Episode 179: Chris Davison of Wolf's Ridge Still Tinkers Like a Homebrewer


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Wolf’s Ridge Brewing started as a cramped basement brewpub setup below one of the best-regarded restaurants in Columbus, Ohio. On Chris Davison’s watch since 2014, the brewery grew to add a 30-barrel production brewhouse. Wolf’s Ridge notched its first Great American Beer Festival medal in 2019 with a silver medal for Daybreak, a cream ale with coffee and vanilla—its golden appearance failing to prepare the drinker for an aromatic hit that’s like walking into a roastery. It also happens to be their bestselling beer, outselling their IPA by a sizeable margin.

That same beer, Daybreak, returned to GABF last year and won gold, while their smoked beer Buchenrauch won bronze. Meanwhile, several Wolf’s Ridge beers impressed our Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® blind panel reviewers last year, none more than cocoa-laden Double Chocolate Rum Barrel Dire Wolf—which also thrilled our editors and became one of our Best 20 Beers in 2020. That’s all besides a few Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers (FoBAB) medals over the past four years.

In this episode, Davison talks about how early experiments with infusing corny kegs with different flavors—just to help fill out the restaurant’s many taps—led to a lot of learning and ulimately some their most successful beers—including Daybreak.

Among other things, Davison discusses:

  • The benefits of steeping with whole-bean coffee instead of grounds, plus quantities and steeping times
  • Adding vanilla for just the perception of sweetness, while using cream ale as a canvas for many other flavors, including Vietnamese cinnamon, strawberries, basil, lemons, and more
  • Brewing their Dire Wolf imperial stout for balance and drinkability before barrel-aging, and experimenting with different spirit barrels
  • Evaluating many different malts, intentionally these into their imperial stouts
  • Various adjuncts and flavors for those imperial stouts
  • Growing their barrel program on both the clean and mixed-fermentation sides
  • Focusing on the best ingredients for the beers they want to brew, and implementing sensory training for staff on hedonistic evaluation

And much more.

*This episode is brought to you by: *

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