Combine an impressive brewing resume, a quirky brand concept and a city that loves “local” and you get the perfect recipe for a new craft brewery, Zauber Brewing, slated to open early next year in the Grandview Heights neighborhood.
Ohio-native Geoff Towne, owner and brewmaster for Zauber, got his start in the industry selling packaging to breweries. “I kind of fell in love with what they were doing and started getting into homebrewing, while at the same time fermenting crazy ideas in my head to go into the industry,” Towne said.
You gotta love a good fermentation pun.
Towne went on to attend the University of California, Davis to obtain a graduate degree in brewing – and yes, that’s a real thing, though a pretty uncommon one, with only a handful of institutions in the world offering the program (CBC’s Eric Bean shares the accolade.)
“You get to learn how to be a smarty pants brewer,” said Towne. “You learn all the things that most brewers do as a practical, everyday way of life.”
After school, Geoff went on to work at Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland as one of four guys running the brewing operation. After three years there, he was recruited to the Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) in Cincinnati as an Assistant Brewing Manager. He moved to Columbus to get some experience on the sales side of the business at Heidelberg Distributing before making the leap into his own brewing operation.
“I always knew that Columbus was a thirsty market and there was a lot of opportunity here,” Towne said.Zauber Brewing will be located at 1300 Norton Avenue, just north of Grandview Yard. But why the name Zauber? The short – though a bit convoluted – answer involves the Buckeyes and the letter “Z.”
“I was trying to figure out a theme that would resonate here in Columbus,” said Towne. “Obviously the largest animal we have in town is THE Ohio State University. Maybe from not going to Ohio State myself, I always thought that was natural for abuse – you know, what university calls itself ‘THE’? So, I figured, with a bad German accent, that “zee beers” would be easy enough that any Joe could get it. It’s not heavy, it’s not clever… it was something I just thought would kind of work. From there we had a handful of “Z” words in mind… and Zauber was available.”
Zauber in German means “magical. And though many of us may believe that beer is a magical thing, Towne has built a narrative to further tie in the name.
“All craft beer is a reinterpretation of products that have been made for thousands of years and developed by accident sometimes along the way. They didn’t understand how microbiology and yeast worked, but they knew if they did these certain steps in a certain way that it would work out. Part of it was a belief system that was handed down from one brewer to another, a belief in God or magic depending on who you worked for.”
While Geoff is still keeping quiet about the specific beers Zauber will brew, he shared that the brewery intends to produce what he calls “Tweener beers,” or in-between beers. “Instead of uberbeers and macro, light beers, a nice in-between zone so that you can have the best of both worlds,” Towne added.
Initially, the brewery will be producing small batches in kegs. Towne hopes to be begin brewing before Christmas to have the first beers available shortly after the first of the year, at both the brewpub and several bars around town. A retail space is planned to launch sometime in 2012.
Check out zbeers.com and stay tuned to Drink Up Columbus for news about the opening of Zauber Brewing.