Land-Grant Brewing Co., Columbus
A former elevator factory in the Franklinton neighborhood now houses a fun sports bar with a lineup of tasty and traditional craft beers.
When Ohio State University graduates Adam Benner and Walt Keys ditched their day jobs in Chicago and Cincinnati to open Land-Grant Brewing Co., the goal was simple: build a cozy, comfortable sports bar in a space designed to be as familiar and unpretentious as the beer flowing out of its taps. In 2014, the men opened their 3,000-square-foot taproom and adjoining 9,000-square-foot brewery in a century-old building that formerly housed an elevator factory in Columbus’ historic Franklinton neighborhood.
“Craft beer can be intimidating for people who have never really gotten into it, so we wanted to create a place that was comfortable, where people can sit, watch a game and order a flight to find a beer they like,” says Keys, Land-Grant Brewing’s co-founder and creative director. “We don’t do a lot of beers with a super-high ABV percentage, because we want you to sit here for three hours, watch the Buckeyes play and not be on the floor.”
After years of home brewing in a small carriage-house apartment in Chicago, Benner launched a Kickstarter fundraising campaign with Keys in 2012 and successfully generated more than $30,000 to get the brewery started. Its name comes from the Morrill Act of 1862, or Land-Grant College Act, which set aside federal land for the establishment of public universities, including Ohio State, throughout the nation.
When creating artwork for Land-Grant Brewing’s labels, Keys, a lifelong sports fan, draws inspiration from classic football imagery found on old game programs and posters. Many of the beer names are nods to Ohio State sports, such as its Stiff-Arm IPA or the Neutron double IPA, named in honor of the Buckeye super fan known as Neutron Man.
“The taproom offers a dozen original beers with styles ranging from bourbon-barrel-aged stouts to strong pale ales, plus six guest taps. There’s an outdoor fireplace that patrons can enjoy most of the year, a weekly euchre night and plenty of televisions to take in the big game, whether your tastes skew more toward American football or the international variety. (Land-Grant Brewing airs Columbus Crew SC matches, and you’ll frequently find English Premier League teams on the TVs.) Add to that a rotating lineup of food trucks with offerings ranging from burgers to kosher eats to Indonesian cuisine.
As far as the beers go, Land-Grant Brewing embraces simplicity and balance. Rather than experimenting with a slew of new ingredients, head brewer Jamie Feihel begins each batch with research on the history of a beer style. An example of the approach can be found in the Stiff-Arm IPA. The beer delivers enough citrus and pine to satisfy the average hop lover, but it also has a malty backbone to provide balance so it appeals to the casual beer drinker.
“We have no problem doing something off-the-wall, but that can sometimes take away from the process of making a strong product that doesn’t need the addition of extra ingredients,” explains Feihel. “When it comes to brewing, it is very important to have the simple stuff locked down first.” 424 W. Town St., Columbus 43215, 614/427-3946, landgrantbrewing.com