Licking County, just east of Columbus, is home to nine active or in-progress breweries, making it well worth a visit. We chose five to form the spine of our trip.
Granville, home to Denison University, is the perfect base camp. The village oozes small-town charm, most evident in its marquee B&Bs. The main Buxton Inn dates to 1812; four other homes on the block hold more guest rooms. Across the street, the Granville Inn, built in the 1920s, gives off a more Gatsby-esque vibe.
To start, walk over to Three Tigers Brewing Company on Prospect Street. Plenty of restaurants grow out of food trucks; it’s a little unusual to grow a brewery, too, but that’s what Scott and Ashley Wilkins did. In 2013 the couple, who spent time in Vietnam, launched Mai Chau, a Vietnamese food truck. The truck begat Mai Chau on Prospect, which was swiftly followed by the brewery. The Three Tigers lineup is built around a core of pale ales; My Two Cents, a single-hopped American IPA, is the most popular. The full Mai Chau menu is available, so dial up a Sriracha pulled pork banh mi and Mai Chau cracklins (tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce) to balance out the brews.
From Granville, head east to Newark’s Trek Brewing Company. John and Kristen Rehm came back to their hometown from Seattle and opened Trek in March. The early beer lineup was limited to five—a cream ale, a pale ale, a vanilla stout, an IPA, and a red ale—but the addition of a bigger brewing setup means their lineup, and their hours, will expand. About four miles away, near the Newark Earthworks, Josh and Heather Lange’s DankHouse Brewing Company pours the hop-centric creations its name implies, including the 60 IBU Super Fantastic IPA.
Just south, in Heath, is Homestead Beer Company, launched in 2012 by Adam Rhodes and Kevin Atkinson. The Homestead lineup is pretty broad, includinga pilsner, a brown ale, and a mocha porter, an indicator of their experience and love of beer. Wrap up your tour seven miles south in Buckeye Lake, where Rich Hennosy’s Buckeye Lake Brewery started out in 2012 in 1,400 square feet of repurposed service station, expanded twice, and is now poised to expand again. Their strong Scotch ale is our favorite, but the Buckeye Lake Blonde and Legend Valley IPA are mainstays, and the brewery has a loyal following in this tiny village.
Mai Chau on Prospect, $2.50–$9, maichaustreetfood.com
Three Tigers Brewing Company, threetigersbrewing.com; Trek Brewing Company, trekbeer.com; DankHouse Brewing Company, dankhousebrewing.com; Homestead Beer Company, homesteadbeerco.com; Buckeye Lake Brewery, buckeyelakebrewery.com