Westerville was once a stronghold for the dreaded temperance movement, a misguided effort to rid the world of anything that brought people joy.
Though the primary focus was alcohol, and other substances that induce a sense of euphoria, Westerville’s commitment to this movement lasted long after the rest of the country had come to its senses. But the empty store fronts and reluctance of developers to invest in retail properties forced Westerville to moisten its sensibilities.
Now, the quaint little uptown business district is anchored by neighborhood bars—its own little brewery is the only thing missing. Enter the Uptown Deli and its 10-barrel brew house, Temperance Row Brewing, drawing its ironic name from the adjacent historic district the Anti-Salooners called home.
Uptown Deli faces State Street with a wholesome and innocent deli. Meats and cheeses await your purchase. Back in the days of prohibition, it would have ended there. Unless, perhaps, you knew the secret knock that would open a hidden door to the speakeasy in the back. There’s no hidden door, but if the beer bashers ever return, it wouldn’t be hard to put one in. Until then, you’re free to mosey back to the dimly lit bar, without risk of either of the dreaded ’cutions.
Public parking abounds out back behind the long patio, which will come in handy this summer as the bar’s seating is limited. Small though it may be, this is a good bar. It’s clean with a full panel of flat screens capable of covering all of your sporting interests. There’s no room for darts or billiards, but that’s because the brewery is right there behind the bar in all of its gleaming, stainless glory.
The small operation was set up by Scott Francis, who is no stranger to establishing breweries around these parts. This is the man who laid the foundation for Columbus Brewing Company, Barley’s and what is now Smokehouse Brewing—there are rumors that Scott bleeds ale.
“There’s no hidden door, but if the beer bashers ever return, it wouldn’t be hard to put one in…”
And his touch is evident in the beers. Scott is old school and true to British form. Unsurprisingly, there’s a Scottish Ale on hand, which finishes a bit drier than one might expect, but that’s a good thing. In fact, all of the Temperance Row offerings share a clean finish which is a testament to a great brewer continuing to improve. The Scottish Ale is the top seller, but the star of the show is the pilsner. Now, uppity beer snobs might protest the concept of brewing ale versions of pilsners, since the style is generally recognized as a lager, but the fact remains that it is crisp, clean, and has that distinct bready note that you can only get from a good pilsner malt. Split hairs if you want, but this is good.
The IPA is very light and weighs in at 6 percent ABV. It’s a nice pint, but if you’re looking for a hop bomb this isn’t your huckleberry, and the odds are pretty good you won’t soon see any of the like out of Temperance Row. The pale ale is pure English. By today’s American standards, it’s more of an ESB. It is a malt-forward pale with light body despite the rich amber hue. This is a throwback beer. Both in the sense that you can throw them back, and that it is an homage to a classic style you really don’t see much of these days.
“Nitro” is a big deal here, too, which keeps in line with the British influence. Pressurizing kegs with nitrogen started as a way to replicate that silky mouthfeel a beer engine imparts to a cask conditioned ale, which is precisely what Temperance Row does here. Though sometimes it’s not always the best treatment for a particular kind of beer, nitro does allow for a different flavor profile. For what it’s worth, the beer engine/cask ale is a better combo, but they aren’t cheap, or efficient. It’s also worth noting that there are plans for distribution, which accounts for the Temperance Row branding applied to Uptown Deli’s brewing operation.
The food is deli fare, and with a deli counter upfront you have a lot of options. Corned beef and pastrami dominate the signature sandwich menu, which seems a little pricey upon initial examination, but these are massive sandwiches piled high with meat and served with thick house-made chips. The corned beef is legit, but the pastrami is sublime. This isn’t your typical dried out deli pastrami. It’s rich, and buttery, and sure to crank your cholesterol to dangerous levels. Dropping $10 on one doesn’t seem so bad when you know your cardiologist is going to earn his keep one day.