CAT (Columbus Ale Trail) Brewery: Buckeye Lake Brewery
First Impressions: "Garage doors...patio...a perfect warm season hangout."
Reality: Most everyone familiar with Central Ohio knows about the struggles that the businesses surrounding Buckeye Lake, located roughly a half-hour east of Columbus, have gone through the last two years. The moment, while dreaded, was inevitable - the 180-year-old earthen dam that created the lake was determined to be on the verge of failure, requiring upgrades to prevent a major flooding catastophe. However, the completion of this work would require a drastic reduction of lake levels for a few years, a reduction that would seriously constrict what has long been the area's historical financial lifeblood: tourists coming out to the area enjoy a day on and around the lake.
However, one wouldn't suspect the area was going through a crisis was going on if you looked at the area's namesake brewery. Since its opening in early 2012, the brewery has undergone two separate expansions, including bottling and distribution of their brews in bottles to local area stores and the removal of their brewing equipment to a separate space to accommodate more guests at their brewpub.
As far as the space, the relocation of the brewing equipment offsite has led to a much more spacious interior space well lit from the garage-door-styled-windows (a closer look makes met think they are not operational garage doors that other breweries like Clintonville's Lineage Brewing or Italian Village's Seventh Son Brewing sport, but I could be wrong about that.) However, during the warmer and sunnier, spend hours floating on the lake type days, the patio is definitely the place to be.
Food: Buckeye Lake Brewing does not have its own food service outside of popcorn, but offers food for its customers with a seasonal food truck rotation. Customers can also hit up a local institution in Pizza Cottage, which does a brisk business providing brewery visitors a pie to match up with their pints.
Beer: In many ways, the beer here is what the kind you're looking for during or after a lazy day of lounging on or by the lake. It's not like you can't find more complex brews (such as their Wee Heavy Strong Scotch Ale, my favorite brew I have tried from them, or the Shovelhead Double IPA), but Buckeye Lake knows its audience well and caters to that. Overall, the brews are easy drinking and easy on the wallet (on our last recent visit, pints went for a very modest $4.)
Another unique and welcome aspect about Buckeye Lake is in their distribution of beer. The taproom does provide growler fills, but they also sport what they call a "Fresh Fill" canning system imported from Denver's Oskar Blues Brewery. This system allows customers to take home 32 oz. cans of their favorite brews with them for future consumption. Also neat in my book is their bottles, not so much for their labels (though they are pretty natty in their own right) but for their atypical shape.
Buckeye Lake Brewery
5176 Walnut Rd (Google Maps)
Buckeye Lake, OH 43008
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