Updated: Dec 29, 2018
This is an archived copy of what was originally posted on Facebook.
There are only a few places on the planet that feel like “home” to me whenever I return, and Athens, OH is one of them. For those not familiar, Athens is a college town in the foothills of the Appalachians in SE Ohio, and home to Ohio University, my alma mater. OU is perhaps most famous as frequently being ranked as the nation's top “party school” for decades running, but there's much more to it than that... Athens isn't a town of frat boys doing keg stands, it's much deeper than that. Aside from the college kids, there is a certain kind of complexity in the people who are drawn to Athens... intelligent, artsy, progressive, iconoclastic, humorous, and definitely friendly. Wickedly smart, and interesting, yet earthy and well grounded. And sure, there are freaks as well... but beneath it all there's that certain vibe that only certain places on Earth seem to emit, and Athens is one of them. Magic happens here, just ask around.
Little Fish Brewing Company - Athens, OH
The beer can be found throughout Ohio.
Last night I rolled back into Athens to play the Little Fish Brewing Company. Little Fish is one of several Athens breweries, established in 2015, and growing steadily since. Based on a huge, rolling spread of land just outside town, there is the main brewery/taproom, a sizable outdoor area with numerous picnic tables, a roofed shelter, and a nice outside stage for music. The kitchen isn't open yet, but great food trucks currently serve the goods (tonight it was Thai!). I played the taproom due to torrential downpours, but in better weather live music is featured outdoors, often of the Americana/bluegrassish variety, including regular open jams. The scenery is the region's lush rolling hills. Inside, above the bar is a gorgeous mural by local artist Joy Davis.
Similar to my favorite Athens restaurant (the co-op Casa Nueva Restaurant & Cantina), Little Fish is very much about locally sourced ingredients and a mission of sustainably supporting the local economies. Most of the ingredients, from barley, wheat, rye, various fruits and herbs, and now even some of the hops, are all farmed in Ohio, and one of the brewery's flagships, Saison du Poisson, is “100% Ohio-grown, 100% of the time”.
OK, on to the beers... As you can see in the photo of the bar menu, it is extensive. My pints were all at the recommendation of Andrea and Addison, who tended the bar and were both a wealth of information about all the selections. Here's what I had, in the order I had them:
Woodthrush – an amber biere de gardge, with coriander, lemon peel, and grains of paradise. (6.5%). A refreshing take on the French-born variety, but with a nice lemony edge due to the peels. No sappiness, nice clean finish.
Maker of Things – an aged sour red ale (7.5%). I'm always a little hesitant with sours, as I've had some godawful ones, but this one was actually a pleasure. It was sour, but not ridiculously so, in fact it was quite drinkable. If I hadn't been told, I might have guessed it was a cider, as I detected an almost sour-apple undertone, which I really liked. Not only a sour that I would drink again, but could see really enjoying on a Fall day.
You Wanted A Hit – a Northeast style IPA, made with Ohio grown barley (6.2%). A golden hue and a little hazy, this was a very tasty IPA with a little citrus flavor, but without being overly hopped or bitter. Very drinkable, a person who thinks they don't like IPAs could probably start with this and discover that the Northeastern variety, and this one in particular, they could actually enjoy. Or the person (like me) who gets a little tired of the over-hopped trend and just wants a tasty IPA that doesn't taste like a pine cone.
The Giving Tree – a 100% Ohio-grown saison with spruce tips, maple, barley, wheat, oats, and nugget hops (6%) Crispy, clean, tons of flavor yet very well balanced, and wildly refreshing. Perfect thirst quencher. This one really hit the spot at set-break when I was hot and needed a cold one.
Karmanfest – a Vienna Lager, (5.6%). Another really refreshing one. This capped off my evening after playing a couple of extended sets of music, and (like the Given Tree) was satisfying in a big way, and also a refreshing shift of flavor and body moving from the ales to a lager, with that little bit of toastiness without the sweetness.
I had a great time at Little Fish, despite the miserable nonstop downpours. The beers were all fantastic (not a dud in the batch), Andrea and Addison were fun people, and a really friendly and warm crowd. I can't imagine how cool it must be to play outdoors with perfect weather and the gorgeous views... not to mention the on-going expansion, planned kitchen, etc. I want to do play here again in the Spring!
P.S. - THANK YOU to the The Athens NEWS for the write-up and photos!