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Return to the Trails (Pt. 3): Seeking The Paddle-Tested - Year 3 of the Columbus Ale Trail

Earlier posts from this current "Return to the Ale Trails" series:
Part 1: Jumping Onboard The Trail Train - Newcomers to the Scene
Part 2: Ales for what Ails You - A Closer Look at Fresno, California's Ale Trail promotion

Part 1 of my original 4-part Ale Trails series (written in November 2016) can be found here.

A strong finish was in the cards for Year Two participants in what's turned
out to be a very popular and successful Columbus Ale Trail promotion
As it turned out, Columbus area craft beer seekers proved they know how to pace themselves, at least in regard to the second year of the Columbus Ale Trail promotion.

According to Jim Ellison, owner of Columbus Brew Adventures and co-organizer of the Ale Trail, April saw a huge surge in those completing the entire trail of 28 breweries for the ultimate prize of a specially-designed card deck, with many cards featuring logos of the participating breweries and trail partners. Starting with just over 300 redemptions at the beginning of the month, participants turned in enough completed passports to push the number to over by April 30th, the last day of Volume 2 promotion.  In addition, Ellison added that over 1,700 pint glasses were awarded to people who visited at least four of the participating breweries.

My spouse and I were one of those who finished strongly and claimed both the card deck and pint glass. When the card deck had been initially announced as the ultimate prize for completing the Volume 2 Ale Trail, I personally thought it was one more unique (and coolest, IMHO) offered by any ale trail. That feeling seemed to be validated by my research revealed in a series of posts last November which looked at ale trail promotions across the country.

I also wondered what could Columbus Ale Trail promoters could do the top themselves. As it turns out, the third edition of the trail I believe is the most fun yet.

The ultimate prize for Columbus Ale Trail Volume 3 participants
(as pictured on Drink Up Columbus)
As detailed in this article on Cheryl Harrison's Drink Up Columbus (another Columbus Ale Trail co-organizer) last week, year three of the Ale Trail offers up another unique and distinctly useful (in a craft beer sense) prize. Basically, complete a visit to all this year's 37 brewery locations will earn you a wooden flight paddle, as produced by Columbus' Re:Work Furnishings. Of course, tasting glasses are pretty much a must for this bit of swag, and the ale trail is tiered in a way where reaching a certain number of breweries earns you one of those glasses.

Like previous renditions, the Columbus Ale Trail launch will coincide with the start of Columbus Craft Beer Week, with the opening event set for Smokehouse Brewing on Friday, May 12, from 4-6 PM. We look forward to not only tackling (and completing) the newest version ourselves over the next year, but also seeing how quickly someone can complete expanded version. Some brave soul managed to finish the inaugural ale trail (with 20 breweries) in 24 hours(!), while last year's first finisher completed the 28-brewery circuit in 10 days.

I would like to make a mention of Columbus Craft Beer Week itself - while Columbus may have been a little late to the craft beer week concept in general, this city has been seriously (and enthusiastically) making up for lost time. At my last unofficial count on Monday, just under 300 events were listed on this year's official calendar, and I wouldn't be surprised if more got added in since then.

In a way, it's impossible to do a proper rating of standout events without attending them all, something that, barring massive rifts in the space-time continuum and a humongous upgrade in liver processing capacity is simply not doable for ordinary humans.  However, I figured a great way to help you the reader navigate the week is to not only link all events related to the specific breweries on this year's Ale Trail (those without events officially listed will link to their Facebook page), but also highlight specific events that sound interesting to me and/or might get lost in the shuffle.

Ale Trail Breweries

Signature Events
Columbus Ale Trail Vol. 3 Launch - 05/12/2017 Smokehouse Brewing
Annual Mini Real Ale Festival - 05/13/2017 at Smokehouse Brewing
Six One Pour (the traditional closing event of Columbus Craft Beer Week)
05/20/2017 at Huntington Park.

Other Events I Found Intriguing (in date order)
Friday - 05/12/2017
To The Moon and Back - Columbus' Mad Moon Cider tasting with owner Peter Moon
held at Gahanna's excellent Crafted Drafts
Science Never Tasted Better - Beer, spirits and hands-on activities for adults
as only COSI Columbus can do on a Friday night
Roll out the Barrel (Pt 1) - Gordon Biersch's wider selection of brews is a pleasant
recent development; sample a couple of their Barrel-aged brews on this night
Roll out the Barrel (Pt 2) - Actually, this eight-day-long roll out of barrel-aged 
brews from Columbus' venerable Barley's Brewing starts the next day
on 05/13, but I think it's worth a little advanced warning.

Saturday - 05/13/2017
Biking and Brewing - North High's "Bike The Breweries" charity event
pair up these delectable treats for a super-sized audience
A Very Copious Breakfast - The Brewery District located Copious pairs up hearty
food with hearty beers with a hearty chunk of proceeds going to charity
Crawfish! Part 1 - Franklinton's Rehab Tavern offers up crawfish with beverages
from Heath's Homestead Beer and Rambling House Soda
Going Hog Wild - Newcomer BrewDog DogTap offers up roasted hog all
day at its Canal Winchester facility
Tiger Party 2: Cosplay vs. Furries - The title of this Actual Brewing event
to celebrate its 4th anniversary kind of speaks for itself

Sunday - 05/14/2017
 Get Yourself Edumacated: Clintonville's Lineage Brewing teaches you the 
fine art of beer appreciation (additional class also offered on Monday)
Clothes Make The Person: Seventh Son offers up a clothing swap that
Big in Japan: The Daily Growler UA brings a Far East twist to CCBW with
sushi, sake, and a collaboration brew from Ballast Point and sake maker COEDO
Home is Where The Bike Is: The Ohio Taproom matches up Mother's Day
appreciation with a Pelotonia fundraiser and delicious brews from Homestead

Monday - 05/15/2017
Helping out a Friend: Brewcadia is home to a fundraiser for Hoffman's Farm (longtime
friend to area brewers) which was damaged in a fire late last year
Leader of the Pack: Wolf's Ridge Brewing offers up a chance to join their 
"Wolf Pack", the brewery's loyalty club for future discounts and perks
Mmmm, Donuts (#2) - It's Brinner (Beer + Dinner) at Dublin's
101 Beer Kitchen, with donuts from Duck Donuts for dessert

Tuesday - 05/16/2017
We All Scream for Ice Cream - a Columbus carb-lovers dream:
Jeni's Ice Cream paired with brews from Franklinton's Land Grant Brewing
The Cultural Hub of Wooster - Clintonville's iconic Bob's Bar gives you a
rare chance to enjoy JAFB Wooster's brews inside the beltway,
Elevate Your Biking - If you missed North High's Saturday event, Elevator
Brewing offers up another biking and brews event, with proceeds

Wednesday - 05/17/2017
Brewery pairs up with the Short North's Mission Coffee for java-infused brews
Marengo Comes To IV - Hoof Hearted Brewery & Kitchen saves you from I-71
traffic headaches with a "Tailpipin'" Can Release at their Italian Village eatery
Baby Got Bacca - Newly established Bacca Coffee offers up their beans
as well as three special coffee-infused beers from Gahanna's Kindred Beer
Athens in the House - The Ohio Taproom taps brews from our neighbor to the
southeast, including a "special food guest from Athens"
It's a Dog's Life - Bring your pooch to Grandview's Zauber Brewing
for K9 shenanigans and Happy Hour brews
EveryBodhi Be SomeBodhi - Olde Towne Tavern is the only place in
the city where you'll find these Columbus Brewing Bodhi infusions
Fixing for some Good Brew - "The Beer Fix", a documentary series on the 
Columbus craft beer, makes its debut at Bexley's Drexel Theatre. Elevator
Brewing beers will be on tap, and a panel discussion will follow
West is Best - Nina West: what more do you need?  All benefits from
this show at Seventh Son go toward the Kaleidoscope Youth Center

Thursday - 05/18/2017
An Ill-Mannered Swipe - collaborations are in, dude; head up to Powell to
sample what nano-breweries Ill-Mannered and Sideswipe have brewed up for you
Ohio vs. TBUN - Pins Mechanical hosts this brewing rivalry, with
your blind tasting notes determining the winner
They Brew it All at the Y-M-C-A! - Newcomer Grove City Brewing 
offers proceeds from its Firkin Thursday for construction of a 
playground located at the YMCA in nearby Urbancrest
Jackie at the Gallerie - Chef Bill Glover from Gallerie Bar & Bistro pairs up with
Jackie O's Brewmaster Brad Clark for an elegant beer & dinner pairing

Friday - 05/19/2017
2 Tones in the House - Whitehall's 2 Tones Brewing makes an appearance
at CCBW, in this tap takeover with fellow Columbus brewers Elevator and
Barley's, and Cincinnati's Rhinegeist at the Short North's Bodega Restaurant
Brewlesque - Bossy Grrls Pinup Joint offers up the sexiest experience
of the whole CCBW with a brew-themed burlesque show
Crawfish! Pt. 2 - Last year's event at Bob's Bar sold out quickly. They've
doubled the food this time around, but don't count on it lasting long.
Beers by Sierra Nevada and proceeds to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank

Saturday - 05/20/2017
Bacon + Beer + Brunch - 1803 Bacon partners up again with
Platform Beer for a brunch that goes beyond decadent
Rectify This! - Four String launches four different versions of
its tasty Rectifier Double IPA from its original 6th Avenue Taproom
The Roof, The Roof is on Fire - Pickerington's Combustion Brewing 
closes out a week's worth of CCBW events in style, with cornhole,
a special cask tapping, giveaways & food from Smitty's Real Pit BBQ

Have a tasty (and safe) Columbus Craft Beer Week!

(Note: the info initially posted for Smokehouse Brewing's 14th Annual Mini Real Ale Festival
was for last year's event; the info has since been corrected.)

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