Athens Brews Rock It in Rick Armon’s ’50 Must-Try Craft Beers of Ohio’

It turns out the name of my favorite Athens beer was inspired by the lyrics of my favorite manic musician — Frank Zappa.

“With the oil of aphrodite, and the dust of the grand wazoo …”

That line from “Cosmik Debris” inspired the name of Oil of Aphrodite (Jackie O’s American double stout brewed with Integration Acres black walnuts), which earned a spot on Rick Armon’s “50 Must-Try Craft Beers of Ohio.”

After drinking more than my share of Oil of Aphrodite since I moved to Athens in 2015, I now know its backstory thanks to Armon’s newly published book.

Overall, Athens brew culture fares well in the guide.

Jackie O’s placed two beers on the list of 50 (the sublime Berliner Weisse sour beer being the other.) For each must-try beer, Armon lists several similar beers that also are worth checking out. Those honorable mentions include the following 13 Athens-brewed beers:

  • Jackie O’s: Dark Apparition (twice), Cool Beans, Razz Wheat, Brick Kiln Barley Wine, Funky South Paw, Mystic Mama, Paw Paw Wheat, RIcky, Java the Stout, and Bourbon Barrel Brick Kiln
  • Little Fish: Woodthrush and Sunfish
  • Devil’s Kettle: Devil’s Paw

But wait. There’s more: Jackie O’s brewmaster Brad Clark is listed among 10 influential people in Ohio brewing, and Devil’s Kettle gets a nod as one of the “10 Coolest Brewery Names.”

Bottles of Jackie O’s Berliner Weisse and Oil of Aphrodite, two of Ohio’s “must-try” beers.

This performance by Athens breweries is no small feat. As Armon notes, these are boom times for beer in Ohio, with more than 200 breweries operating in 2012 (up from 49 a mere two years earlier). And that includes the big guys like Anheuser-Busch.

I approached this book with trepidation, fearful of beer snobbery that I generally don’t have much use for. Armon has no patience for that. His book is filled with enough fascinating anecdotes and beer geek talk to sate the casual tippler and the beer guru. The Akron Beacon-Journal reporter has been writing about beer since 1999, and it shows.

“The beers showcased here are not necessarily the best in the Buckeye State,” Armon cautions. “The best beer is whatever you think it is.”

I love that. If Bud is your thing, cool. More power to you. This tone permeates the book. He’s not deifying 50 beers. Rather, he hopes to suggest beers that will “spark debate and, perhaps, give you a reason to sample something you have never tried before.”

The book features beautiful photos, plenty of details and writing that amuses without meandering. No Cosmik Debris here. Just plenty of fascinating tidbits that will make you want to rediscover our local breweries and strike out across the state to sample a wide variety of brews.

Most of us don’t write about beer for a living and haven’t had the luxury of trying dozens, even hundreds, of Ohio beers. But we can claim some level of expertise as far as Athens beers are concerned. So what is your “must-try” craft beer at Athens breweries? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

50 Must-Try Craft Beers of Ohio
Rick Armon
238 pages
2017, Ohio University Press
$19.95

Looking for loop rides off the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway

After an amazing Ohio Brew Week I decided to pedal off a few of the pints I sampled. So I hit the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway for biking without the brew. You can do that. And it’s a blast.

I biked from Athens Near Eastside neighborhood up to the Eclipse Company Town, taking time to enjoy to cool, shady stretches along the way. When I hit the Eclipse, I took the Athens High School Spur to extend the ride a bit and added a (humble) climb. Then I turned and doubled back.

 

When I got to Armitage Farm on my way back to Athens, I took the Armitage Road loop that leads down to Little Fish, stopping to say hi to the livestock along the way. (Turn onto the gravel road at the farm, right next to the boxcars; the go left onto Armitage Road).

Armitage is a mix of gravel and paved road with some washboard sections and a few modest hills, but it was a nice way to see different scenery on the return trip. And there’s very little traffic.

 

You’ll cross the railroad tracks twice on Armitage Road if you go all the way to Little Fish. I turned left onto the Little Fish Spur despite a strong urge to see what the Cajun Clucker was serving for lunch.

 

After returning to the bikeway, I dodged geese and watched wildlife along the swollen Hocking River. I’ve been seeing a lot of blue heron this year, and this ride was no exception. I also saw a bunch of boisterous bluebirds zooming around the golf course.

But I still wasn’t ready to go home. So I kept going when I reached the Athens Library Spur and stayed on the bikeway until I hit the East State Street parking area. And I kept going. This is my least favorite section of the bikeway, running next to East State Street as it feeds into HIghway 50/32. Traffic. Noise. Yuk. But all is not lost …


You’ll see a flashing light on East State at Hope Drive. Go a bit farther …


Look for this left, just past the “Right Lane Ends” sign. Cross East State here onto Della Drive, very carefully (drivers tend to maintain highway speed as they exit onto East State, and eastbound cars start picking up speed as they get clear of the congestion).

After turning onto Della Drive, you’ll need to watch out for turtles …

Della Drive is a paved road with very little traffic. It’s a nice ride that T’s at the highway. From there, you’ll want to very carefully ride the shoulder about 200 yards to the turnoff for Dow Lake/Strouds Run. The shoulder is in great shape. Just stay as far off the road as possible here.


Once you pull into the lot, you can lock up your bike and take a hike or try the mountain bike trails at Strouds Run.

The big green hill you’ll see from the parking lot actually is the dam that creates Dow Lake. Trails are accessible on either side of the dam and if you’re ambitious, you can circumambulate the lake (that takes a few hours).

Return to the bikeway the same way you came. Use the shoulder to return to Della Drive, then take Della Back to the bikeway.

In all, this ride included two loops and a spur and came in at about 24 miles and took 1 hour, 39 minutes at an average speed of 14.2 mph. For more details on the loops and spurs of the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, check out our guide.

Paving project to close section of Hockhocking Adena Bikeway

 

Thanks to a tweet from Athens Bicycle Club, we discovered the City of Athens plans to close a section of the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway from the Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Stimson Avenue Bridge on Thursday and Friday (July 27-28). They plan to reopen this stretch on Saturday, July 30, according the the city’s Arts, Parks & Recreation Department.

The area of the repaving project is orange in the map above. We’ll post details on a detour when that is available. The Athens Bicycle Club also will be updating its site with details.

 

 

 

Thank you for registering

You have successfully registered to receive emails from Athens Bike and Brew. Even better, you’ve registered for our drawing to win almost $250 worth of fabulous swag from Athens breweries and Bike and Brew, including:

  • A Devil’s Kettle workshirt  ($30 value). A Dickie shirt with a pocket and smaller logo on the pocket. The large logo is the back of the shirt.
  • A Hydro Flask from Little Fish — the perfect insulated growler for taking your favorite craft brew with you. We own one ourselves. It’s amazing how well this flask keeps your beer (or other beverages) cold. ($55 value).
  • A Jackie O’s bike/multisport helmet — be safe on the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway with this Brentwood model helmet intended for biking and skateboarding, made by Bern Unlimited.   ($55 value)
  • Bike basket and rack ($60 value)
  • Hats, t-shirts, and more

 

 

 

Detour to Jackie O’s Taproom

The spur that runs to Stimson Avenue and Jackie O's Taproom has been closed during work on the roundabout.

 

UPDATE 9/21/17: The work here is largely completed and there no longer is a need to detour. Just use the spur near the Stimson Bridge to ride up toward Sonic (the black line on the map above). And be careful. Many drivers are unfamiliar with roundabouts, so don’t assume they know what they’re doing when you attempt to cross North McKinley.

UPDATE 8/28/17: North McKinley opened last week, feeding into the Stimson Roundabout. There are several ways to get to Jackie O’s Taproom from the bikeway. Cyclists can use the spur near the Stimson bridge (black line on the map above), but that will take them directly to the roundabout and a section without sidewalks. If you go this route, be careful. We continue to believe the best route is to exit the bike path at Mile Marker 1 (Orange line with exclamation points on the map above) and ride down toward South Green Drive and Mill Street. From there, you have two options:

  1. Turn onto McKinley (the sidewalks are completed on the west side of McKinley) and then cross McKinley into the Sonic parking lot, which will take you to the taproom.  The purple line on the map above shows this route.
  2. Continue to use the original detour, which allows you to go around the construction completely. That route is detailed with orange lines and exclamation points on the map above.

In summary, your best bet might depend on time of day and traffic conditions. Work continues in the area, so while crews are present give them a wide berth.

UPDATE 7/22/17: We walked the new roundabout on Stimson this morning and we still advise cyclists to use the detour we describe on this page. As of today, the roundabout is open to through traffic but North McKinley, which leads to South Green Drive and Ohio University, still is a construction site that doesn’t look as if it will be open for a while.

From the bikeway, they’ve removed the “Sidewalk Closed” sign on the spur, but the spur dead-ends in an orange barrier and muddy area beside the roundabout.

We’ll update here as further developments occur …

Construction on the Stimson Avenue roundabout has made it a tad tricky to get from the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway to Jackie O’s Taproom.

The roundabout opened to traffic on July 21, but sidewalks and other work won’t be completed for weeks, or even months, afterward.

Here’s a detour that will keep you out of the construction zone and get you safely to Jackie O’s Taproom.

At Mile Marker 1 on the bikeway, there’s a turnoff that runs to South Green Drive and Mill Street. Take that turnoff (see below).

 

The spur leads down to South Green and Mill Street. Just keep going straight and you’ll end up on Mill.

Ride down Mill Street (there’s even a bike lane) to Elliott Street.

Turn right on Elliott Street. Go straight down Elliott to Campbell Street, where you’ll make another right.

After you go right on Campbell, it’s a straight shot to Jackie O’s Taproom, which is at 25 Campbell Street.

Here’s more info about where the spurs off the bikeway take you: A Mile-by-Mile Guide to the Bikeway and Its Spurs

Ohio Brew Week 2017

When: 2017 Ohio Brew Week runs July 14-22.

In some ways, Ohio Brew Week is for beer wonks. It features a home brew competition, symposiums for hop growers, and other events geared toward professional and amateur craft brewers.

But casual beer lovers certainly aren’t left out. Athens restaurants, bars and other business roll out a fantastic array of deals and beer samplings. And in addition to Athens own breweries, brewers from across the state bring their wares to town. Think of it as Craft Brew Heaven.

Ohio Brew Week Events

You can see all events at the official Ohio Brew Week site but here are some of our annual favorites:

Rock ‘n’ Roast, 5-9:30 p.m., July 14 at Ohio University Inn. Outdoor buffet and beer garden to kick off Brew Week.

Ohio Brew Week Keg Tapping Ceremony July 17, 5 p.m., Jackie O’s Brewpub, 24 W. Union. Each year, Jackie O’s brews and taps a keg of “Sparbock” in honor of Jon Sparkhawk, a local restaurant owner who conceived Ohio Brew Week.

Brew BQ Jun 21, 4-10 p.m., Train Depot, W. Union. Lots of good live music and food trucks. Get ready to groove.

Bicycle Cruise to Tasty Brews, June 22, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. A 27-mile-trip to help you work up a sweat and appetite for beer at Jackie O’s Taproom

Last Call, July 22, noon to 11:59.  When Court Street shuts down and the brewers set  up shop on the bricks. Live music. Tons of fun. The signature event! (look for out booth!)

History of Ohio Brew Week in Athens, Ohio

When Ohio Brew Week started back in 2005, Athens had only one brewery: the brand-new Jackie O’s. The event’s main goal was to drum up business in Athens during the summer doldrums when a dearth of Ohio University students leaves Uptown Athens parched for customers.

Twelve years later, Ohio Brew Week still aims to boost business. But it’s much more than that. The event is a celebration of craft brew in Ohio. And Athens has plenty to celebrate. Athens County now has four breweries — Jackie O’s, Little Fish, Devil’s Kettle, and Multiple Brewing — and there have been reports a fifth is being planned.

About Athens Bike and Brew

This site started because we love beer. And biking. And Athens, Ohio.

We’re betting you do, too. That’s why Athens Bike and Brew exists. It’s for us. All of us who love riding the bikeway and love an occasional craft beer. Our goal is to build a community that shares information, tips and tales related to biking and breweries in Southeast Ohio. If we do this right, we’ll spend much less time staring at computer screens searching for info and more time on the bikeway doing what we love.

Now you know why this site exists. So who exactly are we?

Bob Benz and Lara Edge (and Sunny)

Abput Athens Bike and Brew
That’s us with our Great Pyrenees rescue, Sunny.

We  landed in Athens, Ohio, in 2014 after various media-related jobs took us to cities all over the country (Birmingham, Albuquerque, Denver, Austin, Knoxville, DC).

We came because Bob had accepted a visiting professorship at Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism. It was only a one-year contract, but Lara was so smitten with Athens after only a few months (really, from day one) that we decided to stay. Our business, LedgeSolutions, allows us the luxury of working from home and living in a place we love.

So we decided to call Athens home.

We bought a house.

Planted roots.

Adopted Sunny,  a Great Pyrenees who’s trying to come to grips with our twisted, 29-year-old umbrella cockatoo, Sydney.

We love Athens so much we want to give back. This site is one example of that.

Another is Lara’s chairmanship of the Athens City Commission on Disabilities.  We also helped Keep Noah Rolling raise funds to buy a handicap-accessible van for our buddy Noah Trembly.

And once we stumbled upon Passion Works Studio, our art collection started to feature an assortment of talented local artists. We even commissioned them to paint a custom rain barrel for us.

We’d love to hear what you think of the site. Post a comment below to say hi. Better yet, sign up for our weekly Athens BIke & Brew News email. If you don’t like it, it’s easy to unsubscribe.

Or contact us directly:

See you on the bikeway …

Lara on the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway