Written by: Rich Terepak Jr.
Date: October 31, 2013

Counter pressure filler

Last month’s All Sides Weekend radio program, which revolved around libations and their role in our local restaurant scene, got me really excited about the burgeoning brewery business in Columbus. Several new independent shops have popped up around the city over the last year, and I found myself eager to learn more.

Many of you are probably familiar with Columbus Food Adventures, a company that was formed a few years ago, by food writers Bethia Wolf and Andy Dehus, in an effort to showcase many of central Ohio’s unique dining establishments, including food trucks. Now, taking a page from their book, fellow food writer Jim Ellison, known to many as CMH Gourmand, has started a new company, in the same ilk, known as Columbus Brew Adventures. Last week, I had the pleasure of experiencing their inaugural tour of the Grandview brewery scene, and I must say, was quite impressed.

The tour began at Barley’s Smokehouse and Brewery on Dublin Road. This particular stop began with a couple of generous appetizer plates, the only food served on the tour. There were some very meaty chicken wings that were brined, smoked and grilled, along with fried sauerkraut balls, fried onions, smoked rib tips, and a chipotle hummus with pita chips. The apps were not only delicious, but it was great to put some food in the belly, prior to tasting beers all evening.

We were lucky enough to have the owner, Lenny, and his brew master, Angelo, come out to tell us a bit about their history and the passion that goes into all their creations. We sampled their Centennial Ale and Pumpkin Porter, which were both delicious. We also learned a lot about the different methods for the distribution of the beers, whether via draft or firkin, or most interestingly, a nitrogen distribution method, which limits oxidization of the beers and gives them an usually creamy finish like Guinness.

From there, our group loaded into the brew van and headed to Zauber Brewing Company, which has a small, retail growler-fill bar, for the moment, but will be moving into a much larger, and nicer, retail space around the corner on 5th Avenue.

Owner Geoff Towne took us through his brewing background and education before having us sample several of their beers, which were mostly of Germanic descent. We started with their Myopic Red ale, a crisp everyday beer, followed by a nice, cloudy, German-style Hefeweizen, followed by their Stodgy Brown Alt, which is an old fashioned ale recipe from the Dusseldorf-Cologne region of Germany.

Zauber is also known for their collaboration with many local food trucks, which park outside of the brewery to serve food that pairs well with many of their beers. I really look forward to getting back to check out their new location, which should be open by the end of the year.
The third stop on our tour took us to a neat brewery, a bit off the beaten path, called Four String, named by owner operator Dan Cochran for his first love, the bass guitar. The place is full of charm and has a very rustic, warehouse feel to it.

It has a bar that seats about six, and a few tables as well. Most of the brewing equipment was reconditioned and refurbished. Dan repurposed several out-of-use dairy vats from the 1970’s, found at several farms across the state, and turned them into fermentation casks. I absolutely loved his passion for what he is doing.

We got to sample four beers: a dry-hopped American Ale called Brass Nuckle, which was my favorite, followed by Belgian style white ale, along with American wheat ale, and finally, the Skeleton Red, an American IPA with a nice dry finish.

The lineup of beers at Four String Brewery.

The lineup of beers at Four String Brewery.

The last stop on our tour was the Ohio Tap Room, on 3rd Avenue. Not a brewery itself, this brew shop features microbrews from across the state. They have these beautiful beer taps, which look like the flux capacitor from Back to the Future, known as a Counter Pressure Filler system. This device eliminates oxygen from contact with the beers, so that you can fill a growler, take it home, and the beer can last several months.

They have about 20 different beers available from all over Ohio, and feature some baked goods as well. I only wish they had a shop like this in my neighborhood.

After our visit to the Ohio Tap Room, the tour van took us back to Barley’s Smokehouse, where the tour kicked off, which is nice in case you want to have a bit more food before driving home.

One notable feature, the tour van is equipped with cold storage for any beer purchases made on the tour, so when you find something you really enjoy, you can take it home with you, and in turn support these local businesses. Regarding the inevitable beer buzz, I will say that while the tastes are many, the pours on the tour were certainly not over the top. I would, however, recommend starting out on a relatively full stomach.

For more information and tour dates, visit the Columbus Brew Adventures website.