NEWS

First look: Pigskin Brewing Co.

Anthony Dominic, Crave

Whether you've been to a sports-themed microbrewery or not, the trappings are familiar: punny beers, overloaded burgers, memorabilia-covered walls. There's a touch of kitsch at Pigskin Brewing Co., to be sure, but the proprietors pack a few surprises in their sleek Gahanna taproom where the "sports bar" conceit is taken in stride.

Scan Pigskin's Facebook and Twitter accounts before visiting. Almost weekly, says partner Craig Bailey, the brewery prepares a special 10-gallon batch of beer not regularly available, such as the recently released spicy double IPA flavored with ghost pepper. Otherwise, take your pick from the scoreboard behind the bar (house taps are labeled "Home"; other local breweries are labeled "Guest").

The Undefeated IPA (all drafts are $5.50) is Pigskin's top-selling beer by far, Bailey says. It's a bold-yet-drinkable pale ale with a tropical-fruit aroma, orange-citrus flavor and little malt to get in the way. For something more adventurous, order a pint of Gose All the Way. (Gose, pronounced "GO-zah," is an unfiltered wheat beer.) The slightly salty German-style sour beer is one of only three sours available from local breweries. (The others are Actual Brewing Co.'s Curiosus and Lineage Brewing's Aunt Bernice).

"We wanted to make Columbus' version of a summer shandy," Bailey says of the gose. "A shandy is too sweet for most people, so we wanted to brew something craft-beer and non-craft-beer drinkers could enjoy. We messed around with a bunch of different styles, but our brewer has a great gose recipe that just isn't prevalent."

House beer is incorporated throughout Pigskin's menu. Pretzels are served with sriracha-spiked hefeweizen beer cheese ($8.50), and Johnsonville beer brats ($8) are slow-cooked with gose. Construction is underway to expand Pigskin's kitchen, Bailey says, and later this year customers can expect a slight name change (Pigskin Brew Co. Taproom & Gastropub), an expanded menu and catering services.

"Most sports bars have stuff all over the bar, neon signs - a lot of distractions," Bailey says. "With our brewery, we're keeping it streamlined and putting all the emphasis on the beers, the TVs and just that all-encompassing experience."

Happy hour runs from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays, with $2 off drafts from 3 to 5 and $1 off from 5 to 7. Pigskin also offers an enclosed 70-seat patio with cornhole boards.