Forget stuffy rehearsal dinners and unwind with your wedding party at one of Columbus' brewpubs.
Wolf's Ridge Brewing
When Wolf's Ridge opened in late 2013, its smart, French-inspired cuisine overshadowed its house beer. That changed earlier this year when father-and-son owners Alan and Bob Szuter opened a sleek 2,000-square-foot taproom behind their Downtown restaurant. High ceilings, exposed brick, 20 draft lines and beer-hall-style tables make the taproom a perfect place for kicking back with friends and family.
Booking: Bob has scheduled parties in less than two weeks, but he recommends booking two to three months out. Rental fees range between $250 and $500, depending on the day of the week and the duration of the party, with a $2,000 minimum for Fridays and Saturdays (which includes food and drinks). The taproom can comfortably seat 80 with standing room for another 20 to 30 guests.
Food: Full restaurant service does not extend to the taproom; instead, Wolf's Ridge chef Seth Lassak has crafted a hors d'oeuvres menu specifically for parties. Bob recommends the popular Caprese Skewers ($1.25 apiece) and Jerk Chicken Salad on a Plantain Chip ($1.75 apiece). Charcuterie and cheese platters are also offered, as well as a raw bar with oysters and crab claws.
Booze: Head brewer Chris Davison offers multiple riffs on his chocolate-y Dire Wolf imperial stout, but the standout is his coffee version brewed with an espresso blend from Short North roaster One Line Coffee. Mix and match the coffee stout in a flight with its chili, coconut and chocolate counterparts ($7 for three beers or $12 for five). Hosts can pay in advance for an open bar or opt for a cash bar.Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus
This long, narrow brewpub occupies one of Downtown's most elegant spaces-the 118-year-old Bott Brothers building on High Street. But don't let that deter you from hosting a laid-back rehearsal dinner; managing partner Will Triplett says the brewpub keeps rehearsal dinners "as simple as possible." "An event here is just a big dinner party-no strings or hidden fees attached," he says.
Booking: Triplett recommends booking between six months to a year in advance. "Fridays fill up fairly quickly," he says. "We're already looking into 2016. We tend to have a lot more flexibility on Thursdays and Saturdays." Parties are situated in the roped-off posterior of the dining room, which can seat between 30 and 50 guests and includes a gaming area. Bonus: Elevator does not charge a flat rental fee.
Food: Three-course dinners typically cost between $40 and $55 per person, including drinks and gratuity. Several templates are available from which to choose, although the kitchen accommodates special requests. (Bonus: Elevator's personalized dinner menus are also meant as keepsakes.) The Beef Tenderloin Medallions served with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus and the Cracker Crusted Salmon served over rice and asparagus are two of the most popular entree options.
Booze: Triplett recommends beer pitchers, not flights or pints, for larger groups. Typically, most Elevator Brewing Co. beers are on tap (the highly drinkable Heiferweizen is a crowd pleaser). Want to surprise? The brewpub crafts a new beer in house every month that's not available anywhere else.Columbus Brewing Co. Restaurant
Columbus Brewing Co. Restaurant has been a Brewery District staple since it was first opened by Cameron Mitchell Restaurants in 1997. While it will no longer share a building with Columbus Brewing Co. (the brewery is currently relocating to the West Side), restaurant owners Doug Griggs and Mike Campbell plan to keep Ohio beer and gussied American fare front and center.
Booking: The restaurant hosts at least one party per weekend, says general manager Jennifer Kessel-White, who recommends scheduling at least three months in advance. The most popular space is the restaurant's 45-seater patio, which is enclosed and heated during fall and winter. There is also a lower-level dining room that can hold 50 guests. Dinners are preferred to last no longer than two hours, with exceptions for large groups.
Food: Several three-course-dinner options, ranging from $28 to $32 per person, are offered for parties. Each includes a different soup or salad, entree and dessert. (Kessel-White says the chicken and steak dinners are most popular.) Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are also available. CBC encourages guests to bring decorations and a cake, at no extra cost.
Booze: While the restaurant and brewery of the same name are independently owned, this is still one of the best places to find Columbus Brewing Co. favorites like Bodhi and Creeper. Kessel-White recommends sharing the restaurant's popular flight paddle (seven beers for $9.95), in which you can mix and match any of the 10 Ohio drafts offered.