The Columbus brew scene is hopping. Whether you’re a fan of coffee or beer, there’s a trail for you plus a whole lot of good brews to drink.
Much to my surprise and chagrin, one weekend wasn’t enough to fully explore Columbus, the nation’s 15th largest city and a hub for food and culture. Due to limited time, I made some tough choices during my recent visit. I had two priorities – to check out the city’s culinary offerings and to explore the vibrant brew scene. But where to start? The Columbus Coffee Trail and the Columbus Ale Trail of course!
Columbus Brew Scene
Columbus Coffee Trail
Coffee in Columbus is serious business. Third wave coffee shops abound, each offering a unique twist on the seemingly simple cup of coffee. As a coffee-loving visitor, I wasn’t sure where to start my exploration of the Columbus coffee scene – until I discovered the Columbus Coffee Trail.
Experience Columbus brewed up (pun intended) the ingenious Columbus Coffee Trail as a way to promote one of the country’s best coffee scenes. This trail features 13 local coffee shops, all located within a mile of downtown Columbus. While enjoying coffee on the trail, participants can also explore different Columbus neighborhoods like German Village, Italian Village and Short North and, as a bonus, earn a free t-shirt while fueling a caffeine fix. If you get stamped at four locations, you earn a t-shirt (pictured – right).
Since I’m an overachiever when it comes to coffee, I visited five coffee shops in just two days. I loved all five and can recommend each as worthy stops for anybody hitting the Columbus Coffee Trail.
Brioso Roastery and Coffee Bar
An offshoot of Columbus coffee stalwart Café Brioso, the new Brioso Roastery and Coffee Bar in the Discovery District is a hip place to enjoy a cup of locally roasted Brioso Coffee and a sweet treat. The atmosphere is open and friendly – an ideal spot to enjoy a pourover made from a selection of freshly roasted single-origin coffee beans.
Try a coffee brewed with the shop’s state of the art Blossom Brewer. This machine combines several popular brewing techniques along with advanced temperature controls to make a technically ‘perfect’ cup of coffee.
Brioso Roastery and Coffee Bar is located at 329 East Long Street, Columbus, OH 43215, United States.
Fox in the Snow
Fox in the Snow’s generic garage exterior masks a modern, airy space where crowds line up for coffee along with pastries baked in-house. Owners Jeff Excell and Lauren Culley honed their chops while working at Blue Bottle Coffee’s New York locations and source Fox in the Snow’s beans from Maine roastery Tandem. When the weather is good, sipping a chicory flavored New Orleans Iced Coffee on the back patio is a perfect way to start or end a weekend.
Try to leave Fox in the Snow without humming the namesake Belle and Sebastian song. This is a challenge that I was not able to accomplish.
Fox in the Snow is located at 1031 North 4th Street, Columbus, OH 43201, United States.
One Line Coffee
In the heart of the urban Short North neighborhood, One Line Coffee offers a complete experience using coffee beans roasted in-house. The shop has it all from an almost overwhelming array of coffee choices to a circular coffee bar with all of the latest brewing equipment. You want a V60 pourover? They have it. Kyoto cold brew? They have that too.
Try a coffee cupping class on a Sunday afternoons. This is a fun way to learn about and taste coffee. Be sure to make an advance reservation to avoid disappointment, especially if you’re just in town for the weekend.
One Line Coffee is located at 745 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43215, United States.
The Roosevelt Coffeehouse
The Roosevelt Coffeehouse was my first stop on the Columbus Coffee Trail, which is perhaps why it stole my heart. Or maybe it’s because the coffee shop fulfills a noble mission beyond serving coffee to the masses – it’s actually a non-profit business that helps the local and global communities with issues like hunger, water safety and human trafficking. The shop also serves top-notch coffee with beans from local roaster One Line Coffee and Portland’s Stumptown. The baristas at Roosevelt use a leading edge Modbar Modular Espresso System to create its world-changing espresso drinks.
Try to find a better way to spend your money on a cup of third wave coffee. The combination of good beans and good deeds is hard to beat.
The Roosevelt Coffeehouse is located at 300 East Long Street, Columbus, OH 43215, United States.
Stauf’s Coffee Roasters
Brewing coffee for over 25 years at multiple locations, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters is a must-stop on the Columbus Coffee Trail for its history alone. Age and growth have not slowed down Stauf’s – each shop roasts beans and bakes pastries on-site. This is a cool place to enjoy a solid cup of coffee.
Try a freshly baked pastry while you’re taking a break at Stauf’s Coffee Roasters. In case you’re not already aware, pastries go perfectly with coffee and free Wi-Fi.
Stauf’s Coffee Roasters has three locations in the Grandview, North Market and German Village neighborhoods.
Columbus Ale Trail
If you haven’t been to Columbus lately, you may be surprised to learn that the local brewery scene is sizzling hot. There are 28 breweries on the official Columbus Ale Trail with more to be added next year. Visit just four breweries to earn a commemorative pint glass or all 28 (!) for a custom deck of playing cards. An added bonus – several of the breweries are located downtown and can be accessed on foot or by Uber, alleviating the need for a designated driver (unless you plan on leaving town the same day, of course.)
During my two days in Columbus, I visited two breweries on the trail, one brewery off the trail and a meadery. Each offered a unique experience, showing a different aspect of the Columbus brew scene.
Hoof Hearted Brewpub and Kitchen
“Do you trust me?”
After I boldly said yes, the friendly Hoof Hearted Brewing bartender selected my flight of four 5-ounce pours for $12. The flavors were fruity and fun, with quirky names like Rose Chose (a hot pink German style Gose beer), Dodging Invisible Rays (a Saison), Wet When Slippery (a Fruity Double IPA) and Miracle Toast (an Imperial Stout).
Too new to make this year’s Columbus Ale Trail, Italian Village’s Hoof Hearted Brewing is located in an architecturally interesting space with clean lines, expansive windows, a big bar, a busy kitchen and glass-enclosed tanks. The decor is bright, fun and funky, much like the beers.
Try a rainbow of beers while you listen to a killer soundtrack with a mixture of the Beatles, the Beach Boys and more recent favorites.
Hoof Hearted Brewpub and Kitchen is located at 850 North 4th Street, Columbus, OH 43215, United States.
Seventh Son Brewing
Also in the Italian Village, Seventh Son Brewing is a great spot to drink quality beer in an unconventional setting. The brewery is set in a converted garage with a big, open taproom and lots of outdoor seating. For me, sitting at the long bar was the perfect spot to chat with locals and enjoy an $8 flight of four excellent brews – Plowshare Saison, Humulus Nimbus Super Pale Ale, Le Mort Saison (my favorite) and Grave Blanket Dark Rye Ale.
Try some grub from a food truck in Seventh Son’s parking lot. The trucks rotate. Dos Hermanos was serving up tasty Mexican fare the day of my visit.
Seventh Son Brewing is located at 1101 North 4th Street, Columbus, OH 43201, United States.
Wolf’s Ridge Brewing
I was so happy to walk into Wolf’s Ridge Brewing as a refuge from the sweltering summer heat. I was even happier when the hostess directed me to the back taproom where I found a beer lover’s oasis – 20 taps of beer, many unique to the taproom, along with a cool space to chill and drink. During my visit, the Downtown brewery was buzzing with jovial locals enjoying pints and conversation. For my $7 flight, I chose three beers exclusive to the taproom – N2 the Night Nitro (a creamy Oatmeal Milk Stout), Coffee Ancho Dire Wolf (a Russian Imperial Stout infused with One Line Coffee and ancho chiles) and Coffee Cherry Vanilla Dire Wolf (an Imperial Stout infused with One Line Coffee, black cherry and vanilla). Larger flights are also available.
Try some snacks and small plates while you’re drinking beer in the taproom. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing also serves excellent food with their world-class ales.
Wolf’s Ridge Brewing is located at 215 North 4th Street, Columbus, OH 43215, United States.
Brothers Drake Meadery & Bar
Brothers Drake Meadery & Bar is a fun and unusual detour when exploring the Columbus brew scene. Brothers Drake makes and serves mead, a honey based, alcoholic beverage produced by fermentation. Set in a converted storage garage, the bar has a divey yet trendy vibe (think hipster chic). During my visit, I opted for the $12 standard tasting flight which includes five generous pours of Wild Ohio, Honey Oak, Ginger Verve, Bergamot Blue and the signature Apple Pie. Though I found the straight meads a bit too sweet for my taste, I would happily return for a crafted mead cocktail.
Try to schedule a tour of the meadery. There are three tours each Saturday and one on Sundays. The tour includes a sampling of mead as well as the local honey used to produce it.
Brothers Drake Meadery & Bar is located at 26 East 5th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43201, United States.
As impressive as the brew scene is in Columbus, the food scene is just as exciting. Check out my article on Where to Eat in Columbus for a Weekend Getaway.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Experience Columbus. The opinions and text are all mine.