In the past, there has been little difficulty defining what makes a Columbus brewery. It was a brewery that started in or around Columbus. That was the only kind of Columbus brewery that existed, so it was the only kind we had to think about. However, we’re seeing an evolution right now that should make us rethink this. Rhinegeist started in and is based in Cincinnati, but has a facility here and does a small amount of brewing in Columbus. BrewDog probably doesn’t fit anyone’s definition of local, but they’re building a huge new brewery nearby and are putting a bar in Franklinton. Are they Columbus breweries now? Maybe so.
One brewery I’ve definitely fully adopted as a local in my head is Platform out of Cleveland. They’ve been sending us delicious beer down I-71 for a while, and they have a brewing and distribution setup here now, too. Platform has added to this by recently opening a taproom just north of downtown on Sixth Street.
The Platform taproom has a long 20-seat bar running down the right side of the room and long communal high tables filling the center of the space. It’s a large space, but it was packed the day we were there, showing Columbus’ eagerness to accept Platform as one of its own. At the far end of the room was a small brewing operation (Cleveland will continue to operate the primary production brewery) and eight Watershed whiskey barrels aging something good for down the road. The wall opposite the bar was lined with glass garage doors that bring in quite a bit of light during daytime hours. The space, like most taprooms, is fairly industrial, with concrete floors, exposed steel girders and ductwork at the ceiling, and metal and brick walls.
The beers really stand out to me at Platform. They are well ahead of their competition in my mind at mastering flavorful, sessionable beers. There were four beers out of the approximately 25 on tap (22 Platform, two guest taps during my visit, and probably space for a couple more) that were four percent ABV, and a few others that were under five percent. The sessionable beers are still packed with flavor, despite their lack of boozy punch. The Disco Godfather fruited gose is intensely fruity with a unique marionberry and blackberry combination that is light, but still deeply flavorful. The City Boy Berliner weisse has a beautiful raspberry flavor and was probably my favorite. The Peach Spreader Berliner weisse is tart and peachy. The less-sessionable beers are pretty great too. The Project Series pale ale is nicely balanced and has a light fruitiness to it. I would happily drink it all day. The Erie Whale Baltic porter is sweet and malty, but still finishes clean. And if you don’t like any of those, there are still 15 or more Platform beers of assorted styles and ABVs you can try, because they’ve really gone all out to have a huge tap selection.
Platform may have started in Cleveland and their operations may still be focused there, but they’ve invested in Columbus by building out a space, hiring a staff, brewing beer, and operating a taproom. I will embrace nearly any craft brewery that goes to those lengths for our community, and certainly one that makes beer that tastes like Platform’s.