On Tap: Commonhouse Ales releases publicly selected IPA

Nicholas Dekker

Last week, Commonhouse Ales released its latest brew, IPA for the People. Commonhouse has tinkered with session and imperial IPAs, but this being its first standard IPA, owner Lenny Kolada (who also owns Smokehouse Brewing) let the community choose from a curated selection of recipes. Kolada said he embraced the process as a nod to the B Corp brewery's goal toward transparency.

“Since I got into this game a quarter century ago, we've come out with two-dozen IPAs,” Kolada said. “They all have different characteristics, so we sat down and thought, ‘What would be a good IPA we could put out year-round? Not just something for the ultimate beer geek.'”

Kolada develops Commonhouse Ales recipes at Smokehouse Brewing, where he can test smaller batches before launching them into full production. Commonhouse brews out of 525 Short St. in the Brewery District, a space most-recently occupied by Columbus Brewing Company.

“The process started a year ago,” he said. “We had a handful of IPAs that were good candidates, but we started second guessing ourselves. So we formulated three different recipes and put them on tap at Smokehouse last December.”

Kolada offered a flight of all three beers for only three dollars; the brews were labeled C, M and H for Columbus' airport code. They gathered several hundred responses, and while each beer earned its own fans, one stood out by earning not only the most positive responses, but also the fewest negatives.

To take it one step further, Kolada gathered a tasting team of 35 people, some hand-picked from social media and some randomly selected guests who had voted on the flights. He offered them the three beers — this time without labels — and asked them to vote again.

The same brew — beer H — was tabbed the winner.

“We had our marching orders,” Kolada said, “and we created an IPA that was developed by the people.”

So how does he describe his new IPA? Kolada said the brewery worked to even out the bittering and the aromatic hops. “It's a balance of what hops can bring to beer,” he said. “You're expecting some level of bitterness, but the result is a really drinkable beer. I'm not normally a day drinker, but while we were bottling it, I pulled it off the line to taste. By the time I left, I had consumed three of them.”