Chances are that if you’ve lived in Columbus for five years or more, Elevator was among the first local craft beers you ever tried, and you may have tried it at the Elevator restaurant on High. My first local beers were Elevator beers at the restaurant. Laura and I visited Columbus when we were planning to move here almost five years ago, and we met up with friends at the restaurant for drinks. I remember enjoying the beers and thinking the space was beautiful, but it seemed a little too fancy for just sitting around guzzling beers. I feel a little self-conscious sitting in a nice restaurant in a hoodie and t-shirt drinking multiple beers (don’t get me wrong – I’ll do it. I’m just not entirely comfortable with it.)
Elevator solved my problem a couple years back by opening a taproom in their brewery space on Fourth Street. The taproom is exactly the type of comfortable, informal setting where drinking thrives, and my hoodie feels quite welcome there. There are mismatched tables and folding chairs that remove any pretentiousness and remind you that this is a friendly, casual place. The bar area has a plenty of unique character, with barstools made from old kegs and a large bar top perched on several barrels. The bar is lit by three lights with barrel stave lampshades, and there is a wall of barrel staves above the chalkboard menu to the side of the bar. Toward the back of the taproom is a rack of 20 bourbon barrels of aging beer next to an astroturf “lawn” with a cornhole game and a shuffleboard table to provide the entertainment. Large maps of Ohio and the United States allow visitors from across the country to place a push pin and their names on their hometowns to show how far they traveled to visit the brewery. Judging by all the pins, Elevator has drawn quite a few guests in to sample some beers.
We visited the taproom on a Saturday afternoon for Pat Woodward’s (of Pat’s Pints fame) birthday bar crawl. The room was already well attended with regulars when we arrived, and it filled to near capacity when Pat’s crew of roving drinkers walked in the door. Elevator Founder Dick Stevens worked the room, shaking hands with the many partygoers. The Elevator crew was nice enough to set up a table with cupcakes and balloons for Pat, and we all sang happy birthday. The friendly atmosphere of the taproom and the convivial nature of the party made it feel like we were in some sort of clubhouse. I’d happily join a club based on sitting around drinking beers.
We tried four beers while at Elevator. My favorite was Mogabi, an American wheat beer and a medalist at the most recent Great American Beer Festival. Mogabi is hop forward with light wheat and citrus sweetness. It tasted like an excellent beer for a warm, sunny day on a patio. The Heiferweizen (which is…duh…a hefeweizen) and the Baltic porter were both very nice representations of their styles. The Baltic porter was thick and sweet, and the hefe was nicely spiced, not too sweet and not too heavy on the cloves. The IPA 2.0 was a solid addition to the Elevator stable, a hoppier, more West-Coast-style beer than Three Frogs. Although hoppy, it was balanced by a mild, citrusy tang and was very drinkable.
Although the Elevator taproom was until recently only open on Saturdays, hours recently have been extended to Thursdays and Fridays, so there are more opportunities to check out the good stuff they’re making. You’ve had their beers for years, so now give the taproom a try. There are solid, well-made beers with a clubhouse atmosphere that is very casual and inviting.