Athens brewery planning expansion
Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery is experiencing growing pains at its Stimson Avenue brewery and is planning an expansion.
“We kind of filled out our building, which is awesome; we still can’t make enough product, which is another great problem (to have),” owner Art Oestrike told the Athens City Planning Commission on Thursday.
Oestrike had a preliminary meeting with the commission, and will be submitting architectural plans to the city for an addition to the building.
Jackie O’s has been making craft beer at the Stimson Avenue location since February of 2013. Before that, beer was made at just the downtown Athens brew pub and sold at Jackie O’s and at Casa Nueva & Cantina.
But with the opening of the Stimson Avenue brewery, the business has been growing.
“...All of a sudden, 14 months later, it’s everywhere ... (with) about 1,400 accounts around the state and growing all the time,” Oestrike told the commission.
He said Jackie O’s beer is being sold in nearly all, if not all, counties in Ohio, as well as in a couple border counties in Kentucky.
“It would really help out if we could get some more space ...,” he said.
Asked if the growth in the business has exceeded expectations, Oestrike told The Messenger the amount of growth the business would achieve wasn’t a certainty, but he knew there was a demand for the product — particularly since thousands of Ohio University graduates who are familiar with Jackie O’s live across Ohio.
“We had a pretty good idea that we would be well received,” he said.
Expanding the Stimson Avenue facility would allow the addition of up to five more fermenters, he said. The brewery recently expanded to 10, but Oestrike said the plan is to put larger fermenters in the new addition.
He told The Messenger there is now capacity to produce 10,000 barrels of beer a year, but with the full expansion it would jump to 25,000-30,000.
However, Oestrike said the additional fermenters would be added in stages, not all at once.
He told the commission that the new addition would also provide needed space for storage, explaining that some dry goods are now stored at State Side Technology Park on East State Street.
“It would be nice to have that on-site, as opposed to going and getting it all the time,” Oestrike said.
Commission members seemed to have a positive reaction to the expansion proposal.
“It sounds really exciting,” said Paula Horan Moseley, commission member and Athens service-safety director.
Horan Moseley alerted Oestrike that in the future there may be a requirement for the business to pre-treat its discharge into the city’s sanitary sewer system, given the expected growth of breweries in the city. New ones have been proposed for Columbus Road and Armitage Road, the latter in an area that is being considered for annexation into Athens.
Asked about that comment afterward, Horan Moseley referred questions to Public Works Director Andy Stone. He told The Messenger that it’s a matter that will need to be looked at, but that he doubts that the volume of waste, even if the other two breweries come online, would be sufficient to make pre-treating necessary.
Oestrike told The Messenger he does not know when construction will start.
“It would be nice to have it under roof by winter,” he said.
City Code Director John Paszke said that based on what he knows about the project so far, it will likely have to go through the city’s site plan review process. Various city departments will look at the project’s site plans to see if there are any concerns that should be addressed. The project would then go back to the planning commission for formal approval. Once Oestrike obtains a state building permit, then the city could issue a use permit, Paszke explained.