We highlight six brews-three light and easygoing, three dark and spirited-that are offering a stark alternative to the area's hoppiest craft beer.
Not so long ago, the terms craft beer and IPA were synonymous. In many circles, the definition of non-corporate beer is still a piney ale that's been double- or even triple-hopped. But Doug Oldham, co-founder of the Grandview Craft Beer Alliance, is convinced Columbus beer drinkers are evolving. "When craft beer was gaining popularity, [IPAs] were something you couldn't find from Anheuser-Busch or MillerCoors, so brewers stuck with it; they wanted to sell beer," he says. "And it takes a certain amount of courage to go against the grain."
We highlight six brews-three light and easygoing, three dark and spirited-doing just that: offering a stark alternative to the area's hoppiest craft beer.
Wuffles Session Ale Seventh Son Brewing Co.
This English bitter-style ale maintains the punchy character found in most Seventh Son brews while coming in at only 4.5 percent ABV. "It's for someone who doesn't want the commitment of a 6 or 7 percent [ABV] buzz," founder Collin Castore says. "It's a nice social drink while watching the game."
Photon Actual Brewing
Founder Fred Lee fancies Photon as the brewery's "lawnmower lager"-meaning the beer your dad would gladly glug as he, say, wacks weeds. It's only 3.4 percent ABV, which is staggeringly low for Columbus beer. "It's for people who have transcended being hop heads," Lee says.
Vertigo Zauber Brewing
At 5.4 percent ABV, Zauber's hefeweizen flirts with session status. Its bright banana flavor? That's a careful byproduct of the ale's German-style yeast and wheat malt, founder Geoff Towne says. "It's designed to be lighter, pleasant and easygoing," he says. "It's not trying to jump in your face."
Dubbel Rockmill Brewery
Matthew Barbee's Dubbel is distinguished by spicy German hops and a special malt recipe that imparts fruit, fig and brown sugar notes. At 8 percent ABV, this earthy ale stands up to heavy desserts and even became one at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams shops-the Rockmill Chocolate Blackout Terrine.
Wee Heavy Strong Scotch Ale Buckeye Lake Brewing
To celebrate the two-year anniversary of his brewery in early 2014, Rich Hennosy brewed this boozy (10 percent ABV), bittersweet Wee Heavy, which is now available by the bottle. Chocolate, molasses and toffee notes make this an ideal dessert beer (or a substitute for dessert altogether).
Fat Julian Actual Brewing
This stout-lovers stout boasts a thick, creamy head and bold dark-chocolate flavors-and lots of alcohol. Normally brewed at 10 percent ABV, a special batch of even fatter Fat Julian (at a state-friendly 11.9 percent ABV, Lee says) was served at the 2014 Grandview High Gravity Hullabaloo.