On December 28, 2012, Gavin Meyers, Tim Ward and Charlie Davis embarked on a craft beer journey so many aspire to, but few come to know as a reality. North High Brewing, located at 1288 N. High Street, fits perfectly in the ever-popular and trendy Short North District. The dream child of two OSU alumni, Meyers and Ward turned their passion for craft beer to add another local microbrewery to the fast-growing Columbus craft beer community.
Once they decided to put the plan in motion, they sought out a brewmaster who could create a unique brand of microbrew. Enter Charlie Davis from Chicago, Illinois. I had an opportunity to sit down with Davis, and although there was a Blackhawks game on TV, he was more than willing to give me some of his time and talk beer, filling me in on his background at Finch’s Beer Co., his certification from UC Davis and how he moved from Chicago to Columbus specifically for this gig. As he puts it, “Passion turned into an obsession, obsession turned into a budding career.”
Armed with a wide variety of his own recipes (with some coming from Meyers and Ward as well), Davis has helped North High Brewing become one of the latest craft beer “must-have”‘s in Columbus. While some microbreweries only offer 4-5 different beers, North High Brewing had ten on their menu during my visit. As it turns out, they not only offer quantity, but quality and variety as well.
A few selections on the menu this night was their Honey Wheat Ale, a perfect refreshing summertime brew, a Milk Stout that is described as a “dark beer lover’s dream come true,” a Saison that is perfect for the light ale drinker, and Black and Imperial IPAs, both offering “aggressive” flavors that will please the palate of hopheads.
The gang at North High Brewing is committed to giving patrons a great variety by brewing on site five days a week. One of my favorite things about this place is the aroma of grain and hops that hits you as soon as you walk inside. If you’re fortunate to be there when a brew is going on, it is absolute heaven to take in the warm whiffs.
While craft beer is the primary focus of North High Brewing, Meyers and Ward have not overlooked that beer drinkers often enjoy good food with their drinks. As Davis describes it, North High offers “upscale bar food, but in smaller portions.” If you’re familiar with Erik Till’s Commonwealth, you’ll understand the brilliance of bringing in Till’s sous chef, Jacob, to create such eclectic offerings such as butter poached almonds with tarragon and white truffle deviled eggs.
This ain’t no pretzel and peanut place, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s only going to get better as North High has recently announced a new partnership with The Pearl, a Cameron Mitchell Gastropub. However, when I asked Davis if there was an equal focus on the beer and food, his eyes lit up and he quickly assured me, “It’s ALL about the beer!” After trying the Belgian Blonde, the Imperial IPA, the Black IPA and the Saison, I would say there is absolutely no argument with that statement.
The location itself is distinct and alluring. According to their website, the building previously served as a Ford dealership in 1917. The interior is simplistic, yet still serves as a conversation starter. It is impossible to miss the wall of postal boxes, probably one of the most unique decorative pieces I’ve seen in a brewery. One patron described the bar as a “bare-bones environment that is very earthy, yet offers a decades-past with a modern flair motif.”
This description seemed pretty spot-on since Meyers and Ward worked diligently to restore the location to its “original historical glory,” according to their website: “Visitors will find numerous salvaged and repurposed architectural elements from throughout Ohio and the nation, including windows and doors from historic OSU buildings, old post offices, and even an 1870’s distillery.”
Another aspect of North High Brewing is that they invite fellow microbrewers into their facility to create their own craft beer. On the website, interested parties can check out the calendar and see when they can come in to brew. If you’re crazy about craft beer and love homebrewing, this is the perfect next step to work side-by-side with experienced professionals and hone your craft.
In just six months, North High Brewing has become a heavy-hitter. Davis says they would eventually like to start distributing and the company is looking into getting more equipment to make that possible. For now, staying up to date with their facebook page will help you find locations where North High Brewing is on tap if you can’t make it down to the Short North. However, I highly recommend checking this place out.
Drinking the craft beer that has been brewed on premise while taking in the somewhat rustic motif and watching the owners and brewmaster hang out at the end of the bar with the rest of the staff proves that this is a place that is truly about creating something unique and enjoyable without taking anything but the beer too seriously. After all, it’s “ALL about the beer.”
For updates about North High Brewing and other craft beer news, check out my facebook page at facebook.com/MandersColumbusCraftBeerExaminer.