Smaller ale trails allow beer fans to escape the city

Earlier this year, the Columbus Ale Trail kicked off its fifth year of guiding beer enthusiasts to taprooms large and small. But more focused beer trails have also emerged in the region, including a trail through Licking County and another focused on Route 33.

Following the U.S. route roughly southeast out of Columbus, the Route 33 Brew Trail just entered its second year. The trail features seven breweries total: BrewDog’s DogTap, Brewery 33 Hocking Hills, Combustion Brewery & Taproom, Double Edge Brewing, Loose Rail Brewing, Outerbelt Brewing and Rockmill Brewery. All of the breweries, except for Brewery 33 in Logan, are also stops on the Columbus Ale Trail.

Like other beer trails, travelers collect a passport booklet from any participating brewery or from the Fairfield County Visitors Bureau, which organizes the trail. Then it’s simply a matter of visiting the breweries, ordering pints of beer and collecting stamps in the booklet. The reward for collecting all seven stamps is an Anchor Hocking Route 33 Brew Trail pint glass, redeemable at the visitor’s bureau office or at Double Edge Brewing, both in Lancaster. 

Even with just seven stops, the Brew Trail spans a unique mix of breweries, from BrewDog’s large production facility and hotel in Canal Winchester to Rockmill Brewery’s rural horse farm setting. There are also smaller taprooms such as Loose Rail and Combustion, both located in older, repurposed buildings.

The newest entry to the 2019 Brew Trail, Outerbelt Brewing in Carroll, opened in the middle of June. Head brewer Dan Griffin hails most recently from Gordon Biersch in the Brewery District; he co-owns the brewery with Davey and Robert Landis. The brewery inhabits roughly half of a 25,000-square-foot former Lowe’s store. At any given time, it features at least 10 house brews, and it hosts a regular rotation of food trucks. Larger than most brand-new breweries, Outerbelt is designed for scale; the owners intend to both can and keg its beers for distribution.

The second volume of the Route 33 Brew Trail runs through May 2020.