(Athens, OH) - As is our annual pilgrimage, we made a Thanksgiving holiday trip to Columbus to visit family for the long weekend. For months (or longer), I have seen and posted news items about Jackie O's Pub & Brewery. The catch is that we don't live in Ohio. So a trip to Columbus, Ohio served as my excuse to make the additional 90 minute drive from Columbus to Athens with my sister-in-law.
Jackie O's is actually one of the very few places where I post a news item and think to myself, "I REALLY need to try that beer." Don't get me wrong, there is A LOT of good work being done out there in the craft brewing industry. But lately, I find myself gravitiating to the more "unusual" beers in the world. And I have to admit that their recent news on the impending release of their Wheat Wine series of beers was what set me on the road to Athens. The beers in question are Bourbon Berry Grove, Wood Ya Honey, and Cherry Wood Ya Honey.
I called the brewery before leaving, and was disappointed to find out that they had no bottles for sale until their December 2-3 release party. Having said that, you have to understand that the release party is a very big deal for them. So not having any bottles to buy was certainly understandable. So it seems I was exactly one week too early for this road trip. If anyone is in the area for the upcoming weekend, I highly recommend making the trip to Athens, Ohio for the release party. You can find more information on that HERE.
When I called, I talked to Brian Cornelius, who is the brewing assistant. Apparently, the head brewer was off for the holiday weekend. Brian broke the news to me about not having bottles for sale that weekend. Instead, he offered to show me around the brewery for a little while. That was certainly a welcome diversion.
When we got to the brewery/pub, we also found out that the tap list was down to only five offerings because the kegs were being held until the coming release party. So we only tried Great Googly Moogly, Dark Apparition, and Hocking Tripel (a honey Tripel). The Great Googly Moogly was actually an interesting Imperial Porter, brewed with spices, chocolate and squash. The squash wasn't really apparent in the beer, but may have lent some extra smoothness to the beer. The Dark Apparition is their Russian Impeiral Stout and was a truly great example of that style. I got a growler of that to drown my sorrows of not getting any bottles (a worthy consolation prize). The Hocking Tripel was also good. I got a growler of that for take-home too.
In the middle of all this, we got an impromptu tour of the brewing area and a very quick glance at the barrel cellar. We also got a very quick sample of an uncarbonated Bourbon Berry Grove. My SIL even liked this one quite a bit. I thought it was great too, even without the bubbles. From there, we went back to the Public House side of the operation and had pizza before the drive home. So it was a relatively quick visit, given that Brian had things to do that day. But it was certainly a worthy trip.
Brian also mentioned that the Brewery side is in the process this week of replacing the brew kettle. I don't recall the exact details in terms of capacity for the new kettle, but here's hoping that they expand their production by 100x over the current setup and start releasing bottles far and wide. Right now, they basically only "distribute" at the pub and maybe a few retail spots in the area. However, if they did ever find a way to expand enough to justify the hassle, many others would be able to experience the brewing goodness that comes out of a very small brewery/pub located in a small college town (Ohio University is there) in south central Ohio. I am very, very happy I made the trip to Athens, Ohio this past weekend.