A Wide, Wild Week of Beer

How much do we love beer in Columbus? So much that the third annual Columbus Craft Beer Week is actually nine days long.

So, since we at (614) love beer as much as you, we’re providing a short list of events that seem especially worthy of consideration. That’s not to say they’re better than ones not listed, it’s just that these particular events stand out as being unique, or at least emblematic, of the trends we’re seeing in this market. Unfortunately the Craft Beer Cup at Safari Golf Club, which effectively kicks off the week at 8:00am Friday, is sold out. If somebody offers you a chance to sub in on a foursome, call in sick and go. Eighteen holes with a tasting at every tee? Please.

Otherwise, you might want to consider some of the following options:

Friday is full of kickoff parties, including the official Giant Eagle CCBW Kick Off party at the Grandview Marketplace. It’s hard to go wrong, but Science on Tap at COSI is the perfect way to indulge your inner beer geek. In addition to sampling beers and spirits while you talk shop with brewers, you’ll have full access to the brainy playground that is COSI. An added benefit to a Craft Beer Week event at COSI is the family friendly aspect. While you’re drinking in the finer points of microbiology that makes beer a wonderful reality, your kids can have fun and learn a thing or two.

If you haven’t done it yet, you’ll want to get online now and buy advance tickets to the Mini Real Ale Festival at Smokehouse Brewing Company on May 13. Long before Columbus had the audacity to host a Craft Beer Week, Lenny Kolada launched a small, but exciting celebration of cask conditioned ale. This is the 14th installment of one of the most intimate beer festivals you’ll ever attend. The Smokehouse is not a big venue, and there aren’t scores of brewers lining up to set aside the time to brew a 10 gallon batch of something special. In the months leading up to the Mini, Smokehouse shuttles casks to participating brewers, often arranging to pick them up when the beer is ready. Fortunately most of the participants are local brewers, and that’s what makes this event so much fun. It’s the most “insider” beer event in town. With a smoked whole hog sitting on a table being pulled into sliders, and big cask-conditioned beers flowing freely, it’s also the most authentic “old-school” ale festival.

A week later, Columbus Craft Beer Week formally signs off with Six One Pour, the Ohio Craft Brewers Association’s toast to the capital city. Sixty brewers assemble on the concourse at Huntington Park, pouring their finest wares. Many of the available beers are specialty offerings made just for this week, and others are simply hard to find because so many of the brewers have limited distribution. This event has all the cache of one of those big national beer festivals, but it’s all about the best brewers in Ohio coming together to help celebrate what Columbus means to the industry.

One of the great things about Craft Beer Week is discovering just how diverse the market is. This isn’t just hipsters who can’t afford cars because they spend too much money on beard oil—everybody is hip to this scene. It’s not a boys club, either. Women hold up their share of the craft brew sky, which is why nobody should see Craft Beer Week’s commandeering of Mother’s Day as some sort of slight. This is why The Ohio Taproom has teamed up with Homestead Brewing to raise money for Pelotonia on Mother’s Day with Mom’s Bikes and Beer.

Believe it or not, there was a time when bars wanted nothing to do with craft beer. Owners and managers saw it as a hassle that just wasn’t worth indulging something so many people dismissed as a fad. Enter Winking Lizard. While other bar owners slammed their doors in the face of reps peddling craft beer, Winking Lizard established a thriving multi-unit concept built around everything we love about this fad that just won’t quit. Now with so many bars embracing the culture, Winking Lizard has stepped up the game by branching out into retail with it’s Lizardville Stores, where rare beers and whiskeys can be sampled and purchased to go. The Polaris location is partnering with Deschutes to offer flights of barrel-aged Abyss Imperial Stout. Head on up Monday between 4-7 to crush wings while you compare the nuances of bourbon, scotch, and brandy barrels.

Bob’s Bar was one of the early adopters. Craft is at the heart of the Cultural Hub of the Midwest’s culture. While Bob’s doesn’t boast a hundred beers on tap, what they offer is a smartly curated selection served up by some of the best barkeeps in town. Fools are not suffered gladly at Bob’s, which is why you should consider stopping in on Tuesday between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. to take part in a quasi-tap takeover by Just Another F*cking Brewery out of Wooster. JAFB is highly regarded by brewers around the state, and it’s a real treat to have a strong selection of beer from them on hand.

Around here, we love our local coffee roasters as much as we love our local beer, and that’s what makes Kindred’s collaboration with Bacca Coffee so intriguing. A hump day happy hour excursion to the Morrison Road Barrel House will give you an opportunity to meet Bacca’s Steve Engle, and sample 3 coffee-infused beers. Kindred strives to take an artisan approach to brewing, and that’s the notion behind the coffee at Bacca. If you’ve been participating in Craft Beer Week thus far, the caffeine might be just what you need to keep going.

Another cool Wednesday night event is at Seventh Son, where the beloved Nina West will perform. Some Like it Hopped will start at 8 p.m.. They request a 10 dollar donation at the door with the proceeds going to Kaleidoscope Youth Center. If you want to celebrate the diversity around the craft beer industry, you can’t go wrong with Nina West and a charitable organization that advocates for children with LGBTQ questions.

Pickerington? Yes. Just in time for Craft Beer Week, Combustion Brewery made a splash bringing high quality craft beer and a classic brewpub tap room experience to Pickerington. That makes them the baby in our community and there’s no better time to get out and try the new brew than during craft beer week for a ticketed, beer and dessert pairing event.

Friday evening is a great time to celebrate the enduring spirit of craft beer by heading up to 101 Beer Kitchen (Dublin) to check out the Ill Mannered/Sideswipe collaboration. Odds are pretty good you haven’t heard a whole lot about either of these brewers, but that’s only because they’re so small. Sideswipe and Ill Mannered consistently impress Ale Trail travelers who marvel at the consistency these small brewers demonstrate across an impressive portfolio of styles. If these guys teamed up to make a special beer for Craft Beer Week, it’s going to be worthwhile.

This list just barely scratches the surface of what’s available, but if you’re having trouble deciding what to do, maybe it helps give you some ideas. As we mentioned earlier, there’s no good reason to miss Six One Pour, but if you want to start Saturday off right, all of the 101 Beer Kitchen locations are partnering with Homestead and Rambling House for a special Brunch event.


For more, visit columbusbeerweek.com.