Before taprooms, the game remained the same. What changes over the years are the uniforms, the ages of the fans, and how they enjoy the game. When we think of traditional sports bars, a few things come to mind: crowded spaces, basic beer, and greasy food. But that’s no longer the most popular, or preferred way to watch the game.
This generation’s sports fan wants to share the game-watching experience with other like-minded enthusiasts, but they want to do so in a way that leaves them feeling good about what they’ve ingested in the pursuit of cheering their team on to victory. And so enters the modern-day taproom – a place that didn’t exist a couple decades ago, but has quickly become the ultimate way to enjoy spending time with a few dozen of the closest friends you have yet to make.
Around Columbus, there are several taprooms that offer the opportunity to not only fight your team across the field, but offer beers worth drinking and a menu to match. They are the places you find the young and old meeting on common ground through a shared love of sport, craft, and experience.
Temperance Row Brewing offers at least eight of their microbrews on tap at all times. With a number of signature brews, including the Chanter Ale, which pairs deliciously with their Cheddar Beer Findue; Corbin’s Revenge IPA, a perfect pairing with the White Anchovies appetizer or the Figabodit Sandwich with prosciutto and fig jam; and the Contradiction ESB, ideal with the Spicy Black Bean Hummus or even the Beet Salad, there is something for every taste, diet, or whim, deciding on which way your team goes.
The Pigskin Brewing Company in Gahanna boasts a modern, wide-open taproom that feels like a traditional sports bar, except, you know, cooler. The space naturally lends itself to crowds, with lots of bar seating as well as community tables, and the menu matches the energy.
The Kickoff Sausage paired with the Undefeated IPA is the perfect way to launch a winning drive, while the Gose All the Way, a thirst-quenching ale with a slightly sour tang, complements the Horseradish and Chive Stuffed BBQ Shrimp, and unexpectedly delightful nosher during game time.
They have a Deluxe Build-Your-Own Mac ‘n’ Cheese that can pair with just about any of the nine beers they consistently keep on tap, making this spot a great choice to take friends and family from out-of-town, provided, of course, they’re rooting for the right team.
For those seeking a truly different game-day experience, consider Brew Brothers at Scioto, which is easy to get to from I-71, and which boasts lots of parking, 18 screens inside the bar area, and another three on a brand new patio.
At Brew Brothers, you’ll find a healthy cross-section of what makes Ohio a great state to be a football fan: there’s the older crowd who regularly come in for a little pre-and during-game fun, the young guys who want to be able to enjoy the game without feeling crowded or pressured, and the women who not only come with their men, but who are, in their own right, die-hard fans of the teams they love.
The experience at Brew Brothers is one that is simultaneously homey and exciting, with a slight unpredictability in the air that almost always guarantees a game day to remember. As Alex, one of the cool and friendly servers you’ll find at Brew Brothers, shares:
“We put love into everything. We’re all about the shine and making you feel good. And that’s what we do here.”
And when asked what makes Brew Brothers an ideal, sports-loving taproom, he simply added, “What we offer is consistency. We have consistently good food and great beer; it’s what you’ll come back for.”
And I can attest to that. Brew Brothers usually carries six of their on-site brews at a given time, including the popular Carano Extra, award-winning Redhead Amber, and the wicked Big Dog IPA, which is perfect with a touchdown or their irresistible Roasted Brussels Sprouts, which are glazed in honey and balsamic vinegar, and topped with bacon. Whomever says vegetables don’t go with the game never had these.
Or the Burnt Ends, delightful bites of 17-hour, hickory-wood smoked brisket that’s topped with a house dry rub and served with their in-house BBQ sauce. It’s an unexpected treat that’s perfect first-half food, making way for the stars of the show: their burgers, of which The Jorge, an 8-oz monster complete with queso fresco, poblano mayo, and chopped jalapenos that’s served with some of the crispiest fries in the city, is the Heisman winner.
This burger is flavorful, zingy, with a bit of bite-back that doesn’t diminish the deep, natural flavor of the Ohio-sourced beef patty. Even paired with house-made root beer or the Grove City Buckeye Shake, which comes with a frozen buckeye candy that melts by the time you stuff the last bite of burger on your mouth, this burger is the MVP, and makes you feel like regardless of what your team does, you still won.
Open since October 2015, Brew Brothers caters to the hedonistic sports fan, offering a new take on the sports bar that’s becoming more welcome and prevalent. Their menu spans the range from Pork Belly Tacos, to Wood-Fired Pizzas, to Portsmouth Ribeye and even mama’s Spaghetti and Meatball. Their beers are designed to please any taste, and they even feature a wide variety of house-made cocktails if that’s what floats your boat.
At the end of the day, there are only winners when you make your local taproom your sports bar.
The game stays the same — the memories, they’re yours to make each and every visit.
About Ayana Wilson
Ayana Wilson writes reviews and articles for NID Magazine.