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What’s Brewing?

After proving its creative prowess, Columbus Brewing Company locks and loads for an invasion into enemy territory 

By Steve Croyle

Published January 17, 2012
(Credit: Chris Casella)

Columbus Brewing Company has become downright ubiquitous in Central Ohio. That’s not by accident. CBC’s brewmaster/owner/saddistic overlord, Eric Bean, has been focused on growing the brand. Over the last two years, CBC has created considerable beer buzz with their Hop Odyssey series, a monthly celebration of the glorious hop flower.

“Sales are up somewhere around 15 percent and I think Hop Odyssey has helped,” Eric said. “But it was also hard to keep up with demand due to Hop Odyssey. People wanted beer that we just couldn’t deliver. The downside of Hop Odyssey is that it has taken us away from bottles.” 

Eric characterized the grueling schedule as a “nightmare.”

“Everybody was excited to brew, but every month, especially as we got toward the end of the summer, was like, ‘Oh man.’ That release date every four weeks just hit us.”

Even though CBC will be investing a quarter of a million dollars to increase fermentation capacity by 90 percent and adding a new packaging line, Eric plans to continue with special releases throughout the year. Bodhi, the popular double IPA, will work its way into bottles for an extended release and Hop Odyssey favorites like Creeper and Uncle Rusty will be rolled out in kegs as well as bottles for a limited engagement. Rumor has it that a bourbon barrel-aged version of Uncle Rusty is lurking in the shadows somewhere in the suddenly crowded CBC brew house and after too many years without a porter/stout in the lineup, Eric promises a hefty offering in the last quarter.

“We may revisit Hop Odyssey in a year, but it really has limited our ability to play,” the brewmaster confided. “It’s like we showed everybody that we can make some really hoppy beers, but we want to diversify what we do. Perhaps a few malt-forward offerings . . . believe or not, we can do malty.”  

CBC’s 2012 Special Release Schedule

Creeper (February)
A beer that blurs style guidelines. Pale malts set the stage for a huge hop presence. (10% ABV, 100 IBU)

Bodhi (March 1 – April 30)
A double IPA. Bodhi is a Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English as ‘enlightenment.’ This double India pale ale is loaded with American hop character and is sure to awaken your senses. (8.5% ABV, 94 IBU)

Summer Teeth (May 1 – July 31)
A crisp, unfiltered Kellerbier. This traditional Bavarian-style lager originated from the small artisanal breweries of Franconia, where Kellerbier is still a favorite beverage in the local beer gardens. Winner of the Great American Beer Festival 2010 bronze medal in the Kellerbier/Zwickelbier category. (5% ABV, 18 IBU)

Big Frank (July)
A Belgian-style India pale ale that is golden in color with American hop aromas and a pleasant fruitiness. It was brewed by nationally recognized home brewer Frank Barickman and the CBC crew. (8.5% ABV)

Rhapsody (August 1 – 31)
A Bohemian-style pilsner. Brewed with Bohemian Floor Malted Pilsner malt and several generous additions of German Tettnang hops, this elixir is then lagered for four weeks and served unfiltered. (5.5% ABV, 45 IBU)

Uncle Rusty (September 1 – 30)
An imperial red ale. A blend of Dark Crystal malts provides balance to the firm bitterness and floral aroma.  (8.5% ABV, 85 IBU)

Sohio Stout (October 1 – 31) (Name pending TTB approval)
A blend of roast and chocolate malts make up this rich, velvety smooth stout. It is full bodied and black as night with a mocha colored head. (8.5% ABV, 60 IBU)

Super Fresh H.O.P. (October)
Fresh hops from a small Ohio family farm blended with those shipped over night from Yakima, Washington, provide a flavor and aroma that can only be created once a year at harvest time. (7% ABV, 70 IBU)

Winter Warmer (November 1 – December 31)
Brewed with a special blend of caramel malts with hints of ginger and cinnamon. This beer is best enjoyed in the company of friends and family. (7.5% ABV)