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Smokehouse Brewing Company – Spiciest Dish in Columbus Series

Hold on to your (sauerkraut) balls, we’re at the Gates of Hell…

This week we traveled to a staple of our Columbus restaurant rotation, Smokehouse Brewing Company. Previously known as Barley’s Smokehouse & Brewpub, Smokehouse Brewing is known for their award-winning microbrew and barbecue.

Every Friday they tap a different firkin for Firkin Fridays with microbrews like “ZIPA, our IPA brewed with orange zest a raw honey” or today’s firkin, “Scottish Ale dry hopped with Perle.” We’ve been going to this location since we moved to Columbus in 2011 and the we didn’t find out about the spiciest dish for the first year or two.

Smokehouse Brewing is home to the Gates of Hell sauce, a habanero-laced sauce that can be used on their smoked and grilled wings or in their Buffalo Chicken wrap. That was a big revelation, getting Buffalo Chicken Wrap, sub Gates of Hell sauce for buffalo sauce, and no tomatoes, because tomatoes are nasty diced or sliced. Located at 1130 Dublin Road, it’s an easy to take home meal so we swung by and picked up wings, a wrap, and a Smoked Brisket & Wedge Salad for the lady of the farm.

gates of hell wings at smokehouse brewing

Can you see that smoky aroma?

At $10 for a half dozen, these are some of the more expensive wings in the city, but they are also the only wings (that we’ve come across so far) that are smoked and grilled. Every wing is brined, hickory smoked, and char-grilled, bringing out the full flavor of the chicken while also adding a nice smokey back-end. The sauce is habanero-based and the wing itself lacks in saucy coverage. In this case the hero of the day is the chicken, not the sauce. The lady of the farm snagged a piece, raised her eyebrows a bit, but seemed unphased by the sauce, noting that “everything kicks me in the face compared to your taste buds.” A fair assessment, but no nose sweat from her.

Eating the wings I found myself wanting more of the sauce. The habanero stands out and the heat is consistent, but I wasn’t getting as much of the citrus flavor of the habanero as I was hoping for. True to habanero heat, the sauce cranks up to a 6 or so, lingers a few seconds, then wanders away. The sauce is mixed well, not overly vinegary and has a bit of sweetness to it. Heat-wise it ranks above Amul India and their Level 6 Lamb Vindaloo, but it’s lowest on our list when it comes to a spicy wing sauce. No sweat, no sniffles, but great firkin chicken which, we believe, is intended to be the star of the show.

buffalo chicken wrap with gates of hell smokehouse brewing

We’ve probably eaten this 50+ times in the last 8 years.

Before we discuss the wrap, we want to show our appreciation to Smokehouse Brewing Co. for even making it. We didn’t realize this until we ordered it (because it’s been such a standard order in the past), but this isn’t even on the menu anymore. They now have a Smoked Chicken Salad Wrap, but there’s no Buffalo Chicken Wrap to be seen. Unknown if it will be back and if they’ll always make it, but we will try every time we’re there because it’s an awesome flavor combination. The Gates of Hell chicken, with a handful of bleu cheese and lettuce all wrapped up in a spinach wrap is my go-to.

Every time we are at Smokehouse, we get this wrap. Their side of fries is limp, but not soggy, and that’s the way I prefer them much to the lady of the farm’s dismay. Similar heat remarks here, though the bleu cheese almost accentuates the spiciness of the wrap. It’s also possible the extra spiciness comes from the fried outer coating of the chicken soaking the sauce up better than the wings.

Spiciest dish in Columbus? Nope, it’s middle of the pack. Amazing barbecue? One hundred percent. Smokehouse Brewing will keep its place in our restaurant rotation because of their smoked meats, sauerkraut balls and the Centennial IPA (first tapped in 1999). Highly recommended and has enough seating that there’s rarely more than a fifteen minute wait.

slow-smoked ribs at smokehouse brewing company

Seriously, go get some of these meats. (grabbed from their Facebook page)

We were curious about the transition from Barley’s Smokehouse to Smokehouse Brewing Company, so we did some digging (we’re done talking about food now). The Barley’s brand was founded back in 1992, with the Smokehouse location opening up in 1998. OG Barley’s located downtown on High Street right across from the convention center has more German-style fare, while the Smokehouse continues to focus on smoked meats and barbecue. In 2012 co-founder Lenny Kolada sold his stake of Barley’s (downtown) and moved to focus on Barley’s Smokehouse. In 2014, a full re-brand and public announcement of a name change took place and Smokehouse Brewing Company was created. The two restaurants still have their similarities (beer, sauerkraut balls, Gates of Hell sauce), but the feel and core is different.

If you’ve not been there, we definitely recommend giving Smokehouse Brewing Co. a try. You don’t even have to go for the Gates of Hell, just go for the barbecue and microbrew. You can find Smokehouse Brewing Co. at 1130 Dublin Road, open 11:00am – 11:00pm most weekdays and noon to midnight Saturdays, noon to 10:00pm Sundays.

Look below for more in our spiciest dish in Columbus series and hit us up if you have any suggestions that are not already on our list!

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