BY Arron Fowler
Every so often, we need to take a trip outside our comfort zone. For some, this may mean a drive south to the wondrous capital of the Buckeye State known as Columbus. As the home of one of Ohio’s best-kept secrets in the craft beer world — Columbus Brewing Company, I am talking about you — the city is rich in savory brews and the perfect stomping ground to discover some fantastic hangouts. Positioned in the heart of the Short North arts district sits Bodega, which offers up over 50 beers on draft and more than 100 from the bottle.
I was told to attend Bodega during happy hour (4-8 p.m.), as every draft beer is halfoff Monday through Friday, so I did just that and did not regret it. As we grabbed a seat after a short wait, the waitress asked what we wanted to drink, so I wasted no time. I speedread the draft menu, and an immediate choice was made — Troegs Flying Mouflan. Already a crowd favorite, thanks to their much-loved Nugget Nectar, Troegs is a brewery to be reckoned with. While this barley wine may be a little less known than its IPA compadre, it is arguably more intense. Registering in at over 100 IBUs (the international measurement ofbitterness in beer), Flying Mouflan is a hop explosion to your taste buds. A clear favorite of this writer and an absolute pleasure on draught.
While I waited for my food to arrive, I tried another draft offering — New Holland White Hatter. The newest kid on the block from New Holland’s India Pale Ale series, this 5.5% Belgian-style white ale combines spice, hops and fermentation notes to create a interesting, though ultimately disappointing brew. I personally enjoy their Oak Aged Hatter (another member of their IPA Hatter series) any day of the week over this one, but am glad I gave it a shot to at least say I tried it.
For an entrée, I just simply can’t resist a well-cooked burger, so I gave their Bombay Burger a shot. Topped with roasted red peppers, jalapenos, sharp white cheddar, red onions and fresh cilantro sprigs, the burger, as one would assume with such a list of ingredients, is a revelation. Juicy and cooked to perfection, the Bombay Burger is a must have for anyone who admires some good oldfashioned red meat. An order of their garlic fries, which comes with an irresistible side of spicy tomato aioli, should be in your future if you know what is good for you.
As I chomped down on my burger and fries, brew No. 3 from the draft was in order, so I went with something I have grown to love over my craft-beer drinking days — North Coast Old Rasputin, a 9% Russian Imperial Stout. While I prefer the barrel-aged version over the traditional, this is still one incredibly worthwhile beer.
If I had one complaint, it would be that Bodega is light on stouts and porters. The few times I have been at the establishment, their selections of these two terrific styles have been somewhat underwhelming, but the inclusion of Old Rasputin helped sweeten the deal this time out.
I figured I would take a gander at the bottle list before leaving this awesome beer stop to see if anything caught my eye. Buried among other great beers was something I have been dying to have since a small sampling at May’s International Beer Festival — the Rivertown Lambic. This limited bottle comes courtesy of Rivertown Brewing Company out of Cincinnati. Though a bit steep in price, this tart sour ale is a must drink for those looking for something a bit more unique. Thankfully, the beer comes in a 750-ml. bottle, so those looking to split one can do so.
Open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. from Monday to Saturday, and until 1 a.m. on Sunday, Bodega is just want you need more of in your life. A true gem of a destination, this is one place you do not want to miss on your next visit to Columbus.