It’s been a year of incredible highs and one big low for Jackie O’s so far. On the positive side — always lead with the positive — the Athens brewpub was named the 97th best brewery in the world by Ratebeer.com. But that’s not the only good news.
Jackie O’s also has started brewing at its new production brewery, which features a 20-barrel brewhouse. (See video below.) For comparison, the brewpub has a seven-barrel system.
It’s always a question of whether the quality will translate to a larger system. Brewer Brad Clark says it has. He made a batch of Firefly Amber Ale earlier this month and it’s now in the conditioning tank. “It tastes like Firefly so that’s really exciting,” Clark said.
The production brewery is gorgeous, he added. “I’m extremely pleased with it.”
He also brewed a batch of the Razz Wheat last week, and will be brewing the Mystic Mama IPA and Chomo-lung-ma Honey Nut Brown next. The Firefly and Razz Wheat should start showing up on draft at accounts throughout southeast Ohio soon -- a big change for a brewery that's never distributed before.
The taproom at the new brewery is expected to have a soft opening in March with four beers on draft. An official grand opening will likely be sometime in April with an additional four beers available.
Some other positive news — again, push that bad news further down — is that Jackie O’s will have another bottle release event on March 2. There will be three beers available: Oil of Aphrodite, Berliner Weisse and a new Cellar Cuvee. Why only three? Read on.
And now for the crappy news. The boiler at the brewpub failed and there’s been no new beer made there in six weeks. The number of beers on draft is slowly dwindling and now stands at eight. That’s mighty painful for a brewpub that prides itself on turning out one unusual, tasty beer after another.
“For seven months or so, we were holding at 20 different beers on draft and we were hitting this great stride,” Clark said. “We got blind-sided and our boiler took a turn for the worse. Now everything is falling off.”
He hopes to fire up a new boiler in three weeks or so. The brewing system has been shut down for lengthy periods before in 2007 and 2011 because of mechanical issues.
Clark is warning folks who show up for the bottle release event that the Jackie O’s-made draft selection won’t be as substantial as in the past. For awhile at least, Jackie O’s will resemble a regular brewpub — picture an amber, India pale ale, etc. — with the new production brewery providing the beer.
“Once we get all the engines going, it should be pretty awesome,” Clark said about the brewpub and the production brewery. “It’s all going to work out but we need to be patient.”