Most bars and brewery taprooms don’t open until afternoon or even evening, and this is fine for most drinkers. But there is an underserved minority of people – third-shift workers, European soccer fans, and hardcore alcoholics, for example – who need somewhere to drink a little earlier in the day. Because I find myself as a part of that minority (it’s not the one you think…I’m a soccer fan), I headed to Zauber for some morning beers.

Zauber Das Kaffeehaus

We walked in the door a little before 10:30 on Sunday and Zauber was already hopping with about 25 people. There are a number of things going on in the morning at Zauber. The new Das KaffeeHaus coffee bar is open at 6 AM on weekdays and 8 AM on weekends, and once they’re open the whole place is open, so feel free to order a morning beer if coffee doesn’t do the trick for you! Explorers’ Club recently shed its Hungarian Village restaurant space and opened a kitchen in Zauber with a little window next to the bar, and they serve brunch on Sundays if you like to have food with your morning beers. There was a good variety of people in the bar who were there to eat, there to caffeinate, and there to imbibe.

The biggest crowd to gather on that day, however, was a large group of soccer fans. European soccer matches, because of the time difference, typically are on TV in the early-to-mid morning here in the US. Zauber has steadily been building its reputation as one of the city’s go-to spots for European soccer matches, as well as Crew and US men’s and women’s national team games. When we walked in, the Bundesliga (the German soccer league) was on all the TVs, which seemed like a great fit for a German-themed bar, especially since there aren’t many bars that even know what the Bundesliga is, let alone show it on TV. The main event, however, was the 11:00 matchup between two teams in England’s Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. For the uninitiated, that’s the team with the chicken standing on a basketball versus the team with the castle guarded by two hammers (look it up…soccer logos are silly). According to Zauber’s Facebook page, the bar is now the official match day hangout of the Tottenham supporters, and their 25 to 40 fans (I’m bad at estimating) filled up the beer-hall-style communal tables right in time for kickoff.

Zauber Brewing Co. Soccer Crowd

When the match started and the bar was full, you could really see how warm and festive the place is. There was a constant buzz that grew into loud cheers as Tottenham kept scoring, and there were people constantly moving around talking to friends, ordering beer and food, and watching the match. It is hard to imagine that this space grew out of an art and framing store just a few years ago. The space has evolved even since Zauber opened, as every new addition to the walls or behind the bar makes the place feel more broken in and comfortable.

I ordered a flight of five beers (or “biers,” as Zauber prefers.) Zauber specializes in German styles, although a little Belgian creeps in sometimes. The Vertigo is for my money the best hefeweizen made in Ohio and is Zauber’s best beer. It is light and sweet with a strong banana flavor and a subtle, spicy clove taste underneath. The Berzerker Belgian IPA is dominated by crisp hoppiness and mango. Although I don’t get much of a Belgian flavor, it’s still a pleasant IPA. The Buxom Blonde is light, but packed with flavor, and is a beer that has steadily improved into a real winner since Zauber started making it. The Portergeist is an interesting combination of a porter and a German schwartzbier. It’s hoppier than the average porter, and since it’s on nitro, it’s also smoother. Finally, I tried the Myopic Red. There’s a malty, nutty, slightly Tootsie Roll taste to it. I typically don’t care for red ales, but this is a fine representation of the style. Zauber sells its beers at happy hour prices during soccer matches, further demonstrating its commitment to the sport and its fans. There is also booze for those who don’t drink beer and beer cocktails for those who don’t drink beer unless it’s mixed with other stuff.

Zauber Brewing Co. Bar

At the end of the match, everyone except my friend Matt – a life-long West Ham supporter – seemed thrilled to be there. Tottenham won comfortably, and even those such as me who don’t care about Tottenham (I’m a Liverpool supporter) had a great time. Everyone had a few drinks in them and a little food in their bellies, and it was only 1:00. Morning drinking leaves so much of the day open to do other things, even if those other things are just afternoon drinking. Next time you’re in the mood for a morning beer, go check out Zauber.

{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.}