Temperance Row Brewing Company: Classic Styles in the World’s Dry Capital

From the Source by | Jan 2016 | Issue #108
Photo by Tony Cabilovski

In December 2014, when local entrepreneur Tony Cabilovski opened his brewpub in the city of Westerville, Ohio—a suburb of Columbus with a population of about 30,000—he faced more challenges than your typical small-town brewer.

Although the 21st Amendment overturned Prohibition in 1933, uptown Westerville would remain dry for another 73 years. In fact, Westerville was once known as the Dry Capital of the World due to the Anti-Saloon League’s headquarters here, just a few blocks up State Street from where Cabilovski’s brewery sits today. “Westerville’s history is the driving force in our brewpub as far as concept and overall ambiance are concerned,” says Cabilovski, who chose the name Temperance Row Brewing Company in homage to the area’s teetotaling past.

A New Chapter
Because Temperance Row Brewing Company would be largely responsible for introducing its community to craft brewing, Cabilovski searched for a well-respected brewer with experience making traditional styles. It was Gavin Meyers, co-owner of North High Brewing in Columbus, who ultimately proved to be the matchmaker. Cabilovski frequented North High’s brew-on-premise equipment, and Meyers knew he was looking for a brewmaster for a new project. “I also knew that local brewing icon Scott Francis might be available and saw them as a good fit,” Meyers says.

Look back at several decades of brewing history in central Ohio, and you’re bound to find Scott Francis’ name. He’s the brewmaster behind the region’s three oldest craft outfits: Columbus Brewing (1988), Barley’s Brewing (1992) and Smokehouse Brewing (1997), plus several nano- and microbreweries. As a Siebel grad who has run a homebrew shop in Columbus for over 40 years, it’s little wonder that Francis is considered the area’s godfather of craft brewing.

Cabilovski and Francis’ partnership began over beers at North High Brewery. “We felt each other out about brewing philosophy and styles, and found we were very much on the same page,” says Cabilovski. (In a delicious bit of irony, a former general superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League was Reverend McBride, whose given name was Francis Scott.) With Francis on board, the duo set out to develop an inaugural lineup that would suit their personalities and appeal to the community.

Maybe it is most appropriate that a brewery in the Dry Capital of the World would pay homage to classic beer styles rather than extreme creations. “I hired Scott because I wanted to serve high-quality traditional beers,” says Cabilovski. It’s not that Francis, who favors British styles, hasn’t appealed to the beer geek crowd. He was brewing big IPAs and barrel-aged beers long before they became all the rage. But in nearly three decades of brewing, Francis says he’s found that “these are beers that have stood the test of time—as other styles come and go, these classics will always be in demand.”

Starting with the Classics
At Temperance Row, Francis leans heavily on British malts and yeast. “I would love to use local malts, but I just can’t get the results I am looking for,” he says. Instead, the brewery relies primarily on imports, like Fuller’s yeast from London that serves as the house yeast. As testament to the success of this model, Michael Jackson wrote in his Pocket Guide to Beer that Francis made “the most authentic British-style Pale Ale that I have found in America.” And the praise doesn’t end there. “Scott Francis can’t brew a bad beer,” remarks North High’s Meyers. “His decades of experience ensure that there is always a wide variety of the highest caliber craft beer on tap in Temperance Row’s taproom.”

The lineup at Temperance Row begins with its classic Hatchetation British-style Pale Ale, and includes a malty Scottish Ale, a Bavarian-style Pilsner and a traditional English Porter. “It is kind of refreshing to see these traditional beers still being made to style,” says Vic Gonzales, brewmaster at Pigskin Brewing in nearby Gahanna. “You go to Temperance Row and you know you’re going to find an awesome Scottish Ale every time.”

Perhaps another tip-of-the-hat to the British Isles, Temperance Row has pioneered in its use of nitrogen. In addition to its Porter, on a typical day patrons may find the Scottish Ale, ESB and IPA pouring from both standard and nitro taps. This gives drinkers the chance to experience the smooth, creamy texture that nitro brings to the party by tasting beers side-by-side. “We’ve become known for nitro, and our customers now look for it,” says Francis, who typically kegs 40 percent of a given batch to serve with nitrogen. “I need to be careful to get the CO2 just right. It needs to be different for nitro taps.”

While he chooses to brew closer to style than some more extreme brewers, Francis says he likes the energy of many young brewers. In fact, his son, Alex, is following in his footsteps as the assistant brewer at Temperance Row. And his 4-year-old grandson, Eli, has been spotted peering into the mash tun at Temperance Row as well.

A classic lineup and ties to Prohibition have served the brewery well in its first year. “Temperance Row fills a perfect niche in the suburb of Westerville, where they are really still only just beginning to add options for alcohol in their historically dry uptown district,” says North High’s Meyers. “Also, they’ve done a tremendous job of tastefully incorporating Westerville’s nefarious role in prohibition into their space’s aesthetic.”

Not only does the town’s history inform the brewery and beer names, it comes through in the spot’s décor. “We have tons of pictures depicting both sides of the prohibition issue,” says Cabilovski. “We are excited to be another link in in the chain that is Westerville’s history.”

Temperance Row isn’t likely to become a huge player in the craft brewing industry. Nevertheless, it holds a nostalgic place in brewing history with timeless beers and an iconic brewmaster in a small town in central Ohio that was dry for 148 years.

10-barrel brewhouse
4 10-barrel fermentors
4 10-barrel serving tanks

On Tap
Hatchetation Pale Ale: Named for the radical temperance practice of taking a hatchet to saloons, this ruby colored British Pale Ale is made with English malt, English Kent Golding hops and English yeast. 5.5% ABV

Scofflaw Scottish Ale: Scofflaw (the nickname given to those who ignored Prohibition) is soft and malty with subtle caramel undertones. 6% ABV

Contradiction Extra Special Bitter: Dark amber in color, British yeast powers this ESB’s big, malty flavor. 6.5% ABV

Prohibition Pilsner: A crisp, malty and clean Bavarian-style Pilsner brewed with German and Czech hops. 5% ABV

Two Pistols IPA: Malts balance this unfiltered IPA brewed with Centennial, Cascade and Columbus hops, and dry-hopped with Centennial. 6.25% ABV

40 Ton Porter: Referencing the 40 tons of propaganda sent out by the Anti-Saloon League, this Porter is very malty and slightly floral, with a low to medium hop character. 7% ABV

Baltic Porter: Lager yeast lends the Baltic a crisper, cleaner finish in a twist on 40 Ton Porter. 7% ABV