Two microbreweries opened in Central Ohio this winter and two more are coming online in the spring− launches that suggest the region has become a hotbed for beer making.
The brewers at the forefront of the trend say it’s no coincidence that these kinds of operations are cropping up in such close succession, that the microbrew scene has been heating up elsewhere for quite awhile and locals are finally getting in on the action.
“You can’t help but be inspired when visiting other parts of the country that have thriving brew scenes, and want that for Columbus,” says Trevor Williams, co-founder and brewer at Hoof Hearted Brewing. “Columbus has had a ravenous appetite for craft beer, but we’ve been drinking beer made from everywhere except Ohio.”
Hoof Hearted brewed its first commercial batch Feb. 25 and expects to start selling product at the end of this month. Production will be limited for a short time as the brewery awaits delivery of additional fermenters and the finishing touches are put on its custom brew system.
Hoof Hearted is located in Marengo, Ohio on a Black Angus farm.
“The cows will actually be consuming all of our spent grain,” Williams says.
The trio behind Born Brewing Co. −Travis Spencer, Collin Castore, and Jen Burton− are making eco-friendliness a priority, too.
Born is scheduled to open this spring in a former Kelly Tires building at the corner of 4th Street and 4th Avenue in Columbus’s Italian Village.
“We’re digging up pieces of earth for plumbing right now,” says Burton. “We have talked to Green Thumb Revolution. They are guiding us as to how to reuse the rubble, and have hooked us up with a community garden that has taken a bunch of it already.”
Buckeye Lake Brewery opened Feb. 5 in the village of Buckeye Lake and also occupies a building with an auto-related past: a former gas station.
“We put garage door-looking windows in and exposed the porcelain panels to make it look like it used to in the ’60s,” says Rich Hennosy, the brewery’s founder.
Besides working with a few “unscrupulous HVAC contractors,” he says the build out process went pretty well.
However, Dan Cochran, owner and brewer at Four String Brewing Co., which opened Jan. 1, says he found the process to be challenging, to say the least.
“There are so many things to consider when putting together a brewery,” he adds. “You can plan forever, but once you start, you realize that there are a lot of variables that are unexpected.”
Cochran chose to open Four String in Grandview because he lives in the area and discovered several buildings there that were already zoned for manufacturing.
Despite being spread throughout the region, the brewers generally agree that there’s a sense of community among them.
“Everyone realizes that it’s all about the beer and supporting smaller breweries with quality product,” Burton says.
Both Cochran and Hennosy mentioned how helpful their colleagues have been, but the former found Columbus’s Department of Building and Zoning Services to be quite the opposite.
Factors like time and money, specifically the exorbitant cost of a brewing license in Ohio (versus neighboring states), also presented challenges.
The two microbreweries that have already launched −Four String and Buckeye Lake− offer a variety of beers.
Four String has an American pale ale called Brass Knuckle APA and a Belgian blonde called Backstage Blonde. Buckeye Lake has a blonde, a pale ale, an Irish red, and a stout, and plans to add an India pale ale as well as seasonal brews.
“I spend a lot of time taking compliments from customers,” Henossy says.
Hoof Hearted’s lineup will include Musk of the Minotaur IPA, Permafrost Wheat Porter, Calibös Session Lager, South of Eleven Double IPA, Voltan Russian Imperial Stout, Rybörg Rye, and seasonals/one-offs when inspiration strikes.
“The rewarding aspect at this point will be finally unleashing these brews that we have been tweaking and laboring over for nearly a year,” Williams says. “It’s a bit like getting naked in front of someone for the first time.”
Born will start with two flagship beers, one with a lighter malt profile and one with a darker malt profile.
“The fact that we’ll be making a handcrafted, tangible thing and selling it is awesome,” Burton says.
Along those lines, Cochran says the most rewarding aspect of being a brewer is “being able to walk into a bar and order your own beer.”
To learn more about Buckeye Lake Brewery, visit BuckeyeLakeBrewery.com.
To learn more about Four String Brewing Co., visit FourStringBrewing.com.
To learn more about Hoof Hearted Brewing, visit HoofHeartedBrewing.com.
To learn more about Born Brewing Co., visit its Facebook page.