Friday, November 29, 2013

Columbus Brew Adventures

Photos by OHventures

It's safe to say that for most of us, our ears will perk up at the mention of the word "beer." I mean, what goes better with watching the Browns or Bengals play on a crisp autumn afternoon than a bottle of bubbly booze? Or what allows you unwind after an exhausting hike through Ohio's fall foliage than a pint of pilsner? I think you know where I am getting at - beer and adventures go perfectly together. And not just in the fall, but all year long. So rather than go on an adventure and then have a brew, why not combine two and go on a Brew Adventure?!

With Columbus Brew Adventures introduced to us this September, now you can. Bethia Woolf, the same person who brought you Columbus Food Adventures (where we embarked on a Taco Truck Tour last year), has teamed up with Jim Ellison to bring us all another exciting way to treat yourself! With Columbus Brew Adventures, you can leave your worries behind when it comes to getting a designated driver! That's because as part of your tour you are driven around in a conversion van from brewery to brewery, and you can even have a cab called for you at the end of the evening if you are a little too loose to get behind the wheel.

At a cost of just $55-$65 per person, not only do you have the luxury of a completely mapped out bar hop, you also get generous samples of some of the best beers in all of Columbus (and Ohio) while learning fun facts and the stories behind the breweries and the brews themselves, from both Jim & Bethia, as well as the staff and owners of the places you visit on the tour! Because the tours are limited in size (you can only fit so many rowdy adults in the back of a conversion van), you must pre-order your tickets on the Columbus Brew Adventures official website. The tours fill up fast, so it's best to plan ahead, especially if you have a large group!

There are currently seven different tours offered, which all vary in theme, usually according to geography. The current tours available are: The Grandview Brewery Tour, The Downtown Brewery Tour, Pitchers & Pizza Tour, Meet The Brewers Tour, Southeast Ohio (Athens) Brewery Tour, Granville & Buckeye Lake Brewery Tour, and the Columbus Distilleries Tour (this one deviates from the beer theme and turns it up a notch with locally brewed liquors from Watershed Distillery and Middle West Spirits!).

I had the privilege of being invited to join Jim Ellison on a Downtown Brewery Tour on Saturday, November 9. Without hesitation, I carved time out of my schedule (twist my arm, why don't you?) and happily made my way to the meeting location for the start of the tour: Columbus Brewing Company (CBC). This would be the first of four stops we would make that day. The tour would start at 2;30 PM and last about 3.5 hours or so.

The CBC was a great spot to start, since it is located in what is known as the "Brewery District" of Columbus (in the south central portion of the city. It's located near German Village not by coincidence, but because most of the beers were/are German). Ironically, CBC is currently the one and only brewery still located in the Brewery District (at its height, the Brewery District was home to 5 breweries in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before prohibition). All of these little tidbits of info were factoids that I learned while on the Brew Tour, from our server at CBC, Jamie.

Seated around a large rectangular table in a private section of the restaurant/bar, Jamie served us up a bounty of food to start us off - it would be dangerous to start the tour on an empty stomach! We had calamari, flatbread pizza, chicken wings, and a gargantuan pile of loaded nachos she referred to as "Nacho Jenga." We were told that CBC attempts to incorporate beer in its food as much as possible, as evidenced by their beer cheese soup and pub nachos.

After we were adequately fed, Jamie served us three very different and very flavorful beer samples made at CBC. While I was impressed by all of the beers at CBC, the one that stood out from the crowd was the Bodhi, a double IPA that has been voted best in all of Ohio by! With 8.5 percent alcohol, it has a sweet finish that had me begging for more! Alas, we had to make room for the beers at the rest of the breweries on the tour (you can read more about Columbus Brewing Company on my Yelp Review)!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Historic Village of Zoar

Photos by OHventures

It's likely that you have never heard of the tiny town of Zoar before now. But the job of OHventures is to bring to light some of the lesser known hot spots that are worth a visit. With 169 residents in the 2010 census, this historic village is one that is sure to turn heads whenever driving through.

On my annual camping visits to Atwood Lake in Tuscawaras County, I would always slow the car down and rubberneck my way through what I later learned was the Village of Zoar. It doesn't take long to drive through, yet there is much to see. The buildings are perfectly puritan, some dating back to 1817 when a group of German Separatists were seeking escape from religious persecution in their home country.

Heading here is like taking a quick journey back in time at a speed of 88.8 miles per hour with Marty McFly. The architecture consists of colonial-looking masonry, ornate observation towers (like that on top of the Zoar Hotel - pictured above), and even homes that resemble log cabins. You will stumble across centuries-old buildings with old fashioned trades, such as the cobbler shop, the blacksmith, and the weaving house

Me & Slider hanging out at the Zoar Town Hall!

Many of the buildings are open to the public through educational tours that showcase how things were done in the olden days. You can witness butter churning, bread baking, and tinsmithing on a hands-on guided tour all year long, as well as special Christmas tours to see the village decorated for the holiday season. The Old Cider Mill is currently an antique shop, as well as a bed & breakfast to those who want to stay overnight and get the full experience! Ghost tours, Civil War reenactments, the annual Harvest Festival in August, and nearly year-round crafts are highlights of the culture to be experienced throughout the year in Zoar.

School House Winery

Photos by OHventures

455 Schneider's Crossing Road NW
Dover, OH 44622
(330) 602-WINE

If these walls could talk, they would surely  tell the tales of young Ohio schoolchildren of the late 1800s and early 1900s learning their way through reading, writing and arithmetic in the heart of Tuscawaras County. They'd be likely to spout off stories of dunce caps and chalkboards, yard sticks, and pencil sharpeners. Built in 1886, Oak Grove School held classes in one room from all students grade 1-8 up until 1941. It was thereafter owned by numerous families and used as a home, until it became what it is today: The School House Winery, established in 2009. 

Owners David and Jennifer Jagunic ferment all of the wine on site, most made with grapes from the Lake Erie region. They have approximately 2 acres of beautiful landscaping including a small pond and outside sitting area where patrons can enjoy live local music every Saturday night. 

The school house has been painted a strikingly bright red hue that stands out in the countryside backdrop. Inside, the one-room school house has been transformed to include a wrap-around bar in the center and ample seating throughout. 

All of the wines have been cleverly given elementary school-related monikers, and are available for approximately $13-16 per bottle, $5 per glass, or $0.50 per sample. Naturally, I opted to get a sample of each of the 11 available wines so I could see what tastes each had to offer! Julie, our bartender, poured the samples from driest to sweetest and lined them all in a row!

First up was The Principal, which is the driest red, and seemed like a crowd favorite (others coming to the bar seemed to ask for this one). I personally loved it, given that dry reds are my favorite! The next was Oak Grove, named after the original school. This one reminded me of wine consumed at church during communion, which is a good thing! Equation was next, which was the driest white wine available, and was rather palatable. My absolute favorite was next in line: Bully Red. Full of character, it had a smoky, oaky flavor, and I even bought a bottle to take home!

Next came Eraser, a semi sweet white wine, followed by Teacher's Pet (which wins the coolest name award in my book and is apparently the winery's true best seller), Lazy Daze, Cranberry (a seasonal sweet red), Class Clown (tasted too much like candy to me), and an apple-flavored wine that was a delight!

A small yet incredibly tasteful menu is available that includes meatballs in a bread bowl, 10 inch pizzas (veggie, cheese/garlic, and pepperoni), subs, and pizza rolls. All menu items were made with local ingredients, such as bread from nearby Breadhead Bakery, Mids sauces from Navarre, and cheese from Heini's Cheese Chalet in Berlin.

This quaint winery is one of the most memorable and noteworthy I have been to in Ohio, and is worth a road trip no matter where you're coming from - just be sure to have a DD!

Ohio State Four Miler Photo Blog

Who: You and 10,000 other Buckeye fans, running enthusiasts & OSU students/alumni!
What: The Ohio State Four Miler
When: November 10, 2013. Be on the lookout for this race every fall!
Where: The Ohio Stadium, OSU Campus, Columbus
Why: To say that you have crossed the finish line on the 50-yard-line of the Horseshoe!
How: Keep your eyes on upcoming events by M3S Sports!

Photos by OHventures and M3S Sports

Ohio State Four Miler Recap

Photos by OHventures

Many races have their schtick: whether it be cool swag (like the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K), cool locations (like the Brace Against Hunger 5K at Gervasi Winery), or cool things being splattered on you (paint, mud, foam...). 

One of the best marketing ploys of them all comes from those at M3S Sports (the company who brought you the Cap City Half Marathon and the Oktoberfest Brat Trot). Their major selling point? Cross the finish line on the 50 yard line of the Buckeyes' football field in Ohio Stadium! What can be more enticing than that??

Diehard Buckeyes fans (that's me), running enthusiasts (that's me too), OSU students/alumni (oh that's me too!), and any combination of the above gathered together on the morning of Sunday, November 10, 2013 for the inaugrual Ohio State Four Miler. It was a frigid fall morning, with wind whipping its way through campus, causing the nearly 10,000 running participants to huddle for heat, rubbing hands together and adding on layers of Buckeyes-themed garb. 

Me, Beth & Jim

A sea of scarlet and gray swarmed the area surrounding the stadium in anticipation for the big race. With so many people, it took an awfully long time until everyone was off and running. For some reason, they staggered the runners and only allowed a certain amount of people start at a time. I can see the logic behind this, but while freezing my kiester off, I had wished I was closer to the start of the pack!

Once the floodgates opened for the corral that I had been plopped into (10 minute pace group, which is not really my pace), it was full steam ahead! I was a bit unsure of how well I would do today for a number of reasons, the main one being that I had participated in a Columbus Brew Adventure the night before and was therefore a bit foggy in the head. Also, it was so cold, I was tired, and had not run as much as I would have liked in the past couple of weeks.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Crush House At Gervasi Vineyard

Photos by OHventures

1700 55th St NE
Canton, OH ‎44721
(330) 497-1000

Unveiled to the public on October 1, 2013, The Crush House is the latest addition to the massively impressive Gervasi Vineyard and Italian Bistro, located in Canton. As I sit in the brand new restaurant, I am sipping on a glass of perfectly crafted cabernet savignon, listening to soothing sounds of live and local acoustic music, and admiring the dim and inviting red-tinted lighting. 

I have my computer hooked up to the free wi-fi and hear the chatter of dozens of diners as I scan the extensive menu - the kind that has so many tantalizing options that you have difficulty choosing what you'll order (one of everything, please!). Will it be crispy fig crostadas for a starter paired with a shrimp and chorizo pastina bowl? Or perhaps a cup of tuscan kale and white bean soup zuppa with a steak florentine piada flatbread sandwich? Thankfully, the menu displays which wines pair best with which menu items (in my case, it looks like the steak florentine wins, since I'm drinking the abbraccio).

While the food and wine are stellar staples of The Crush House, the real star of the show is honestly the aesthetic appeal. The restaurant-winery-wine bar-coffee shop combo was a $4 million dollar project nestled in the rear of the Gervasi property. The slick, modern establishment is nothing short of stunning, and it is clear that the folks at Gervasi have certainly outdone themselves.

A 58-foot winding bar, a stainless steel wine production room, and a maginificent second floor with one-of-a-kind jaw-dropping decorative chandeliers made of wine bottles are just some of the many highlights found 
within. Even the bathroom sinks are wine themed!

Even on a rainy Wednesday night in November, Gervasi's Crush House is buzzing with patrons. It attracts a slightly younger and more diverse crowd than the nearby bistro and villas found on Gervasi's grounds, and looks like something straight out of Napa Valley, California. It's a prime example of Canton's exciting offerings for millennials who are local or who are making Canton a weekend destination.

Monday, November 4, 2013

OHventures Shirts Are Here!

The wait is finally over!

We are so excited to introduce to you the BRAND NEW official "Team OHventures" t-shirts!

After much anticipation, the shirts have arrived and YOU can show your Ohio pride by purchasing one today!

Male and female shirts are available with the above design for a cost of just $15 (plus shipping if applicable).

You can order your shirt directly by emailing along with your size, gender, and address!

It is our hope that you will show your support for the blog and spread the word by getting yours today for yourself or as a holiday gift for a loved one!