The Return of Hoster Brewing: Daniel Meyers is Bringing Back the Historic Hometown Beer (2024)

The Return of Hoster Brewing: Daniel Meyers is Bringing Back the Historic Hometown Beer (1)

Over the last 20 years, Daniel Meyers has periodically resurrected Hoster Brewing Co., Columbus’ first major brewery that launched before the Civil War and eventually became the city’s biggest pre-Prohibition beer producer. “We’re sort of known as the on-again, off-again Hoster Brewing Company,” Meyers says. “It’s now on again—but permanently.”

On a December afternoon at Hoster’s in-the-works Northeast Columbus brewery and taproom, Meyers’ argument for permanence is beginning to take shape. Situated in an industrial strip just south of the airport, which formerly housed Actual Brewing, the location’s nondescript exterior belies the interior transformation underway. Dark wood accents and inviting booths give the bar a lived-in feel. Retro metal and neon signs sport Hoster’s winged-H logo and throwback slogan: “That’s the Beer.”

The Return of Hoster Brewing: Daniel Meyers is Bringing Back the Historic Hometown Beer (2)

Vintage items acquired by Meyers decorate the taproom: a cash register from Dayton’s bygone National Cash Register Co. sits behind the bar top, which once propped up elbows at New York’s historic Bennett Hotel; a 1950s Seeburg jukebox is primed to play 45s; a wooden gaming table made by Habitant Furniture came here from Michigan.

“We wanted it to look like you walked into your cool uncle's basem*nt back in the ’60s. Or like you walked into a bar that had been around forever,” Meyers says. “Cozy and comfy is what we're shooting for.”

In the back, Andrea Grassbaugh, director of yeast management and quality control, supervises a lab area with beakers of brown liquid and a refrigerator full of yeast strains. Nearby, Hoster brewmaster Victor Aume, along with brewers Don Croucher and Quinn Bartlett (formerly of Buzzsaw Brewing Co.), monitor silver tanks, the biggest of which holds a batch of Gold Top—Hoster’s flagship beer today, just as it was more than 100 years ago.

The Return of Hoster Brewing: Daniel Meyers is Bringing Back the Historic Hometown Beer (3)

A Name Steeped in History

German immigrant Louis Hoster never intended to settle in Columbus. He was merely passing through on July 4, 1833. But the city’s Independence Day celebrations made an impression on him, and in 1836 he returned to Columbus to launch a brewery on Front Street. Initially named City Brewery, it later became the L. Hoster Brewing Co.

“The major development for all the brewers in the 1850s was the development of lager beer,” says Jay Hoster, the great-great grandson of Louis. “It produces a lighter carbonated product. And in a world without air conditioning, and where a lot of people didn't have home refrigeration, a cold glass of lager beer in the summer was about as good as it gets.”

Hoster’s Brewery District operations encompassed a large complex of buildings for brewing and bottling. According to Curt Schieber’s 2017 book, “Columbus Beer,” Hoster was producing 300,000 barrels a year at the turn of the 20th century. Prohibition, though, spelled the end of Hoster in 1920. Pieces of the once-impressive Hoster complex remain, including the Worly Building at 503 S. Front St., which once housed the brewery’s horse stables, and a series of historic structures being redeveloped for the mixed-use Front & Fulton project.

The Return of Hoster Brewing: Daniel Meyers is Bringing Back the Historic Hometown Beer (4)

In the 1990s, the Hoster Brewing name was resurrected in the form of a brewpub at High and Hoster streets, which closed in 2001. Meyers, who runs C-B Beverage Corp. and has spent most of his professional life in the beverage industry, bought the rights to the name in 2004. In the years since, he has produced Gold Top in fits and starts through contracts with local breweries, but the nomadic approach proved difficult.

“Finally, we just said we're doing it ourselves,” says Meyers, who took over part of the former Actual Brewing space at 653 N. James Road in 2021. (The Butcher & Grocer’s production facility took over the other part.) In November, Hoster released a new batch of Gold Top lager at the Ohio Taproom. Samples of the December edition of Gold Top tasted great after just four weeks in the tank, but it’ll mature further. (“Lager” is German for “to store.”) Aume, who came on as brewmaster in September, says creating Gold Top from “bits and fragments” of the original recipe served as his job interview.

“It is fundamentally a Dortmunder-style lager, so that tells you about what it's supposed to be,” Aume says. “We came back to the classic formulation of the ingredients and the hops, where the hops are from Germany and the Czech Republic. The yeast is a German strain. And we do treat the water.”

Other styles are in the works: Kölsch, Vienna lager, doppelbock, Irish ale and English-style pale ale, as well as Belgian-style beers from former Buzzsaw brewer Bartlett. “I think there is a shift back towards traditional styles,” Aume says. “I'm much more a fan of the classic European styles. It was our history, and that's going to be our future, as well.”

Aume says the new batch of Gold Top should be ready by the end of January, and Meyers is hoping to open the taproom to the public toward the end of February—“March 1 at the very latest.”

Standing near the silver tanks, Jay Hoster drinks a glass of fresh Gold Top and reflects on the pride he feels seeing his family’s legacy restored. He’s grateful to Meyers for persevering through the frustrating years of contract brewing, and for “bringing back the name out of the past and saying, ‘This is important. This matters.’ ”

“Hoster is part of the fabric of the community,” Meyers says. “It just deserved to come back.”

Hoster Brewing Co.

653 N. James Road, East Side;

This story is from the February 2024 issue of Columbus Monthly.

The Return of Hoster Brewing: Daniel Meyers is Bringing Back the Historic Hometown Beer (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Last Updated:

Views: 5293

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Refugio Daniel

Birthday: 1999-09-15

Address: 8416 Beatty Center, Derekfort, VA 72092-0500

Phone: +6838967160603

Job: Mining Executive

Hobby: Woodworking, Knitting, Fishing, Coffee roasting, Kayaking, Horseback riding, Kite flying

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Refugio Daniel, I am a fine, precious, encouraging, calm, glamorous, vivacious, friendly person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.