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Coffee and beer may not seem like an obvious pairing. But to the folks at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, it made perfect sense.
“It was really kind of a happy accident. I’m someone who’s always enjoyed coffee beer, but before working here, I’d never really brewed a lot of it,” explained Chris Davison, Brew Master at Wolf’s Ridge. “I didn’t drink an exceptional amount of coffee beer or anything. It was kind just a relationship that grew from need. I needed coffee for one keg and ran upstairs and grabbed the coffee the restaurant had.”
From that happy accident, a partnership was formed. “The next time I needed to order coffee, it made sense to order from the roaster we already used in-house, which happened to be One Line,” said Davison. “Who, in my opinion, happens to be the best roaster in town.”
Davison wanted to grow the relationship between not only Wolf’s Ridge and One Line but coffee and beer in general. Part of the allure of adding coffee into his brewing process is the thrill of adding something unexpected and unique into the beer. “You would never normally see coffee in a Hefeweizen or a Saison in a store,” said Davison.
Wolf’s Ridge often pairs with One Line to host events where guests can not only taste the beers that come out of this unique pairing but the coffee as well. Normally they would have 2-5 coffee beers in the Tap Room and 1-2 in the restaurant, but because of their close relationship with One Line and Chris’ affinity for coffee beers, 11 of 20 beers in the Tap Room at Wolf’s Ridge have coffee in them.
Clear Sky, their award-winning, number one beer is the perfect example of an unexpected coffee beer. For most other breweries, an IPA would be their number one seller. But at Wolf’s Ridge, a coffee cream ale takes the prize.
“[Clear Sky] just won a silver medal at the San Diego International Beerfest,” said Alan Szuter, co-owner of Wolf’s Ridge. “Which is a fairly large west coast competition, over 1500 entries this year. We’re very excited about that.”
Like most of the brewers I’ve heard from, Chris started brewing at home. His advice to brewers doing the same? Surround yourself with honest people.
“People you know tend not to always give you honest feedback. There’s a lot of brewers and home brewers that are making bad beer that don’t necessarily realize it. One of the best things you can do is find people that are willing to be honest with you, and constructive.”
Davison taught himself how to brew. He worked nights when he was beginning, so he wasn’t able to join any of the local home brew clubs. For brewers just starting out, the clubs offer invaluable experience. But learning on your own isn’t impossible, and Davison was determined to do just that.
“I did a lot of reading. There are a lot of really good, affordable books that you can read. I read one or two books before I even bought any equipment,” explained Davison. “If you follow the directions in the book, if you clean and sanitize well, if you watch your temperatures and your times, I think you can wind up producing good beer fairly early on.”
Wolf’s Ridge isn’t just about great beer. The taproom and restaurant are dedicated to delivering an atmosphere and environment that make people want to keep coming back for more.
With Columbus Craft Beer Week going on all over the city until May 20, Wolf’s Ridge has a couple of different events planned. On Saturday, they opened up a little early to allow guests to come in, grab breakfast, and partake in a huge draft list, all to celebrate a bottle release. The latest beer to be revealed by Wolf’s Ridge was Tripel Whiskey, their Belgian Triple that was aged in bourbon barrels.
On Thursday, May 18, the brewery will host another bottle release, this time debuting their Wild Saison, which has been aging in oak barrels.
“For us, it’s a major foray into sour beers,” explained Szuter. “We’re pretty excited about launching this. The beers are tasting absolutely incredible.”
“We’re debuting a Tap Room loyalty club for this space,” explained Jenny Hauck, Event Coordinator at Wolf’s Ridge. The 100 person loyalty club will include tons of perks, ranging from growler and daily draft discounts to parties throughout the year. On Monday, May 15, Wolf’s Ridge will be open from 5-9 to sign people up for the club in person.
“We’re hoping we can potentially sell out,” said Hauck. But don’t worry, as long as they don’t sell out, customers will have a second chance to get into the club. “We’ll open up sales on Tuesday afternoon as well,” said Hauck.
For a full schedule of Columbus Craft Beer Week events at Wolf’s Ridge or additional information, please visit their website.
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