Photo Caption: Assistant Brewmaster Brian Cornelius poses for a portrait at Jackie O's Brewery and Pub on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011.
Athens' only local brew pub, Jackie O's, is taking a few first steps toward potential bottling and statewide distribution of its handcrafted beers.
Jackie O's, located at 24 W. Union St., has been slowly building and expanding its brewing capacity over the years. Owner Art Oestrike is slated to appear before the Athens Board of Zoning Appeals at its next meeting, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8.
At the meeting, Oestrike is expected to ask for a variance to locate a bottling and brewing facility at the now-vacant Athens Glass Service facility at 25 Campbell St. near the Sonic on Stimson Ave. Among longtime residents, the building is sometimes referred to as the "cheese-barn" due to its barn-like appearance and previous housing of a cheese-making operation in the mid '80s.
Last week, Oestrike said he was originally supposed to attend the zoning board meeting in October but his appearance was pushed back so he could make sure he has all of his ducks in a row on the matter.
"We should be appearing at the following meeting," he said. "We don't plan on bottling anything for a couple of years."
He said that he was told he would have to request a variance to get the ball rolling. He noted that the city code stipulates that such an operation cannot occur within 100 feet of a residential zone. Because the building is 70 feet from a residential zone, a variance will be necessary, city code Director John Paszke confirmed.
"Initially, we plan on putting in a brewery that can suffice more than the needs of 45701," Oestrike said, referring to the Athens zip code. "State stuff, but not beyond Ohio for some time."
He said that he's appearing before the zoning board because he likes the Stimson building, but if that building doesn't work out, they will look elsewhere.
"It's about bottling and a specific verbiage in the city code about bottling," he said.
The site currently has Larry Conrath Realty signs announcing the property is for sale.
Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl said that his take is that it shouldn't be a problem getting a variance from the zoning board.
"I don't see why they would actually object to it," he said. "It's another hoop you have to jump. The price is about $50 or $75 to go to the board for a hearing. I don't see why they would object to it, but it's a citizen board and I can't read all the citizens' minds."
Paszke said that he has to follow city code, so when he was asked about the possibility he had to refer the matter to the zoning board for a variance consideration.
"Bottling works are permissible in a B-3 provided they are over 100 feet from a residential zone," he said. "And he is 70 feet from a residential zone. So the variance would be just that: Less than 100 feet from a residential zone."
Paszke said that as long as everything is in order the zoning board will typically rule on the matter that evening.
Jackie O's offers a number of year-round, seasonal, four-leaf, barrel-aged, inspired sour and rare release brews. The brewery has held several bottle releases and is known for its hand crafted neo-traditional artisan ales.
"Traditional techniques and ingredients are paired with creative spins on classic beer styles," the Jackie O's website states. "We always use the finest ingredients from all over the world and give our ales time to do what nature intended them to do…"