Jim Ellison knows his way around Columbus’ expansive brewery options.
A 1991 alumnus of Ohio State, Ellison is the co-owner of Columbus Brew Adventures and guided tours to local Columbus microbreweries and distilleries. Since opening in 2013, the tour operation has provided more than 700 tours with local partners such as BrewDog, Land-Grant Brewing Company and Antiques on High.
“I was really focused on education in a fun way, I want people to meet the owners and brewers that actually do this work, so they really have an appreciation for what they do,” Ellison said. “I wanted it to be fun, educational and not like a booze bus.”
Columbus Brew Adventures currently offers nine Columbus brewery tours, including a pitchers and pizza tour, a Franklinton walking tour and the most recent addition, a wild and sours brewery tour.
“Columbus has definitely become a craft beer destination in the Midwest and has really developed national attention as well,” Ellison said. “That gets people interested [to] explore several of the best places and have a personalized experience.”
As one of the first brewery tours in Ohio, Ellison carries a strong passion for local entrepreneurship while understanding the hard work involved in running a business like this. Each tour requires scheduling, transportation and the ability to be flexible when things don’t go as planned.
“When you’re the owner of a small business you do everything,” Ellison said. “I spin all of these different plates at once and have to make sure nothing crashes.”
Bethia Woolf, co-owner of Columbus Brew Adventures, Columbus Food Adventures and Columbus City Adventures, has worked alongside Ellison for more than a decade. The two met through food blogging where they wrote about the emerging taco truck scene in Columbus, with a blog called Taco Trucks Columbus.
The blog reflected local interest for knowledge within the Columbus food scene. Columbus Food Adventures allows individuals to taste top dishes at multiple venues in just a few hours. The alternative “eats” tour connects tourists to some of the best ethnic dishes in the city, like Vietnamese sandwiches and Salvadoran delicacies.
“From the very beginning, I’ve looked to what the city was telling us when developing tour and business concepts,” Woolf said. “I’ve learned that I’ll never stop learning. Every month presents some challenge we’ve never encountered before.”
After the success of Columbus Food Adventures, the team discovered the Columbus market was interested in microbreweries and craft beverages, leading to the creation of Columbus Brew Adventures.
“I will never get tired of seeing all of the interesting and innovative creations our microbrewery, distillery and craft cocktail partners come up with, and we enjoy interacting with the personalities behind them tremendously,” Woolf said.
Ellison considers himself as what he calls a “connectrovert,” meaning he enjoys connecting people to opportunities, specifically in the brewing scene.
“A lot of our partners come in on their days off to do tours for us,” Ellison said. “Most of those people on the tours leave a superfan of that business because they got to meet the owner and build a personal connection.”
Each tour lasts approximately four hours and prices start at $55 per person. Transportation is generally by bus or foot, depending on the tour destinations.