Jackie O’s has been my favorite brewpub in the state for a number of years. Every time I make the journey to visit family in Athens, I make sure to stop in for a pint (or five). So naturally I got very excited when Jackie O’s opened up a new canning-and-bottling production facility. Only two beers are out so far in cans, here’s my take on them.
Firefly Amber // “a unique amber ale” // 4.5%abv
To me, Jackie O’s has always been about the big and the bold — coffee-infused Russian Imperial stouts, Berliner weisse with a shot of cantaloupe syrup, and the like. Firefly, the light amber ale, stuck out like a sore, boring thumb. This seems a little different from what I’ve had on tap. It’s only a tiny bit hazy, and the hop aroma is kicked up a few notches — pine and citrus stand toe-to-toe with what was once dominated by biscuity malt. The taste, too, is improved, though still light. At first, it is a bit watery, but that is followed by malt and a lasting piney bitterness. The body is heavier than the flavor suggests, and combined with ample carbonation gives a full, satisfying mouthfeel. Sure, it’s a fine beer, but it’s nothing to write home about. I’m sure they’ll sell plenty of it, though.
Chomolungma // “honey nut brown ale” // 6.5%abv
“Chomolungma” is the romanization of the Tibetan name for Mount Everest. (This really bears no relevance to the beer but maybe now you can sound cool at a party.) It is a gorgeous dark brown hue with red highlights, and smells like chocolate, honey, and hazelnuts. The taste is sweet and malty, with chocolate, toffee, and honey all making an appearance before some bitterness sneaks in to balance out the finish. It has a medium body and fine carbonation, leaving the beer satisfying without being overly heavy. If you dig these kind of flavors, you’ll love the beer (it’s very well executed).
Overall, I’m a little disappointed by which beers Jackie O’s chose to can. It would have been nice to see Mystic Mama, Ohio Pale Ale, Dark Apparition, Kentucky Monk, Oil of Aphrodite, Berliner Weisse, or any other truly great beer coming out of that place wind up in the can. Chomolungma is a somewhat interesting beer, but Firefly Amber certainly isn’t. I can only hope that some banal marketing argument convinced them to release the boring beers first, and the rest will follow. We’ll see.
Currently, you can find these cans (along with a few different Jackie O’s growler offerings) at Weiland’s. They should hit other stores around Columbus in a few weeks.