Things we love: Geoff Towne's picks
It’s been a long time coming, but worth the wait. Starting Thursday, Zauber Brewing Co. expects to make more of a name for itself in the local craft beer scene. Along with increased production possibilities, the Grandview brewery is expanding its offerings to four brews: Myopic Red, Vertigo hefeweizen, Berzerker Belgian IPA and Kitschy Kolsch. Those beers will be available onsite immediately and throughout Columbus at other bars and growler shops by the end of the month. “We’re trying to be careful,” founder/brewer Geoff Towne said during an interview recently. “It’s about making sure we do this right, as opposed to making a bad name for ourselves with beer that’s not available and always changes when it’s not supposed to.” We spoke with Towne recently about a few of his other obsessions.
Reading beer books
I’m an unusual beer geek — I read beer books, and not just the magazines you get at Barnes & Noble, but the stuff you buy from the Brewers Association, like a book that’s 200 pages on hops. Stuff like “The Audacity of Hops,” a contemporary history of craft beer, or [“IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale”] from Mitch Steele from Stone [Brewing Co.], which is an in-depth history and then a survey of beer-brewing techniques. We refer to it is as beer porn. Stuff that a beer geek gets into and maybe the general public would find interesting to leaf through and then throw it away.
The trendy places, those are easy. I like to discover things for myself. Yoshi’s sushi is one of our favorites, and I Heart Sushi. We have some extraordinary Japanese restaurants to choose from, beyond the steakhouses with the hibachi grills, but more of the traditional places that do it well and take pride in it. Even living in northern California, I’d say our Japanese is extraordinary here and even undersold. It’s a unique gem that Indianapolis or Cleveland would love to have.
Mozart’s piano player
After going to see a movie or after drinking, my wife and I enjoy going to Mozart’s and listening to the guy practice his piano in the background while having a nice coffee and a cake or a torte. For me, it’s a specific fascination with European culture, particularly having lived for a small period based out of a suitcase in Austria. It’s cool to hear a guy playing piano music, the uniqueness of the player fiddling with the keys, whether he’s having fun or trying to work through a couple strokes he’s not quite mastered, or playfully going along. It’s a very quintessential Columbus thing.
I’ve sometimes found myself there on a random Monday night meeting up with a friend and initially being annoyed my conversation’s being interrupted by the music, only to find I like the music. I try to accidentally fall into a place where somewhere else might happen. The kind of music I really enjoy is what I call the idea of playing naked — to not hide behind your amplifier and to play a song on a guitar in an open room.
Not just leisurely, like Kermit and Miss Piggy riding through the park. My wife and I used to do just get on the bike and go out and back; try to find the next big hill to climb. It was also a good way to get outside and see the world, figuring out how to connect one trail with another. I was involved in cycling in college. I went to Indiana University where we had a big bike race called the Little 500, which got me into cycling, pre-Lance Armstrong era. He was a guest riding one year when he still had cancer and was at the IU medical center, and he came down for the weekend. He was still a nationally known rider, though, and after that I got into the culture of bike clubs and going out on weekend rides.
I’m a winter sports kind of guy. We like to go snowboarding and skiing. For each kid, we seemed to go on a big skiing trip before we’d get pregnant. We had a short list of places to check out. We’d travel to places like Vancouver, British Columbia to go to Whistler, or Utah to go to The Canyons in Park City. Even locally, going to Holiday Valley and Seven Springs, is fun, because they’re close and accessible and we can get home in a day or so. They all have a special place in our heart.
Founder/brewer, Zauber Brewing Co.