Dogbrick takes a look at an historic Columbus brewing name
October 14, 2004 Written by Dogbrick
Columbus, OHIO -
Hoster Brewing (Columbus): Hoster Brewing Companyís roots go back to 1836 in the Columbus brewing scene. By the late 1800ís Hosterís was moderately successful, and thanks to technological advances in transportation and refrigeration it was able to ship beer regionally.
The brewpub was in rather poor shape in 1990 when it was purchased by Dean Skillman and other investors from Toledo. At the time, Hosterís was one of the last breweries located in Columbusí Brewery District (which at one time boasted around a dozen). After the purchase, the brewpub was renovated and enjoyed a brief renaissance. It was included in Michael Jacksonís epic ďGreat American Pub CrawlĒ of that year, with favorable comments. Brewmaster Victor Ecimovich III, who was recognized as one of the nationís best in the book "Beer Across America,Ē was hired. According to the Institute for Brewing Studies, Hosterís was ranked #6 in the US in 2000 for individual brewpubs at 3000bbls per year. Unfortunately, initial food reviews were poor, and continuing problems with service along with new restaurants opening and drawing crowds away from downtown eventually led to the final downfall.
The beginning of the end of the last incarnation of Hosterís can be traced to March, 2001 when the Brewpub decided to bow out of the restaurant business and focus on brewing beer for the wholesale market. The reason given was the fast growth of other restaurants in different areas of the city such as the Arena District. Hosterís did not simply give up without trying to go with the trend though. As a matter of fact, the sales manager of Hosterís, John Weixel, attempted to work with Nationwide Arena to try to get Hosterís beer sold inside the arena. The idea was that fans would appreciate having a local beer available during games or concerts. Instead, the out-of-town chain brewpub Gordon Bierch was opened a short distance away and nothing ever came of it. The only local beer available at Nationwide Arena is bottled Columbus Brewing Co. Pale Ale, and even that can only be found at one vendor stand.
Unfortunately for central Ohio beer lovers, brewing beers wholesale never really came about and as a result Hosterís beers could no longer be found anywhere.
The 20-barrel brewhouse and brewing equipment were bought by the Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery (Phoenixville, PA) around January of 2002. The plan was to open a Sly Fox location in the historic Foundry Building in downtown Phoenixville, but due to their inability to make structural changes to that building the deal fell through.
Fast forward to July of 2004 and a surprising article from The Daily Reporter in Columbus that revealed that Hosterís will be making a comeback after a 3 year hiatus. The assets have been acquired by an investment group headed by Dan Meyers of the CB Beverage Corp, which is a soft drink distributor. Meyers detailed a plan to reintroduce Hosterís beers to the Columbus area as early as October of 2004, starting with the Gold Top and then others over the next few months. Former Brewmaster Victor Ecimovich III is back on board overseeing the production. He has been given total control over the recipes so the beer should retain the same quality it enjoyed before going out of business in 2001.
The brewing chores will be handled at a facility in Toledo (as before). Since the old Hosterís space is now occupied by a new restaurant, the long-term plan is for the investment group to enter into a partnership with an entrepreneur who wants to open a restaurant and have the Hoster beers available there. As for right now the focus will be on getting the beer brewed and into the hands of grateful Central Ohio beer lovers in bottled form.