Distilled: Jackie O’s capable cans

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From the January 23, 2014 edition

Athens brewery Jackie O’s has become an Ohio favorite, and for good reason. By offering a strong stable of brews and ramping up distribution in the last year by opening a canning and bottling facility, Jackie O’s has taken a foothold in the Buckeye State.

Currently, Jackie O’s has three beers available in cans (with the Hop Ryot coming in February). The Firefly Amber Ale and Chomolungma Brown Ale were released in late spring of 2013, and recently the Mystic Mama IPA was made available. These are solid beers, even if those who’ve made the short trek to the brew pub know there are even more fantastic beers there.

Of the three, Chomolungma is my favorite — even if I have to routinely double check the name. Despite the Zach Galifianakis-esque spelling, Chomolungma is an immensely drinkable beer. Brewed with wildflower honey, there’s a hint of sweetness to go with the roasty nuttiness. The most appealing — and surprising — aspect is a fairly buoyant effervescence uncommon among the style. Simply put, it’s all around pleasing.

The Firefly Amber Ale was a beer I enjoyed a number of times over the summer — ah, summer I miss you — because it’s ideal for sipping outside on a warm day. And the portability of cans is great for canoeing, fishing, etc. During these frigid months, I’ve moved away from the Firefly, but the mildly hopped ale is solid, if not unusually attractive.

The newest Jackie O’s can is the Mystic Mama, an IPA that operates a bit outside-the-box from the typical style. Now, I’ve spilled a fair amount of ink deriding the saturation of IPAs in the craft beer market, but that doesn’t mean I can’t embrace a good one. It’s the perfunctory IPAs that bother the crap out of me.

Mystic Mama offers enough of a twist on the style to be both exciting (to me) and disliked by some. Its big citrusy fruits flavors pair nicely with the floral (and potently herbal) hops. There’s a lot of flavor in the Mystic Mama, which is quite appealing, especially if you’re tired of the same old IPA.

Photo by Meghan Ralston