Tim Fulton  00:12

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the confluence cast presented by Columbus underground. We are a weekly Columbus centric podcast focusing on the civics, lifestyle, entertainment, and people of our city. I’m your host, Tim Fulton. This week, sours, IPAs, and stouts Oh, my Columbus underground reporter Dan Whelan has only been a Columbus site for two years. But he’s immersed himself in the local brewery and beer scene. We sat down to discuss the quality, diversity and unpretentious nature of our beer scene, how folks can explore their palate and the trends making head in Columbus. You can get more information on what we’ve discussed today in the show notes for this episode at the confluence cast.com. Also, the confluence cast is on Patreon. Find out how to support this podcast on our website, the confluence cast.com Or at patreon.com/confluence. Enjoy the interview.

Dan Whalen  01:16

Sitting down here virtually with Dan Whalen, the beer columnist for Columbus underground. Dan, how are you, sir? Doing well. Thanks for having me. No, absolutely. Absolutely. We are here talking about what is happening in the beer and bar scene in Columbus, Ohio, and what trends are happening in the space? Also how folks can be better consumers of beer, just to lend a little credence to you, Dan, can you talk us through your background and what brought you to Columbus underground? Sure. I’m cookbook author and food blogger at the website, the food in my beard.com. I’ve been doing that for 15 years. And I moved to Columbus a few years ago and have been digging deep into the beer scene because I came from Boston where there’s a very robust brewery and BRC in there. So since I’ve been here, I’ve been checking out the breweries I’ve even worked at land grant for about a year. And when Columbus underground was looking to write more about beer, I was first in line with my hand up to kind of just, I guess, experience experiment with my writing, I write mostly recipes. And I wanted to dive into something different and kind of just map out what I had been doing in my head for the past two years. Gotcha. The website. First of all, what kind of recipes are you putting there I make, I’m known for mashup cooking, where I take two different recipes and make one new recipe out of them. And I do a lot of comfort food. And really just like I don’t know, things that make you happy at the end of the day stuff that you probably only want to eat like once a week or a couple of times a month because it’s that kind of food that you could do a jog or workout after but it’s what is really exciting to me. And my most recent recipe is cookies that use amaro liquor as like a sort of filler in between to sandwich shortbread cookies. So that’s the kind of gist of it like something you wouldn’t expect this bright, bitter, sort of paste in between a sweet cookie.

Tim Fulton  03:23

Gotcha. And do you have a formal background and culinary arts or anything? Or is this just a passion of yours?

Dan Whalen  03:29

Just a passion. I went to school for computer science and started a website as like a side project during my first job out of school. And it started to take off and I really had a lot of fun doing it. And was really just cooking and posting on the website to remember what I was making. And then after a few years, like, it kind of just took off, people were liking it, and I was able to be full time with it about I don’t know, eight or 10 years ago.

Tim Fulton  03:53

Oh, that’s great. So you’ve literally turn your passion into a job.

Dan Whalen  03:56

Yeah, the millennial sort of monetize your side hustle mentality. I’ve been doing it for a while. But then I had to find new sort of side passions, because once Yeah, becomes your job it, it kind of like takes a little bit of fun out of it. I’m exaggerating, because I have a great time doing it every day.

Tim Fulton  04:17

Cool. Very cool. And we’ll link to you your author page on Columbus underground. But can you talk about some of the things you’ve written about up to this point for them?

Dan Whalen  04:25

Sure. I’ve been doing it for I do one a month. And so it’s only been four, four articles so far. I wrote about what the difference is between the different seven Sun locations. So getaway and antiques on high, sort of like what you can find at each location I’ve written about my most recent article was where to buy beer. Besides the breweries are like sort of a gift guide. I guess. It’s that time of year okay. If you want to buy like gift cards or merch from the different breweries or sort of special holiday packs that some breweries have been So what local stores have like a really good selection of local and national options,

Tim Fulton  05:06

and what are some good stores that have selections of

Dan Whalen  05:10

I really liked the county road beer zone by, okay where I just neighborhood I started just moved to they have a crazy selection. And it’s it’s like an unassuming sort of little convenience store and they’re just wall to wall of these big sort of national they come hype beer sort of like the things that the peep the beer nerds are talking about. Okay, and then there’s perfect pour in Dublin, that’s a really great spot with also like, they’re very helpful. And they’ll they’ll get you sort of what you want.

Tim Fulton  05:44

Got it. Like basically, if you don’t see something here, we’re happy to order it in for you.

Dan Whalen  05:48

Or more just like if you’re not sure what what you’re looking for, like who you’re buying for what you want to do, they kind of will run down there, their newest additions and that they have everything organized really well by by different types of beer.

Tim Fulton  06:03

Gotcha. What do we see coming down the pike in Columbus in terms of new breweries or expanding ones? Basically, what’s the landscape right now?

Dan Whalen  06:13

Sure. I mean, we have that are established sort of big players that have been around maybe seven 810 years, like the land grant seven Sun Wolf Ridge, that kind of thing. Then we have the sort of newer places that have been popping up and like you said, the expansions Jackie O’s is, has been selling beer, but they’re actually opening at some point soon, I guess. And a brewery that I’m really excited about actually, it’s in Newark, is called dank house. Not sure if you’ve heard of it. But they have they do all that really trendy type of beer like strong stouts and and hazy IPAs and, and that kind of stuff. And I’ve gotten it at a few of the look, the store locations that I just mentioned, but I’m excited to take a trip out there next week, probably and actually check it out.

Tim Fulton  07:06

Very cool. And this is sort of higher level rate like we are not a I don’t think and you can tell me if I’m wrong, known for our beer scene. I think we’re getting there having you know, in six months, we’ll have half a dozen different unique local breweries here if we don’t already. Can you talk through what the sort of trends that we’re seeing, I was telling you before we started recording, I had my first sour beer on a on a microphone talking to I think the wolf’s reg brewers. And that was four years ago, it felt super new at that time. But certainly the sour train isn’t stopping the IPA train. Just talk through sort of what you’re seeing as the quote unquote hype beers right now. Sure.

Dan Whalen  07:50

So I mean sours and IPAs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. And they’re still kind of like the, I’d say like the prestige or like the flagship beers of a lot of places. Some that have come up in standing in the past few years are the sour beer that has a lot of fruit in it. It’s kind of like a milkshake. It’s not that sour, it’s more sweet. It tastes like drinking a smoothie. Those have been pretty trendy lately. And then a stout that is strong, but also has like flavors added. It’s kind of like you’re drinking dessert. They’ll put like all sorts of chocolate and pretzels, and whatever else in there. So those are okay, I guess those are like the main trends. And I think, to touch on what you’re saying about Columbus not being maybe known for, for beer. But one thing that was interesting to me coming from Boston, where you have to sort of like go to these special breweries and stand in line for an hour before you get the different types of beer. The beer scene here is super approachable. And it’s not as I guess, exclusive. It feels more welcoming. Particularly like I said, I worked at land grant full disclosure, but their sort of premise their whole premise and mission is is beer for everyone. Right? So like they open up their their space and stuff. And they say everyone tried to spear we have something that everyone can have ever we’ll help you. We’ll, we’ll teach you what we make and all that stuff. And I think that’s a common trend amongst places in Columbus in general is like, you don’t have to be some expert. You don’t have to be like standing in line for the best beer. No one’s gonna make fun of you just drink what you like. And you can probably find it at a lot of these breweries because they make a lot of different types of things that are approachable.

Tim Fulton  09:40

Hmm, what are the ones and again full disclosure land grant, but who what are the ones that each individual brewery is known for? Like what his seventh son want to be known for in terms of their beer land grant?

Dan Whalen  09:55

I think what’s nice about 772 is that each location is like something different. So Other new location is more about about like international styles. And then the antiques is more about the sours. And their original location is more just like what you’d find at most breweries, IPAs, and everything. So I think there is a few sour, specialized a breweries around here. But I think most of the brewers are trying to have a wide variety and be something for everyone, for sure.

Tim Fulton  10:27

Gotcha. And that goes back to the accessibility thing. Exactly. And

Dan Whalen  10:31

I really love that. I mean, I’m driving to Massachusetts for Christmas. And, you know, I’m going to stock up my, my car with beer, but I need to be strategic and like, hit these places at certain times. So I’m not wasting my whole time there. And our long lines are like fighting beer nerds to get the special.

Tim Fulton  10:53

Well, and I know, I’ve seen like when halfhearted open their restaurant collaboration and Italian village, you would see every couple of weeks that they would do a beer release. Whereas previously, these folks were going up to Marengo and getting it we don’t really see that right. Like, we don’t see folks standing out at 11am on a Saturday because this new beer that’s in limited release is happening. They it’s not. It’s basically not generated that way is my understanding.

Dan Whalen  11:22

Yeah. And that’s kind of what I was talking about, like, it is nice. And I will say, speaking of halfhearted, I do think that they create beers that are on that national level. And I think they’re one of the only places in Columbus that that does that. I think they can hold their own against a lot of national breweries. And I think it’s interesting that people aren’t lined up there more to be honest. And I didn’t know that the people were lining up, because I’ve only been here for a few years. But I’ve had good luck just walking in and getting whatever I want there.

Tim Fulton  11:52

Yeah, well, and what I’m talking about is when they do like a bottled release, you’ll see the as you referenced the quote, unquote, beer nerds lined up around the corner in order to get it and take it home, not necessarily on premise consumption. So what would you say to somebody who’s sort of trying to explore their palate a little bit more in terms of, first of all, understanding how different beer is made? And then secondly, how to think about things that like, oh, I don’t like this sour, but maybe I should evaluate this one. Like, what’s a good? Is it just taste a lot of different things and have an understanding of it?

Dan Whalen  12:34

Yeah, for sure. But also, like, there is strategies to help, you know, okay, you just have to taste it. But I think everything is pretty nicely labeled. There is a lot of like, of, of, like learning to be done at breweries here, which is nice. It’s not just like, you go to a certain breweries sometimes. And it’s just like, here’s 17 IPAs, and we’re not going to tell you what the difference between them is. But you just have to choose one. You know, here. It’s nice, because there’s a lot of breweries that will tell you like what is going on in each beer. And I think, of course, going to the breweries and of course, getting a flight is going to always be helpful, because you can go back and forth between the different beers and be like, this, you know, has the sort of flavors that says these sort of flavors. I like this one better than maybe you ask and say like what makes this Pilsner differ from this Pilsner and they can tell you, and then you can know next time you’re going to replace that sort of style that I am gravitated towards more,

Tim Fulton  13:37

yes, you can do the tasting thing and sort of have a good understanding. You know, I think there’s a limited knowledge base, depending on whether you’re talking to a brewer, a bartender, a server, even a hostess, somebody that’s working the retail up front, is there a resource you would point people towards to understand what are the varietals of pilsners IPAs? stouts? How can they sort of you know, self educate?

Dan Whalen  14:04

Sure, I think I mean, I, I really do think tasting it is like the best way you’re gonna get there. But I’m sure you can find some sort of, like infographics that will like Teach you kind of different styles. But also the The trouble is like, everyone’s taste is different. So someone’s going to taste a beer and say like, I’m getting notes of like walnuts in here, and you can taste and be like, You’re crazy. I don’t know what you’re talking about. So that’s why and sometimes, you know, you’ll go to like, even at a coffee shop or something and the coffees are listed with that thing like dark cherry dark chocolate. And you taste it and you’re like, I’m getting coffee, I don’t know about you. So, sometimes those resources they can be more like, more like to deep in in it when you’re just a beginner, you know what I mean? And just tasting it can help a lot. And also speaking of stouts I think A lot of people are scared of it. Because like, It’s okay looks, it’s so dark that it looks like a gonna be a heavy like ridiculous beer, right? But a lot of times they can be lighter, and they can be more approachable to people, then these are super aggressive IPAs that everyone’s drinking.

Tim Fulton  15:19

And do you how do you think brewers are thinking about what comes next? Is it that they are trying to replicate something that has been done in the past? Or that seems successful? Other places? Are they simply trying to be unique in their style of like, let’s try this if it works, great. I’m just super curious how that process goes.

Dan Whalen  15:43

Yeah, I think there’s, I mean, it’s a balancing act right now. I mean, there’s so many breweries, for one. So like, people are just trying to, like carve out their own space. I think there’s been since the onslaught of the New England style, like hazy IPAs, there has been probably five or six different styles where people were like, this is the next big thing. And then they just kind of fizzle out. You know, I don’t think that that style is really going anywhere, since it’s dominating the market so much. And I know from working at Landgraf, a lot of people would say, why do we have five Hayes’s on our menu at all given times? Well, it’s because they sell like people are buying them. And so you have to have them, you know,

Tim Fulton  16:28

and do they? I mean, in your opinion, do they have? Can you have five hazy IPAs that have distinct tastes? Or is it similar to Bud Light and Miller Lite and automate, like, hey, yeah, those obviously tastes slightly different. And people have a preference? I know, you mean, but do you believe that that it is enough of a difference to warrant that taking up that first of all tap space, but also the brewing space?

Dan Whalen  16:55

Yeah, I mean, I think there’s, I think there’s enough subtle differences. I mean, if you think about it, there’s, I don’t know, countless hundreds of 1000s of hazy IPAs produced in America, like different ones in the United States, right. I’m sure there’s like enough similarities, but everyone thinks they have their own sort of formula on it. I think it I think that if the demand is there, and there’s enough differences, then yeah, I mean, you can see just looking at the color, when you pour, there are some that look more like orange juice. And there’s other ones that are more like, almost that pale, sort of like grayish yellow. And then some are more like, a little more clear. And just all the different flavors, and then some are a lot stronger. Some are more on the Pale Ale side versus the double IPA side. So yeah, there’s there’s enough differences. And if you’re wondering, and you go to a place that has five different ones, and you do that, that flight of them, then you’ll you’ll definitely see the difference.

Tim Fulton  17:57

And tasted to I imagine, for sure, do you have any recommendations for our local brewers, bars, and bottle shops, basically, in terms of how they can better educate their customers or thing trends that you have witnessed outside of Columbus or nationwide or read about that Columbus is not picking up on yet?

Dan Whalen  18:22

I think, while for bars to me, I feel like I see the same stuff on tap everywhere. I do wish there was a little more variety. And it’s not even just the same breweries, but like it’s the same beers from the same breweries, you know. So I do wish, again, it’s all about making money. So it’s hard to put some oddball beer on the menu when, when you’re not sure if people are gonna, gonna buy it. Right, right. I think I don’t know. I mean, when it comes to the difference, what I’m looking for when I when I go back home to Massachusetts, and here, I can get a lot of the same stuff here. And the same quality is just that’s like where they’ve been doing it for so long. That’s kind of where it originated. So when I go back, you’re kind of tasting the sort of more cutting edge versions, I guess, have trickled down to here. But there’s amazing breweries here with amazing food that I go to all the time that I’m just really excited to try all the time. So I don’t I think just continually innovating and China. Everyone’s on a good track here. I don’t have anything bad to say and I’ve been pleasantly surprised ever since I got

Tim Fulton  19:31

good. I’m glad to hear it. Is there anything else you think we should cover?

Dan Whalen  19:35

I just think people get out go to the brewery. It’s can be my favorite activity. You know, I think try. I’ve I’ve really loved NOC Gera, we haven’t mentioned them okay. The gamut beer garden has like a lot of different styles and they’ve been nationally recognized a handful of times and you know, it’s not really patio weather but the patio there is Pretty amazing. And yeah, like I said, I’m gonna head out to dank House next week and try that out. But I’m always just trying to check out new things. And I think that is what will spur more innovation and modernization amongst the breweries. Because if people if there’s an audience for it, then people then they’ll keep making new things.

Tim Fulton  20:21

Because at the end of the day, it is sort of about making money. Obviously, these folks have a passion in the space, but they need to be able to put food on their own tables as well. I want to give you, Dan an opportunity to answer the two questions that I ask everyone at the end of interviews. First of all, what do you think Columbus is doing? Well, and I think we can leave beer and brewing outside of this answer. But what do you think Columbus is doing? Well, and what do you think Columbus is not doing so well?

Dan Whalen  20:50

Well, from my sort of outsider perspective, I guess there’s a lot of things I love. One thing is just nice people. Compared to New England, uh, you can tell when you get, you know, when you get to the gate at the airport for that’s heading to Columbus that just change in tone and demeanor. No one’s like kicking you to get you out of the way. You kind of like walked up to the gate, you’re like, I’m already home now. Right. And then also compared to Boston, just getting around town here, like, you would drive an hour to get three miles away in Boston. So I like the accessibility and stuff here, which is really nice. It’s hard for me to really criticize I guess, as an outsider. I don’t know. I mean, I would, I’m constantly impressed, like I said, by the beer scene and the food scene here. But sometimes, maybe I wish there was more. There’s like a missing tear of restaurants sort of like there’s incredible food that’s like really casual. And then there’s like a lot of like, more higher end or places that take themselves really seriously. And I wish there was more. I mean, were we all point to? I feel like everyone points to Chapman as like an incredible, sort of, like, nationally recognized restaurant. And I think they hit that that perfect sort of casual vibe with the absolutely incredible food. And I feel like there’s not that many restaurants here that hit that like sweet spot in between casual, relaxed, and like incredible food without sort of moving up into like the fancy like, yeah, do you know, do you get what I’m saying? Yeah,

Tim Fulton  22:35

absolutely did like just a little bit more. There’s certainly a diversity, but you’re talking about like the mid accessible entry tier.

Dan Whalen  22:42

Right. Right. That also has like the roof, the experience and food that time like a next level.

Tim Fulton  22:49

Absolutely. Cool. Well, Dan, thank you so much for your time.

Dan Whalen  22:52

Thank you too. And if you guys want to check me out at tf IMB on social media, which is the initials of my website, the food and my beard

Tim Fulton  23:02

will do. And I’ll link that in the show notes too. Thanks again. Thank you. Thank you for listening to the confluence cast presented by Columbus underground. Again, you have more information on what we discussed today in the show notes for this episode at the confluence cast.com Please rate subscribe, share this episode of The confluence cast with your friends, family, contacts, enemies, your favorite Brewer. If you’re interested in sponsoring the confluence cast get in touch with us. We can be reached by email at info at the confluence cast.com Our theme music was composed by Benji Robinson, our producers Philip Cogley, I’m your host, Tim Fulton. Have a great week.