After the decision had been made to move to Ohio, to pack it all in, leave our life (and the majority of my family) in Oregon and relocate our life across the country, we told our friends and family. The reaction was mixed. As a whole, people were excited for us, with the biggest questions being these :: “What about the craft beer scene?” “Do you know anything about what the coffee is like out there?” “East coasters (yes, Portlanders largely sees Ohio as an east coast/eastern mid west state) drink a lot of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, you ready for that?” and my favorite, “Are you sure you want to be so far away from wine country?”
I barely knew where Columbus was situated in the state of Ohio, let alone was the craft beer scene was like.
What I knew about Columbus before we moved out here was what the drive from the airport to my in-laws house a couple of hours northwest of the city looked like, what my bother and sister-in-laws house looked like, that Katalina’s has killer breakfast tacos and THE BEST pancake balls I’d ever had, and that was about it.
Did I know what the beer scene was like? Ha. I barely knew where Columbus was situated in the state of Ohio, let alone was the beer scene was like.
I think I’d been to one brewery, one of the first time’s that I came out to visit, to have lunch with one of Jeff’s brothers, and that was it, clearly it was memorable.
Finding out that not only does this city (and state) appreciate craft beer, the craft beer scene here is fast approaching that of the one in Oregon.
Hell yah Ohio.
A couple of Christmas’ ago, my youngest brother-in-law and I went to Wendelin to pick up the 15 (no joke) pizzas that was dinner that night, and we got there before they were done. We did what any adult in their right mind who had just spent the weekend with 32 people under one roof (15 of those people under the age of 11) would do.
We bellied up to the bar.
To my happy surprise, the bartender ran down the list of taps and mentioned a local beer that they had, an amber. It was the most expensive beer they had, she told us, coming in at a whopping $3.25 per pint. (see guys, I am learning sarcasm)
It was, like all of the other Ohio craft beer I’ve had since, amazing.
This spring, when we were all back in Mercer County for Easter weekend, that first Friday that we were all in town, a handful of the fellas and I went out for the evening, starting at Moeller Brew Barn, and scooting into Tailspin Brewing just in time for one beer before last call. (Totally didn’t get enough time there, and can’t wait to go back.)
Joe himself is a recent transplant to Ohio from the left coast, so and I are in relatively similar situations, what with the exploring a brand new state, in a COMPLETELY different part of the country, so without further ado, check out his thoughts on the breweries of Mercer County.
Moeller Brew Barn & Tailspin Brewing, Stories from the West Side of the State.
Perhaps one of the more underrated inspirations behind our travels (and, by default, this blog) has been our increasing pursuit of antiques and any far-flung shops we can find. As we’ve discovered, Ohio has plenty of fun such shops scattered within its borders, and that fact has in the past couple months taken us to both sides of the Columbus metro on Interstate 70 (Dayton/Springfield and Cambridge) and to the southeast along US 33 (Lancaster, Logan and Athens.)
Well, similar to our I-70 travels, we decided US 33 was worth a drive up to the northwest side of the state with antique stores in Delphos and Van Wert turning out to be pleasing looks into days gone by. We’ve also found nothing quite closes out a day of antique-seeking like a few good brews, and these travels allowed us to visit two of the more remote of Ohio’s ever-growing collection of craft breweries.
Some of our most fun visits to breweries have been to those which have re-purposed historically interesting buildings (such as Mansfield’s Phoenix Brewing, the former home of the Charles Schroer Mortuary). For Coldwater’s Tailspin Brewing, the building’s former life as a dairy facility has been kept to great effect.
Opened by owner/brewer Jack Waite in June 2016, Tailspin proudly touts itself as a Veteran-owned enterprise, with Waite having served in the Air Force for over 20 years. Emblems for the four major U.S. military services can be spotted in the building’s renovated interior, along with plenty of wood paneling and the usual trappings of a taproom.
Tailspin’s building sports a second level, which contains an outdoor deck as well as an interior performance space. Prep work for that night’s musical entertainment was in progress when I peeked upstairs on this day.
Snacks generally provide your only in-house food option at this nanobrewery (for larger groups, the big bag of chips and tub of dip for $8 total might be your best bet), but a special treat is occasionally available in the form of Baked Brews breads, which uses the brewery’s own spent grains for delicious-sounding artisan loaves.
Unsurprisingly, Tailspin’s beer names generally revolve around a flying theme, including various “G”-levels of pale ales, a Night Flight Vanilla Porter, and their new raspberry-infused Berry Bomber; we went ahead and ordered flights catered to our individual taste preferences.
We have started to temper our expectations when we’re visiting the smaller, more far-flung breweries, based on some of our own recent visits. With that said, we are pleased to say that Tailspin’s brews are pretty much spot on, solidly drinkable and quite pleasing. My favorite beer turned out to be that Berry Bomber as well as Uncle Gus’ Milk Stout, which has a bit more malt bite and less sweetness than others I’ve tried (and I do generally enjoy the sweeter renditions.) Meanwhile, my hop-loving spouse found something to like about all the G-variations of pale ales.
With the friendly bar staff, general overall feel, and really reasonable prices for well-brewed beer ($4 for a pint), this place reminded us a lot of Heath’s Homestead Brewing, a place that has really upped its game over the past couple years. If you ever find yourself in Coldwater, Tailspin is definitely worth taxiing your car into its parking lot for a pint or two.
Meanwhile, just eight miles as the crow flies from Tailspin, we dropped by another Ohio brewery that has started to make its presence felt in Columbus in the form of the Moeller Brew Barn.
Reflecting the German Catholics who settled there throughout the 1800s, Maria Stein is the center of a region dubbed “The Land of Cross-Tipped Churches” as well as home of the Shrine of Holy Relics, which houses over 1,100 such relics and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is in this landscape where Moeller Brew Barn opened its doors to the public in late 2015.
Founder Nick Moeller himself has roots that tie him to the military (he worked on Naval submarines), craft beer (his work took him to one of the craft beer meccas in the U.S. in San Diego) and Central Ohio (as a graduate of The Ohio State University.)
Unlike our previous visit at Tailspin, the taproom at Moeller was as sleek as the modern-era country music streaming strongly from the interior speakers. You need only wander to the outside patio, however, and scan the sights and smells of the surrounding agriculture to remind yourself that this taproom is a true, out-in-the-countryside experience.
In-house food options here at Moeller lie in the appetizer category, including their own in-house Beer Cheese and Bread made with their Frogtown IPA and OH Helles brews, respectively. Food trucks make a weekly appearance during the summer and fall season, and guests are always welcome to bring in their own food (we found quite a few guests hauling pizza boxes inside the premises.)
Befitting the customer base, the Brew Barn’s craft beer selections also lean more both toward the affordable as well as the easily drinkable, with most brews coming in right around 5.0% ABV. Our favorite of these particular brews turned out to be the Moweizen, their variation on a Hefeweizen. We also saw what they could do with more potency in their Frogtown IPA, an enjoyable brew which was one of the more piney and resin-forward such beers we’ve had in awhile.
Finally, we were quite happy to find that their Baked Oatmeal Stout had a much better mouthfeel than the somewhat meh canned edition we had sampled several months ago, In fact, we thought to ourselves that this brew would be pack even more of a delicious punch if it were served up on nitro.