{In our efforts to spotlight each Columbus-area brewery, we’re sending Doug Oldham to visit every brewery’s tap room. In the coming months, he will attempt to regale you with his experiences. Doug’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the CCBA.}

If I could make a movie about Hoof Hearted Brewing, it would start with a flashback. The expository subtitle would say, “GRANDVIEW HIGH GRAVITY HULLABALOO, FEBRUARY 1, 2014.” A relatively new and unknown brewery called Hoof Hearted brings three beers to the event, including a brand new triple IPA called Dragonsaddle. Although Dragonsaddle is incredibly well received by nearly everyone who tries it, Hoof Hearted still doesn’t draw the crowd that some of the better known breweries do, and much of a Dragonsaddle keg remains at the end of the night. An hour or more after guests have left, the Hoof Hearted guys and a few hard-working volunteers have stuck around drinking pint after pint of the hefty hop bomb, leaving many with hazy-at-best memories of how the night ended. It is the first time in Hoof Hearted’s story that we hear co-owner Trevor Williams shout what would later become a familiar refrain: “Where are my pants?”

King of Ohio IPA Hoof Hearted Brewing Musk of the Minotaur

Star wipe, fast forward to late summer 2015. Laura and I are heading to Morrow County (did you know that was a place?) to check out Hoof Hearted’s new tap room. The guys are canning King of Ohio IPA winner Musk of the Minotaur for only the second time ever. So many people came to the brewery for the first canning that barely any made it into distribution, so I was determined to go get my share before it ran out. To sweeten the deal, the guys were releasing an extremely limited run of bottles of their new tart saison, Crossing Swords.

Hoof Hearted Brewing Crossing Swords

The tap room was scheduled to open at noon, and Laura and I arrived around 11:50. Even though we were early, there were already roughly 15 cars parked along the gravel drive, and a line of thirsty customers eagerly awaited admission outside the door. Trevor and one of his co-owners, Ryan Bichon, looked at the quickly-assembling crowd the same way a kid in an ‘80s movie does when her parents are out of town and she invites just a couple friends over, only to have the whole school show up for a kegger – a look that says, “oh shit, what have I gotten myself into?” At the stroke of noon, customers ten to twenty deep in line pressed into the brewery, buying bottles of Crossing Swords and full cases of Musk or Roller Blabe, the previous week’s canning effort.

[Roller Blabe will be canned and sold again on Sunday, October 18 – you should get up there and get yourself some, because it was extremely well received on its first canning and I bet it sells out quickly this time.] In the 90 minutes we were at the brewery, scores of customers went through this line and walked to their cars with as much beer as they could carry. By the time we left, the spacious lawn separating the tap room from the country road down the hill was packed with multiple rows of cars.

Hoof Hearted Canning Party

These weren’t just supportive friends and family either. I knew several of these customers, either from high-end bottle shares or from the beer nerd circles of the Internet. These drinkers came from all over the state and beyond, adorned in their Fiddlehead caps and their Wicked Weed shirts and their other high-end craft beer swag that advertised their finicky tastes, to get these much sought-after bottles and cans. Those who could find the rare empty seat in the tiny tap room – as well as those who couldn’t and crammed around the edges – checked in beer after beer on their Untappd accounts, most with four and a quarter to five stars. These were diehard beer geeks with the highest standards, and they were loving everything they touched, be it the Musk variations infused with either Ethiopian coffee or Sauvignon blanc or the SaiZzurp farmhouse ale infused with yuzu juice.

Hoof Hearted Musk of the Minotaur

It was during this trip that I fully realized how far Hoof Hearted had come in just a year and a half since that first Hullabaloo. Although the brewery is a little hard to find, Hoof Hearted is definitely putting itself on the national map of elite breweries now. They have not grown in production as much as some of their fellow area breweries, but they have grown in stature as much as anyone in Ohio, and they have captured the hearts and palates of the local craft beer community. Now that they are packaging, their delicious products and quirky cans will quickly draw attention and accolades of drinkers across the state and the country. [Since this was written, Konkey Dong joined South of Eleven, Musk of the Minotaur, and Roller Blabe in cans, and all have received rave reviews in Ohio and beyond.] This isn’t the end of their story either, as many of us eagerly await the new brewpub collaboration with A&R Creative Group on Fourth Street, safely back in Columbus. I don’t know where my imaginary biopic of the Bichon brothers and Trevor will end, but I am predicting some crazy shenanigans, a happy outcome, and probably some misplaced pants.