Columbus Heaven

by Marty Nopper, Tastemaker in Residence

Imagine my surprise as I drove up to the industrial complex parking lot housing Zaftig Brewing Company. Waiting at the light to turn in, you can’t guess my ‘just got out of another detention’ amazement at the backdrop I encountered. I teared up as I gently eased the rented Prius over the right side curb and onto the patio grass (sorry, folks).

The Anhueser Busch Brewing Company plant in Columbus.  A Mecca! The Taj Mahal of Tastes! Right here!  Smoke plumes of love...ahhh, the Arch City has more to offer than just Big 10 football!  Well, those of you that know me well enough may remember that I cut my teeth (and this incredibly fashioned belly) on the AB portfolio. Starting in college (zip it), I enjoyed the full spectrum of tastes over the years, including Natty Light, Busch, Bud Dry, Bud Ice (remember that one?), Bud, Bud Light/Select/55, and so on. Good times. Anyway, things change and I yearned for the next phase of addiction pops.

Finally able to get out of my car, I started salivating at the opportunity to enjoy more local flavor.  Oh boy, am I in for something unusual tonite!  Sauntering in as cooly as I could to hide my excitement, I sat at the bar and gave the usual head nod to say, ‘what’s up”…After looking at their libation list, I wasted very little time adding UBER my speed dial. Most of these suds range from 7%-10% and even possess one, legally, that is 14% (Too Cans)!  Holy crap, that’s like rubbing alcohol, no?  Excuse me, Mr. Tender…can I get a sample?!? Hmmm. Where do I start (or do I)?

Anyway, after wiping away a tear on the guys sleeve next to me, I decided to try something a little less toxic but almost just as intriguing.  Not necessarily my go-to, I went outside the box and ordered a HOOTspa Wheat, a Jalapeño infused wheat ale.  That’s right, a sphincter tightening jewel sure to get those IBS juices flowing!  This Limited Release, lightly colored grain beverage is very tasty and offers any gringo a smooth initial swallow followed by the slight burn of 3 roasted jalapeños on the throat. My female barkeep has informed me that the brew master has grown these roasted veggies himself in a local garden (man, I hope it’s not near the grass off the patio…). Having a smooth hop accompaniment, HOOTspa is brewed with Palisade, Centennial, Amarillo and Golding’s hops and entertains some ever so slight sweet notes. Consider going for this brau when feeling a tad adventuresome, especially for those who feel Shock Top is the cream of the wheat ale crop. 

WARNING: adding fruit to your crafted suds will get you tossed from this establishment. Your welcome.

Possessing very little head, this beers appearance leads one to believe that this is a drink to be guzzled by the glass. However, don’t fall for the facade unless jalapeños are an aphrodisiac! All brews here are high octane concoctions and only available in 5 and 10-ounce pours, as well as flights, allowing any delinquent to sample many of these hand-crafted styles (howlers and growlers are available to go but didn’t notice anything close to a bottle or can). Zaftig Brewing Company is a clean, very welcoming one story building where one won’t find a lot of extras. If you’re looking for space to run the dog, areas to house more than 10 guests or a bocce tournament in play, this is not your joint. If you are looking for a casual drinkery that produces potent suds to soak in, pull up a stool… Specializing in IPA’s, Stouts and strong Ales, know going in that UBER is your friend and you will do fine.  Salute AB for me! Enjoy the trip to Columbus (and wherever this brew takes you) but drink responsibly! 

As usual, if I’m gonna damage those brain cells, I’ll need to offer some hops (err, hope) to some of you who actually may read this. Unbelievably, Ohio is fourth in the nation in craft beer productivity, creating an economic impact of more than $1.3 billion, responsible for more than 10,700 industry-related jobs in Ohio!  Jobs from brew, bra?  Where do I sign up? Now, do they need taste-testers? Boingggg!

Here, for your bathroom reading pleasure, are some Columbus facts:

  1. High intelligence
    Columbus was named the most intelligent city in the United States in a 2013 list released by the Intelligent Community Forum, according to The Columbus Dispatch. It ranked as the 15th most literate city and the 19th most educated city in a 2008 study by Central Connecticut State University.

    2. Population epicenter
    Columbus holds distinction as Ohio's largest city ahead of Cleveland and Cincinnati. Additionally, the state capital is the15th largest city in the United States with a population of 711,470, according to the 2000 census. Half of the residents of the United States live within 500 miles of Columbus.

    3. First solo flight
    Columbus has played an important role in Ohio's rich aviation legacy. Ohio resident Geraldine Fredritz Mock became the first woman to fly solo around the world in 1964, starting and ending in Columbus. Her trip lasted 29 days and covered 22,860 miles in a single engine Cessna 180 that was christened the "Spirit of Columbus."

    4. Arch City
    Columbus earned the nickname "Arch City" from dozens of wooden and metal arches that spanned multiple streets at the turn of the 20th century, according to This Week Community News. The arches were used to power streetcars and provide electricity for streetlights until they were torn down in 1914. Columbus restored metal facsimiles of the historical arches in the city's Short North district in 2002.

    5. The Columbus Experiment
    In 1908, Columbus became the site of the world's first water filtration plant. The plant was designed by Clarence and Charles Hoover with the purpose of filtering and softening city water to combat typhoid. The plant drastically reduced the number of deaths related to typhoid in the Columbus area, and the design created by the Hoovers is still in use today.

Remember, 5/10 oz pours!