Homestead Beer Co. plans to move into the Columbus market and open a full-blown tasting room this summer.
“The community response has just been off the charts,” brewer and co-owner Adam Rhodes said during a visit this week. (See video below.)
The production brewery, which has a 15-barrel Premier Stainless Systems direct fire brewing system, opened in January inside a nondescript building at the Central Ohio Aerospace & Technology Center in Heath. There’s not even a sign on its stand-alone building identifying it as the home of Homestead.
So far, the brewery — which focuses on session beers and draft only for now — has been selling to bars and restaurants in the Heath, Newark and Granville areas. But sales have been going so well and the brewing system is now dialed in and producing more consistent beer, so Homestead will start distributing to select accounts in Columbus within the next couple of weeks.
“Our beer just keeps getting better and better,” Rhodes said.
Homestead hopes to offer three or four beers year-round. The most popular so far has been Great Granville Riot, an India pale ale, but that beer is being retired because of the inability to get Centennial hops.
It’s being replaced by Claim Jumper IPA, which features a blend of Columbus, Galena and Nugget hops. Claim Jumper is expected to be released in mid- to late June.
“We’re really excited about that IPA,” Rhodes said.
While many brewers are making West Coast-style IPAs with big citrus and grapefruit notes, the blend of hops in Claim Jumper provides “old school” pine, resin and grass flavors, he said.
Beer drinkers won’t find any West Coast-style IPAs because Rhodes isn’t a big fan of the style. You also won’t find high-alcohol brews. There’s not a Homestead beer over 5.9 percent alcohol by volume. That’s by design.
“We want our beers to be drinking beers,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes and co-owner Kevin Atkinson believe others feel the same way. The brewery recently released a new beer called Barnraiser Pale Ale, which features German Noble hops.
“I was talking to a bar owner the other day and she said, ‘Pale ales are starting to come back,’ ” Rhodes said. “And I said why and she said because people are sick of drinking 8, 9, 10 percent alcohol beers. Funny enough, the exact beers we make are 5 percent, 6 percent, 4 percent even.”
Homestead is open from 3 to 8 p.m. Fridays to fill growlers. On those nights, there have been 50 to 60 people filtering through the plain taproom, an office that has a single picnic table for seating and one Homestead sign on the wall behind the tap system.
Homestead will add Saturday and perhaps Tuesday for growler sales at some point, Rhodes said. There also are plans for a full tasting room with tables, arcade games and food trucks.
The prices are some of the most inexpensive in Ohio. A 64-ounce growler goes for $5, while it’s $7 for a fill. Meanwhile, a 32-ounce growler goes for $3 and fills are $4.
“We’re very in touch with our audience,” Rhodes said about the prices.