#SippyTimeBeer Review – Tour of @NorthHighBrew

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Looking into the bar area thru the old windows of Brown Hall into the brewing area.

My lady decided to purchase a Groupon then toss her half to her father so that we could attend a tour of the brewery together. I have had their beers before at various locations around town but I had never been to their bar and brew house. We had to wait for the tour to start so her father grabbed a Wildcard! English Ale and I snagged a Maibock, which isn’t listed on either of their menus. It got my attention because it was a malt heavy drink. It delivered too.

The Maibock from North High Brewing

The Maibock from North High Brewing

Gavin, one of the owners, was the leader of the tour although he was about as hoarse as me last week after Wrestlemania. He had done four tours the day before and he had to shout which killed his voice. It was a slow afternoon so it wasn’t too hard for him to talk to us. He first talked about the design of the bar. They re-used plenty of materials to build just about everything in the bar. Old growlers were used to create light fixtures. Old mail boxes from New Orleans are now used to house patron’s glass mugs that are made from any broken glass at the bar itself. It’s quite a deal too as you get a 20-24 ounce mug and only pay for a pint when it gets filled. They have multiple windows above the back of the bar that are from the now demolished Brown Hall, which used to be the architecture building at Ohio State. That isn’t the only re-used piece of wood from Ohio State as all of their tap handles and their blinds on the front of the building are from the old seats at Ohio Stadium. Rail road tracks are used the foot rest at the bars. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some of what was re-used but it was all very well put together for a fairly small space just south of campus.

Tap Handle

Their tap handles from old seats in Ohio Stadium

 

Gavin then moved on to talk about malted barley, roasted barley, hops and water which are the main ingredients in beer. The malted barley does have a different taste than when it goes into a beverage. We were advised not to eat the hops straight so I declined. I know I don’t like IPAs that heavy in hops anyway. Gavin moved us into the brewing area, which you can see from the bar area because of the Brown Hall windows. They have two kettles that are 60 gallons to make their mash in. When brewing for themselves, they cook it for 7 hours. The cool thing about this brewery though is that you can pay them $190-240 to brew your own beer. When they brew for you, they only use the kettles for 3 hours. Your costs gets you 15 gallons of beer which is nearly a keg. My neighbors and I are debating doing this. At the present moment, they are splitting time brewing customers beers and their beers which has caused problems from time to time supplying their own beer. They will be expanding to a facility on 5th Avenue and Cleveland Ave where they will upgrade to two 600 gallon tanks to make their own beers. The location at the bar will become just for customers only. That is a very tasty way to solve the problem. Gavin then walked us through the rest brewing process and showed us their storage area, which contains quite a large amount of beer. The casks the beer is stored in used to only be on the floor and are now stacked three high. It’s only another reason to get the 10,000 square foot facility up and running.

Upper L: Blonde, Upper R: Milk Stount Btm. L: E.S.B. Btm. R: IPA

The New Orleans mail boxes that house the recycled glass mugs.

The New Orleans mail boxes that house the recycled glass mugs.

After the brewery tour, we got shirts and then we have an “optional” tasting for legal reasons. They were out of two of their beers but we still only four of their available six beers. It just so happened that her father & I ordered the two beers not in the tasting. Gavin said that they list their beers in order of IBUs because it is a measurable taste unit and will help people judge which beers they like. They started us off with their Blonde Ale which is 16 IBUs and 4.2% alcohol. It had a nice crispness to it and complexity that was perfect for a nice warm day as it was. They moved on to their Queen Madine Chocolate Milk Stout. Gavin said that most people assume darker beers are more bitter but this one is only 20 IBUs so there was more of a bite to it but the sweetness of the milk helped to even it out. One participant bewildered Gavin when she told him she didn’t like Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout, which he was about to use as an example as an excellent one, and she preferred theirs. I liked this beer a lot but I think Left Hand beats them out by an udder. Queen Madine was 6.0% ABV. We moved on to their English Special Bitter or E.S.B. It comes in at 40 IBUs which is where my lady’s father tapped out. I’ve worked way beyond this point. I really enjoyed this beer as I haven’t had this style since being in Europe in 1997. There was a lot more to it than the bitterness. It had a sweetness and even a back door hint of malt which made it really complex and tasty. The E.S.B. was 5.9% ABV. The last beer of the tasting was their Indian Pale Ale, which is so named because the English sailors realized that beer lasted longer when it had more hops in it. For an IPA, I don’t think the 70 IBUs is that high since I’ve tried beers over 100. It’s certainly a heavy dose but nothing I can’t handle. Her father didn’t even try and handed me his sample. I didn’t argue. It was a good beer but the E.S.B. remained my favorite. The IPA came in at 6.3% which made it the most potent beer of the tasting.

I will definitely try and make a habit of swinging by there more often though it’s marginally harder to get to than some of the other breweries in town. Now if I can just figure out a beer to brew with my neighbors and an occasion to drink all of that beer. – Kevin

#SippyTimeBeer Review – The Best of #Cbus #CraftBeer

columbusFor the most part, I have steered clear of posting about the local beers unless I’ve had an idea in mind (Local beer article) since I know most of the people who read the site aren’t living in the 614 area code or anywhere close. To close out the year though when news is slow and everyone is doing end of the year lists, you’re getting an article about the best ten beers I have had around Columbus. I am making three exceptions to this list – Buckeye Lake Brewing, Homestead Brewing Company and Hoof Hearted Brewing – which are within a stone’s throw of 270. No Jackie O’s, Ohio Brewing Company or anything delicious I’ve had from Cincinnati. Just the Best of the ‘Bus.

What I’ve Tried

Actual Brewing CompanyWinter IPA (From a firkin)

Buckeye Lake BreweryChristmas Ale, Octoberfest, Oatmeal Stout

Columbus Brewing CompanySummer Teeth, IPA

Elevator Brewing CompanyBear Ass Pale AleBelgian Xtra BlondeDirty Dick’s Nut Brown Ale, Heiferweizen, Horny Goat, Wicked Goat, Procrastinator Doppelbock

Four String Brewing CompanyBackstage Blonde, Big Star White IPA, Brass Knuckles Pale Ale, Cherry Blonde, Skeleton Red IPASun Caster Summer Wheat, Vanilla Porter

North High Porter

Delicious Sandwich by the Paddy Wagon. Delicious Porter by North High Brewing.

Homestead Beer CompanyPine Table Pale Ale, Boat India Pale Ale

Hoof Hearted Brewing Voltan Russian Imperial Stout

North High BrewingHefeweizen, Porter

Seventh Son Brewing CompanyBlack Sheep, Glad Tidings, Oubliette, Saison Noir, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Stone Fort Oat Brown Ale, Wilderman

Zauber Brewing CompanyBuxom Blonde, Myopic Red, Portergeist, Stodgy Brown, Vertigo

What I Haven’t Tried

A lot. The Granville Brewing, L. Hoster Brewing, Neil House Brewery, Rockmill Brewing, Sideswipe Brewing and Wolf’s Ridge Brewing are companies that I haven’t even tried this year. If I stick with my exception, Staas Brewing in Delaware (a shade closer than Homestead and Hoof Hearted) would also be on the list. I haven’t tried all of the offerings from the companies I have listed above either. Trying thirty-six different is a decent start though and pairing it down to ten will be tough.

My Top Ten In Cbus

10. Hoof Hearted BrewingVoltan Russian Imperial Stout The best stout from a local company had to make the list and this one was it. Oubliette was in consideration but this one edged it out. Both are Imperial Stouts that made the comparison easy in that they were from the same branch of stouts. This beer ended up being amongst the best during the Cbus Microbrew Festival in the Short North out of a dozen beers that I tried. This Imperial clocks in at 9.5% alcohol content which will help you feel good quickly. They use espresso (which I tasted) dried figs (I don’t remember any sweetness) and licorice (still not remembering sweetness). No matter, even if I didn’t pick those flavors out, this beer is worth a try.

9. North High BrewingPorter – I definitely haven’t gotten to try as much from this company as I would have liked. I had them at the above mentioned Festival and at a food truck rally for Zauber before the Pittsburgh Penguins first game here in town. I certainly dig that you can go to their brewery and schedule one of their kettles and make your own brew. It costs between $190-240 and yields 15 gallons of beer which equates to 147 12 ounce bottles. Just over a dollar a beer isn’t a bad price for a craft beer of your own making. To the beer though, it’s got a great thick consistency and has just a touch of molasses which also helps to make this beverage a dark brown.

8. Homestead Beer CompanyBoat India Pale Ale – Because of their location outside of the 270 confines, I haven’t had much from this brewer either except at the aforementioned Festival. After reading their site more, I have found out that this beer is seasonal so I got lucky to try it. They tell me that they put passion fruit and citrus in it so even though I didn’t notice those flavors in particular, it was a noticeably more balanced IPA between sweet and bitter. Homestead notes that it’s a Pacific Northwest IPA, which I had to look up. The best description I came up with was from the Seattle Times which said

Most fulfill the traditional characteristics of the colonial style: strong hop bitterness, pronounced aroma and high alcoholic content.

Which means to me, it’s an IPA with some extra adjectives attached. Whatever name they put on it though is irrelevant. It’s a tasty beer with a 6.3% ABV that any good beer drinker would imbibe.

7. Zauber Brewing CompanyMyopic Red – I had a hard time picking my second favorite beer from Zauber. Their Vertigo hefeweizen was probably the beer I drank the most this past year. I really enjoy their Stodgy Brown too. I went with the German Red Alt won out though. It’s a top fermented beer, unlike a lager which ferments from the bottom. It is matured at a cooler temperature which gives it a fantastic crispness which goes down very easily. It has a red hue to it and carries a 5.0% ABV so it’s a session-able beer for those people who are tailgating.

6. Four String BrewingBig Star White IPA – This beer may have started my turn towards IPAs or at least towards being receptive to tasting more of them. According to my Google search, White IPAs were only created in 2010 when Deschutes Brewery in Oregon and  Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City got together to make an IPA that was mixed with a Belgian Wheat Beer. I do love wheat beers so it explains my taste buds opening up to this version of the style. Coming in at 7.0%, this beer will make you happy along with your taste buds at this cross roads of beers in your mouth.

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#SippyTimeBeer Review – #Cbus Microbrew Festival

Cbus Microbrew Festival '13

I got to taste a lot of local beer when I went down to the Columbus Microbrew Festival. I had a chance to taste some of my favorites but as usual, I decided to try beers that I didn’t have. Zauber Brewing is still working on a larger facility. Four Strings had a couple of offerings there and I passed on them along with Barley’s, Barley’s Smokehouse & Pub, Columbus, Elevator, Gordon Biersch, Great Lakes, Ohio & Thirsty Dog because I have had and reviewed a number of all of their products. I’ll list in alphabetical order what I did have since I’m not completely sure of the order I drank them in. They were supposed to serve 4 ounce portions but almost everyone was very generous with their pours so I got a good idea of how they all taste.

Buckeye Lake BreweryOctoberfest – It’s that time of year, Oktoberfest & Pumpkin beers are everywhere. I’ll get around to a whole column on pumpkin beers later. This brewery just east of Columbus in, you guessed it, Buckeye Lake has gotten good reviews from my friends in the area. It was finally time to try some for myself though. I’m not sure if it was fair to try a seasonal beer though. If it is indeed seasonal since they don’t even have a beer list on their website. The beer had the red hue that most “Marzen” (March in German because of when they brewed them) beers have. This one has a nice balance of hops and malt to make it taste really good. Thumbs up for my first taste of Buckeye Lake.

Great Black Swamp BrewingWetlands Wheat – This company is based in Toledo, OH so it’s not the most local beer there but it was a new one to me. No one wants to go to Toledo so I’m glad they came to us. I love wheat beers so it was an easy first choice from the company and it delivered. Nice and crisp on a night that was reminiscent of Fall than the Summer.

Great Black Swamp BrewingBull Frog Stout – Because there weren’t any cider beers on tap, my girl friend ended up giving me her tickets. Since they had a hard closing time of 10 PM on Friday, we had to venture back Saturday afternoon to finish using the tickets. You don’t need to twist my arm. Since I had a second crack at this brewery, I went with their Bull Frog Stout which was quite good. Double thumbs up from this company.

Homestead Beer CompanyPine Table Pale Ale – This beer is from Licking County which, like Buckeye Lake, is just east of Cbus. Unfortunately, my memory of this beer is hazy at best. I didn’t take notes and I didn’t Instagram each beer, just their label. No, it wasn’t from drinking too much, this time. It just means I’ll have to try it again.

Homestead Beer CompanyBoat India Pale Ale – On Saturday, I couldn’t remember how many choices Homestead had. When I got to their station, I was talked into trying this beer. “It’s the right balance of hops & malt” said the worker who must have been part of the brewery because he was dead on.I could get into more IPAs if they were like this one.

Hoof Hearted BrewingVoltan – Russian Imperial Stout – Aside from the over played but somewhat amusing name, they do have a goofy centaur as a mascot so these guys know how to market. Of course, it helps when you have a fantastic beer. One of the best beers of the weekend.

Jackie O’s BreweryMatriarch Tri-Pa – I have reviewed two of their beers with another one on my “To Get To” list. I hadn’t seen their Tri-Pa probably because it contains six different kinds of hops and a total of five pounds of it per barrel. It’s no wonder this beer cost me not the normal one ticket for four ounces but three tickets. Another reason the cost was so high was because of it’s 11% alcohol content. If you want to get drunk in style and quickly, have this beer if you can get a hold of it.

Lagerheads BreweryWhite Water Witte – When we arrived Saturday, I grabbed this beer first because the vendors let us in without getting our 21 and over wrist bands. No one cared that we didn’t have them on. Yep, starting to get old. Any way, since it was good and sunny, mid 0s I went with a Belgian wheat beer. Perfect plan to soak up some of the last rays of summer. Come Fall and Winter, that whole sun thing is going to be scarce around these parts. Glad I could enjoy a smooth crisp and citrusy beer. They are located up in the Abbeyville OH which is just south of Cleveland.

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