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Hop Slammed: Beer Business Booms in C-Bus

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Like a lot of kids growing up in the 70's I had a beer can collection. I know, that says a lot about how fucked up the 70's were.  

My buddies and I would rummage around in people's trash and look for unique cans. The first trash collection day after July 4th might as well have been Christmas for a beer can collector. Why? People would travel to Columbus from afar to be with friends or relatives over one of the biggest beer-drinking days of the year, and they would bring beer from afar with them. I still remember the sight of 12 year old kids riding around on their Stingray bicycles carting bags of beer cans around on Beer Can Christmas, and my friend Tom riding toward me on one of those days with a big grin on his face, waving an Olde Frothingslosh that he pulled out of Old Man Miller's trash.

I still have all those cans. Hundreds of them. They serve as a reminder of an earlier time when every city had their own local breweries. My dad traveled a lot when I was growing up. Every time he would visit a new city he'd bring me back new cans. However, by the late 70's the many local small breweries gave way to a few big national breweries. That pretty much killed beer can collecting for the most part, but worse than that it ushered in an era where the focus was on getting less out of your beer instead of more.

Now the pendulum is swinging back. Consumers are rebelling against the macro-breweries and they are discovering that there is so much more to beer than the pale yellow fizzy water that folks have been chugging for the last 30 years. Craft beer, as it has been dubbed, is the rage and nowhere is that more evident than right here in Columbus.

Fifteen years ago, Columbus had only a few breweries to speak of. Today, there are upwards of a dozen breweries in and around the central Ohio area and that number is rising. Look at the tap selections at any happening bar in town and you will see several local craft beer offerings. A year ago, those taps were pouring four different kinds of Bud products.

If you can't find local beer on tap at your favorite bar, you can go straight to a local brewery and drink it there. Most local breweries have their own taprooms where you can sample beers and purchase growlers (a 64 oz. glass jug of liquid goodness).

Here's a list of some of my favorite local breweries and beers:

1. Four String Brewing Co.  Owner Dan Cochran is a bass player and his beer rocks like a vintage Ampeg tube head. Stop into the Four String taproom on a Thursday evening and you'll find a gathering of beer lovers taking in The Big Lebowski or Anchorman on Movie Night. The Brass Knuckles American Pale Ale will punch your taste buds without knocking you out.

2. Seventh Son Brewing Co. Located at 4th and 4th in historic Italian Village, Seventh Son has been up and brewing for less than a year. But don't let their newbie status fool you. The Humulus Nimbus Pale Ale and the Stone Fort Oat Brown Ale are both superb. 

3. North High Brewing Co.  Not only does North High make some tasty brew, you can schedule time to go there and make your own! The Citra S.M.A.S.H, a hoptastic IPA with a reasonable ABV of 4.5%, was a summertime favorite of mine.  

4. Hoof Hearted Brewing Co. This brewery out of Marengo makes drinking a craft beer fun. I like the Wangbar. What's a Wangbar? According to their website, it's "a maneuver of the highest difficulty on the competitive nude air guitar circuit. This oatmeal double IPA was made to be self-indulgent, instantly gratifying, and as subtle as David Lee Roth in bunless chaps." But the beer is nothing to laugh at. It's seriously good.

5. Columbus Brewing Co. The venerable CBC is cranking out some damn good beers. The Pale Ale and the IPA are both solid and can be found all over town. The Bodhi, an American Double IPA, is aromatic, balanced and smooth, and hard to come by. Most places can't keep it in stock. But be patient. It's worth the wait. When I walk into a place and see it on tap, I feel like I just won the beer lottery.

That's just a partial list. Other breweries producing quality suds in Central Ohio include veterans such as Elevator and Barley's. as well as newcomers such as Actual and Zauber. If you want to learn about these and other breweries in Central Ohio, and by learn I mean drink their beer, what better way to do so than by taking an organized tour? Look no further than Columbus Brew Adventures.

Finally, if you are looking for a place to try a variety of local brews, check out The Daily Growler, which specializes in selling craft beer to go. Their selection of 60 different rotating taps is impressive and features many locally crafted beers. Likewise, The Ohio Taproom offers 20 taps of local and Ohio-brewed craft beers to go. And both have on-premise licenses, so you can sample beers before you buy. Get yourself a flight (five or so six ounce glasses served on a tray) and sample away.

Discover fresh craft beer brewed right here in the 614! Drink local, Columbus!

Greg May writes for Pencilstorm. Learn more about him and other contributors by clicking here.