Columbus has seen an influx of craft breweries within the last few years. And there’s good news for beer lovers – the suds won’t stop flowing anytime soon.
Mary Martineau, Executive Director of the Ohio Craft Brewers Assoication sums it up with her answer to the question, “What’s next for breweries in Columbus?,” “More beer.”
The craft brewery market is growing state and nationwide, and Columbus is no exception to the trend. The city has several characteristics that make it a good market for brewers.
While many permits and licenses are required to operate a brewery, Martineau describes Ohio as a fairly legislatively-friendly state for brewers. The newer A-1c license is $1,000 per-year and covers anyone producing up to one million barrels of beer per location. Ohio has issued over 100 A-1C licenses.
“Fifteen of those licenses are in Columbus and half of them are breweries who have been open for fewer than a couple years,” Martineau says.
The city steps in to help breweries thrive once the legal work is finalized.
“What makes Columbus such an award-winning city and great place to live also makes it an attractive place to open, or in some cases, expand a brewery,” Martineau says. “People in Columbus take pride in and support local entrepreneurs who make a good product.”
Brewery owners second Martineau’s claim. “Columbus has enthusiastically embraced local, craft beer,” says Bob Szuter of Wolf’s Ridge Brewing.
The increase in local restaurants also means good things for breweries.
“The number of bars [and] restaurants that have started up or changed to be more craft-focused have evolved along side us to make craft beer more available and accessible than ever,” says Geoff Towne of up-and-coming Zauber Brewing Co.
Accessibility and popularity have led to an interesting problem in the marketplace.
“All of us large and small are racing to fulfill demand, which is a good problem to have,” says Towne.
While it’s a good problem to have, several factors influence a brewery’s ability to overcome this issue.
“Breweries can be limited by the size of their brewing systems or the capacity of their brewery to add more equipment,” Martineau says. “With the growing craft beer industry, there is also more competition for equipment and supplies.”
With demand for beer is increasing, many local breweries are eager to get more creative with their brews.
“Customers are presented with more and more options, and are becoming more discerning in their tastes, and craft breweries have stepped up to that with increased quality and greater selections of offerings,” Szuter says.
Brewers indicate some unique flavors could be coming to the Columbus market.
“We’re eager to try sours, barrel-aged beers, and strange one-offs with local ingredients once we get our feet underneath us,” says Matt Drummelsmith of soon-to-launch Pigskin Brewing Company. Towne also sees palates gravitating towards Belgian and other European-inspired beers as well as some fruity brews.
There also seems to be no limit to the way Columbus residents can enjoy their local beer.
There are established brewpubs and brewery restaurants like Barely’s, Columbus Brewing Company and Elevator Brewing Company that have long-been Columbus staples. These along with newer breweries like Seventh Son and Wolf’s Ridge are about on-site consumption and experience Martineau points out. Pigskin plans to combine food and drink by having space for 10 to 15 foodtrucks on-site at any given time.
Tasting and Tap Rooms bring consumers on-site to imbibe. Zauber is hoping to launch their taproom soon, Pigskin has plans for an intimate room with 10 to 15 taps and Four String recently opened a tap room at their brewery location.
Also, beer enthusiasts can enjoy their favorite local craft beers at home. Martineau says most self-distribute in their initial phases. Many breweries are also offering growlers of their specialties.
With a long-term industry trend of growth, the market shows now signs of slowing down.
“The craft beer market is strong and growing stronger,” Martineau says.
For more information, visit ohiocraftbeer.org.
For information on Zauber Brewing Co., visit zbeers.com.
For information on Pigskin Brewing Company, visit facebook.com/PigskinBrewingCompany.
For information on Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, visit wolfsridgebrewing.com.