What? Did we just declare that you’ll fall in love with Columbus? Ohio? YES, yes we did! See, one thing you should know about us is we have A LOT of heart for promoting small(er) cities like Columbus that people might never have otherwise thought once, let alone twice, about visiting for a vacation.
And yes still, even after saying that, you’re probably still saying to yourself, “Yeah yeah, but seriously . . . Columbus? What the hell made you vacation there?”
Well, if you’ve picked up anything from our Richmond Roundup, or know us from our OmNomCT days, you can probably guess it was craft beer. Specifically, the ***spoiler alert***, AMAZING DogHouse Hotel, the first-ever beer themed, brewery-based hotel in the US, which Kristien booked as surprise birthday gift for Dan!
But, despite our expectations of the BrewDog experience being amazing, Columbus overall, with its charm, food, drink scene and shopping even surprised us openminded travelers.
Here’s the roundup . . .
The BrewDog Experience
The best place to start is with the whole reason for our trip to begin with. We gotta be honest… it’s a little intimidating to sit down and write this because it’s so tough to communicate the overwhelming awesomeness of this experience. From the second we walked from the parking lot we were giddy with joy. See, this isn’t just a beer-themed hotel. It’s also the brewery for BrewDog Beers and their brewpub, DogTap, ALL in one. The property is massive, and the vibe is magical. But more on that in a few.
Once you take in all the glory of its overall presence, you’ll walk into the DogHouse hotel lobby, which just so happens to essentially be a bar. Yep, you check-in to a glorious combo of a bar/hotel lobby/chill hangout where ’til the wee hours of the night guests can order not only any of their beers on tap, but also choose from a selection of rare and fantastic beers carefully curated by the owners/brewers, and even some local spirits. And, there are a bunch of fun games there too, like Yahtzee and a Ping Pong table, all with a cool view into their sour tanks! As if that weren’t awesome enough, upon check-in you also have the opportunity (if you haven’t done so online already) to choose a beer to have on-tap in your room. YES, that’s right, a tap in your freakin’ room! Yeah, it gets better . . .
You then head on up to your room, which overlooks a section of their brewery facility, packed with more beer tanks and funky graffiti on the walls. This cool, funky vibe carries over to the rooms themselves with a neon BrewDog sign over your bed, sleek industrial like design and… get this.. a freakin’ beer fridge in your bathroom stock piled with BrewDog beers to enjoy in the shower. YES, your own supply of shower beers!!! GAH! Did we also mention the regular ‘ole fridge is also stocked with beers, again, carefully curated by the owners from around the world. We actually got a bottle of Péché Mortel and Zombie Dust. OMG, how we had been searching for those beers and they were finally ours! And get this . . . if you want to bring your pups along, not only are they dog friendly, but right out our window was a huge fenced-in dog park for your pooch to play! SHUT UP! What haven’t they thought of?!
And although we did, you really don’t even need to leave the premises to have a great time, whether you want to sip a beer sitting by the cozy fire pits outside, play a rousing game of giant-sized Jenga, chill at the DogTap bar by the open gates to the outdoors (weather permitting), sit at a comfy table chowing down on some delish grub, or play one of their many fun games in the back, like table-top shuffle board, old-school video games, or giant Connect 4 and Uno. And yes. We did ALL of that.
So you’re probably asking, “OK, SWEET, but how was the beer and food?” Ah yes, that is what we do after all. So, let’s do it . . .
Some delish choices on the menu are the nicely cooked, locally sourced burgers (try the Fat Joe, a classic but oh so mmmm), crispy hot wings (we asked for a mix of their traditional and their honey adobo), the beautiful meat and cheese plate (a Kristien fave), and the perfectly doughy, yet crispy medium-thick crust Spicy Meaty Pizza featuring nduja (that’s spicy Italian salami for you non paisanos), spicy pepperoni, habaneros, chili flakes, smashed tomato sauce, and fresh mooz. As for brews, we dug that you could do flights, so we tried Born to Die, Atlanta Milk, RBIC/Swiss, and Elvis Juice. Our favorite was the Elvis Juice IPA that had a tangy citrusy grapefruit bite.
Aaaaand, after all that, we were still able hit a few other noteworthy spots (I mean, we had a 3 day weekend after-all, plenty of time, pleeeenty of time… oooph).
Hoof Hearted Brewery & Kitchen
Teehee, teehee. If you haven’t already figured out why we’re giggling like pubescent middle school children, say Hoof Hearted out loud a couple times and you’ll get it. Teehee. Ok, all sophomoric jokes aside, this place has some serious cred and deservedly so because their beer is legit! And, we were pleasantly surprised their food was as well. Plus, it’s a great option if you don’t have time to visit their brewery in Marengo.
First off, we really really dug the brews on tap, especially the bold and flavorful IPAs/NEIPAs of Who’d Like to Hold My Clipboard (WHOA, our absolute favorite), the Dorks of Hazard, and L8R Losers. The cool thing about the beer menu is that it changes often, so you’re almost always guaranteed to try something new when you come back. And, the food options are similar, often changing with the seasons . . . like the poke bowl pictured here. A poke bowl at a brewery? Hell to the yeah. It was f’n good and so fresh, contrasting nicely with the al dente rice and the saltiness of the soy sauce. Always on the menu (and solidly great) is your choice of meat or cheese plates, or if you’re Kristien, both. 😉
Stumbling upon Watershed Distillery was a happy accident after discovering their bourbon behind the counter at the DogHouse hotel and googling it. And man, we’re SO GLAD we did, because the cocktails this distillery (and bar & restaurant!) are mixing up are some of the best we’ve had on our travels. SERIOUSLY, we still talk about it. Here are some of their unique concoctions we drank up (not to mention the bottles of Nocino (Italian walnut liqueur and Old Fashioned we took home) . . .
First, can we say how freaking cool their seasonal cocktail menu themes and designs are? When we went, the theme was all about survival, and we’re lucky that we survived after drinking almost the entire menu. Pictured is the Feel Like a Nut which had rye, pistachio orgeat, cynar, lemon, cinnamon, and egg whites for some major frothy body. Dan’s favorite was the Ghost Story that comes out a deep purple color that just pops. It’s made with their own bourbon and Nocino, giving it a nutty nose and a taste that lingers in all the best ways possible. We’ve tried to replicate it at home, but it’s just not the same. Other standouts were Trail Mix, Trust Fall, Smoke Signal, and Teenage Dirtbag. Ok, we drank a lot. Don’t judge.
Having a Sunday afternoon flight means you have just enough time to get in a proper boozy brunch, and boy did this equally cool as it is charming spot do it up right! When Kristien sits down, takes a pass at the cocktail menu and declares we can’t leave til we’ve tried every one, you know you’re in a good spot. And man, we almost did it, and we ate a whole lotta deliciousness too.
Some major standouts were the soft and savory Jalapeno Corn Spoon Bread that came with whipped butter in a pool of local honey. Just look at that pic up above. Damn son! The octopus (Dan always needs to order this on a menu) was cooked just right and was a nice interlude into our bigger dishes. The Pork Cheek Hash was on point with two perfectly cooked sunny side up eggs, onions, mushrooms, poblano for some gentle spice, and gouda to add a fatty punch.
Drinks were also fantastic like the Duke of Pearl, pictured above, made manly with the green army man and a healthy dose of bourbon, dry vermouth, lemon juice, Earl Grey infused simple syrup, and a floater of freshly cracked black pepper. Other drinks to try are the Bourbon. Bacon. Beautiful. (there’s bacon in the cocktail, duh) and a Ramos Gin Fizz that took us back to N’awlins (check out our NOLA Roundup here).
And yes, we still hit a few other noteworthy spots (I mean, we only had a 3 day weekend after all):
Wolf’s Ridge Brewing
We stopped at this hip little brewpub for a flight and a quick bite to eat while we waited to check into the hotel. Decent, drinkable brews, better food, including a fun take on poutine ala chili and (ANOTHER) meat and cheese plate for Kristien (seriously, she has a problem).
Super cool looking, historical brewey and draught haus worth the visit for the beautiful church windows and bar alone. Beers like the Bleeding Buckeye Red Ale were decent, but cocktails weren’t so much.
This swanky, darkly lit, cocktail bar‘s sexy appeal drew us in as we strolled the super hip Short North neighborhood (see below), and we’re so glad it did. These cocktails were PERFECTION. Pictured are an on-point Old Fashioned and a Whiskey Smash that’s as beautiful in presentation as it is in taste with just bourbon, lemon, simple syrup, and fresh mint.
And, bonus tip, if you do visit Columbus, strolling the shops, restaurants and bars of the hip, fun Short North neighborhood is a MUST. Kristien always “needs” to pick up something from a local boutique when she travels (really, I mean it’s her obligation to support the local economy). Her two favorites were clothing and accessory shops, Chunky Armadillo for their funky boho chic vibe and Thread for their high-quality trendy, yet still classic selection. Oh, and they both have an online store, which to that we say, sorry and you’re welcome!
Whoa, ok, that was a lot for one weekend in a smaller city! If you’re still with us you can see these are just a few of the many reasons we find Columbus so lovable and we hope you will to. Actually, no. We KNOW you will too, so book that trip! NUFF SAID.