Coffee, beer and a chill vibe on the city outskirts.
There’s a fine line for breweries that pop up around suburban or outerbelt areas between legit destination for a good beer and convenient chill spot just happy to be in business. The arc of Olentangy River Brewing is definitely bending toward great beer destination, with a series of seasonal and partnership offerings that have pushed into more interesting territory than some of the brewery’s core offerings.
Located north of Columbus as the suburbs start to blend into more stereotypically agricultural areas of Ohio, Olentangy River Brewing occupies a previously vacated warehouse and office space, creating a somewhat meandering layout that houses a small taproom, extensive porch and a pandemic-prompted interior garage converted for seating.
As Columbus breweries go, the space is fresh but not urban, suburban but not templated, and for its location and beer profile, that feels like the right place for this brewery to occupy. The offerings run the gamut, from trendy hazy options (Susie) to a traditional lager (Whetstone Lager) to a dangerously deceptive 9.6% Belgian Tripel (Belgian Aloha).
While a handful of heavy stouts rotate through the offerings (Roosevelt Coffee Stout, for example), the selection does lean a bit toward the mainstream end of the spectrum, with a few more sour & IPA offerings than ambers or reds (Hero, by Enrique Iglesias the exception here). Regardless, the variety is more than enough to satisfy a diverse group congregating in mid-suburban Columbus for a patio beer.
In addition to the beer operation and offering on site, the building also serves as a storefront for local coffee operation Roosevelt Coffeehouse, with the usual wrapped baked goods as complement to a robust list of drink offerings.
And really the strength of Olentangy River Brewing is in the combination of its accessible, patio-supported location, rotating food trucks, a palette-friendly beer selection, myriad coffee options and ample seating, creating a very communal, sit-and-stay-for-awhile vibe to the space.
Seasonal | Belgian Trippel
Sadly, this one isn’t available year-round, but has proven to be a season staple in the brewery’s brief history, so it’s worth checking on its availability. The 9.6% ABV is deceptive, with the flavor strong but not overpowering, tropical but not fruity. Highly recommended.
Year-Round | Russian Imperial Stout
For a brewery that shares its space with a coffee shop, proficiency in stouts is probably not surprising, with this particular offering coming in hot on the ABV and IBU scale. The name is as good a descriptor as any.
Year-Round | Coffee Stout
Namesake of the aforementioned coffee roommate, consider this offering one half-step down from I Can’t Feel My Pants, heavier on the coffee, lighter on the punch it packs.