It wasn’t too long ago that the area along Gender Road, south of Route 33 near the Franklin-Fairfield county line, was farmland as far as the eye could see. There was the bucolic village of Canal Winchester nearby and Columbus just a bit farther up the road.
When BrewDog, the irreverent brewery and pub chain, decided to expand its operations into the United States, its management looked at the spot and saw nothing but possibility — with more than 50 breweries in the Columbus area and almost 300 in Ohio, this is craft beer country. More importantly, it’s also within a day’s reach of nearly half the U.S. population.
The thing about BrewDog: It doesn’t do anything in a small way. The Scotland-based company not only set up its U.S. headquarters at the Canal Winchester location, it’s created a sensory powerhouse destination for people who love beer.
Soon came a taproom-style restaurant and then, in 2018, a 32-room hotel called the DogHouse that has been named one of Time magazine’s “100 Greatest Places to Stay.”
It’s clear from the very start that an overnight stay at the BrewDog complex is not your everyday experience. Here, dogs are welcome (in some of the guest rooms), beer is a celebration, and ingenuity is everywhere.
Visitors are greeted with a mural of neon sea creatures, including a bright blue shark and a pink octopus, which is a BrewDog staple, painted by Scottish artist Craig Fisher. The octopus, its tentacles winding around guest room windows, visually joins the hotel with the taproom.
The beer celebration begins at check-in. Instead of a reception desk, there’s a bar — back-lit by a reddish-orange neon “Welcome to Hotel BrewDog” sign — and a subtle scent of fermentation wafting over from the connected OverWorks sour beer facility. Guests even receive a complimentary beer upon arrival.
Those who feel like hanging out a bit may strike up a conversation over a brew or two. For Keith Miles, longtime BrewDog fan, “This is my go-to place for beer friends who come to Columbus.” The hotel’s on-tap sour-beer bar is a major draw. His friend, David Priggie, who hails from Minneapolis, was on his fourth BrewDog visit. While they were enjoying sour Cosmic Crush Cherry, another hotel guest settled in for a can of Vermont Vampire, a black/Cascadian dark ale, and joined the conversation. Turned out he was from Sao Paolo, Brazil — site, by the way, of another BrewDog bar.
Heading to a guest room doesn’t mean leaving the beer behind. The hotel’s second- and third-floor hallways overlook OverWorks’ stacks of wooden barrels and foeders of fermenting deliciousness. You can carry your brew anywhere on the BrewDog property, and what’s more, you don’t even need to go to the bar to get one.
The guest rooms feature both locally hand-crafted furniture and beer. The furniture, by Columbus’ Edgework Creative, provides upscale digs. The beer is always within arm’s reach — either from a kegerator filled with a beer of your choice, a small recessed refrigerator with 12 mixed cans of international favorites, or another fridge next to the rainfall shower so you can pop a cold one while you lather up.
Beer is even included as a toiletry ingredient. Soap, shampoo, and body lotion are specially formulated by Glenn Avenue, another Columbus company, from BrewDog’s Elvis Juice, a grapefruit-infused IPA.
The concept works. At BrewDog, people, and often dogs, mingle everywhere — at the hotel’s bar, at the DogPark where pooches and people play, the outside patio, and in DogTap, the taproom restaurant where board games and an arcade entice people into family-friendly fun in between bites of American pub fare. Dogs can dine with owners outside on the patio. “We want you to experience not just the beer, but the atmosphere and the people around you,” says Amy Schwarzenberg, hotel manager.
As a DogHouse bonus, hotel guests get a free tour of BrewDog’s museum, which showcases beer history and beermaking how-to. Add in a beermosa — BrewDog’s Hazy Jane IPA and orange juice — with the complimentary breakfast in the morning, and it’s an experience that’s hard to leave.