As Athens celebrates Ohio’s best craft beers during Ohio Brew Week, we’re highlighting our own homegrown breweries: Little Fish, Devil’s Kettle and Jackie O’s. After all, there’s just something about knowing the craft behind the beer you’re sipping straight from the source that makes it taste all the better.
We’re wrapping up our Q&A series with the brewery that gave Athens’ craft brew scene its roaring start—Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery. Jackie O’s opened in 2005 in Uptown Athens, in the space formerly occupied by O’Hooley’s. It quickly expanded into the adjoining building. In 2013, Jackie O’s opened a new production facility and taproom in an old dairy, located just down the hill from its brew house right off of Court Street. Recently named Best Brewery in Ohio by RateBeer.com, Jackie O’s love of craft beer and the town where it’s brewed flavors every sip.
We got to talk with Brad Clark, director of brewing operations at Jackie O’s and the original brewer.
ACCVB: How did you become Jackie O’s first brewmaster?
Brad: I started working at O’Hooley’s in 2004 and was doing a little home brewing myself. Art [Oestrike] and I were friends and he had tried some of my brews. I actually alerted Art and his partner at Bagel Street Cafe, Lenny Meyer, of the possibly of purchasing O’Hooley’s. When Art and Lenny purchased the business in 2004, they had me train under a local brewmaster, then later I went to the Sieble Institute in Chicago and earned my associates in Brewing Theory in 2007.
A: What’s unique about Jackie O’s taproom and your process of brewing?
B: Our taproom is located in the same building as our production brewery. It offers 16 Jackie O’s beers on draft and comfortable indoor and outdoor seating. The majority of our special bottles and apparel are available at the taproom, which is located at 25 Campbell Street in Athens.
Our brewing process is defined by our commitment to process and ingredients. Everyone on the production floor takes great pride in the product that we make. Every beer is given the utmost respect and time that it needs to be the best beer we can produce. Beer, not profit, is at the heart of our company.
A: What are your most popular beer(s)?
B: Mystic Mama and Razz Wheat are our top sellers. We began canning our beers in 2013, which makes these beers easier to distribute throughout the state. They’re dry, light and crisp, and this attenuation makes them a good representation of our beers. Of course we also brew several specialty beers, like our Dark Apparition, a Russian imperial stout. These beers are big, bold, and rich, but also not overly sweet, or cloying. It’s this balance that makes them so easy to drink.
If you want to try something more adventurous, look for our bourbon barrel aged stout series, which we release throughout the year. And, of course, there are the beers that you can only try in Athens, like our Apricot Peach Wheat, Cool Beans and O’Hooley’s Dry Irish Stout.
A: Why Athens?
B: Athens is fun and has a ton of creative energy, and it’s very entrepreneurial. Plus, everyone supports everyone else. Now that we have Little Fish, Devil’s Kettle, the West End Ciderhouse, plus all the wineries, Athens really has a lot to offer in terms of handcrafted libations. People are coming here not just to check us out, but also to see these other places. And this has helped support a lot of other businesses. It’s great to be a part of an industry that’s making Athens a destination.
A: How big is your production facility?
B: Our production facility is 16,000 square feet, and we’ll produce 13,000 barrels of beer this year.
A: How do you envision Jackie O’s future?
B: Bigger with same commitment to quality and character!
A: Besides the BrewPub and Taproom, where else can people find your beers?
B: In 3,200 other retailers across the state of Ohio.
Sip from the source at Jackie O’s BrewPub and Public House located at 22 and 24 West Union Street in Athens and at their Taproom at 25 Campbell Street in Athens. Ready to plan your pilgrimage? Let us help.