Keeping up with new breweries and taprooms could be a full-time job, so we asked experts across the state to share a few of their cities’ newest additions.
Noble Beast Brewing Company owner and brewmaster Shaun Yasaki has worked his share of northeast Ohio breweries: Fat Head’s Brewery, Platform Beer Company and Market Garden Brewery. This spring he launched Noble Beast Brewing Company in Cleveland. “It’s essentially a brewpub with a taproom feel,” he says. Yasaki’s niche in the marketplace is making traditional German styles with Belgian and American selections mixed in, and his industrial-chic brewery’s name illustrates that mix: “Noble” refers to classic German hops such as Saaz and Spalt; the “beast” is his unconstrained approach to American brewing. The space used to be a Brinks Armored Transport facility and boasts an open atmosphere with glass garage doors and a skylight.
Yasaki’s core beers are: Evil Motives IPA, Catchweight Kolsch and Kapitan Al Bier, and he’s concocting a unique Belgian-style Grisette (think Saison’s cousin) with kombucha (fermented sweet tea). Veteran chef James Redford (formerly of fire, food & drink and Spice Kitchen) serves “farm-to-table bar food,” Yasaki says.
Luke Purcell, former brewmaster at Great Lakes Brewing Company, is a legend in Cleveland’s brewing scene. So when he makes a move, it’s worth tracking his destination. Purcell has taken his talents to Collision Bend Brewing Company, located on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River. Described as a “fashionable waterfront brewery and taproom,” the culinary focus is “Southern California street food.” Options range from San Diego fish tacos to L.A. sauerkraut balls and menu items are designed to pair with Purcell’s rotating brews. This beer buff with a seasonal palate can’t wait for colder weather to sample Samsel Stout – named for Frank Samsel – whose 56-foot boat, the Putzfrau (German for “cleaning lady”) played a major role in the River’s cleanup.
Combustion Brewery & Taproom owner and brewmaster Keith Jackson explains his Columbus taproom has “three distinct spaces.” There’s a bar area, a more casual area with garage doors and a patio. Live music is on tap twice a week and food trucks on weekends. Their kitchen produces locally sourced charcuterie and cheese plates, paninis and Bavarian-styles pretzels.
So much for the amenities – what about the beer? Best-sellers are Combustion IPA and Blueprint, a blueberry riff on Combustion’s Wanderlust blonde ale. Like most brewers, Jackson likes to get creative and occasionally makes Golden Ticket, a cocoa-nib infused Wanderlust.
He says this combustible concoction gets lots of attention when it’s on tap.
Jackson named his brewery for the effort it takes to start an enterprise: “Combustion is all about hard work and burning the candle at both ends in life. You can do anything if you work hard enough and this brewery is proof of that.”
In these “Divided States of America,” it’s nice to know beer lovers and oenophiles can unite at Grove City Brewing Company, about 10 miles southwest of downtown Columbus. Jodi Burroughs, a self-described operations guru at Grove City, explains their vintage industrial facility used to be a Harley Motors Ford Dealership, but now “it’s a unique location that’s home to an on-site brewery and winery.” It features a taproom, tasting room, two outdoor patios, a full kitchen and “both areas serve ALL items which allows guests to move around” – and allows mixed-beverage couples to sit together.
Grove City makes a selection of eight taps; some of their most popular are Beulah Blonde Ale, Columbus Street Double IPA and Ma’ Hooley Oatmeal Nitro Stout. Their most exotic elixir is an IPA made with mint and lime, and they schedule live music on weekends, trivia nights, and Wine & Canvas events. Burroughs considers Grove City an “English-style brewery where most of the beer is pretty mild and extremely drinkable.”
Braxton Labs in Newport, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, is for the curious crowd. It’s a second location for Braxton Brewing Company (the original is in Covington) with a focus on “innovation and experimentation with styles, flavors and ingredients,” notes Braxton’s Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Gandolf. The Labs’ taproom has about 40 handles that range from Braxton’s core styles (Storm Golden Cream Ale, Revamp IPA, Twisted Bit Dortmunder Lager and Dead Blow Tropical Stout), to rotating seasonal and global guest taps. They don’t have a kitchen but guests are welcome to bring in food, order delivery or take advantage of weekend food trucks. Braxton has a “take over the taps” series where it goes to local restaurants such as The Gruff and Gander: An American Grill and takes over a number of taps so curious customers can pair Braxton’s beer with their favorite menu items.
Certain Ohio cities are known for their friendly east side-west side rivalries and Cincinnati is among them. So when West Side Brewing opened in June, 2017 as the first brewery on the Queen City’s west side, it was a big deal. Their taproom features 30 selections served in a bar area or “beer hall-style” section that has giant Jenga, dart boards and other games.
West Side makes its own traditional styles including ales, IPAs, stouts and porters plus a hefeweizen (wheat beer); and sells hard cider, wine and soft drinks. It also offers regularly-scheduled food trucks and event space. East Siders take note: West Side’s tag line is “Where Cincinnati Meets the West Side.”