One of the blaring headlines in the craft beer world to hit early in 2017 was one that might worry aficionados at first glance. Growth in what seemed to be at times an unstoppable juggernaut of a business model in the 2010s slowed dramatically in 2016: Brewers Association statistics noted that the segment grew only 6% in volume (compared to 12-15% in prior years) and ticked up only a notch (0.1%) in total market share.
Opened by owner/brewmaster Keith Jackson (formerly of Columbus branch of Gordon Biersch) just this April, this member of the Columbus Ale Trail and Pickerington-based brewery has become a favorite of both my spouse and me in its short time of existence. In many ways, the vibe I get mirrors our usual go-to brewery for a quick brew or two in Clintonville's Lineage Brewing.
Combustion is something of a hybrid in terms of Columbus area breweries in the food world: while they don't have a full kitchen, they have more than enough on the menu to cover appetites big (The Big Board, which comes with charcuterie, cheese and olives) to those who just want to snack a bit. Familiar Columbus local names like the North Market's Brezel, North Country Charcuterie, Dan the Baker, and Krema (the nut mix the brewpub serves is really terrific, by the way) dot the menu; additional food supplementation is provided by food trucks on Friday and Saturday.
Most importantly, the beer offerings so far have been real solid affairs, especially for those who prefer the more hoppier side of the ledger. My hophead spouse already has a go-to with their flagship Combustion IPA. Meanwhile, I'm still looking for something to call my own, but I did really enjoy their Strongly Worded Letter Belgian Tripel on my last visit. I'm suspecting my time at Combustion will come later this year, when the weather turns colder and heftier stouts typically come on tap.
Combustion Brewery & Taproom
80 W Church St. #101
Pickerington, OH 43147
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