Well, kind of.
The dreaded Ohio State vs. Michigan game was on, and fans adorning scarlet and gray were out in full force. Hooray for SPORTS!!! Despite the annoying tendencies of the majority of hardcore football fans (or any sport for that matter), their behavior nevertheless provides some excellent "people watching" opportunities. However, when sports are involved it proves to be a pastime both Brewslut and I enjoy only in moderation. She tends to get annoyed with people much quicker than I, but when it comes to over zealous sports fans, we're both pretty short on patience.
Coincidentally, it turns out the brewery was actually founded by a few hardcore mid-western sports fans, so it all makes sense to me now. Inside, the decor was pretty heavy-handed with the sports memorabilia, so that should have lit up the little light bulb in my head too. Thankfully, the fans here were more or less respectful and not too belligerent.
I kicked off the day with a half pour of a beer called Goon, a strong American Pale Ale featuring Magnum, Northern Brewer, Chinook, and Green Bullet hops. The name jumped out at me and I immediately thought of Peter Sellers, the actor who portrayed Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies. He was a member of the popular British radio show The Goon Show. While I've never seen it, The Beatles were huge fans, so I'm only familiar by proxy. But I love those old Pink Panther movies. Regardless, the word Goon is just fun to say, especially when you hold out the "oooooh" sound in the middle. Try it out loud... GOOOOOOOOOOOON!!! See?
References aside, the beer was solid, not great. There was nothing wrong with it, but it wasn't what I'd call memorable either. That seems to be a recurring leitmotif lately: pretty good but not great. I guess that's not a bad thing. If the beer isn't flawed, then I'm generally OK with it.
For my final selection, I opted for Dropout, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. Brewed to celebrate the brewery's fourth anniversary, this dark treat features bourbon-soaked oak from Middle West Spirits to release traces of vanilla, coconut, and chocolate with a coffee-forward finish. This one was easily the stand-out of the three. Brewslut and I split this pour, but I'm pretty sure I consumed the lion's share of it.
|Pleeps LOVES his impy stouts!|
Up next was Barley's, the longest operating brewpub in Ohio. Founded in 1992 (the year I graduated high school), Barley's is also home of Ohio's longest tenured brewmaster (Angelo Signorino). I also discovered they housed an old-school arcade on the second floor above the brewpub featuring some 40-odd classic video games from the '80s. I decided to check it out, but apparently they hadn't opened for the day. Some random dude was up there sitting behind the bar. I think I startled him when I asked if they were open, but even he didn't know. M'wah.
We settled in, and I noticed a firkin on the opposite side of the bar. I inquired about it, and it turned out to be a variation of Twisted Christmas, Barley's holiday ale. This particular one-off firkin featured vanilla, oak (perhaps oak spirals?), and Simcoe hops. The base beer also includes orange zest, fresh young ginger, whole cinnamon sticks, and organic honey.
Brewslut opted for Brutopia, a light-bodied Brut IPA brewed with minimal bittering hops for a clean, dry finish. I wasn't too fond of this one. While it offered some hints of mango, citrus fruit and pine, it wasn't as dry as I'd anticipated. The hop character seemed muddled too.
While the beer wasn't necessarily memorable, our visit was marred by perhaps THE most annoying sports fan we'd ever encountered in a public place. While there were several bothersome patrons at Barley's donning their scarlet and gray attire, this twenty-something nitwit seemed to be having a shouting match with the television. His family and friends at his table didn't seem to mind, because they too were there to watch the game and root for the home team. He was so off-putting that we began to badger him and mock his behavior out loud. Brewslut wanted to punch him in the genitals. I tried to trip him as he walked by to visit the restroom. Seriously, this guy was about as big a douche as we'd ever encountered and will forever be etched into my brain as someone I'd love to watch be mauled and trampled to death in public by a crash of aggravated rhinos. I mean, imagine if I displayed similar behavior when an Iron Maiden song came on the jukebox. I'd likely be tossed out on the curb. We finished up our beers and couldn't get out of there quickly enough.
But enough about sports. Let's get back to beer, shall we?
Since we wanted to visit Elevator but they weren't open until 4 p.m., we'd decided to head over to Wolf's Ridge. However, it turns out there is a smaller Elevator tasting room a block or two down the street from Wolf's Ridge so we stopped in for a quick one-and-done. Things at Elevator were pretty quiet now that the game had wrapped up. A few scattered patrons occupied the small space, and by the time we'd finished our beer, there were only about two or three people left at the tiny bar.
Knowing this would be a quick visit so as to not lose track of our agenda, I opted for 380 IPA, a straight-up old school IPA with equal parts pine and citrus. The beer takes its name from Columbus' area code. This one reminded me more of a slightly dry, citrusy West Coast-style IPA, albeit not totally up to snuff compared to some of the Left Coast heavy-hitters. Still, this one was enjoyable as we passed about thirty-odd minutes checking out the small, garage-like tasting room.
|Pleeps needed a quick power nap.|
After a quick visit to Elevator, it was off to Wolf's Ridge, which is situated just a few short blocks away. A family-owned and operated brewery, Wolf's Ridge also houses a pretty legit restaurant that stems from a deep love of both craft beer and food. Like many up-and-coming small breweries, they focus on locally sourced products and services to remain true to their roots.
|Exterior of Wolf's Ridge Brewing Co.|
Clear Sky Daybreak seemed like a good place to start, especially after a holiday ale and an IPA at our last two stops. This one is a variant of the brewery's popular Clear Sky Cream Ale, a pre-prohibition style ale and features vanilla and light roasted beans from Columbus-based One Line Coffee. It was a solid beer and definitely piqued my interest enough to stick around for seconds. Besides, the beer list was tempting me to explore things further.
Meanwhile, Brewslut decided to go Swimming In the Mangrove. That's actually the name of the beer, folks. The beer menu described it as a "red ale aged in red wine puncheons." Excuse me... what exactly is a "puncheon?" Let's ask the bartender, shall we?
Turns out a puncheon is basically a really big wine barrel. The vessel holds one-third of a tun, which is the English unit of liquid volume used for measuring wine, oil, or honey. According to the Wikipedia entry: "The term puncheon, shortened to 'pon' in the United States, is thought to derive from the fact that it would have been marked by use of a punch to denote its contents. The unit was also known as a 'tertian' (from the Latin word for 'third')."
|The scenery at Wolf's Ridge.|
I've noticed that dry-hopped sours have come into their own over the past several years. As a newer style, these tend to appeal to beer drinkers who like IPAs but not necessarily sours and vice versa. As someone who likes both, this hybrid style offers the best of both worlds to me. I'm typically not a "sweaty feet and stinky cheese" kind of sour guy, so the addition of a dry hop to brighten up a tart or sour beer with some citrus or tropical notes offers a pleasant twist to me.
|Pleeps sitting proudly next to Terre Du Sauvage Green.|
Did I mention the food here is killer too? Indeed it is! I actually wish we would have eaten here, because the "seacuterie" (essentially charcuterie for pescetarians) was amazing. Featuring pickled herring and assorted accoutrements, this plate was a veritable flavor explosion from the sea. All in all, this place is definitely a gem and in our top three of the trip. The beer, the food, the service, the vibe... all A+.
|The tasty "seacuterie" plate. They had me at pickled herring!|
I must admit that I wasn't sure how I was going to like Hoof Hearted. I mean, I reckon myself a funny guy with a very well-rounded sense of humor. But I just wasn't sure about naming a brewery Hoof Hearted. Say it slowly, out loud: Hoof Hearted. Hoof Hearted. Who Farted. Yes, indeed. That, my dear readers, is the impetus of the name and in turn a brewery that doesn't take itself too seriously. In all honesty, I have to admire that. Like most men, unfortunately, I never made it out of the anal phase. I still adore gaseous secretions and other assorted scatological anecdotes, much to the chagrin of Brewslut. As it turns out, I was just getting goofy enough after visiting the four previous breweries to enjoy Hoof Hearted to the fullest. Coincidentally, this place was in direct contrast to the much classier Wolf's Ridge, but I'm equally cultured and childish enough to realize this dichotomy and thus able straddle the line and hang with both breweries. I mean, diversity makes the world go 'round. Am I right or am I right?
Sadly, Konkey Dong was not on tap when we arrived (cue the "Dain sucks at life" music!), which was one of the beers my buddy Nuts said I had to try. Oh well. After perusing the varied beer menu, there was plenty I wanted to try. Let's dig in!
The first beer I tackled was a double dry-hopped Pale Ale called Thanks For Letting Us Play Tonight. I'm just going to present the beer's description verbatim for you all to get an idea of how Hoof Hearted rolls:
"I want to wash that man right outta my hair," Trevor sung into the mic as he made a break towards the bar top. "...And send him on his way!" Swinging around the shoulders of a stout and increasingly indignant older Japanese woman, he lost his grip and fell face first over the bar and into a mound of Galaxy hops. Just when you thought he'd be down for the count, a hairy set of knuckles emerged over the surface of the counter top. In its grasp was half of a Mai Tai with a microphone as a garnish. "But they made me wear a wristband!" he screamed as the waitstaff fireman-carried him out into the parking lot and back into the wild.
Without delving too far into the poetry of that epic description, I'll just say that I've never seen "fireman-carried" used as a verb anywhere, much less in a beer description. "Mai Tai with a microphone as a garnish" might just be the dumbest yet most hysterical image I've come across in beer writing. To quote one of my favorite movies, "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever."
|Hoof Hearted's beer board.|
Up next was the evocatively named Put Some Bangs On It, a soft nitro-dispensed DIPA with vanilla and milk sugar. I was initially drawn to this when I noticed it was a collaboration with New York's excellent Other Half Brewing. There was lots to soak in here, so we pretty much stuck to half pours of everything and shared them all. This was on the sweeter side of the spectrum (as anticipated) but also delivered a citrusy hop character similar to an orange creamsicle.
I continued on with Motion Lao-tion, another collaboration beer, this time with Horus Aged Ales of Oceanside, California. Weighing in at 11.5% ABV, this heavy-hitting Imperial Stout is brewed with Laotian coffee. I later discovered that Laos produces some of the highest quality coffee beans in the world (at least that's what Wiki tells me). Laos' abundant farmers, land resources, and suitable climate provide perfect conditions for producing Arabica coffee in large quantities. Since coffee is another beverage I can't live without, I'll be sure to seek out some Laotion coffee in the near future.
|Hoof Hearted's got some serious wood.|
Where does one go from a hefty imperial stout? How about a Triple IPA? Sounds like a logical progression to me. Enter Most People Can’t Handle High Bass, a bristly, sticky IPA brewed with El Dorado and BRU-1 hops. The latter is an experimental variety developed by Brulotte Farms in Yakima Valley, Washington state's hop hot-spot. Brewing with this hop imparts notes of dank pineapple and spicy citrus rind as well as some floral notes in the background. This one was insanely drinkable despite its 10% ABV heft. And with that, you can stick a fork in us, Hoof Hearted.
That's not to say we were done for the evening. Far from it. While we were at Hoof Hearted for quite some time, our visit to Seventh Son was a fairly quick one. The brewery's name, however, stuck out to me initially, as it hearkens back to one of my favorite Iron Maiden albums, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
Overall, this place just kind of felt good. Folks at the bar were talkative, the place was comfortable, and the bartenders were cool. The beers were solid too. In a change of procedure, Brewslut opted for the IPA while I went with a sour. But when I saw the description for Almighty Thicket, I was sold. I'm a sucker for blackberries and this deep purple-hued, kettle soured farmhouse beauty of an ale was delicious.
|Today is born the seventh one / Born of woman the seventh son|
Brewslut was hankering for some more hops, so she opted for an IPA called The Scientist. I appreciated the concept of this IPA: a constantly evolving beer with each new batch. Essentially, every time the brewery releases a new version of this beer, they swap out a single ingredient (i.e. a hop or malt variety) from the last version. Fans can actually follow along with Seventh Son's "Scientist Log" on its web site. The IPA was tasty and I found this to be a neat little angle played by the brewery to shake things up and get the fans coming back time after time to detect the subtleties of each revision.
|Pleeps mingling with the Scientist.|
While researching record stores in Columbus for our itinerary, I came across the holy grail of vinyl shops called Craft + Vinyl. Wait... you mean to tell me that there is a record store with its own craft beer bar... in the same space? Good God, just take all of my money! While the place was cool (and even hosted live music), both the beer and record selections were fairly modest. The tap selection included about eight beers, which were predominantly local Ohio offerings. I opted for Truth by Rhinegeist, a brewery based out of Cincinnati. A West Coast-inspired IPA, the combination of Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe, and Centennial hops deliver a tropical fruit aroma, grapefruit and mango notes, and a fairly dry finish.
Overall, the place didn't quite meet up to my expectations, but I love the concept and was able to find a few choice records while sipping on a tasty beer. The fact they host live music is also a plus for me. With that said, I wish we had a place like this in Central PA. Any takers? Throw in an 80's arcade and I'm there at least once a week!
Somewhere, somehow we caught wind of a brand new brewery called Antiques on High that wasn't on our original itinerary. Turns out the place is a sister brewery of Seventh Son (yes, the very same brewery we'd just visited two places ago if you're keeping score).
This place reminded me of a modern SOHO club; only they didn't serve over-priced domestic beer and blast annoying, fast-paced techno music at a deafening decibel level. Instead, they focused exclusively on sour and wild-fermented beers as well as hazy hop-forward ales. Despite the hipster vibe, this place seemed pretty chill. The decor was trendy with lots of bright geometric shapes and odd color combinations. Plus the bartender seemed to be exceptionally knowledgeable about beer, which is always a breath of refreshing air.
Although I can seldom resist a good IPA, I was drawn to the sour beers here. The ambiance of the place just seemed to create a vibe more conducive to sipping sours. The beer menu indicated whether the sours were "highly sour," "moderately sour" or "mildly sour," which I supposed would come in handy if you were a sour newbie. That we aren't, but we appreciated this caste system they've integrated into its beer descriptions. Here's the lowdown on our beers we enjoyed during our visit:
- Crushed Velvet - Sour Red Ale with black and red raspberries (highly sour)
- Saddle Lamp - Sour Dark Ale (mildly sour)
- Hoop Driver - Sour Red Ale (mildly sour)
OK, so not the best descriptions, but these three were all quite enjoyable albeit with varying degrees of complexity. Obviously, we both gravitated to the Crushed Velvet (the most sour one of the bunch), but all were well done. I would have liked to have had the time (and liver) to delve into some of the hoppy offerings, but by this time we were pretty bojangled. I'm glad we were able to squeeze this place in because it was one of the highlights of the day for us.
|AOH even has glowing Teddy bears.|
Well, that was quite a busy day. Stay tuned for the final chapter of Drinksgiving Goes to Eleven in the coming days. Until next time...