5 Things I Learned Winning the Columbus Ale Trail
I write random blog posts from time to time. This is one of those.
I am ecstatic to say that I have successfully completed Volume 2 of the Columbus Ale Trail!
With merely two days left in the race, I crossed the finish line at The Ohio Taproom where my passport was validated and stamped. The prize? A fancy pack of playing cards featuring all the breweries—and a free sample of Platform Gordon Raspberry Cider straight from the tap.
Tasting the beer was the easy part. Getting to every brewery? Not so much.
How did I collect all 28 stamps in time? I’d say it was part strategy, part spontaneity and all enthusiasm.
Have a Plan(ish)
When I got my Columbus Ale Trail passport, I immediately made a strategy. If I was going to hit 28 breweries in eight months (I didn’t move here until last fall), then it was necessary to visit four breweries each month. One brewery trip each Saturday seemed plausible to me.
Because, you know, a trip to any brewery is necessary.
It only takes one weekend out of town to throw off the count. And with the holidays or snowstorms—forget about grabbing a pint!
I soon found myself with 10 missing stamps and two weeks to go…
I sat down with my Columbus Ale Trail team (consisting of my older sister and brother-in-law) to sketch out a plan. Fortunately, the passport provides maps that helped us decide how to tackle our remaining locales.
Friends That Cheers Together Stay Together
As a lone traveler, I was up for completing the Columbus Ale Trail solo. But it’s definitely more fun with friends.
I’m grateful that I live by my sister and brother-in-law who love beer as much as I love collecting stamps. We never needed a reason to hang out together on the weekend, but it definitely gave us a change in scenery—and a mission to complete.
Too soon to celebrate the weekend? 22nd stop on the @cbusaletrail: A pint of Eccentricity at @ActualBrewing ⚛️🍻#nofilter #cbusaletrail pic.twitter.com/WsMAYhmMcm
— K.L.Wightman (@KLWightman) April 21, 2017
One night we took shots at shuffleboard at Actual Brewing Co. Turns out I’m awful at this game.
#Beer + #donuts + Inflatable yard darts! 26th stop on the @cbusaletrail: A pint of English Mild at @BuckeyeLakeBrew #cbusaletrail #cbus pic.twitter.com/kot4D4z0Pe
— K.L.Wightman (@KLWightman) April 25, 2017
And another afternoon we played inflatable yard darts at Buckeye Lake Brewery. It took a few rounds to learn that I have better aim by throwing underhand.
Don’t Be Afraid to Go Alone
When it came down to the wire, my team had to split up in order to hit all the breweries. So I ventured to several brew spots on my own.
I’m usually not a fan of sitting at the bar when it comes to dining alone at a restaurant. I know that the restauranteur prefers that a lone body takes only a seat at the bar instead of a full-sized table, but often when I dine alone I like to bring a good book with me.
Yet I wanted the full experience of checking out Columbus breweries—even if that meant grabbing a barstool and leaving that novel at home.
Am I glad I did!
When you drink at the bar, you never drink alone! 18th stop on the @cbusaletrail: Hootspa wheat at @ZaftigBeer 🍻 #cbusaletrail #SundayFunday pic.twitter.com/fmY31SkVoW
— K.L.Wightman (@KLWightman) April 10, 2017
Because I went alone to Zaftig Brewing Co., I enjoyed meeting all the loyal (and local) brewery fans. Even the brewers joined our conversation, adding samples of their brews with behind-the-scenes stories. I stayed hours longer than I planned because I was having such a good time.
Beer, black bean burger & #baseball! 19th stop on the @cbusaletrail: A pint of Prohibition Pilsner @ Temperance Row Brewing #cbusaletrail pic.twitter.com/M29BEsom9L
— K.L.Wightman (@KLWightman) April 17, 2017
And when I visited Temperance Row Brewing Company, I joined the rest of the bar to watch the ballgame (sorry Cleveland Indians fans, but go Detroit Tigers!). During the fourth inning, a man at the middle of the bar bent beneath his barstool and pulled out an accordion. He played these beautiful tunes that accentuated the summertime feeling of that afternoon.
Make It a Celebration
My last birthday was a milestone, the one that falls between turning 21 and 40. That’s all I’ll say about that.
“What do you want to do for your birthday?” my sister asked.
“Hit the Columbus Ale Trail, of course!”
I’m the kind of person that likes to high five two birds with one hand. What better way to ring in a new decade of my life by checking off some breweries?
We kicked off the celebration by grabbing nachos and brews at Barley’s Brewing Company.
Then snagged the best seat in the house at Elevator Brewery & Draught Haus for more beer flights.
We wrapped up the night with more snacks and one last flight at North High Brewing Co.
Share Your Experience
Until I started the Columbus Ale Trail, I wasn’t much of an Instagrammer. I’d post an image of iced tea or cake from time to time, but that was about it.
The Columbus Ale Trail changed that.
After a few posts, I soon found myself social networking with other Columbus breweries. And it was always exciting to see Columbus Ale Trail feature my brewery visits on their account.
It turns out that a lot of Columbus locals share my gusto for collecting these stamps with their ❤️s and comments. It was hard not to share the same excitement when they received another Columbus Ale Trail stamp.
Would I Do It Again?
According to this sneak peak, Volume 3 features every brewery in central Ohio! That’s 37 breweries—almost 10 more than last year’s list.
Plus the prizes for next season are very tempting. When 4, 11, 18, 25 and 32 stamps are collected, you can redeem your prize of a Columbus Ale Trail branded tasting glass (that’s five total tasting glasses) made by Sahm. Reach the 37 stamp champion circle and you are bestowed a wood flight tray crafted by Re:Work Furnishings for your tasting glasses.
Local beer, local prizes, local challenge. Am I up for it?
You know how much I love collecting stamps!
I just can’t wait for May 12 when I can thumb through the Volume 3 Columbus Ale Trail passport.
Did you participate in this year’s Columbus Ale Trail? What advice would you give to new trail travelers? Share your experience below.
Oh goodness! If I had known I lived close enough-I would have joined you and finished stamping my little book! But I’m so glad you took pictures of those cards. I was definintely curious what they looked like. It seems like you had lots of fun:)
The more friends, the merrier! At least the next volume starts in two weeks 😊
Does it really? I should probably go grab a new one then haha