I’m finally there! All of the brewpubs I’ve ever been to are now uploaded and catalogued to 50 States of Brew. I say almost, because I’ve neglected visits within the past couple of months as well as a very select few I’ve been saving. So now it is time for the top ten list.
Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery
24 West Union Street
Visited on December 21, 2011
Brewpub #9 came as a bit of surprise to me. I expected to find some decent bars in the middle-of-nowhere tiny college town of Athens, Ohio, but I didn’t expect to find such an awesome brewery.
Jackie O’s has everything you could possibly want. A dark, brick, ancient building that makes you feel like you’re in a pub from Medieval times? Check. How about pizza made with spent grain crust, burgers from locally raised beef, and some awesome hand-dipped onion rings? Most definitely.
But the main strength is the beer. They’ve got a surprisingly robust barrel aging program going on here. The result is that in addition to their regular lineup of eight or so beers, they’ve always got like an extra 10 on tap that are different varieties of stronger ales aged in different kinds of barrels and with different additives like fruits and spices. You never run out of interesting beers to try, and they’re all extremely well done.
Perhaps the place has some sentimental value, as Athens is where my fiance and I met up regularly when we were living nine hours apart. Or perhaps it’s just the surprise of having such a quality establishment out in the middle of Ohio. Whatever it is, besides its excellence, Jackie O’s has stuck with me.
How about a second update? Just three weeks past my second visit to Jackie O’s, I found myself in Athens yet again and was drawn to the brewpub. I’m pleased to say that the beers available were back up to the level I had originally encountered. Some were interesting (wild yeast sour beer), some where strong (DIPA and Imperial Stout) and others were just plain delicious (java stout).
With three visits under my belt, I have to assume now that a great selection of wonderful beers is the norm, and not the exception.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of returning to Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery located in downtown Athens, Ohio. On my first visit, I was extremely impressed by the wide range of tasty stouts, many of which had been aged in some interesting barrels with some interesting ingredients. On my second visit, however, I was not quite as impressed.
The cool bar/restaurant was closed due to a private tasting, so there were a ton of people crammed into their “second” room, which is right next door. It’s nice enough, but it lacks a certain something given off by their main bar. There were about 10 beers on tap – which is a good number for a brewery in such a small town – however, I didn’t care for most of them. Two of their IPAs were too “West Coast” for me, with a lot of up front bitterness and not much to balance. The amber seemed a bit thin without much taste.
That being said, there were still some great options. The double IPA and maibock were both excellent options. And they still had their java stout, which tastes like a sweet oatmeal stout with some espresso in it, a.k.a., dessert in a glass.
My fiancé and I had a cheese plate on the second go around, which came with awesome spent grain flat bread – the same thing their pizzas are made out of – and some pretty fabulous marinated olives. All things being equal, it’s still a pretty impressive place regardless of its location. But being in a small college town in the middle of nowhere makes it that much more awesome of a spot.
I wasn’t expecting very much from this tiny brewery amongst the rolling hills in this tiny college town in southeastern Ohio.
Let’s start with the establishment. It’s old as hell. But the wooden tables, exposed brick, small bar and photos of Kennedy all over the place certainly lend to a certain charm. Some visible brewing equipment doesn’t hurt, and it looks like stairs leading upstairs could only go to even cooler digs. However, I would hate to see this place on a Friday night during the school year.
The food is outstanding and impressive for such a small establishment. They have a commitment to local and organic ingredients, which I always applaud. The burgers were simple – except for the ingredients. Locally farmed, dry-aged beef, formerly fed with spent grains from the brewing process. Homemade multi-grain buns and homemade kettle chips. Throw on some bacon and aged cheddar (mine) or sautéed onion and aged cheddar (my girlfriend’s), and you have a recipe for amazingness. Plus, they’re not ridiculously big, so you leave feeling full but not stuffed. And if burgers aren’t your thing, they have tofu burgers, spent grain pizza, pesto melts and awesome-looking fish and chips.
But the beer is what really blew me away. How does a small place like this have more than TWENTY beers on tap?! And they’re all good! They seem to specialize in stouts, at least in the cold winter months when I visited. A lot were small variations on a core recipe, like stout, hazelnut stout, imperial hazelnut stout, and imperial cherry hazelnut stout (my favorite). Of course, they still have your standard porter, IPA, amber and lagers – and the obligatory college town addition of a raspberry wheat. In the end, they were all very well done, most were delicious, and I’m just still impressed with the amount of variety served up.
Service was also outstanding, of course we were nearly the only people in on a Wednesday night during Christmas break. But the guy was still nice and funny with some excellent suggestions.