Distilled: At last, local brewery tours

Jesse Tigges, Columbus Alive

As our fair city has seen the number of microbreweries increase the last few years, I've been wondering when somebody would put together a way to check them all out. The wait is over thanks to notable local dining experts Bethia Woolf and Jim Ellison, who rolled out Columbus Brew Adventures beginning the first weekend of September.

Woolf and Ellison have experience in escorting folks around town with Columbus Food Adventures, a number of culinary tours focusing on specific neighborhoods or styles of cuisine. Foodies may have come first, but they see immense potential in the breweries as well.

"More and more microbreweries kept opening and we kept hearing about new ones," Woolf said. "Now it's got to the point where there's so much exciting stuff happening in the craft brewing scene."

Columbus Brew Adventures offers four different tours with more on the way. Current options include Downtown Brewery Tour ($55), Licking County Brewery Tour ($70), Southeast Ohio-Athens Brewery Tour ($85) and the Meet the Brewers Tour ($55), which features more in-depth explorations and discussions with local brewmasters. Each tour includes transportation, some food and samples at each brewery.

I joined last Saturday's Downtown tour, and even though I'm already quite familiar with those breweries, I learned some interesting information (and had a good time sampling their beer). The idea is to get a comprehensive experience on the local microbrew scene.

"We work really hard to make sure it's not, 'Here are a couple beers and here's how we brew,'" Ellison said. "We really we want to showcase something special about each brewery, let them tell their story and give a piece of the whole brewing picture."

The Downtown Tour rotates with four stops between Columbus Brewing Co., Barley Brewing Co., Seventh Son Brewing Co., North High Brewing and the coming-soon Wolf Ridge Brewing.

Coming in October are the Grandview Tour and Distillery Tour (with stops at Watershed, Middle West, Brothers Drake and a cocktail at Till). Private, custom tours are also available.

For details about each tour and to sign up, go to columbusbrewadventures.com.