You can learn a lot from a city through its alcohol. On a recent culinary press tour, I visited Columbus, OH, home of THE Ohio State University. Not to generalize, but you might think a college town like Columbus would be full of no atmosphere watering holes with cheap macro style beers and long island iced teas. And while those places may exist, you’d be missing out on the fascinating artisanal craft alcohol movement taking place all over Columbus.
Set in the majestic seemingly never ending fields of Lancaster (just outside of Columbus), Rockmill Brewery is owned and operated by Matthew Barbee. After testing the minerality of the water, Barbee found that water was ideal for brewing Belgian beers. Rockmill’s line is only four beers, but they are four excellent brews – Witbier, Saison, Dubbel, and Tripel. Barbee is passionate about his craft and is meticulous in his brewing. His care and love shines through in each of beers he brews.
Brothers Drake Meadery
In Detroit, we have B. Nektar. Columbus has the Brothers Drake, a group of guys who live and breathe the”think & drink local” mantra. Mead Master Woody Drake has an intensity about him that is contagious. His fervor for mead is immediately evident. Their first and most important principle (taken from the Brothers Drake About page): Start Local - We buy local honey, support local agriculture, and produce a local product. Their mead is delicious, especially the Apple Pie, which tastes like the perfect balance of spice, sweet, and butter.
Middle West Spirits
If there is one thing true across all Columbus alcohol producers, it is their outright desire to support local. At Middle West Spirits, the motto is, “We believe local ingredients are the only ingredients.” There must be something in the way Ohio grain is grown because these spirits are something special. ”Vodka shouldn’t be flavorless,” Lang explains. Middle West’s vodka and whiskey are bursting with flavor and complexity.
I was invited to Columbus to explore their culinary scene, having no idea of their local alcohol movement. Food will be our focus next time.
For more photos of my Columbus adventure, check out the Flickr collection.