Pickerington is on the other side of town from where we live, and until this week I had never been there other than driving past on the highway. As such, I had not been to Combustion Brewery & Taproom in the several months it has been open. After checking it out this weekend, I see that was a big mistake.
Combustion’s taproom welcomes you with a long patio containing a handful of four-tops and a bar and several stools. This looks like a really pleasant place to sit on a warm evening. But it’s cold, so we went inside. There are two primary rooms inside. The first room you reach is filled with about ten tables that seat six to eight people each, so there is a fair amount of seating space here. The seats along the wall are old pews. The room runs along the entire front wall of the building, which is lined with huge windows, and light streams in, making this a light and airy space to sit if you’re there during the day. In the corner of the room is a play area for children. As the parent of a two year old, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate breweries that not only are welcoming of children, but also actually give them something to do so the adults can enjoy their beers.
Beyond the front room is another large space where the bar is located. The bar room is much darker than the front room, as it has no natural light of its own and it is painted navy blue. It is separated from the front room by a wall, although there are windows along the wall so that you can see between rooms and some of that sunlight from the front room can reach the bar. The bar room has one of the longest bars of any taproom in town with seats for I’d estimate 25 people. There are also three communal tall tables in the bar area if you can’t grab a seat at the ample bar.
I was greeted at the bar by Ben, a friendly and knowledgeable bartender who was kind enough to give me a tour of the brewing area and to tell me all about the space and the beers. All of the beers we tried were delicious. The Now We’re Talkin’ DIPA had a creamy mouthfeel and a resiny, citrusy, floral taste with a good deal of complexity. The Blueprint – Combustion’s blonde ale infused with blueberries – was aptly described as a liquid blueberry muffin and was stuffed with bready and fruity goodness. The El Heffe hefeweizen got the spices right, and my frequent complaint about poorly-made hefes is that they’re banana bombs with little spice to balance the flavors out. To me, getting the spice blend in a hefeweizen right is a test of a good brewery, and Combustion passed with flying colors. The Dark Black Past American stout is chocolatey and smooth with a hoppy finish. The Strongly Worded Letter Tripel was a caramel bomb. Sweet, but not cloying, with a clean finish. The Great Outdoors was a nicely-balanced pale ale with a definite hop presence, but a nice maltiness to even it out. With 15 of their own beers currently on tap, Combustion still has more for us to try when we plan a return visit.
The food matched the beer in high quality. We had the Big Board, a cheese and charcuterie board, and it was better than I’ve had in most higher-end restaurants. The jalapeno cheese pretzels were nice too. While the menu is limited, the ingredients are sourced from high-quality vendors such as Dan the Baker and the Hungarian Butcher. On the weekends, they supplement with food trucks as well.
Our only regret was that at the end we couldn’t enjoy all the beers we wanted because we had to drive back to the other side of town. Luckily, Combustion has a large number of sessionable choices so we were able to fit in a few before we safely drove home. And if you can’t get enough on site, Combustion has a crowler machine so you can take home a couple more beers for further enjoyment. Combustion is less than a year old and they already have things figured out. A wide variety of good beers. A pleasant and inviting taproom that’s welcoming to families. A friendly and knowledgeable staff. I would already put this pretty high in my overall ranking of Columbus breweries and I can’t wait to go back for more.