of windows lets you peek down on the spotless fermenters from the dining room. If you stop by on Saturdays at noon, you can hop onto a free brewery tour. Their 3 a.m. I.P.A. is a bit on the malty side yet crisp, and a better pairing with food than most I.P.A.s. The Clear Sky cream ale is another standout, with soft carbonation and a just-barely-sweet character.
In addition to great beer, Wolf's Ridge was named the best new restaurant of 2013 by Columbus Monthly Magazine. With dishes like a lox and endive salad, pork belly braised in dry-hopped cider and stout-braised venison, you can't go wrong. They even make their own ice creams in house, and they stand up to the best in Columbus.
Staying on 4th Street, Seventh Son Brewing Co. is just over a mile north of Wolf's Ridge in Italian Village. Since opening its doors last April, Seventh Son has become a fixture of the indie scene in Columbus. On the whole, the beers are bold and flavorful and only loosely conform to standard taste profiles. The brewery's signature beer, Seventh Son American Strong Ale lives up to its name at 7.7% ABV. It's an amber ale with citrus and stonefruit flavors that incorporates seven varieties of hops throughout the brew process. It's a special treat when OYO Bourbon Barrel Brown Ale is on tap, which is aged in nearby Middle West Spirits bourbon barrels.
Seventh Son doesn't have a kitchen, but that doesn't stop it from being home base for great food. You can find some of Columbus' best food trucks pulled up just outside Thursdays-Sundays.
Zauber is the newest of the batch, having opening its doors in early January on Fifth Avenue near Grandview - only a mile and a half west of Seventh Son. Zauber sticks closer to traditional German brewing methods, and lead brewer Geoff Towne has an outstanding pedigree, having brewed at Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewing Company and Cincinnati's Boston Beer Company. Zauber's depth in German styles brings some varieties that are hard to find - the Kolsch has pale ale characters and is perfect for summer drinking. The Roggen Rye is a roggenbier that's dark and malty with the distinct vanilla, banana and clove notes of brewing with rye. Zauber's own beers sell out quickly, so the taproom also offers a great selection of other local beers.
When warmer weather rolls around, Zauber will be ready with an outdoor beer garden! Like Seventh Son, there's no kitchen planned at Zauber, but food trucks are a fixture. The first Saturday of every month, Zauber will host a food truck rally, making a great pre- or post-Gallery Hop stop.
What's your favorite new brewery in Columbus?