Event Review: Columbus Microbrew Festival

As the summer slowly winds to an end, there are few events in Columbus outside of Ohio State football that I actually get excited about. For the past three years. the one thing I truly look forward to is the Columbus Microbrew Fest held every year at the North Market – now in its 6th year. Typically the festival is held indoors with beer from Columbus breweries; but not only was this year’s Microbrew Fest held outdoors, the lineup was expanded to include other breweries in Ohio. The one thing that really set this local beer fest from other big festivals held in Columbus is the fact you actually get a chance to speak with the people who are responsible for making beer and who really care about their product (brewers, owners, etc) instead of distributor reps or volunteers. Local staples such as CBC, Barleys, and Elevator were present, and the Columbus beer scene also welcomed a few newcomers to the festival: Hoof Hearted Brewing, Zauber Brewing Company and Four Strings Brewing Company - each bringing multiple samples for festival goers to check out.

Admission to the fest was only $20 which included a souvenir pint glass, 10 tasting tickets, and a $5 coupon good at any shop in the North Market (additional tickets were also available for 50 cents as well).  I started off by checking out a brewery from Ohio that I have never heard of, Great Black Swamp Brewing Company. I went with their Black Frog Stout which wasn’t anything special, but overall not a bad beer. After that I spent a little time and a majority of my tickets at the Neil House Brewing stand; you saw in our last post we all really enjoyed their Milk Stout, so I needed to get my hands on some more. Neil House also offered a Imperial Bourbon Barrel Stout that was my favorite of the fest. Right next to the Neil House stand were Hoof Hearted brewery where I tried three of their offerings Permafrost Wheat Porter, Musk of the Minotaur IPA, and Permafrost Coffee Chipotle Porter (which had a lot of different things going on; the peppers offered a slight burn but mostly a roasted flavor that accented the coffee and chocolate you typically find in a porter).

Zauber Brewing was up next for me and I was a little let down. When I saw via Twitter that they had brewed an IPA, I was excited and made sure I was there right when the fest started on Saturday, but alas they were out. So I sadly moved on to the next stand (I had previously had their beers so I saved my tickets). My second-to-last stop was at the Elevator Brewing Company stand where I ran in to my beer rep, so I spent most of my time there because my pint glass of Wicked Goat seemed to be bottomless. Wicked Goat is their 3 Frogs IPA aged in Woodford Reserve barrels for nine months, and it is the last in their barrel-aged series. I know I’m getting this when it comes out, so I’ll hold off a review until then (plus they said the beer was incomplete; it’s going to be dry hopped before they bottle it). My last beer was at the Mt. Carmel Brewing stand where I had my second favorite beer, 3rd Shift Imperial Coffee Stout. It had a solid roasted espresso taste and it followed that with hints of vanilla and chocolate.

Matt also had a chance to visit the fest this past Friday; we haven’t really talked about it, but hopefully he got his hands on some good beers.

Here are some of his thoughts.

Overall, I really enjoyed the fest, even though it was very packed on Friday night and the required tickets needed for beers differed between map and the stands at times. The best beer I tried there for the first time was the Permafrost Coffee Chipotle Porter by Hoof Hearted. This is a beer I would drink and drink, well balanced and full of flavor, and the chipotle added that little kick that made it super unique and fun to drink. I wish they would have had the standard version available for comparison, but it wasn’t available Friday night.

Coming in a (very) close second for me was CBC’s Creeper – holy shit, these guys can make an IPA. My love for Bohdi has been documented and I was expecting Creeper to not be nearly as good, but I was wrong. It was very close, a little less floral and grapefruity than the Bohdi, with a little bit more lingering bitterness.

Others I enjoyed were Mt. Carmel’s 3rd Shift Coffee Stout, Neil House’s Imperial Bourbon Barrel Stout, and Hoof Hearted’s Musk of the Minotaur.

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