Guide to Craft Beer-Centric Bars in Columbus
In more recent years, Columbus has become home to a growing number of breweries and beer-centric bars.
While a typical bar offers an array of beer, liquor and wine, a beer-centric bar focuses on just that—beer. This entails a drink list in which craft and smaller-batch brews largely overshadow the more commercialized beers like Budlight.
Bodega is a bar located on N. High St. in the Short North and while it offers wine, food and cocktails, its main focal point is beer. Owners Collin Castore and Sangeeta Lakhani opened Bodega in 2005 with the original intent to make it into a type of coffee shop/bar. However, Castore said the idea of creating a beer-centered bar took over.
Currently, Bodega has 47 beers on tap. The selection includes an assortment of some locally brewed beers as well as some from out of state. Castore said the variety available alters frequently as about 20-30 draft beers are changed each week.
With the changing of the drafts comes the changing of the tap handle. Each handle is colored so as to indicate the color of the beer it dispenses. This simple but unique aesthetic feature was added during the remodeling of Bodega, which took place throughout the months of February, March and April.
Aside from the draft selection, Bodega also offers a variety of about 30-40 bottled beers.
“We tried to focus the bottles on what you can’t get on draft,” Castore said.
This includes Belgian trappist beers, vintage ales and sour beers, the latter of which is a unique ale that has been recently increasing in popularity.
Sour beer is discernible through its sour, tart or acidic taste. The ale’s production process involves time spent aging in barrels and this gives it a wine-like character.
“It’s just a whole different flavor profile than anything you regularly come across in beer,” Castore said.
Bodega is the type of place that can please the average beer drinker while also catering to the more experienced beer taster and those in between.
“That’s kind of the nice thing about beer, is that it [attracts] a lot of different people,” Castore said.
House Beer, also located on N. High St., is another beer-centric bar that is fairly new to Columbus.
Owners Patrick Walter, Steven Walter and Curtis Edwards opened House Beer in August of 2012 with the hopes of creating an environment that intertwines beer culture and community.
Patrick and Steven Walter are brothers and have been friends with Edwards since childhood. The craft of brewing beer has been a part of the Walter brothers’ lives for years, making the decision to open a bar an even easier one.
“It was always kind of a family tradition to get together and brew a batch,” Patrick said.
House Beer is a type of “hybrid” establishment, somewhere between a bar and a carryout. The coolers hold 220 bottled beers and customers may get them to go or drink them at the bar.
With regards to what’s available in the cooler, “we buy a case at a time so we can really see what’s trending in the market and stay ahead of it,” Patrick said.
Behind the bar are six draft handles, which rotate continuously.
Like Bodega, House Beer has a strong focus on enabling customers to break out of their shells when it comes to tasting new beers. This is done simply by making unique and smaller-batch brews readily available.
“We felt like the market here (Columbus) was ready for a step up from Miller Lite and Budlight,” Patrick said.
While House Beer offers light beers, traditional American beers are not part of the selection, with the exception of Miller High Life.
All employees are certified beer servers and pride themselves on being available to educate customers about the beer they offer so as to make the vast world of craft beer more approachable.
The owners of House Beer also find importance in the inclusion of the area’s culture into the bar. The work of local artists hangs on the walls and the pieces are changed each month and are available for sale. Also, each third Thursday of the month, the bar hosts Jeremy Scott, a local record shop owner. Scott spins vinyl and brings records from his shop to sell.
Another of Columbus’ beer-centric bars is World of Beer, located at 503 S. Front St.
Based in Tampa, Florida, this is one of World of Beer’s 55 different locations. WOB on Front St. opened in 2011 and is currently managed by Jim Beatty.
The fact that World of Beer is a chain establishment is something that sets it apart from the aforementioned beer-centric bars.
World of Beer is larger than Bodega and House Beer and the atmosphere is more similar to that of a sports bar. However, WOB (like House Beer) does not offer any food. Beatty said customers are welcome to bring food or order delivery to the restaurant at any time.
At any given moment, the bar offers 500-600s beers and has 50 draft lines, which change frequently.
“We print the menus almost everyday,” Beatty said with regards to the rate of which the beer lists change.
Coolers behind the bar boast bottled beers from around the world and are labeled by the areas from which they come. The selection includes beers from Belgium, Germany, France and England, among others.
Given that WOB has such a large number of beers available, the bar also has a “loyalty program” that incentivizes customers to try as many of the beers as possible.
Upon signing up for the program, participants receive a loyalty club t-shirt and then begin to keep track of all the beers they taste. One of the biggest prizes offered for club members comes after 250 beers have been tasted. WOB will host a party and open a $250 bar tab for those who reach the goal.
World of Beer currently has 15 employees. All servers are required to go through a two week “beer school” in order to be as knowledgeable as possible about the beers offered and how to store and serve them.
Beatty said WOB typically schedules one big event each month. Usually falling on the third Thursday of every month, these events include things like the showcasing of beers from certain regions, or events focusing on a certain style of brew.
Columbus Underground is showcasing the local beer scene with Beer Week! From July 7th to July 13th, we’ll be sharing stories on homebrewing, guides to beer-centric bars, tasting beer how-to, cooking with beer, and more, sponsored by our friends at The Short North Pint House & Beer Garden. Every Wednesday, The Pint House brings in a different brewery to take over their taps featuring a diverse lineup of the best brews for you to try. Oftentimes, these brews are very rare or limited edition so come enjoy them while they have them! Every draft purchase is served in the brewery’s custom beer glass which is yours to keep while supplies last! For more information visit ShortNorthPintHouse.com.