Beer Guide: What's next for Columbus beer?

Matthew Lovett
Chris Davison

Now that Columbus is a legit beer town, even a moderate beer drinker can pick up on trends fairly quickly. For instance, this summer one thing is clear: Hazy IPAs are in. Just about every brewery has given these juicy, New England-style IPAs a shot — not unlike the sour beer boom that took over the city last summer. But while we're sipping away on those, many breweries are already looking ahead. We talked to some of Columbus' brewing honchos to see what might be in store.

Trend 1: Brut IPA

Colin Vent, brewmaster at Seventh Son

“[For the Brut IPA] you basically take a New England-style IPA and you actually use special brewing enzymes that lead to an incredibly dry beer that's incredibly crisp,” Vent said. “The first three-quarters drinks like a New England IPA and the finish will be really dry.”

Michael Byrne, head brewer at Lineage Brewing

“We're starting to see these things called Brut IPAs. They're really juicy but dry and crystal clear. They're dry, like a champagne. I expect we're going to see more of that in Columbus.”

Jason McKibben, brewmaster at North High Brewing

“[It's] less bitter than a New England style. It's not dry in a harsh way — like an astringency — it's just not sweet. There's no sweetness to the beer, and because it's minimally hopped in the kettle, it's not bitter either,” McKibben said. “I'd probably call it the cleanest-finishing IPA you've ever had.”

Trend 2: Sessionable, low-ABV beers

Andrew Dolan, general manager at Hoof Hearted Brewery and Kitchen

“The next thing is going to be, ironically, pilsners and lagers. Old-school sort of European styles. It's a sort of back to basics approach — more of how we can execute some of these more traditional styles,” Dolan said. “People are starting to look back at what people in Europe have been doing for hundreds of years and trying their hand at it now.”

Chris Davison, head brewer at Wolf's Ridge Brewing

“Lower-ABV sessionable beers, especially like lagers and pilsners. … That's the kind of stuff brewers hope to be the next popular thing,” Davison said. “There's still this perception among some consumers that they want more alcohol. We've always had a decent selection of sessionable beers.”

Trend 3: Innovating what's already popular

Dan Shaffer, lead brewer at Land Grant Brewing

“IPAs will continue to march on in some iteration. I think you'll see more of the culinary-type beers, incorporating fruit [and] spices — such as the milkshake IPA we just did with [Cincinnati's Streetside Brewery], for example,” Shaffer said. “We're stepping up more into our fruit game.”

Tamar Banner, production manager at BrewDog

“I was surprised to see how many kettle sours there [are in Columbus] and how little wood-aged sour there was,” Banner said. “Mixed-culture sours, and sours that are more complex in flavor are next. … Brewers will start to educate the public on the differences between that and kettle souring.”