Sports bars have their time and place. If you want to sit with dozens of people and all cheer for the same team, they provide a great fan atmosphere, and if you want to watch March Madness but don’t have four TVs in your basement, they offer the screens to satisfy. However, most sports bars are bland, uninspired places where the primary decoration is the TVs themselves, and while there may be some theoretically-intriguing combination of sports, beer, and wings, the beer is typically of the bland, fizzy, yellow type that you’d never let pass your lips unless you were hypnotized by four dozen TVs. All that was true until Land-Grant came along and redefined how good a Columbus sports bar can be.

I’m a Browns fan by marriage, and Laura and I have started going to Land-Grant more often on Sundays because the combination of good Bengals and bad Browns means the Browns don’t always make it into our DirecTV-less basement as often as we would like. For some sadistic/masochistic reason, Land-Grant dedicates its TVs with sound to the Browns every Sunday. Co-owner and President Adam Benner must be a Browns fan, because you find him behind the bar every Sunday.

Land-Grant Brewing Co. Bar

The atmosphere at Land-Grant is the best of any sports bar I’ve ever seen, no doubt the vision of artistic genius Walt Keys, Land-Grant co-owner and Creative Director. There are five big screen TVs around the perimeter of the room, which is the perfect number for the space – it is enough that everyone can easily see a screen, but not so many that it overwhelms the space with sports and detracts from the appeal of the room itself. The communal tables that cover most of the space are fantastic for coming with a group of friends and sitting together to cheer on your favorite team. The sports-centric feel of the space is highlighted not with the same tired framed Ohio State jerseys, but by an old high school scoreboard hanging in the corner and the pennants of all the land-grant universities hanging from the ceiling around the edges of the room (the story of the Morrill Act is on the wall for those who are unfamiliar with land-grant schools). You get that the place is about sports, but it is nonetheless a beautiful and tastefully done space – a rare combination for a sports bar.

Land-Grant Brewing Co. Sports

The food is several notches above the frozen-then-fried fare you typically find in a sports bar. While Land-Grant does not have its own kitchen, it has aligned itself with some of Columbus’ best food trucks. Weekends feature gourmet pizza from Flat Top Pizza, and Ajumama’s top-notch Korean street food has been making some Sunday appearances of late.

Land-Grant Brewing Co. Beers

Most important, though, is the beer. Land-Grant always has its Stiff-Arm IPA, Greenskeeper Session IPA, 1862 Kolsch, and Son of a Mudder Brown Ale on tap. The Son of a Mudder (a buck off during Browns games!) takes a different approach to a brown ale by amping up the hops, and the 1862 is one of the most crushable beers in town, keeping it light at 4.9% ABV, but packing full flavor. These year-round staples are supplemented by an array of seasonals and limited-edition beers, which may become less limited because Land-Grant continues to add fermenters to their old factory turned brewspace. We recently were lucky enough to come the day after Land-Grant’s one year anniversary party and 12 additional Land-Grant beers were available. Rum barrel aged Beard Crumbs was the perfect marriage of sweet and boozy, and Card Ale was the best local barleywine I have tried.

Land-Grant Brewing Co. Taps

I encourage you to head to Franklinton and catch a game at Land-Grant. If the Browns aren’t your thing (and, honestly, why would they be?), there’s always OSU, and Land-Grant is a big supporter of the Columbus Crew, brewing its Glory American Wheat for Crew supporters and showing the games in the taproom. Enjoy sports the way they were meant to be seen, in a great space with a quality beer.

{In our efforts to spotlight each Columbus-area brewery, we’re sending Doug Oldham to visit every brewery’s tap room. In the coming months, he will attempt to regale you with his experiences. Doug’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the CCBA.}