Jackie O’s Brewery | Scrip
Athens, Ohio, is a small college town hidden in the hills of southeast Ohio’s coal country that plays host to several excellent breweries, the oldest and most notable of which is Jackie O’s Brewery. Jackie O’s beers cover the spectrum of styles, from sessionable pale ales to barrel-aged behemoths, and rustic saisons to elegant barleywines. Nothing is off limits for this eclectic brewery, and it’s fitting that one of their most celebrated new beers this summer is a style that’s just beginning to creep into the consciousness of American craft beer drinkers—grisette.
If the misty annals of beer lore are to be believed, grisette was to 19th century Belgian mine workers what saison was to its farmhands. Grisettes are lower in alcohol than most commercial saisons today, but there is still a tremendous amount of overlap between the styles. While grisettes are always brewed with some measure of malted wheat (saisons don’t have to be, but can) and tend to feature a slightly brisker hop character than saisons, the Venn diagram between grisettes and petite saisons is very nearly a circle.
Jackie O’s have proven themselves more than capable of brewing saisons already. Pockets of Sunlight, which features lemon verbena and coriander, recently finished third in Paste Magazine’s blind tasting of 116 saisons, a tasting that included most of the authentic Belgian classics. When it came time to add a lower alcohol farmhouse ale to their stable, however, this Athens brewery decided to honor the mining heritage of their region of the Buckeye state with saison’s lesser known cousin.
Scrip is named for the controversial currency miners were paid with historically. It wasn’t money at all, but rather a type of token that could only be used at the mining company’s stores in each mining town or camp, guaranteeing that the money stayed in the company because it was useless elsewhere. Despite this grim backstory, the bottle’s clean, simple label is quite elegant. The label also tells the story of the nearby Hocking Valley Coal Company, and the Eclipse Company Store, which still stands in north Athens and today operates as a bar and restaurant pouring excellent craft beers, including several by Jackie O’s.
Scrip is fermented with Jackie O’s house saison yeast strains, but also receives some additional help from brettanomyces clausenii. The beer spends nine months in oak wine barrels before bottling. Jackie O’s director of brewing operations Brad Clark explained that the time in barrels dries the beer, making it a more refreshing brew. “It helped dry the beer out by giving the brett plenty of time to work through all the sugars,” said Clark. “The light touch of oak helps give the beer balance and depth while maintaining its very low ABV.”
Pouring a beautiful light gold, Scrip offers up aromas and flavors of funky bread dough with some tart high notes and light, golden notes of stone fruit and pineapple wafting throughout. The wine barrels come through in rumors, in a tickle at the sides of the tongue. This beer is dry and refreshing. It’s both rustic and refined, which is everything a beer in this style family should be. I’ve never hefted a pickaxe or descended a mine shaft, but Scrip makes for a lovely light at the end of any workday’s dark tunnel.
Feature image courtesy of Jackie O’s Brewery.