Like many of the breweries in Columbus (or anywhere, I guess), Sideswipe Brewing’s personality closely mirrors that of its founder. While some of Columbus’ breweries and their originators have worked to cultivate images and consequently evoke descriptions like “silly” or “sciency” or “hipster” or “rock n roll,” there’s no word that immediately springs to mind for Sideswipe. I think that’s because, like founder Craig O’Herron, Sideswipe is quiet but confident. It has quietly put together a very solid beer lineup and taproom without worrying about making a lot of noise. Sideswipe is letting its product speak for itself, and it speaks well.
I recently visited Sideswipe’s taproom for the Mastermind imperial stout bottle release. The taproom is located deep within an unassuming industrial park off a quiet side street on the West Side. It’s not in a busy or obvious location, but it was pretty packed with people both inside and outside at the tables and chairs composing Sideswipe’s parking lot patio. The space took up two units in the building, which was twice as large as what existed the last time I visited Sideswipe. I heard at least five other patrons say the same thing I did, that they didn’t know Sideswipe had expanded, but that the expansion was very well done.
The space is comfortable and casual, but still nicely put together. The room centers around the beer cooler. Twelve or so taps protrude through the wall below a chalkboard menu painted onto the cooler wall. The L-shaped wooden bar wraps around the cooler and has about 15 seats. The rest of the room is rounded out with communal long wooden tables and benches and a standing rail that wraps around the front and side walls. The Sideswipe logo dominates one wall, while framed posters depicting Sideswipe’s bottle labels line the opposite wall. A doorway offers a glimpse into the brew house in the next room. The lighting is low, dominated by string lights hanging from the ceiling. There is still a bit of an industrial feel to the space that is consistent with the neighboring units and park as a whole, but the rustic wood stools and tables and the low lighting have softened the feel of the space. Nice place to get a drink.
And so I did. Sideswipe offers most of its beers in five, ten, or sixteen ounce pours. Most people get their samples in 5-ounce pours, but I go for 10 because I work hard for all of you. The Coffee Mastermind is dominated by smooth roasted coffee flavor and is a must if you’re a coffee fan. It’s pretty intense, like the kick to the face in Sideswipe’s logo. The Sparring Rounds, Round 6, in contrast, is a light, delicate beer with wheat and subtle green apple (intentional, not off-flavor) notes. The Coop Looter is an excellent saison with a spicy, bubblegummy flavor. My favorite of the night was Hop Tat, a double IPA with a Juicy Fruit flavor that makes me assume it is loaded with Galaxy hops, for which I have a definite weakness.
Sideswipe isn’t one of those breweries that makes a lot of noise in its marketing. It just gets down to business and makes good beer. Judging by the number of people at its bottle release and the favorable comments I heard about both the beer and the taproom, it is quietly becoming a big success.