The Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend landed us at Land-Grant Brewery in Columbus, OH. In my mind, the Thursday night before a holiday weekend IS the start of the weekend, because every expert knows that you take the Friday off and get a 4-day weekend while only burning one vacation day. I surveyed the crowd from the stage, though, and nobody on this night had planned on blowing off work on Friday... kids today!
From the moment I approached their site, Land-Grant reminded me of Lenny Boy Brewing in Charlotte, NC. Both are located in revitalized older industrial portions of their city, and both are surrounded by neighbors cut from similar cloth (other breweries, trendy eateries, start-up incubators, etc.). Both also occupy what were once sizable warehouses, now converted to breweries with taprooms on one end, wooden decks, and sizable lots for food trucks, outdoor games, and music. Land-Grant's deck was roomy yet cozy, and the neighboring beer garden was huge... a formal covered stage with nice PA system at the far end, a sound guy (Chris, who was a big help to me not only with the sound but also in helping me choose my beers), and a lawn area next to that for outdoor games and such.
Land-Grant Brewing Company – Columbus, OH
A wide variety of beers are available at the brewery on tap, as well as growlers and cans. The beer is also distributed throughout Ohio. They also have a location at the Columbus airport, so if you're coming to town and don't have time to venture out to the brewery, have a flight before your, er... flight!
The taproom was filled with large tables, similar to a beer hall, and on Wednesdays they not only show films, but they were in the midst of a series of some of my favorites: Christopher Guest films (Waiting for Guffman, Best In Show, and A Mighty Wind). Very cool! You can tell a lot about people by their taste in films, and the fact that I was surrounded by hundreds of people who not only appreciated but were well versed in the Guest films made me feel right at home.
The beer selection is pretty huge... 24 of their own on tap. Obviously I can only drink a few during a gig, so I barely skimmed the top of their selection, so hopefully we'll schedule another outing sometime soon to dig a little deeper. The first one I tried was their Flute (6.8%) effervescent brut IPA. Brewed with Huell Melon, Hallertau Blanc, and pale malt, it (like most brut IPAs) strikes like a cross between a very dry champagne and a beer, very crisp with a clean finish. It struck me as a little more sour on the back end that others I've had, but I enjoyed it.
Sustainability is very important to the folks at Land-Grant (in fact they recently did an event with sustainability evangelists and pioneers Wooly Pig Farm Brewery, who we would visit just two days later....), and as such they do a special series named after sun gods, brewed with local ingredients from sustainability-minded partners, and the proceeds of which fund the brewery's sustainability and community efforts. On this day the brew was Helios (5.2%), a rustic lager brewed with honey, malt, and hops from Ohio and Michigan, and with a yeast that ferments at a lower temperature, allowing for greater electrical efficiency during the brewing process. It drinks like a crisp, crushable, lager with just a hint of honey (not enough to make the beer too sweet), with a light golden hue and light head. Definitely one that you could drink some quantity of on a hot summer's day... just remember to recycle your cans!
Urban Sombrero (5.7%) lager was another refreshing one for a summer day, and as the name might have hinted you to, it is a light lager in the tradition of cervezas such as Dos Equis, Sol, or Corona. Highly crushable, refreshing, and tasty... and as they say, no lime required.
My last brew of the night was Concentrate V.102 (7.5%) hazy IPA. As you might have noticed by now, the weather (and playing on an outdoor stage) was such that tasty, medium bodied refreshing beers were what was called for, so I stuck to lagers and lighter IPAs. New England hazy styled IPAs have been all the rage lately, I love 'em, and this was another notable one to add to the collection of ones worth seeking out. Golden hued, obviously hazy, and with more of the fruity hoppiness, mostly grapefruit, light on the pine, for a refreshing drink and pretty clean finish.
Land-Grant was a brewery that was on my list to play for about a year, and we just couldn't coordinate our dates, but thankfully finally did. Playing here was a fantastic experience, and this place has quickly risen to my short list of favorite breweries. The people were fantastic (staff and customers alike), the scene was friendly, fun, and festive; the beers were all excellent (although I barely scratched the choices, and played it rather conservative... next time I will look forward to digging much deeper); and the grounds were spacious and inviting. I'd love to witness one of their movie nights, as that seems like it would be a real blast.
I'm not sure when I'll have the chance to play here again, but I'll jump at the opportunity, and this would be a stop that I'd encourage folks to travel to. I should also mention that on this night food was served up by RayRay's Hog Pit (BBQ), who were also really great guys, and were nice enough to pack up a platter of ribs and chicken for me to travel with! It was excellent, and they are worth searching out as well if you are in the Columbus area.
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