Guys are hard to buy for and plan for– and you guys know it! There are the standard tickets to an NFL football game if you’re looking for the impressive gift that is sure to please. A sleeve of golf balls stuffed in the stocking. I’ve been there too many times to count. And yes, the Beer of the Month Club always sounds super creative when you’re down to the last minute and trying to figure out what gift to give during the holidays.
What is the Alex & Ani bracelet to a dude? What is the Swarovski bauble that will get their heart racing? Is there a magical unicorn for males much like Narcisco Rodriguez perfume or a gift card to Sephora that we all yearn for in our gift pile? I have yet to figure this out, friends.
What I do know is this– there are a few gifts around Central Ohio that are unique in their own red-blooded-American-guy kind of way. More experiences than items, if you will. And many a dude will enjoy them fully. I was fortunate enough to take my former baseball-and-football-playing-loves-to-eat-nachos husband out on a date that was essentially a gift from someone else. Such a smart gift too for a couple: The Pitchers & Pizza Tour by Columbus Brew Adventures. Yes, still includes beer. But so much more is about to come your way.
Columbus Brew Adventures puts on the show and takes you to a couple of places you may haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing before. As two journalists married to each other and living in a town surrounded by foodies and foodie-wanna-be’s, we thought we’d heard of it all. What we learned is… yeah, we were wrong.
So let’s set the scene. There were three couples on the tour and a group of three guy friends.
We meet at Meister’s Bar in the Grandview area. Chicago-style deep dish pizza at its’ most legit outside of Chicago. Legend has it (through our tour director and pizza historian Jim Ellison) that there is a 2-3 hour wait for their pizza on a Friday or Saturday night.
Looks like your typical dive bar, Browns fans have staked a claim on it. But the former Pickled Swine food truck owners took it over and wanted really great beer and great pizza to live harmoniously together. So we got that– as you’ll see from the swig or two below of Brass Knuckle by Four String Brewing company.
It’s always nice when someone else is doing the driving and you can fully enjoy your beer and food. After one piece of that stuffed deliciousness, I was trying to figure out HOW MUCH pizza and beer we were in for– because it seemed that this tour was not for the faint-of-heart.
Our tour bus headed next to Iacono’s in Upper Arlington. This is where I learned there is a Columbus-style pizza. It’s consists of a thin crust with cornmeal dusting on the bottom. Iacono’s, I also didn’t know, is connected to Tommy’s Pizza through some part of the family tree. The family members are pizza pioneers in their own right. The provolone cheese is what makes these pies sing and they’re served in party-cut style. The guys thought the meat was right on point in terms of seasoning. I thought the margherita pizza was amazing. It’s the one you see at the top of the picture below.
At about this point– I’m wondering how we’re ever going to drink any more beer or eat any more pizza. Most of the guys in the van are not worrying about this one single bit. They are loving this. Thus, the reason I think you could score major points for getting this as a guy gift.
We’re off to Ledo’s Tavern, which is closer to campus, to enjoy some Great Lakes Oktoberfest before it goes away for some time. We take a little walking tour down High Street from where we parked the van, to get some true appreciation of the local relationship we’re about to experience. Mikey’s Late Night Slice has a great little partnership with Ledo’s, since they have a spot around the corner.
There are plenty of dart boards for us to stand around and attempt to play on while we wait for the Infamous Sauce (yes, no longer called Slut Sauce and there is a full story you get on that when you take the tour.)
Why does Mikey’s taste so good? When you’re asking it at 3 a.m, I’m sure the answer is simple. But in truth, it’s a New York-style pizza that has more gluten than normal and that might be the real reason you find it so satisfying.
Our final resting place, and it really feels that way given the massive amount we’ve taken in on this particular evening, is Hound Dog’s pizza. An OSU favorite, this spot was open 24 hours when we first moved to Columbus. It’s no longer a 24 hour spot, but those from Athens will be happy to find Jackie O’s Nut Brown brew on the menu. And you’ll be surprised to become a fan of the Hot Mama, which involves sauerkraut and Cajun links and is decidedly delicious.