When is a bar more than just a bar? The answer lies inside House Beer, a new concept opening soon at 843 North High Street in The Short North. House Beer will serve as both a retail carry out for those who want to enjoy drinks at home, as well as a watering hole with a serious craft beer focus for enthusiasts who want to taste the latest trends.
We spoke recently with House Beer co-owner Steven ‘Walt’ Walter to find out more about what we can expect when the doors open on August 10th.
Q: First things first… is House Beer considered a bar or a carry out or some combination of both?
A: We are a hybrid of a bottle shop and ale house. You are free to grab any beers off our shelves, get them to go and/or drink them in house with proper glassware provided. We will also have six rotating taps open and will do growler fills, which is a true venn diagram of the two.
Q: So what can you tell us a bit about the folks behind House Beer?
A: House Beer is the brainchild of Columbus childhood friends Curt Edwards and Steven ‘Walt’ Walter. Curt began his restaurant career in Chicago, owning and operating several pizza/carryout joints. Walt is the owner of waltphoto.com and is a professional photographer focused on documenting music culture. Our manager Patrick Walter has been a bartender and bar manager for over twelve years. Our guests may be familiar with him from his time spent with Figlio, and with various local bands. He offers a unique insight into the evolution of craft beer from a veteran bartender’s perspective. We are home brewers and have been brewing beers for over 15 years. This is the backbone of our education and interest in brewing and enjoying craft beers. We are excited to build a culture and community around advocacy and education of all that craft beer has to offer.
Q: How did the concept for House Beer come about?
A: While living on the west coast, we frequented bottle shops that share a similar hybrid bar concept, and figured that we would up the ante a bit. We took a month long road trip across the United States with The Great American Ale Trail book in hand, sampling beers and assessing what successful bottle shops across the US were doing right. We gained valuable insights along the way that have contributed to our operation. For instance, instead of the typical carryout with warehouse lighting, neon signs, and rock bottom prices for America’s ‘most drinkable lager’, we opted for a low lit, artfully designed bar where beer is the star. During our research phase, we discovered the important history that Columbus had in building the anti-saloon movement, which would later become prohibition. The good part is that in spite of strict laws against brewing, some folks continued to carry on the tradition in their own homes. Or in their barns, as was often the case. We were lucky enough to get our hands on reclaimed wood from an Ohio barn that was used by a prohibition bootlegger. Interestingly enough, he was arrested and did his time even though it was his wife who was the primary brewmaster. We wanted to keep his story alive, and built our bar around the centerpiece of his brewery. Our friend and amazing craftsman, Sean with RAS Construction, hand crafted the bar around this historic wood with stunning results. All this in connection with our time spent with countless friends and family brewing around our house really helped finalize the concept of house beer.
Q: What types of beers will be found at House Beer?
A: We will focus on the best beer we can find with an eye toward current and future trends within the beer community. We will honor those friends and artists of beer who have helped us along the way with tribute handles handpicked by some of the best in the business. We aim to keep you guessing and hope you do the same.
Q: What types of special events will House Beer host?
A: This is truly where we took the basic bottle shop concept and infused it with our own style. We are working on putting together a calendar of events from beer education sessions, where we bring in brewers to speak about the art in crafting their beers, to hosting our ‘arts and craft’ event where we will showcase both a visual artist, and a brewer for gallery hop in the Short North. Additionally, we will be hosting home brew challenges to involve those of us who feel that the only thing better than great beer is your own great beer.
Q: How does the exploding microbrew scene in Columbus affect the launch of House Beer?
A: These are exciting times in Ohio, especially Columbus. Craft beer and brewing in general are on the rise here, and we are excited to work with these brewers to make a huge impact both locally and at the national level. Brewers are our people. As home brewers, we are ecstatic to have a local community that is actively involved in such a fun craft. That includes the local brewers who we celebrate daily, by providing an environment to promote and enjoy their beers. We aim to celebrate our hometown heroes and enthusiastically look forward to sharing stories over home brews.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: For food options, we decided to keep it simple. We kept with the historical connection to beer and Ohio, and working with Omega – a North Market Bakery – we will provide an authentic german style pretzel knot to compliment any of our beers. We can’t give away all of our secrets though, so come in and share a pint because we have much more to share.
More information can be found online at www.myhousebeer.com.