First look: Zaftig Brewing Co. tap room

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Zaftig Brewing Co.'s space is marked only by a tiny sticker on the door. Their facility, located on the south side of Schrock Road in Worthington, is situated in a string of small warehouses just down the street from the Anheuser-Busch plant. Pulling open the door to Zaftig Brewery's taproom, I found myself standing in the station where owners Brent Halsey and Jim Gokenbach were draining and sterilizing kegs. "Come on in!" they called.

They ushered me into the space, asked which beers I'd like to try and invited me to look around the space. Zaftig opened their brewing facility to the public this month, currently open from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. They join the increasing number of small brewery taprooms around Columbus, including Actual Brewing, Four String, and Elevator's 13th Floor (for a feature on taprooms in the latest Crave, see here!). Many of these taprooms are the very definition of informal: roped off corners of the brewery, mismatched tables and chairs and a comfortable atmosphere that puts you face-to-face with the brewers. In Zaftig's case, their taproom is a set of tables and a modified chest freezer with tap handles, set in the center of the facility.

Halsey and Gokenbach moved into their space in July of last year. They set to work on the former machine shop and built out a temperature-controlled fermentation room and a walk-in cooler for storing kegs and crashing beer (quickly cooling the beer to put the yeast into a dormant state). At the end of December they received their permit to begin brewing, and immediately set to work on their half-barrel system. Working around their day jobs, they brew on Saturdays and keg on Wednesdays, which made those days the obvious choice for open hours.

Zaftig takes its name from the German term for a full-figured woman, indicative of their "full-bodied" beers. They're even developing tap handles with a slightly voluptuous outline. Whereas some breweries focus on simple session beers ranging from 4 to 7 percent alcohol by volume, Zaftig pushes Ohio's 12 percent limit with beers in the 8 to 12 percent range.

On tap as of our visit was their Black Perle Stout, a smooth and dark brew clocking in at 8 percent ABV. Joining the stout was their Shadowed Mistress, one of their debut beers at the Grandview High Gravity Hullabaloo in February. Previously billed as a hybrid IPA and ESB, Jim and Brent now describe it as an American strong ale, a more fitting moniker for a high-alcohol style marked by a rich malt center and strong hop presence. The third offering on tap was the 10 percent ABV Wee Heavy, a malty Scottish style brewed with the influence of Halsey's brother-in-law, who is studying brewing and distilling in Scotland.

Look for additional brews like the Heavy Hearted Amber or the Two Cans imperial IPA to surface, too. Visitors to the taproom can sample 5-ounce snifters or 12-ounce pints, or take home growlers in 32-ounce or 64-ounce sizes. Zaftig's beers can also be found on tap at The Daily Growler, Oldfield's North Fourth Tavern, The Ohio Taproom and North High Brewing.

Jim, Brent and their crew seem excited to have visitors. It's a welcome chance for any craft beer drinker to sample their beers, get a view of the operation and simply appreciate the amount of work that goes into opening a brewery.

Zafting Brewing Co., 545 Schrock Rd., Worthington, 614-636-2537,