Little Fish Brewing Co., Athens
Jimmy Stockwell and Sean White focus on local ingredients and sustainable business practices at their small southeast Ohio brewery.
The college town of Athens offers a bustling scene in the quiet of the Appalachian foothills. Downtown is lively with restaurants and watering holes, including standouts such as Casa Nueva and Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery. In 2015, Jimmy Stockwell and Sean White opened their Little Fish Brewing Co. outside the hubbub of downtown, and they couldn’t be happier about their small-pond status. “We wanted something for young families and the community to come and have a space that was much more laid back than downtown,” explains Stockwell. Driven by sustainability and a thirst for local flavors, he and White created a brewery on their 2 acres that drinks in — and gives back to — the land.
Local Focus: From the start, Stockwell and White have been committed to using as many local ingredients as possible. “At the time, there was not commercially available Ohio malt, but we were able to use Ohio-grown heirloom corn in the Shagbark Pilsner,” explains Stockwell, “and we were able to use Ohio-grown spelt in our saison.” In the past three years, local malts have become available, and Stockwell now gets his from Haus Malts in Cleveland.
Environmentally Minded: The benefits of brewing with local ingredients don’t stop at the bottom of the pint glass. “Some of the least sustainable parts of businesses are really product or material transportation costs,” says Stockwell. “By [buying] everything locally, we can reduce transportation costs.” The brewery even has a solar array to help supplement power. “If we can feasibly do something to be more sustainable, we really try and go for it,” he adds.
Living Off the Land: Stockwell and White also make use of their acreage, cultivating fruit trees and berries. Hops rope over arbors and herbs fill out garden space. Stockwell prides himself on the fact that Little Fish beers’ terroir, the flavor imported by the land in which ingredients are grown, changes from batch to batch — a variation that he says comes from purchasing what’s locally available from small growers. “I don’t think the idea is to make the single best beer in the entire world,” says Stockwell. “The goal is really to make interesting beer, and one of those ways is to use local ingredients.”
8675 Armitage Rd., Athens 45701, 740/204-6187, littlefishbrewing.com