Athens may soon have another reason to become Ohio’s bike and brew destination hot spot.
Eclipse Company Store Craft Beer Hall will open to the public on March 14. The space will feature 45 taps—40 for craft beer, and five for craft sodas. Many of these will be from Ohio, with a small portion set aside for international and other national beers.
Eight of the taps will be outside and available for use in the warmer months. The hall will also feature its own locally sourced burger-heavy menu, including turkey and vegetarian burgers.
“In Germany, they have these beer halls—bigger buildings, larger ceilings, a big area where people all sit together, enjoying music and drinking beer. We’re trying to replicate that a little bit,” said Sean Kiser, owner of the hall. “It’s an ode to people doing the brewery, so instead of doing our own beer, we’re kind of highlighting everyone else’s beer.”
On opening day, visitors can come for lunch starting at 11am and participate in the grand opening at 5pm, when Deschutes Brewery out of Oregon will take over five taps. They will also have a representative present to pass out samples and talk about the beers.
Eclipse is located along Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, a path that runs through Hocking College, Athens and The Plains. This makes it one of many places to stop in for a craft beer along the path, including Jackie O’s Taproom, Devil’s Kettle Brewing, Little Fish Brewing Company and West End Ciderhouse, which is located a block and a half off the path. Parking is also available at Eclipse.
Once known as a Hocking Coal Mining Town, the 127-year-old building and surrounding area have a rich history. The largest building, known as the Company Store, served as a pay station and general store for the miners. The company town sat atop Eclipse Mine, the reason for its name today.
Next month, the venue will be home to live music events and beer talks. Kiser hopes to, eventually, open up a pedal cab system to make transportation to and from the bike path breweries accessible to more people.
Kiser also owns Kiser’s Barbeque and Shop Athens Ohio. Despite his full plate—and being a non-drinker himself—he knows how to run a business.
“The craft beer world right now is just exploding throughout the state of Ohio and the nation,” Kiser said. “We’ll always have different beers coming in and off the tap so it won’t always be the same beer.”
He and Brandon Lackey, who will be the general manager of Eclipse, have a history of working together, dating back to when they worked at Buffalo Wild Wings together several years ago.
“We just got these pool tables in and played a game of pool and I told Brandon, ‘This is crazy, man. When we were in school shooting pool, I’d never even thought about it back then, owning a bar or a place like this,’” said Kiser. “I’m glad Kiser’s Barbecue was able to do well and cement itself in the community, and I’m hoping to do the same here.”
While Eclipse used to be rented out as a wedding venue and event space, it wasn’t until holding a spur-of-the-moment Memorial Day concert at the space that Kiser and Lackey realized the potential for the beer hall.
“We decided what the heck, we’ll have a concert on Monday just to see what happens. We were expecting maybe 50 to 100 people, and it ended up turning into this huge event,” said Lackey. “It just reinforced our idea and we were like, ‘why aren’t we doing this every day?’”
In short, Kiser said he hopes opening Eclipse will be like Ohio Brew Week, every day.
“We want to highlight what the craft is of making craft beer,” Kiser said. “We’ve been working closely with other breweries in Athens and the Visitor’s Bureau to not just say ‘come here,’ but ‘come here and experience Athens breweries.”