On Tap: Actual Brewing brings in Scott Francis, Alana Shock

Nicholas Dekker
Fred Lee of Actual Brewing

After nearly two years in development, Actual Brewing Company's Clintonville taproom is drawing closer to opening this fall. Located at 2808 N. High St., in the same plaza as Lucky's Market and Lucky Dragon Chinese restaurant, the taproom will seat 69, with an additional 22 on a small patio out front. It will also house a 10-hectoliter brew house to feed the taps on-site.

Actual Brewing owner Fred Lee described the taproom as “casual to nice-casual.” “It's gotta be the right amount of nice, but not too nice,” he said.

Most of the taproom's 16 tap handles will be fed by brews from Actual's East Side production facility. But to keep the experimental brews flowing, Actual has hired veteran Columbus brewer Scott Francis. Francis is owner of The Winemaker's Shop in Clintonville, and piloted Columbus Brewing Company, Barley's Brewing, Smokehouse Brewing and Temperance Row Brewing.

“I've known Scott a long time,” Lee said, “I knew Scott before I started this endeavor. He's the king of this shit. He knows how to do this. He told me how much it would cost to have him run the system, and I said, ‘Yes.'”

In addition to Francis, Lee is enlisting the help of Columbus chef Alana Shock, who closed her long-running Old North restaurant, Alana's Food and Wine, in 2017. Shock, who just recently came on board, is crafting a menu to pair with the house beer selection.

Lee researched a few different locations before settling on the Clintonville spot, including what is now Pecan Penny's BBQ downtown and the former ZenCha Tea Salon location on Gay Street. His landlords at the production facility and taproom near the airport also own the Clintonville building, and were generous in working with the brewery to realize the new taproom.

“I really wanted to be in Clintonville because I didn't want to have to drive to the airport to have a beer,” Lee said. “I'm in Clintonville a lot — I used to live there.”

The build-out has taken almost two years because the project is funded internally, without financing or crowd-funding. “It's very difficult to do this without bank loans,” Lee said. “And we've still successfully done it. That's why it's slow. We've got to take every penny and redirect it. I sell my beer, it makes money. Let's put it back into the system and see how far it gets. Hopefully people show up and drink some beer.”