Ohio Brewery News
Friday Six Pack with Nick Gabriel, Forbidden Root
Every Friday, we ask an Ohio craft brewery owner or employee to answer six questions about their path to the brewing industry, what sets their brewery apart and their thoughts on craft beer in Ohio.
Today we’ll chat with Nick Gabriel, head brewer at Forbidden Root in Columbus.
What made you decide to get into the craft brewing industry?
I wanted to make something I was proud to put into the world. 20 years ago, craft had only scratched the surface of what was to come, but back then I saw the creative drive and hard work around the industry and I wanted to be a part of it.
Which of your beers do your customers enjoy the most and why?
Ohio High, our Hazy Pale Ale is a big seller for us. The hook is that I get all of the malt and hops from within 70 miles of the brewery, but that bugger is really easy drinking and keeps people coming back. Keeping up with demand has made life interesting.
What’s your favorite thing about your brewery?
The doors are wide open for style, technique and ingredients. At any given time we will have botanical projects, a foeder-aged lager, an adjunct porter and a handful of IPAs, sours and stouts pouring. The list is constantly changing, so there is always something new.
Forbidden Root has a reputation for being very novel and creative with ingredients. What’s one beer that you brewed that really felt like you were pushing the envelope?
I focus on using the highest quality ingredients rather than leaning too much into novelty territory. We have a porter called Full Retail which requires almonds and cacao nibs to be roasted and coconut toasted to specific levels, all of which I do by hand in our kitchen. I also use whole Madagascar vanilla beans for that one. It is a real crowd pleaser, but none of those things work without the effort in sourcing the best products and recipe building on the front end.
Besides your own, what Ohio craft breweries impress you the most and why?
There are so many. Ohio craft beer is in a really great place right now. On opposite ends of the spectrum, I love what Wooly Pig and DankHouse are doing. Wooly Pig is executing traditional styles on the highest level and their brewery and adjoining outdoor area is a special place to spend an afternoon. DankHouse is really nailing the invented-yesterday styles that I like to dabble in as well. They also have a beautiful outdoor space. I guess I am pretty easy if you give me good beer and trees.
Where do you think craft beer is headed? What do you think craft beer will look like five years from now?
I think consumers will continue to dictate what styles make the most noise, and we as brewers will have to listen closely for the quieter drinkers that usually end up keeping our doors open. A microcosm of the culture at large, the most noise comes from a very small group. I don’t see that slowing anytime soon.
Five years from now, taproom experiences will continue to morph into site-specific concepts that look less like garages with pallets of malt in the corner and more like boutique hotels, historical preservation clubs and idyllic countryside estates. I hope that someone goes full on water park. Hoofy?