Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Columbus Brew Adventures - August 1, 2015

Columbus Brew AdventuresAs the guy behind Columbus Beer Scene, knowing what's going on with beer in Columbus comes with the territory.  No matter how much I know, there is always more to learn.  I can tell you about many of the great breweries in town.  I've met several of the brewmasters and gotten to talk with some of them for a while.  No matter how much I might know, I believe Columbus Brew Adventures' tour guide Jim has me beat.

This past Saturday, two friends invited my wife and me to join them on the tour.  I'd heard of Columbus Brew Adventures a while ago but had never met anyone who'd actually gone on the tour.  Our friends had, and they were told it was a great time.  After taking the downtown brewery tour, I can't argue with that.

Our tour began at the Columbus Brewing Company (CBC) restaurant on Metro Place.  We were led to a table in the back, where the 12 tour guests sat down.  Jim the tour guide told us some of CBC's history, about the history of the restaurant, and the tour we'd be taking.  Our server brought out appetizers from the CBC menu and samples of three of their beers.  Jim explained how a "beer snob" should taste a beer, then walked us through the three samples provided.  The main idea here was to communicate the concept of bitterness in beer, the International Bitterness Unit (IBU), and how three beers that look very nearly alike can taste very different and be quite different in bitterness levels.

Beer Samples at Seventh Son
After CBC, we went to the Seventh Son Brewery.  Brewmaster Colin Vent sat us down inside the brewery area, near the fermentation tanks, mash tuns, and other apparatus.  He talked about the brewing process, and the importance of sanitation.  He discussed how water, yeast, hops, and barley all play a part in making a good beer.  We were offered samples of three different roast levels of barley to chew up and taste, along with explanations of how they are used at Seventh Son.  He also talked about the three beers offered for samples that day, discussing how they came to be and to some degree what went into making them.  We also learned about the bottled versions of their beers that can be purchased at the bar, and about the artist who does the labels.

Jim the Tour Guide and North High's host
Our third stop was North High Brewing.  North High, as I've talked about before here, is both a taproom where you can try North High's products and a brew-on-premise site where you can make you own beer to take home.  A representative from North High told us about the history of the building they're located in (a former Model T dealership) and of many of the elements of the architecture (which include wood from former OSU stadium bleachers).  After this, we were shown the brew-on-premise room, the fermentation room, and bottling area.

The final stop was at Barley's Ale House across from the Greater Columbus Convention Center.  Here we were met by Columbus brewing celebrity Angelo Signorino, the brewmaster at Barley's.  If you've never met Angelo, you're in for a treat.  He's a very nice guy, very passionate about what he does, and has a great sense of humor.  He's also a great brewer.  Angelo told stories about the brewery, their annual Meet the Brewers event, the beers he offered samples of, and more.  The highlight of this segment of the tour for me was the sample of Infinity Grand Cru, a beer Angelo made for the general manager's wedding.  This Belgian Strong Dark beer is one of my absolute favorites of all Columbus beers, so I was glad the tour ended with that.

When the tour was over, Jim took us back to CBC and let us know that tour guests who choose to eat at the CBC restaurant the same day can get a free dessert from the menu.  If you're half the chocoholic I am, you'll want to order the cupcake.  (Don't worry, this isn't a "muffin tin" sized cupcake.  This is a big, thick "I'm not sure I'm going to be able to eat all this, but I can't stop" kind of cupcake.)

The bottom line is that I recommend this tour if you're interested in Columbus brewing history (which Jim shares in ample-but-not-overwhelming doses), how beer is made, meeting the people who make it, and trying a little bit of it.  All this with a built-in designated driver.  We had a great time, and I look forward to taking one of Jim's other tours in the future.

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