Outerbelt Brewing in Carroll, which opens at noon Saturday, is the latest addition to the ever-growing brewery scene in Fairfield and Hocking counties.
The brewpub and beer distributor on Dolson Court near Route 33 is the seventh brewery to open near Lancaster in the past four years. Rockmill Brewery in Lancaster kicked off the region’s brewpub trend, and breweries have opened in the two counties at a regular clip since then. Outerbelt is the seventh.
The fledgling bar also marks the newest stop on a brewery trail in Fairfield and Hocking counties. In a bid to encourage beer lovers to visit the region, the Fairfield County Visitors and Convention Bureau launched the Route 33 Brew Trail a year ago. Patrons can acquire a “passport” from the visitors bureau, which can be stamped at any one of seven breweries along the highway. A stamp from each brewery earns you a pint glass.
Jonett Haberfield, the visitors bureau executive director, attributed the rise in breweries to population growth, but also a thirst for craft beer.
“People really like craft beer, and not everybody wants to go to Columbus to enjoy it,” Haberfield said.
Outerbelt moved into a building that once housed a home improvement business, and the interior still has the some of the feel of the converted warehouse, such as exposed pipes lining the ceiling and an outdoor loading dock. Now, the floors are painted in more pleasing colors and picnic tables are spread throughout. Entertainment includes a Skee-Ball game, two foosball tables and a giant-size version of Connect Four.
Outerbelt will offer 10 of its own draft beers at first, but hopes to expand its offerings.
“We have 16 taps, so we can serve up to 16 beers,” said Outerbelt taproom manager Valerie Luciano.
Customers who attended a soft opening Wednesday gravitated toward one of the bar’s more creative selections, Luciano said.
“Everyone really loves our Gravel Donuts, which is a hazy IPA,” she said.
Customers will find familiar selections such as a summer ale and a hefeweizen, but head brewer Dan Griffin said he plans to experiment with more eclectic brews.
For example, a coffee-flavored beer dubbed Morning Commute will be available Saturday.
Crews have been working on the space since November, Griffin said.
“It was really just a shell,” Griffin said. That meant adding a sprinkler system, new bathrooms, a tap system and a space to brew beer, he said.
Other breweries on the trail include Combustion Brewery and Taproom in Pickerington, Loose Rail and Brew Dog in Canal Winchester, Rockmill and Double Edge Brewery in Lancaster, and Brewery 33 in Logan.