Hog Molly in Columbus: Brewing Up Something Big and Strong

Hog Molly in Columbus: Brewing Up Something Big and Strong

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

We’ve got a new brewery in Columbus – and this one has an interesting name. The smarter amongst us will pick it up right away, but I’ll let it stew for a while for the rest of us. Hog Molly Brewing Co. is set to open at 830 Depot St. in Columbus on December 6th from 4pm – 10pm and Saturday, the 7th from noon – 10pm for a single weekend event so that everyone can get a taste of the Hog Molly brews. They will continue to do one event per month until they can get some commercial zoning issues cleared up, and then they’ll attack it whole hog every weekend. The zoning work should be done by early 2020.

Lou and Martha Krempel own Hog Molly where Lou is the head brewer. Lou spends his days as an engineer, so he was in a good position to put together a brewhouse and chase down all the mechanical wonkiness that comes with setting up a brewery. Martha is a purchasing agent at a local company, so she handles all things money and logistical in the enterprise.

image credit: Trudi Smith Photography

Lou has been home brewing for five years, so the bug to open a brewery has been in his and Martha’s ears for a while. But as is so common, they didn’t want to open a restaurant so Hog Molly will be a production brewery and taproom, not a brewpub. There will be local food trucks on site for the monthly events, and people are welcome to order from local restaurants and bring the food into the taproom.

With a 10 bbl gas fired kettle and four 10 bbl fermenters, Lou and Martha are looking to put kegs in local bars and restaurants right away, so you will be able to get Hog Molly beers even when the taproom isn’t open. This is an ambitious step for Lou, as all his previous batches were made at the 5 gallon size. But fear not, he’s already got several batches under his belt and has six beers in kegs already.

As production ramps up they will look to expand, but Hog Molly doesn’t have a specific distribution plan right now. Martha says the brewhouse comes from a local brewery that closed fairly recently, and it turns out to be the old Powerhouse system. It needed some upgrades, so it’s nice that it fell into the hands of an engineer.

I stopped by Hog Molly Brewing last night, a couple of days before the inaugural event. The taproom is welcoming, with many beer meme signs and much football memorabilia. We sat around talking and trying out the six beers that will be on tap for the opening. And, oh, those are something special… and session IPA with lemon, a Midwest to West Coast IPA, a double IPA, a very malty amber, a roasty stout, and finally….. a peaty, smokey, wee heavy (Scotch Ale) that was stunning. The fact that these were the first six batches on this system make them all the more impressive. These are beers worth being drunk and rated – the usual eight months to let someone grow into their system doesn’t seem to be needed here.

It’s really nice is that the brewhouse is connected to the taproom and can be seen through the large doors. The sight of a kettle and the smell of wort is one of the things that makes a brewery a home away from home. Those beers you are enjoying…..this is where they came from. This goes right along with Lou’s philosophy of beer – he makes traditional beers of high quality. He says, “Craft beer is all about enjoying the experience of different beer styles and having fun with it!”

The offensive line of the Redskins in the early 1980s became known as the hogs. That was probably a riff on the term hog molly. image credit: Gridiron Greats Football Memorabilia

So, where does the name Hog Molly come from? I remember when I wrestled in high school and a bit in college that we had two groups based on weights – lightweights and fat boys (I was in the later group, basically anyone over 165 lb.s). It was never meant to be mean, we called ourselves fat boys. Well, in football, the offensive lineman are called hog mollies.

A hog molly is a freshwater sucker fish with big, thick lips and is overall very ugly. However, it’s extremely strong because it spends its life fighting the current in fast moving streams. It holds its position and moves things around despite everything that rushes at it, and it never gives up – just like an offensive lineman. I said at the outset that smart people would probably get the reference right away – that’s because offensive linemen routinely demonstrate the highest IQs of all football players.

As the GM of the Carolina Panthers, Dave Gettleman was credited with coining the phrase, but he states that he learned it from long time pro scout George Sengal way back in the 1970s. That means that the phrase probably goes back to the 60s at least. Now we know what a hog molly is, but it doesn’t explain why a new brewery in Columbus would be named that. The answer lies in the fact that both Lou and his son Matt are former college offensive linemen.

Lou played for Davidson and graduated in 1986 with a degree in Physics, and was named offensive MVP for his team. He also was on the Davidson track team. Matt played five years at Northern Illinois. He graduated in the mid 2012 with a 3.65 GPA in Health Sciences, and then finished his Masters in just two years in 2014. He was a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award and a Victor E. Scholar at Northern Illinois. With that as a background, is it a wonder that the taproom at Hog Molly reflects the Krempel family favorite sport – football. But make no mistake, the twin Krempel daughters, Tessa and Mara, are playing a big role in the brewery as well. They didn’t happen to be offensive linemen, but you will see some of their art around the taproom.

Make sure to welcome Hog Molly into the Indiana craft brewing community. Definitely make it out to one of their weekend events; it’s important for a new brewery to get off to a good start and begin taking in money when all they’ve been doing for so long is spending capital. Hog Molly has been in the trenches for all time, now’s the point when they can break out into the open and get downfield.

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