CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

Dining, Donuts, Dives and Diatribes

  • Recent Comments

    CMH Gourmand on Over One Million Served
    Cindy Leland on Over One Million Served
    CMH Gourmand on Top 13 Independent Columbus Pi…
    Tim Kennedy on Top 13 Independent Columbus Pi…
    CMH Gourmand on Columbus Pizza: A Slice of His…
    JimColumbuz on Columbus Pizza: A Slice of His…
    CMH Gourmand on Columbus Pizza History: A Slic…
  • Categories

  • Top Posts

  • Archives: August 2006 to Now

Archive for the ‘beer’ Category

Paulaner: Pils in a can, Weizen-Radler and Salvatore – A Bavarian Rhapsody!

Posted by CMH Gourmand on January 31, 2021

I recognize that you might be confused.  Yes, you did come to the right blog.  Why am I, a local beer guy, that used to run our local brewery tour company writing about German Beers? Let me explain. I receive a lot of offers to write about food related things.  Most offers go straight to the trash can.  However, when an offer catches my eye or provides an opportunity to learn, I will accept a product to write about.  If I don’t like it, I don’t pretend to do so and the content shows it or more often I decline to write about it.  In this case, I replied back twice to two opportunities from Paulaner and I ended up at least twice removed from my promised deadline. In the case of Paulaner there are four reasons why I said yes: Memories of my youth, a Covid-caged wanderlust, a love of history, and well, duh, free beer. Well, nothing is free, writing about these beers took several hours as well as dedication to objective research.  (Side note:  The return address on each package sent to me listed a contact with the last name Stout – how appropriate).  I’m glad I said yes to my offers, because I like these beers.

Let’s start with memories of youth.  Back in the 20th century, before the second wave of craft brewing began, finding a Paulaner in a local beer shop or restaurant was a sign of luck and persistence.  The act of drinking a real beer from Germany was downright progressive.  I spent some time in Germany after I graduated from college drinking my share of Paulaner in Munich.  Paulaner was hard to find in Ohio “back in the old days”.  Today, Paulaner has a Beer Finder, which means you are one click away from discovery.  Just type in your zip code, click search and Bam!, beer.  In the case of my zip code, 37 locations have Paulaner products within 10 miles of my house. The finder even lets you drill down to which type of beer you want to find, so I typed in Paulaner Weizen-Radler to find 4 locations.

My next reason for saying yes to Paulaner, I love to travel. Parenthood combined with Covid means I’m lucky to leave my house to go pick up a pizza. Drinking a Paulaner, in a very small way, transports me to Germany for a few moments. Any beer definitely connects you to the place it was brewed through the water used, the people that crafted it and the tradition they follow. The Paulaner brewing tradition goes back to 1634.  There is some deeply hidden component of my Scottish / German ancestry that resonated with these beers (Scottish – Free, German – Beer) but more important to me was the history of the brand itself.

On the history front, Paulaner offers plenty of history, about 400 years worth.  The oldest (still operating) brewery we have Columbus is Columbus Brewing Company which has all of 40 years. Paulaner was started by monks in Munich.  When the monastery had leftover beer it was given to the poor or served in the cloister pub. In 1773, a monk commonly known as Barnabas started to brew for the order and developed techniques that were quickly adopted throughout Europe.  There are some beers named in his honor to this day. Paulaner beers were served at the first Oktoberfest celebrations and are still poured to the masked, socially distanced masses today.

Whenever I drink a new beer, I consult our local sage of fermentation, Pat Woodward of Pat’s Pints. Pat KNOWS beer.  He is a chemistry professor, home brewer, trained beer judge and prolific drinker. He has also traveled extensively writing about beers all over the world.  I found a few of his posts were helpful in my research for this review so the student (me) texted the master (him) to get some thoughts on the Paulaner Salvatore I dropped off to him.  I will include some exclusive Pat’s Pints content on the Salvatore later.

My next thought was to contact a real German.  Constantin is my former Clintonville neighbor who returned to Germany in 2019.  I contacted him for his spin on Paulaner but I made a critical error, I forgot that “Connie” is from Hamburg and living there now. In Germany, beer drinkers are fiercely locally loyal.  A real Hamburger would not be caught dead drinking a beer from Munich, unless they were in Munich.  Connie did say that if he was in Munich, he would drink a Paulaner and that is about the best compliment to be expected in this situation.

I had a brainstorm after this.  What is the next best thing to a German living in Munich?  In my case it was Cameron Lloyd, American brewer at Endeavor Brewing and Spirits.  Cameron received his brewing training in Germany so when he was not making beer, he was drinking it in travels around the country.  Although Paulaner brews massive quantities of beer, as in millions of hectoliters, much more than most German breweries, he said their quality is well respected.  It makes sense that Paulaner would distribute to 70 countries around the world, due to the uber-loyalty to local brands in each of the German states, their only way to grow is to sell outside of Germany.

Having completed my baseline investigation research, it was time to start drinking.

I started with the Paulaner Weizen-Radler (Non-Alcoholic).  This is a Hefe-Weizen with the alcohol removed (well most of it, less than .05% ABV (alcohol by volume) blended with lemon juice.  Paulaner brewed the first non alcoholic Weissbiers in the world and the radler originated in Germany, so I had high expectations for this non alcoholic malt beverage.  I was not disappointed.  This transported me to sitting in a beirgarten in Munich without the threat of a hangover or the monotony of a layover.  The Weisen-Radler was a pleasure to consume, as much as I loved it, I did to share some with my wife.  She liked her sample and was disappointed we did not have more.

Next, I moved on to the 1 pint, 9 fluid ounce, Paulaner Pils in a can.  This beer has been off the North American radar for some time.  After years of living under the shadows of mega hopped beers of the US IPA wars of the 2010’s, the Pils (Pilsner) returned to the US market in November of 2020.  The canned Pils comes in four packs. The ABV on this is 4.8% so it is very sessionable as a smooth drinking, palate pleasing all purpose beer. Pat’s Pints provides a good insight into this style he describes as the “rock stars of the lager world.” (It should be noted that while Pilsner originated in the Czech city of Pilsen, it was Bavarian brewer Josef Groll who created it there in 1842). Today Pilsners are ubiquitous as the dominant beer style around the world.  However, we have lost our appreciation of what makes this style so good because it has been dumbed down through decades of macro-level mass production (Budweiser). Drinking the Paulaner Pils did remind me of what I like about well crafted Pilsners. It was true to style, well balanced and epitomized the Paulaner motto of Gut, besser, Paulaner. (Good, better – Paulaner).

Last, and absolutely not least, I sampled the Paulaner Salvator (Double Bock). This comes in a 11.2 fluid ounce bottle with an ABV of 7.9%.  Having led brewery tours for seven years, one of the most common points of confusion came up when discussing bock beers.  They are not as common around town today, but many older beer drinkers fondly recall the bocks of their youth and those memories have faded over time. In a barley shell, Bock is essentially a lager beer that is darker due to the type of malt selected. This makes for a rich, hearty beer.  A double bock even more so with a bit more alcohol to boot.  The Bock name, derives from the style of beer that started in the northern German town of Einbeck.  As the style traveled south to Bavaria, it was misheard as ein-bock which means Billy Goat.  Concurrently Northern Italian monks found their way to the Munich to set up a monastery.  During Lent, they were not allowed to eat solid food so they started to make a lager that was darker in color using what is now often called Munich malt.  This created a darker color, a higher alcohol content with a much needed caloric boost in the beer to sustain them through the lingering days of winter.  When the monks provided some leftover bock as alms to the poor, other local brewers were outraged and started to write letters of complaint.  This dark beer push back occurred in 1634 which is considered the birth of the brewery and why the Salvatore style is strongly associated with Paulaner.  The monks originally called their creation “blessed father’s beer” and “holy oil of St. Francis,” before changing to a simpler latin term for savior – Salvator.  I’ll be turning the tasting notes over to Pat’s Pints for this beer, the bottle I drank taught me that my alcohol tolerance has declined steeply during Covid.<

Paulander Salvatore Tasting Notes from Pat's Pints:
What is the sensory experience associated with the modern iteration of this historic beer? Visually the beer is tawny brown, with reddish highlights. Running somewhat counter to my expectations for a German Doppelbock, the beer is slightly hazy. I lean in for a smell and am greeted with the aromas of caramelized sugar with background hints of fig, plum and a bit of booziness. Enough with the prelude, it’s time for a taste. The rich caramel flavors come to the fore, accented by dark fruits, something in the vein of black cherries or plums. Peeling away the layers of flavor I find something suggestive of nuts. The beer sports a medium body, not as thick as the flavors might suggest. For a beer that clocks in at nearly 8% it’s dangerously drinkable, but there is a subtle warming sensation that lingers after the first few sips. The overall impression is that of a flavor-packed winter treat, one that might just get you thinking of sugar plum fairies. Despite the perceived decadence it still retains a surprisingly high level of drinkability, just right for pairing with a hearty winter meal.

Backtracking to wanderlust, my post procrastination has allowed me to add a bonus for my loyal readership.  Paulaner is sponsoring a contest to win a trip for two to Paulaner’s Salvatorfest,  March of 2022 in Munich.  This annual festival celebrates Paulaner’s / Munich’s Stark biers (Stark being strong),  it is the oldest beer festival in the region even predating Oktoberfest. For second place, ten people will win six Paulaner glasses and a scarf.  I hope to win this trip because I really need to get out of the house.  If, not, I would be happy to see one of you win (feel free to take me as your number two).

If you are looking for Paulaner beers out and about it may take a while for old time fans to find them.  The company launched a new bottle style and labeling last year (it looks really good) which includes the Paulander name embossed on the bottles.  I am still a local drinker so when you pick up a 4 pack or six pack of Paulaner grab another six pack of Land Grant, Seventh Son, Outerbelt, Wolf’s Ridge, Endeavor, Sideswipe…… you get my drift.  Our local brewers still need our support and you could all use a drink so doubling up on your beer supply is a good way to go for 2021.

Posted in beer, Product Review | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

The Best Basement Brewing Museum I have ever seen…..

Posted by CMH Gourmand on September 8, 2019

Due to a curious chain of events (certainly not the first time for me), I found myself in a brewing museum in a basement. Well, maybe not a true museum but an incredible curated collection of artifacts accumulated by Ed Heller in forty odd years of brewing in Columbus and Central Ohio, mainly at August Wagner Breweries. How does one find himself in such a place? In my case by being a “connectrovert” – finding ways to connect people and opportunities as well as asking the right question at the right time in the right way. The story starts with me in my role as Vice President (and non-resident historian) of the Brewery District Merchants Association. A member had a question about a giant Brewers Alley sign that was in his building. An individual was interested in making a good home for this sign and after asking a few questions to “vet” that it would be a good forever home for a historic sign, agreements were made to transfer custody. In the process of this back and forth, I found out that the mother of the person asking for this sign was the daughter of Ed Heller who was a local brewmaster and she had “a few things” in her basement including a Brewers Year Book from 1950. Without trying to hide my excitement I asked if I could invite myself to see this treasure trove of Breweriana and the deal was done. Well, maybe I put a lot of icing on the non cake that is me, by asking if I could also invite my friend and colleague Curt Schieber the author of “Columbus Beer: Recent Brewing & Deep Roots“.

Flash forward to this morning when Curt and I, two perfect strangers to these very kind people, found ourselves in a nicely finished north side basement looking at relics of the August Wagner Breweries (and other places) and hearing about the long career of Ed Heller. He lived an incredible life. As the oldest of nine children, Ed had to leave school in the 8th grade to find work. Eventually, through a lot of hard work, perseverance and saving a lot of money for the time, he found his way to New York city to earn a prestigious Brewmasters certificate. Being a brewer on the South Side of Columbus would have made him one of the most respected citizens of his era. He lived into his 90’s surviving throat cancer in his late 40’s and being unable to speak and then another cancer, heart attack and more later in life. For many years his family lived in one of the brewers houses on Front Street which in itself created so many memories including going to the brewery on Saturdays so that the brewers could make snowballs out of the melting ice in the brewery for children to play with.

The assortment of photos, signs, glasses, bottles and more in this basement space told more than just the story of a brewer, it tells the story of a important part of life in Columbus during his career. Our hosts Angie and Greg shared so many stories with Curt and I that I lost count. More importantly the four of us connected due to a passion for celebrating and preserving history. Much of what we saw were items that easily could have been discarded or separated over the years but keeping all of this together created a wonderful longitudinal story.

This was truly a treasure trove. Curt, spent three years working on his book but had never seen the majority of what we were looking at and hearing about today so he was thrilled with having access to this hidden history. One thing we collectively lamented on is that most families loose so much of their history and connection to the past by not having someone with an interest to pass it on to the next generation. Increasingly there is no one in the present that wants take on the role of family historian and archivist. Today Curt and I got lucky. I am sharing a few of the many photos I took below.

Posted in beer, culinary knowledge, culinary misadventure | 2 Comments »

The Brew Your Own Big Book of Clone Recipes

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 30, 2018

The Brew Your Own Big Book of Clone Recipes was released in May of this year. If you are struggling to find a gift for the home brewer in your life, get him or her a Columbus Brew Adventures gift certificate and a copy of this book. It was produced by Brew Your Own magazine which has helped home brewers clones recipes from their favorite breweries since 1995. The book features 300 recipes that have been tested and retested and troubleshot by the magazine.

So what is a clone beer you ask? Is it related to Star Wars in some way? Thankfully, no. Clone beers are created to very closely resemble the famous and infamous commercial beers they are modeled after. In the case of Brew Your Own Magazine, they often work with the actual brewers to make sure they get the recipes right. So why would a home brewer want to make a clone of someone else’s beer? There are many reasons. For some it is an homage to the beer that inspired them to start brewing. Sometimes it is price, they don’t want to pay retail for a beer they love. Other times, it may be to create a beer that is no longer on the market or impossible to find. In some cases it is a quest to take that base and tweak it just a bit to determine the what if’s of brewing.

The book has a brief forward and overview of the philosophy of clone brewing then very quickly jumps into the actual recipes. These are the 17 categories the beers are divided into: Pale ales, India Pale Ales, Specialty IPA’s, Amber ales and lagers, brown ales, porters, stouts, Imperial Stouts, Barleywine and strong ales, Belgian Style ales, British style ales, European ales and lagers, North American ales and lagers, Pilsners, fruit, spice and vegetable beers (pumpkin), Sour, Wild and Wood Ages beers and Winter beers. If that seems like a lot, it is, the book is 272 pages. You will find a wide variety of beers in here including Dogfish Head, Southern Tier, etc. This definitely not a book for beginners but it is worth having as a reference or inspiration for anyone that have the home brewing bug. I also like the title, when I was a young lad, I recall there were a lot of Big Books of __________ but I never saw one of beer. Now I can take that off my bucket list.

(I was offered a free copy of this book by the PR firm working with the publisher and I responded to that e-mail query very quickly. My vocation puts me in almost daily contact with home brewers and home brewers whose hobby has gotten out of control causing them to then start breweries, so I knew I would find a good home for this book when I was done with it, some day will actually make one of these recipes).

Posted in beer, Food For Thought | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Brewnuts, Cleveland: The Ohio Donut Trail

Posted by CMH Gourmand on July 19, 2018

I have been an advocate of pairing donuts with beer since at least 2010. Being a peripheral member of the craft beer industrial complex, it was inevitable that Brewnuts would come on my radar. While I wish I could say it was love at first bite, for years I had to be content to love Brewnuts from afar for alas, my life is in Columbus and Brewnuts was born in Cleveland. The description from the Brewnuts website provides some insight as to why I love what they do. I would say I “got them” the first time I heard about them.

Brewnuts is the lovechild of two Clevelanders – Shelley & John Pippin – who gave up their jobs working for “The Man” to pursue their three favorite things: donuts, beer and Cleveland.

Long story short, one night Shelley bolted up in bed and asked John what he thought about the idea of making craft beer based donuts. After a long pause he said “I like that.” The next day we went out and bought a countertop fryer and got busy hatching our plan to make Cleveland’s most unique and delicious donuts

The donuts are made with beer. They are hand crafted, in small batches without pre-made mixes. The varieties are inspired by the local beers they pour into the mix. When Brewnuts started they could be found in limited quantities in select places in Cleveland like Phoenix Coffee. When I saw they were building out a storefront that would also be a local craft beer bar I knew I had to get there somehow, someway, someday soon….but I had to wait a very long time to make my donut Haj. Brewnuts was everything I wanted it to be and more the second I walked through the door.

I had a limited time to explore since I had a child melting down and a spouse that was literally melting from the heat. I had just enough time to explore the place inside and out as well as to order two donuts. Long time readers of the Ohio Donut Trail adventures know I am a cake donut man, but in this case, I was happy to consume yeast donuts….and I liked it.

I tried one cannoli donut. It tasted like some of the best cannoli I have sampled anywhere. It was fresh, flavorful and clearly used premium ingredients. I also tried one Limoncello donut. This tasted like some of the best Limoncello I sipped in Italy years ago. This donut was also super fresh. As the menu board noted, it did contain alcohol. For most of the donuts, the ABV part of alcohol is cooked out in the donut making process but for the high-test stuff, a trace off alcohol remains. It this case it just added more flavor to the donut. Both donuts were exceptional. If I had time (and a budget) to try more I would have gladly studied these in-depth seated at the bar while creating craft beer pairings for hours on end.

Speaking of craft beer, the selections showcased the best of what Cleveland craft beer has to offer and the beer menu would rival any other craft bar in the region with a similar number of taps. Brewnuts does everything right. It is a great addition to the Gordon Square neighborhood. And it is yet another reason why I love the CLE. Donut Mess with Cleveland.

Brewnuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in bar, beer, CLEGourmand, donuts, Ohio, Ohio Donut Trail, Road Trip | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brewed on the Bikeway ABC’s: Athens, Beer, Cider & More

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 12, 2017

When I heard about Brewed on the Bikeway, I saw this as a way to combine two things I needed more of: riding a bike more often (as in cycling more than the 5 minutes I have biked each spring for the last three years when I fill my bike tires with air and test them out) and I needed to drink more beer. Well, not just beer, craft beer specifically crafted in Athens. So when I was offered a “partial scholarship” of sorts to explore Brewed on the Bikeway I was excited for an opportunity to blend beer and bikes.

Breaking down what Brewed on the Bikeway is, the name speaks for itself. A while back, a few sharp-eyed and forward thinking individuals noticed how close the many Athens area craft beverage makers are to the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway. The bikeway follows the former pathway of the Columbus and Hocking Valley Railroad and the former Hocking Canal, often parallel to the Hocking River. The trail offers almost 21 miles of scenery connecting Nelsonville with Athens. Another amenity the trail offers is quick access to: Multiple Brewing (Nelsonville), Devil’s Kettle Brewing, Little Fish Brewing, Jackie O’s Taproom & Production Brewery as well the Eclipse Company Store. The trail is just a short hop from the original Jackie O’s Public House (which started the brewery explosion over a decade ago) and West End Cider House. Any one of these destinations is worth the trip – all of these combined makes for a great day. I was excited to explore how this all comes together.

But then, I felt trepidation. I am in horrible physical condition. Instead of Brewed on the Bikeway, I started to fear the title of this post might be Fat Dude Sprawled out on the Bikeway. However, I was determined to stay the course. I quickly discovered the Bikeway is all about ease and convenience.

Having explored Nelsonville in-depth and with a short time frame to complete my “mission”, I skipped the northern 11 mile leg of the trail connecting Nelsonville to the nano community centered around The Eclipse Company Town in the Plains. The Eclipse Company Store Beer Hall was the perfect place to prepare for my Brewed on the Bikeway ride by enjoying a few local beers, a great lunch with a base of operations to spread out my maps and materials to plot out my adventure.

Walking through the door, I was immediately smitten with the place. I chatted with owner Sean Kiser about the wonderland he has created in what used to be a small company town general store. At the Eclipse Company Store Beer Hall, a well curated collection of 40+ mostly local (Ohio) beers are paired with an impressive menu of pub grub incorporating many local ingredients. This is a relaxed, comfortable and sprawling space that is as conducive to chatting to people biking the trail or listening to live music inside or out. The menus offers many sandwiches, salads and entrees with a focus on smoked meats (Kiser also operates Kiser’s BBQ in Athens).

The Beer Hall is adjacent to the Bikeway. After my meal which paired with samples of hard to find and newer breweries such as Sixth Sense Brewing in Jackson, I decided on a quick elliptical stroll around Eclipse before starting my ride. I popped into the Shop Athens Ohio store across the street to peruse the local products offered in a former row house. I found many interesting items, including pint glasses of closed Athens area watering holes to help former Ohio University Bobcats relieve their glory days.

My next destination, just a few feet away was Black Diamond Bicycles. The shop sells and services new and used bikes and conveniently offers reasonably priced bike rentals. After a quick check to make sure my bike was a good fit for me, I headed off on the bikeway.

As I approached the trail, several observations calmed my fears of a posting about the “fat dude subdued by the Bikeway”. The trail is in incredibly good condition and well maintained. Following a former railroad bed, it is largely on flat, level terrain. There are maps at many of the trail heads as well as mini bike service stations where you can check your tires and perform minor maintenance on your bike.

In a very short time, I found myself at my first brewery destination, Devil’s Kettle Brewing. Located on Columbus Road, the brewery is not adjacent to the bike trail but if you know the lay of the land, you can figure out how to get to it with minimal disorientation. I had a directional advantage because I have conducted many “research” visits to Devil’s Kettle in the past. To help out for your Brewed on the Bikeway adventure, if you see the bridge below, you are getting close (this is also the only significant elevational challenge I had on my ride and I easily bested it).

At Devil’s Kettle I was impressed by all of the changes the owners have made to their space in the short time since opening a few years ago. The brewery has progressed from a very raw, industrial space to being almost fancy. The one bit of infrastructure I was most excited to see was the solar panel array the brewery installed to supply much of the energy needed to run the operation.

I have always enjoyed the assortment of beers served at the taproom here, but as a PSA, I would be remiss in not mentioning that Devil’s Kettle usually offers one or two sodas they craft as well, including a really exceptional Ginger Ale. If you are visiting all of the breweries on the Bikeway and looking to pace yourself, an occasional craft soda, and a lot of water, is aways a good idea.

I then continued along the trail on my way to what I cautiously share is my favorite brewery in Ohio, Little Fish Brewing. Having been a frequent visitor to this brewery as well, I spied a short cut that shaved 10-15 minutes off of my ride. I am not ready to give that short cut away, or to lure you off what is a really good section of the trail, but if you are pressed for time and every minute counts, an astute eye and good off road tires can be helpful. Again, (taking either path, and I did both) I was mildly shocked at how close Devil’s Kettle and Little Fish are by bike. I did not even break a sweat.

A craft beer fan would be hard pressed not to enjoy every beer on the Little Fish menu. In addition to a cozy indoor and outdoor space, Little Fish, has a little farm, where they grow some of their ingredients, a dedicated space for the many food trucks that serve at the brewery and because this is Athens and it is a brewery, solar panels. Among many notable notes regarding Little Fish, it was one of the first breweries to serve a beer with all Ohio ingredients (malt and hops).

Pedaling on, my next destination took me off the trail with a short ride to West End Cider House and a meeting with my pal cider maker, distiller and brewer extraordinaire Kelly Sauber. Kelly was a long time brewer at Marietta Brewing Company. Several years ago he created Dancing Tree Distillery, which later became Fifth Element Spirits. In spite of the demands of operating a distillery, Kelly siphoned off some time to get West End Cider House going as well. (Read my post on the Cider House ->HERE). Kelly is one of my favorite people in the industry so having some time to sample some of his ciders while he brought me up to speed on some exciting changes to the operation coming in 2018 was time well spent. If you are new or old to craft ciders, this is a true destination to expand your appreciation of this cider and spirits. West End Cider House also offers cocktails and area craft beers in a relaxing environment with a choice of locally focused snacks.

I stayed/strayed off the trail, navigating the streets near Uptown, but was clearly on track for my next depot on the Bikeway, Jackie O’s Public House and Brewpub, the spot that started the craft beer explosion in Athens in 2005. What started as a small brewpub has grown into a local icon and Ohio Craft Beer Institution. (To fully appreciate the story of Jackie O’s read this great overview article from Good Beer Hunting). While I had great food options at the Public House, including pizzas made with spent grains from brewing and other dishes showcasing ingredients grown on the Jackie O’s Farm, I did make a small detour off the Bikeway to meal up at two of my favorite Athens eateries.

O’Betty’s Red Hot serves what I consider to be the best hot dogs and fries in the state of Ohio. This tiny space seats about 20 in a cozy setting that also features a hot dog museum of sorts. Any trip to Athens requires me to consume two Mata Hari’s (hot dogs are named after famous Burlesque performers) with an order of fries.

Just across State Street, Casa Nueva is another of my mandatory Athens area pit stops. Founded as a worker owned cooperative restaurant in 1985, “Casa” helped pioneer the local foods focus of the community. While I might not always have room for a third or fourth meal while exploring Athens by bike, foot or car, my minimum “drive-by” order is a House Margarita with a side of locally produced chips and house made salsas.

Having fueled myself with encased meats and more, it was time to continue back in the Bikeway for the last stop, Jackie O’s Taproom and Production Brewery on Campbell Street. This space started in 2013 and now produces the majority of Jackie O’s beer. The attached taproom is a good place to wrap up the drinking portion of my Brewed on the Bikeway experience. And of course because it is Athens, and because the space is a brewery, the spot is largely solar powered.

The return to Eclipse Company Store was uneventful. If I had more time and if it had been a day of the week when Multiple Brewing was open, I believe I had ample liquid courage to pedal the 11 miles to Nelsonville to finish the Bikeway in style with a turn victory lap.

In summary, I survived Brewed on the Bikeway without any bruises to my body or self worth. The trail was easy for an old out of shape guy to navigate. The pacing of the stops helped maintain my courage to carry on. The ease of bike rental helped me avoid the hassle of loading and unloading my bike for the drive down. All in all, it was a great way to balance biking with exercising my 21st Amendment right to enjoy a few adult beverages.

Here are a few tips for your own Brewed on the Bikeway adventure:

  • The Bikeway can be pretty busy on the weekends, so check ahead if you are renting a bike and allow a little extra time to navigate crowded taprooms.
  • If you are doing the whole route, know that Multiple Brewing has limited hours, mainly some weekend and evening hours, so call ahead. There is plenty to do in Nelsonville.
  • Some sections of the trail can be prone to occasional flooding, if that is an issue, the Brewed on the Bikeway social media team do a good job of getting the word out. Plan ahead.
  • The bikeway does not have any directional markers for the “brewed” destinations. Finding your way to the stops in often not intuitive, so you will want to take a look at a mapping site to orient yourself on how to get to some destinations that are a bit off the trail. Many are not within line of sight of the bikeway. For the organizers, I’d suggest some signage that on the Bikeway that could serve as prompts for some destinations. Something like “Columbus Road Spur” could help those not familiar with the area know that trail segment is the turn off to get to Devil’s Kettle without advertising the business or causing any legal awkwardness related to promoting an alcohol business on a public byway. Some embedded mini maps with suggested paths to the destinations not near the trail like West End Cider House and Jackie O’s Public House would be a good public service.
  • Whatever the amount of time you have budgeted for Brewed on the Bikeway, add another hour, or day, to your plan. You will still find there is much more you want to do and see in the area.

  • For more information on the area, visit AthensOhio.

    And to connect with what is going on while you are in the area, look for these hashtags during your adventure.

    #AthensOhio
    #BrewedOnTheBikeway
    #OhioUniversity
    #VisitAthens
    #Athens30MM (connecting you with locally focused eateries and events in the area)

    Brewed on the Bikeway is just one path of many that will allow you to enjoy all that Athens County has to offer. The area is a hiking and outdoor enthusiasts paradise. There are several wineries that are well worth the short drive and countless other ways to unwind and enjoy what Southeast Ohio has to offer.

    Posted in Athens, beer, culinary misadventure, restaurants | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Blystone Farm and Butcher Shop (& Deli & Taproom), Canal Winchester

    Posted by CMH Gourmand on June 30, 2017

    Blystone Farms sign

    “Lord, I was born a rambling man, looking for a new lunch spot as often as I can. But when it comes to eating, I hope you’ll understand, as for now, I’m largely a homebound man.” By my makeup, I need to roam and explore, discover new things, etc. Over the last six months I have been adding a lot to my to read lists, to listen to lists, to watch lists, etc. As for my to eat list, it is extensive. When I hear about or notice a good candidate I start a blog post with the name of the destination and any bits that caught my interest others mentioned or based on a quick search of the interwebs. (I have 55 more places on my blog list). Canal Winchester has been a frequent topic of conversation over the last year due to Brewdog, and more than once someone would suggest Blystone Farm and Butcher shop as worth a visit. One guys description of a deli sandwich from the Blystone peaked my interest to the extreme, he loved talking about the sandwich almost as he enjoyed consuming it.

    With the breaking of weather in the spring and the breaking of myself from a lack of adventures I opted to combine work with a little pleasure in May. I assigned myself the “southern leg” of deliveries for the Columbus Ale Trail Brew books. I plotted out an all back roads route to make deliveries to Grove City Brewing, Brew Brothers, Loose Rail Brewing, Brewdog and Combustion Brewery. It was a great day to drive and conveniently Blystone was just slightly off my plotted path on my way to Loose Rail. (As a side, note, I did find a cool Taco Truck called Taco Time by Don Carlos on SR 317 in a VFW parking lot about one mile from Brew Brothers, that will be a future post here or on Taco Trucks Columbus).

    Blystone Farm deli

    I did not have any expectations of Blystone and I could not find much online (other than a very good post by Columbus Culinary Connection) so I just knew it was a farm based butcher shop with a deli. As soon as I saw the place in the distance, I knew I would like it. The moment I walked through the door it was love at first whiff. Blystone offers a full service butcher shop offering a wide range and variety of cuts of mea, many originating on the farm. The shop is also stocked with a deep selection of craft beers, wines, Ohio and other cheese and local products such as Sophie’s Pieorgi. As I was walking around the ship enthralled by my choices one of the butchers asked if I needed anything so I replied, “a lunch recommendation.” He walked through what on the menu originated in the shop and suggested I try the ham and cheese, especially since he knew the ham had been freshly sliced an hour ago. He also said the wings may meet my fancy as well. He then pointed me to the new taproom / restaurant.

    Blystone Beer Menu

    I loved the rustic look of the attached dining area. Positioning myself at the bar, I spied the beer list on the wall and was impressed with the choices in a largely Ohio based tap selection. I asked a few questions before placing my order. The soup of the day was a Mediterranean soup with a mix of unusual ingredients so I ordered that as well as a Ham & Cheese Sandwich, chicken wings and a beer flight. The woman behind the bar was immediately impressed by my ambitions. In this case, even for me, I may have been pushing my own envelope which exceeds the good sense and tolerances of most mere mortals.

    I cannot recall much about the soup other than it was flavorful and I liked it. I think that is because anything would have been forgotten in comparison to my two lunch orders. The Ham (house made) and Cheese (Ohio) sandwich was served on fresh thick Texas Toast style bread topped with homemade BBQ sauce and served with a pile of outstanding steak fries. The flavor of the ham stood out among an outstanding supporting cast of. The steak fries were perfectly executed, sturdy, firm, well salted and filling.

    wings and sandwich

    As for the wings, these are superior on all indicators. I’m not a big fan of wings in general. However, in the rare instance I find them to be the exception to the greasy, mediocre base line, I get a bit excited. The Blystone wings are clearly not dumped out of a frozen bag. These wings were big, filled with flavor and did not need anything to dip, bathe or a sauce to swim in. I’ll place these in the top three in Central Ohio with O’Reilly’s and Smokehouse being a strong tie and weak third place respectively.

    My approach to lunch attracted a bit of attention. Everyone in eyeshot asked about the wings. A woman I think may have been one of the owners was very interested in my opinions of the meal and I think my server wanted to adopt me although I am older than her.

    This spot warrants further research but my first impression is highly favorable and flavorful.

    Blystone Farm

    Blystone Farm
    8677 Oregon Rd, Canal Winchester
    (614) 833-1211
    (3 miles from Brewdog, 4 miles from Loose Rail)

    Posted in beer, Road Trip, sandwiches | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

    Grandview Theater – Get There

    Posted by CMH Gourmand on January 10, 2017

    Grandview Theater

    While this is and has always been a food first blog, this is not the first time I have written about a theater, nor the second nor the third. I have written about Studio 35 before, While not a food purveyor in any sense it has a long history as a local craft beer supporter and destination. So let’s do a recap on Studio 35 because it is the key to what makes the Grandview Theater tick.

    In the world of megaplex movie theaters with multiple screens, extensive concessions, IMAX, 3D and other options it is hard for a neighborhood single screen theater with mo on site parking to survive. In fact most have not (nor have many drive in’s sustained either). The plucky Studio 35 continued on through the 80’s, 90’s and now in the 21st century looking for ideas to make the business responsive to the needs of the community. Owner Eric Brembeck took over the reigns after years of stewardship of Frank Marzetti and then John Conti. (Some historical notes: originally called the Indianola Theater when in opened in 1938, the name changed to Marzetti and then John Conti renamed it Studio 35 (because they showed 35mm films). Also of note, Studio 35 was the first movie theater in the nation to get a liquor license (in 1972).

    Now that we have been through the wayback machine when Eric Brembeck took over the theater was still limping along so he and his team started to focus on what customers connected with – mainly craft beer and special events. The bar developed a reputation for a finely curated craft beer selection. In addition to movies paired with special beer tastings, Studio 35 started to develop other special events most notably the Dudeathon (a tribute to the film The Big Lebowski). And file under if you can’t beat them, join them, the theater invites the public to come watch OSU games for free.

    The theater was renovated a few years ago to make the bar much bigger with more seating and tabs and to make everything much more comfortable.

    Now that the back backstory is completed let’s finally talk about The Grandview Theater. I have a long relationship with this spot as well. It was favorite destination for me when it was a Drexel Theater. When the previous owners took over in 2012 (?) I met them while I was at ECDI and tried to brainstorm ideas to help them keep the theater afloat. Both owners worked all day and ran the theater all night but their passion for the art of movies did not balance out the demands of keeping their business sustainable while burning both ends of the candle. Enter new owner Eric Brembeck who thought he could take the Studio 35 model and adapt it to Grandview. His first step was to acquire something the theater lacked – a liquor permit. After he obtained that, a lot of demolition and construction later we have the new Grandview Theater.

    img_5848

    There is a lot to like. The layout of the space is fun and functional with plenty of movie posters and such to decorate the space. The bar is deep in seating and beer selection. While popcorn is the main attraction for on site food there is an array of different seasonings to sprinkle or smother on as you see fit. Pizza can be ordered in for delivery just like at Studio 35.

    img_5849

    Moving into the theater itself, the seats are wide, deep and comfortable with wide aisles between seats. There are tables at the top of the seating area so you can dine while enjoying the cinema. All in all everything works well and recreates the magic of Studio 35 using the same focus on connecting with the community and being a neighborhood hangout that just happens to have movies too. Here is where civic duty comes in. Independent businesses like this contribute to the character of our neighborhoods as well as our sense of community. If you want places like this to continue they have to survive and thrive so that they are not constantly trying to rub two pennies together to keep the marquee lit. All you need to do is drop in for a beer and/or a movie once in a while. The Grandview Theater has made this an inviting place do so. So, just do it.

    img_5851

    Posted in bar, beer | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

    Rockmill Tavern in the Brewery District

    Posted by CMH Gourmand on December 29, 2016

    rockmill

    Rockmill Brewery opened to the public in Lancaster in September of 2010. I was there shortly thereafter in November of 2010. It is interesting to reflect how much the world and in particular my world has changed in the span of just six years. In the world of local craft beer, imagine if you will the thrill when Rockmill nudged central Ohio breweries closer to the number ten. At my last count, we can expect to see well over forty microbreweries in Central Ohio by spring.

    With all of these changes afoot, owner Matt Barbee knew he needed to get a bigger footprint in the Columbus market and he realized the best way to do that was to establish a taproom(s). An attempt to open a location in German Village fizzled out but another location he had in the works in the Brewery District found some solid traction and uncommonly launched close to on time.

    Rockmill Tavern opened it’s doors to the public at the end of October this year. This was pretty amazing turn around, the previous occupant, World of Beer closed without warning on October 31st 2015. Barbee had much of his attention devoted to making the prospective German Village location come together so the Brewery District tavern was fast tracked as the other project got sidelined. The space has a lot of history that fits well with his concept. The space was literally made for beer. The original occupant of these hallowed brick walls was Hoster Brewing Company. Up until 1919 this address on Front Street was part of one of the largest breweries in the state churning out up to 500,000 barrels of beer per year. Rockmill’s production is a bit below that number (by about 490,000 or so). The particular space the tavern fills was once part of a stable for 125 horses for Hoster Brewing. So it is fitting that Rockmill’s logo is that of a horse. This truly was a match that was meant to be.

    I am excited about this development for many reasons. I have stayed in touch with Barbee since our first meeting years ago and have always been impressed by his vision and focus on how he wanted to grow the brewery and engage with the community. As for the Brewery District, I feel that the opening of Rockmill Tavern marks the official rebirth (3.0) of the Brewery District. If you are not a native of Columbus then you are probably not aware that the Brewery District was the place to be in the 1990’s. And in the early 2000’s it very quickly became the place to flee. A few businesses stuck it out and in the last year the area has seen a significant upswing with the success of Copious, Arepazo and other new hot spots.

    The main downfall of the World of Beer location was a lack of food. Some failed attempts were made to try to coordinate with food trucks but those efforts were…uncoordinated. Barbee saw the potential in the space but knew the key was to squeeze in a kitchen to churn out something better than fried fare and wings if he wanted guests to stick around for more than one beer. He ensured a slam dunk for food by engaging great talent in both the front and the back of the tavern. In particular, Chef Andrew Smith, most often cited for his work at Salt and Pine but in my book, well respected for his work at the Rossi.

    As for the food, they have nailed it. Open a short two months, I have seen Rockmill Tavern listed as the best new restaurant of 2016 as well as noted on the short list of best overall. Not bad considering they have just started cooking. I can only speak to the lunch menu but looking at dinner and brunch offerings I see nothing to fear in this line up. I shared lunch with a few members of the Columbus Ale Trail team and was lucky to be in the company of two young ladies that share the same affinity for Brussels sprouts and beets that I do.

    I’ll start with the sprouts. While they seem to be ubiquitous to any new menu in town I rarely find them executed to my liking. Those that I sampled at Rockmill Tavern were cooking to my loving. The portion size was perfect. They had just a bit of char to them and a trace of carmelization. They tasted fresh and flavorful with just a hint of crunch and chewiness.

    brussels

    Moving on along, the beet salad was a slam dunk. I don’t often fret about presentation but in the case of this salad it certainly looked good enough to eat but more importantly the layout of the ingredients made the salad easy to enjoy. The goat cheese was an ample portion and placed in such a way that I could easily control how much or how little I wanted with each bite. The beets themselves were cooked to pure perfection. I could not have been happier and I commit to ordering this salad whenever I am at Rockmill Tavern, even when I am not there to eat.

    beet-salad-1

    Here is an insider tip. I usually don’t get excited about biscuits. In my world I associate them with breakfast more often that lunch, brunch or dinner. More importantly, I encounter bad biscuits 90% of the time. Finally, I found a biscuit worthy of this quote -> Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. – Carl Sandburg. The addition of a bit of cheese and a lot of love has produced the finest biscuits in the city. And since readership of the blog is down, I am going to give my readers a little insider knowledge (but don’t spread this around). If you know Cheryl Harrison (and you probably should because she is a good idea) then you should know that she LOVES these biscuits. If she had her way, they might become a form of currency.

    biscuits

    And last, but not least, the Tavern burger – made from good ground beef and not dolled up too much but I did appreciate the ciabatta bun and the bacon jam. It continues along my burger mantra of keep it simple to make it special. A burger should just be a burger but most places threw this belief out the window years ago. Don’t pitch this burger, pinch it in your hands and hold on to it for dear life until you finish it.

    burger

    In conclusion, most importantly, I am very happy for Matt Barbee. The Rockmill Tavern is a place and space that truly reflects his passion(s), not just for beer but the design of the interior and the rugged feel it projects connects with both the history of the building and the history of his brewery. When I met him six years ago, I enjoyed a great afternoon at a time when I really needed to reconnect with the good things he had going on in Lancaster and I feel all of those elements have successfully landed in this Brewery District space. (And extraneous note, I am writing this piece sitting next to my co-pilot on that first Rockmill trip – my dog CMH Tobias). Go for the food and stay for the beer and equally important, stick around in the Brewery District and help rebuild the area, one beer or bite at a time.

    Rockmill Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Posted in beer, restaurants | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

    Yellow Brick Pizza and the Old Towne East Eating Intersection

    Posted by CMH Gourmand on June 10, 2016

    Welcome to Olde Town

    Checking over my list of favorite pizza places, I noticed I had not written about Yellow Brick Pizza. My apologies. Yellow Brick is an Old Towne East Icon part of the Oak Street Boom, which unfortunately has not spread farther out. Opening in 2009, the place quickly established itself as a hot spot with good pizza and a craft beer collection with depth and breadth. The pizza is described as East Coat style with Rhode Island influences since one of the owners worked in a few Rhode Island pizza shops. The dough is hand stretched with a medium thickness to the crust and a signature thick dough ring. For the non-traditional eater in your life, Yellow Brick offers plenty of gluten and vegan friendly options for pizzas including gluten-free crust, vegan cheese and Textured Vegetable Protein sausage. Wondering about Rhode Island Red Sauce? It is featured on a few of the pizza options to give the sauce a bit of heat and kick. The specialty pizzas offer a wide variety of combinations many of which stretch the genre of traditional pizza toppings to great effect.

    Yellow Brick Slice

    Most pizza places offer a few mundane salads as an afterthought, not the case for Yellow Brick, I have found each of their salads to be exceptional. My favorite salad there and probably my favorite salad in Columbus is described below.

    Kale Salad

    All of the ingredients in this salad compliment and contrast well with each other providing a mix for flavors, textures and crunchiness. The red peppers in the salad are not just slices that have a bit of marinated flavor as well. Even my bean avoidant wife was happy to gobble down a few bites.

    Add in some Arcade Super Awesome upstairs in the evening for extra distraction and Yellow Brick is well worth a planned night out on the town.

    Yellow Brick Info

    Yellow Brick Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


    Speaking of town, this block on Oak Street in Old Towne is a mini entertainment district. Starting with the business that started things off – one of my favorite spots Angry Baker

    Angry Baker

    Old Towne Tavern also offers good food and selection of local and regional craft beers.

    Old Town Tavern

    And perhaps a new location will mean a bit of a rebirth for Camelot Cellars and an option for non beer drinkers on the block.

    Camalot

    Posted in beer, Best Pizza in Columbus, pizza, vegan friendly, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Columbus Ale Trail Tales: Volume 1

    Posted by CMH Gourmand on April 29, 2016

    I have been fortunate to be able to expand the overlapping cultures/communities I belong to. In the early 2000’s I found myself in the newly established food blogger community, which led to the undiscovered world of Taco Trucks which then drove me to the culture of street food which indirectly led me to a new career which in turn connected me to some in the world of Columbus Craft Beer just before the explosion of craft breweries in 2013 and after. Along the way I collected some new skills, some friends, business relationships and etc. All of those overlapping networks led to a spontaneous project.

    Several of us had encountered versions of craft beer trails around the country. My neighbors brought me a flier from Boston that got me to thinking about how it might work in Columbus. John from the Ohio Tap Room contacted me about the same idea at about the same time and within a week we had a group of four of us that then connected with the Ohio Craft Brewers Association, who were just starting to have that thought as well. At that point we thought Experience Columbus might be interested so we met with them. We all thought a Columbus Craft Beer passport of some sort made sense and thus the Columbus Ale Trail was born.

    It was a very quick gestation. We decided we wanted to launch the Ale Trail at the beginning of the first ever Columbus Craft Beer Week. This meant we had to create something awesome from scratch in less than two months. Many hours, and ideas, and late night edits later, the first Ale Trail Brew Books were ready for delivery. They started to filter out on May 1st and the first prize redemption for visiting all twenty breweries was on May 2nd. Oh my, we were on to something. The first 10,000 books were gone within a few weeks. With that validation and some quick planning and a bit of tweaking we obtained funds from the breweries to print another 20,000 books.

    Today with just a few days left in the first year of the Columbus Ale Trail, the project has been a slam dunk. Over 600 people have visited all 20 listed breweries. Almost 1000 have visited 4 breweries to get a free pint glass from Experience Columbus. And countless people have visited one to nineteen breweries just for the heck of it without redeeming for anything. It has been exciting, humbling and for me, redeeming as well. It is great to be part of an idea that turns out to be successful and in the process helps all of the small brewing businesses get new fans and grow their brands.

    As I write this, Volume 2 of the Columbus Ale Trail Brew Book has been sent off to the printer (after a lot of edits, and formatting, and changes, and bears, oh my!). The prize for completing the trail this time around (28 breweries) is a customized deck of cards featuring logos from almost all of our local breweries. It looks great. (See a card example below). The books should be ready by May 13th and the cards should be ready to hand to the first person (and all subsequent Ale Trailers) to go to all 28 sites (hopefully) within the following week.

    Smokehouse

    Over the course of the past year I have personally passed out almost 2000 Ale Trail books to people on brewery tours. I’ve spoken with over 100 people using the books as I have crossed paths with them at breweries all over Central Ohio. The consistent message is: This is great! I can’t say that anytime in my professional career have I been lucky enough to work on a project that was universally loved like this. What I have heard frequently and what I like the most is that people enjoy the book – because it is a book, not a gadget, or app but something real and tangible that they enjoy looking at, reading through and most importantly getting the stamp (of approval) at each brewery they visit.

    While I have heard great stories, my two favorite are documented below and I was lucky enough to have a small part in each.

    The two ladies below completed their Ale Trail last fall. They enjoyed it so much they made costumes to wear to their last few stops. I met them at the Ohio Taproom where they came to get their Ale Trail T-shirt to reward them for their efforts. I hope they get to wear these costumes again for Volume 2.

    Ohio Ale Trail heroines


    ale trail heroines

    The image you see below is a cautionary tale. A couple came into the Ohio Taproom while I was wrapping up a tour there. The wife was excited but the husband seemed a bit forlorn. As it turned out, only she was redeeming. He shared a tale of woe in that he had pocketed his book after they hit the last stop, forgot about it and washed his pants without removing the contents. The results are shown below.

    ale trail mishap

    As part of the Ale Trail team, I authorized the shreds of book as complete and he was validated for finishing the trail too. Lesson for Volume 2, keep your Ale Trail book in a special place and monitor closely. Friends don’t let friends lose or wash a perfectly good Ale Trail book.

    Good luck to all racing to finish Volume 2 of the Ale Trail and congratulations to those that finished all or most of Volume 1.

    Posted in beer | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »