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Pick of the Liter: Combustion Brewing

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.

What is somewhat hidden in the statistics is that the smaller segment of younger brewpubs and breweries that open up in under-served communities continues to boom. Typically, these establishments are much more tuned in to their surrounding community and, when done correctly, are transformed almost instantaneously into local hangouts. This niche is one that the newly opened Combustion Brewery and Taproom definitively falls into.

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.

A big bonus with Combustion is the building itself, the former home of the Pickerington Creamery and one of the more spacious of the area's nano-breweries. The brewery has done a good job in giving you a sense of the original space while putting in its own touches that make the taproom unmistakably their own. Three distinct seating areas are available for visitors in an outdoor patio area, a brightly lit restaurant style space, and a more darkly lit interior space surrounding the bar. A popular taproom architectural feature in form of the operational garage door allows for easy access to and fro on good weather days.'

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
(614) 834-9595
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