Roundup: Central Ohio breweries worth the drive
It’s springtime. Get out of the house! Take a drive, discover somewhere new. We’ve all been cooped up for the winter, and now is the time to explore. With Columbus’ ever-expanding beer scene, breweries are cropping not just in the city proper, but beyond the 270 loop. Here are five breweries just outside the city worth exploring this season.
Buckeye Lake Brewery
5176 Walnut Rd., Buckeye Lake
Lowered lake levels be damned! Buckeye Lake is still a great place to drink beer. Buckeye Lake Brewery may look like a converted garage from the outside (because it is), but inside is a bright and friendly taproom with a big bar and patio out front. Owner and brewer Rich Hennosy excels at brewing easy-drinking beers like the Blue Goose Cream Ale and the Irish Red. They’re open in the evenings daily, with food trucks regularly parked out front.
Homestead Beer Co.
811 Irving Wick Dr. W., Heath
Like Buckeye Lake Brewery, Homestead’s beers have made their way into Columbus via the bottle. With an emphasis on session beers, Homestead works its way through a variety of styles, from the Tenpenny Amber Ale to the Bastille French Country ale. Its Licking County facility is off the beaten path, but a helpful map on the brewery’s website will ensure your safe arrival at the tasting room. Food trucks are in regular rotation, and you can always bring clean growlers to fill with your favorite brews to go. The taproom is currently open to the public on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 3-9 p.m.
Hoof Hearted Brewing
Hoof Hearted’s current mailing address in Marengo is a P.O. Box. Appropriate given that the brewery is off the beaten path that’s off the beaten path. But this year brings two big changes for Hoof Hearted. First, it’s opening a brewpub with A&R Creative (the group behind The Crest, Alchemy Juice Bar, Ethyl & Tank) in Italian Village, and second, it’s moving its Marengo brewery, well … down the road from its current digs. The new brewery is still in Marengo but more accessible from I-71; it will quadruple the brewery’s size, allow it to start canning its brews and add a taproom. Stay tuned for details on the taproom opening, and once it is … get up there to taste some of the craziest-named and hard-to-beat central Ohio brews.
5705 Lithopolis Rd. N.W., Lancaster
In contrast to Hoof Hearted’s rustic digs, Rockmill’s tasting room is a scene straight out of a postcard. The tasting room features a big bar, community tables, a fireplace — everything you want to make it the coziest of settings. The brewery’s grounds feature a pond and a chapel, and are stunning enough to have hosted multiple weddings. It’s pure beauty at its best. So pure, in fact, that Rockmill’s organic Belgian brews are crafted using spring-fed waters from its grounds. The tasting room is generally open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There’s no food served there, but Rockmill encourages you to bring your own picnic.
Staas Brewing Co.
31 W. Winter St., Delaware
Staas Brewing will make you wish you lived in Delaware. The little brewery, run by husband and wife team Donald and Liz Staas, brews all-grain batches of just about every beer style: porters, stouts, IPAs, Belgian quads, Irish reds. And they nail every one. Stass usually has about 12 brews on tap in its corner pub, and each one pairs well with a bit of live music, a local food truck and great company. Order pints, sample a flight and fill a growler to go, and be sure to try brews served on its new beer engines, where the beer is hand-pumped without carbonation. Stop by the brewery Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Nicholas Dekker writes about breakfast at breakfastwithnick.com and authored the guidebook “Breakfast With Nick: Columbus,” with a second edition coming 2015. He leads breakfast and brunch tours for Columbus Food Adventures and brewery tours for Columbus Brew Adventures.