Founded in 2005 near the Ohio University campus in Athens, Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery began with two small fermentors and an annual output of 300 barrels. Since its inception, the brewery operations have expanded to two other facilities, as well as, a nearby farm, Barrel Ridge Farm. Its beer distribution currently focuses mainly on the state of Ohio, however, a few spots in Kentucky and California also receive limited distribution.
In November 2014 a fire ripped through parts of Union Street in Athens, Ohio severely damaging businesses in the area. Jackie O’s was also damaged but nowhere near to the extent of its neighbors. The brewpub was relatively unscathed, however, the Public House lost its roof and sustained smoke and water damage. Which is where today’s beer comes in. The brewers at Jackie O’s had been thinking of doing a big imperial smoked stout for a while and the fire kicked the idea into high gear as the symbolism is, well, quite obvious. Wood Burner is an 11 percent ABV stout that spent over a year in bourbon barrels.
Pouring Wood Burner reveals a jet black body topped with rocky brown foam that is dissipating faster than it can build. It looks a lot like your standard dark soda, hell, it even sounds like it too. The aromas coming out of the glass are at first bourbon and toffee with a little touch of smoke rearing its head in the back. Some alcohol heat is there but it is less than expected in an 11 percent ABV beer. There is of a sweet bourbon stout than a smoked stout here.
The taste carries forth more of the same sweet toffee, bourbon, and oak with notes of espresso and dark chocolate bitterness playing supporting roles. The smoke is very, very light and near imperceptible. Wood Burner does carry some weight with a sticky feel and an appropriate level of booze heat but seems nearly flat. That is unfortunate as the sweetness builds and builds, and without the carbonation to scrub, ends up becoming a bit much.