Making It Right
Published: 1/25/18 — Updated: 2/12/18
Hello Jackie O’s Supporters,
First off, we would like to thank you for your support all of these years; we would not be here without you. As you may or may not know, we have had a number of barrel aged bottles surface over the last several weeks that are not consistent with our usual standards. We would like to apologize for any inconvenience or issues this may have caused you. This was definitely not our intention, and the following information will hopefully address your questions and concerns, as well as present our solutions to the problem. We will then provide an in-depth report on what we have been doing to try and avoid this from occurring in the future. Again, we are sorry that this has happened and hope to regain your confidence in us.
- 2017 BB Brick Kiln
- 2017 BB Brick Kiln with Nuts
- 2017 BB Oil of Aphrodite
- 2017 BB Coffee Oil of Aphrodite
- 2017 BB Oro Negro
- 2017 Champion Ground
- 2017 Black Mask
- 2017 Black Maple
- 2017 Vanilla Black Maple
- 2017 Wood Ya Honey with Nuts
- 2018 Bourbon Barrel Dark Apparition
- 2018 Bourbon Barrel Vanilla & Coffee Bean Dark Apparition
Making It Right Exchange Program:
Starting Monday, February 5th, we will accept the bottles listed above for exchange. You can schedule an appointment to to drop off your bottles at our production facility, located at 25 Campbell St., Athens, Ohio, between the hours of 12pm-6pm daily by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.To ensure that we are able to effectively handle all replacements, we request that you please send an email 48 hours prior to your arrival.
Once you make an appointment, you will then be able to trade out the bottles listed above for available bottles at the Taproom. The Making It Right Exchange Program will run until June 30, 2018.
In the email please include:
- The number of bottles you intend to trade in.
- Your approximate arrival date and time.
- Contact name & phone number.
To check current bottle availability prior to your arrival, please visit: https://jackieos.com/brews/taproom-bottles-drafts.
Hopefully, the process outlined above will help you regain trust in Jackie O’s. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigated through this complex challenge. We wanted to be able to give everyone a thorough explanation, a definitive timeline for implementing upgrades, and fair compensation for compromised bottles. We have been doing a large amount of research on how to address the issues, and had numerous conference calls with equipment manufacturers in order to review the capabilities of the equipment and utility requirements of them. We have also assessed the capabilities of our operation in order to install and operate the new equipment. This investment should fix this problem for good.
In late February, a new bottling line arrives and will be commissioned. This machine should make a world of difference, as it does not contain plastic parts, is enclosed, and has the ability to sterilize itself with steam – our current bottler would melt if we did that! In mid to late June, an in-line pasteurizer will be arriving at the brewery. This will be an added line of defense, and will allow us to execute adjunct beers with confidence. No barrel-aged adjunct beers will be packaged until this pasteurizer is functioning.
Please know that we go to great lengths to avoid and reduce off flavors. After the beer has completed fermentation, we test it via our lab as well as sensory analysis to ensure that it is true to brand and void of any wild yeast or beer souring bacteria. If barrels appear to be questionable or dry, we steam them with our barrel steamer to ensure that the barrel is clean and free of spoilers. The beer is then placed into wet bourbon barrels. Once the beer is in barrels, it ages for 10-14 months. Before the barrel-aged beer is blended into a tank, every barrel is individually tested for both wild yeast and beer souring bacteria. Brad personally tastes each barrel in a controlled tasting environment, to perform a full sensory analysis. Sensory notes and the lab results are compared and any barrels that are suspect (sensory good/lab positive or vice versa) are re-tested and tasted to be sure. The lab does multiple tests on these barrels so the data leans heavier to either being clean or compromised (33/66% not 50/50%). When we detect a substandard barrel of beer, we remove it and dispose of the liquid. The good barrels are then blended into a brite tank and, once in the tank, the beer is tested again. The tank tests are almost always clean; if no adjuncts (ex. vanilla beans, coffee) are added, the bottles are typically clean.
The introduction of the spoilers mainly occurs in the conditioning tank when adjuncts are added and at the bottler itself. We have tried many different treatment tactics with adding adjuncts, including sterilizing them and making sure that the bacteria and wild yeast is killed prior to adding adjuncts to the clean barrel-aged beer. Unfortunately, it has been hard to pin down the best method, due to varying results. When adding the adjuncts, sometimes beer spoilers come with them; vanilla beans in particular have proven to be very difficult, as are nuts. Coffee seems to be hit or miss. We try to replicate our processes each and every time. For example, how do we produce 240 barrels of Java the Stout, yet somehow have issues with a small percentage of the 30 barrels of Black Mask and Champion Ground bottled in 2017? We are not sure where the variable lies, but these bottles could also have picked up something else at the bottler, which would explain why the cans are clean.
When we test the barrels, tanks, and bottles, we use a media that is designed to ensure the growth of these organisms if they are present. Just because they are present does not always mean that the organisms are going to live and/or affect the beer. Brewing the barrel-aged beers to a higher IBU and their big ABVs also helps inhibit growth and lactic acid producing bacteria. Sometimes this is the case, recently it is not. What becomes so maddening is that as rigid as our processes are, sometimes everything works great and other times we fail. Very often it is difficult to determine a deviation that caused a particular off flavor/aroma. Just when we feel like we have solved the issue, a new angle or malfunction presents itself.
Some people are claiming that this is an obvious cross-contamination issue. This is not the case. Our 375 mL bottle products make up only 2.5% of our production. Sour 500 mL bottles make up around 1%. This leaves the other 96.5% (cans and draft) to be clean and consistent. Our sour production is all conducted in a separate room that houses a separate bottler, tanks, and equipment for sour production. There is also a negative pressure exhaust system to prevent the sour room air from migrating to the brewery.
We are committed to resolving this issue and also producing the best beer possible. The inconsistency that exists with our bottling runs is almost worse than if every bottle were affected. The new equipment will ensure consistency in our beer. We look forward to turning another corner. Another uphill battle of regaining trust, reputation, and customers is ahead for Jackie O’s; we intend to put our best efforts forward and get the beer to our standards.
This has been a sobering experience, one we do not want to have to repeat again. The investment in new packaging equipment and a pasteurizer will improve our process 10-fold. The beer business has never been more difficult to navigate, innovate, and remain relevant within. We hope that these efforts will resonate with our fans, retailers, and peers. 2018 will see a dazzling number of releases and new beers. We are going to make the best beer we can and turn a new corner in process and quality control.
Thank you all for your understanding and support,
Art Oestrike, Brad Clark, & the Jackie O’s Family