Jenny Sokoloski of Columbus, Ohio, enjoys a craft beer at Eclipse Company Store while taking a break from riding the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway in Ohio's Athens County. Four breweries and one cider house are located near the bike path, which has led to the recent creation of an organized ale trail called Brewed on the Bikeway.
It all starts with a well-paved path. In this case, it’s the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, a 21-mile flat trail along an old railroad line that extends northwest alongside the Hocking River from Athens, Ohio, to Nelsonville, Ohio. The pathway is especially picturesque in the fall.
The city of Athens, Ohio, is quite hilly, but the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway is flat and provides a peaceful ride through the scenic countryside of Athens County. Sites include the Hocking River, Ohio University campus and Wayne National Forest. Pedaling the path offers a fun way to work off calories while traveling from one brewery to the next.
The trail includes Jackie O’s Taproom and Production Brewery, which began in 2005, making it the oldest brewery in Athens, Ohio. Customers can purchase a flight of beers served on an Ohio-shaped board.
Locals gather at Jackie O’s for “Sunday Funday.” Captivating craft beers vary from a bourbon barrel-aged stout with coffee called Champion Ground, to a tart ale brewed with coriander and sea salt named Gose, to a wheat ale that’s fermented with local pawpaw fruit.
Jackie O’s bartender Chris Monday holds a can of Ohio Pale Ale sporting a label he designed. Art is a big part of Athens, Ohio's culture.
Just off the bikeway, and seemingly smack dab in the middle of nowhere, is Little Fish Brewing Company. Opened in 2015, this hidden gem melds all the right ingredients for a splendid time – fine microbrews, good eats from a food truck, and lots of space to chill and soak up the scenery. The business gets bonus points for having wind-powered electricity.
Beau Nishimura, taproom manager at Little Fish Brewing Co. in Athens, Ohio, hands a beer to a customer. The beer-making process here starts with corn and spelt grown in Ohio. “Farmhouse ales and sours are close to our heart,” Nishimura says. “But we also have lagers, pilsners, stouts and wheats.”
Riders won’t go hungry on the beer trail thanks to culinary standouts like the Cajun Clucker, an upscale food truck stationed at Little Fish Brewing Co. Surprising menu items include a soft-shell crab sandwich, blackened quail sliders and fried alligator.
Refueling at the Cajun Clucker might involve devouring a blackened mahi-mahi sandwich with a side of red beans and rice.
Cameron Fuller stands with beer in hand alongside Devil’s Kettle Brewing, which he opened in Athens, Ohio, in 2015. “I’m the story of a home brewer who got obsessed,” says Fuller, who serves 20 traditional English ales and German lagers on tap. His flagship is an imperial blonde called Spider Silk. “It’s light, but strong,” he says.
Into the wee hours of the morning, folks saunter into the West End Cider House in Athens, Ohio, for craft cocktails and hard cider pressed onsite from Ohio-grown apples.
Head bartender Rio Ajamian pours a house-made cider at the West End Cider House, where unique varieties include a semisweet cider infused with lemon and ginger, bourbon barrel-aged cider, and a botanical made with rose hips, lemongrass and hibiscus.
The Athens County courthouse on Court Street embodies the historic charm of uptown Athens, Ohio. Home to Ohio University, Athens is a bustling epicenter for academics, artists and foodies who’ve made this southeastern Ohio enclave a must-visit destination.
Delve into the local food scene at Casa Nueva restaurant and cantina in Athens, Ohio. The worker-owned cooperative is dedicated to strengthening the community by promoting wholesome food and responsible business practices. Pictured here is the breakfast burrito wrapped in a house-made tortilla.
For a bout of burlesque, head to O’Betty’s Red Hot in Athens, Ohio, for all-beef and vegetarian hot dogs served with lots of pizzazz. Dogs are named after exotic dancers such as Mata Hari and Salome. A hot dog museum rounds out the quirkiness.
Another great source of nutrition and calories while on the bike trail is the Athens Farmers Market, held year round on Saturdays in a retail parking lot on East State Street. Here, baker Chloe Rothwell peddles pretzels and bagels made with Chomolungma beer from Jackie O’s Taproom and Production Brewery.
Uptown Athens offers more options for hungry riders. Choose a sandwich at the Bagel Street Deli, like the Larry David that comes with lox, cream cheese, capers, tomato and onion. Afterward, make art out of your tinfoil wrapper and add it to the wall gallery.
Miller’s Chicken is another Uptown Athens favorite, serving locally sourced chicken since 1947. The menu goes well beyond nuggets here. Order chicken breasts, wings, legs, livers, gizzards and hearts.
Begin or end Brewed on the Bikeway with a sweet treat from Fluff Bakery in Uptown Athens. Here, Danielle Wallette of Cleveland (left) holds a plate of red velvet whoopee pies, and Carly Willison of Carrollton, Ohio, holds cupcakes. The bakery offers creative comfort food with lots of vegan options, as well as local beers, if you’re still so inclined.
The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway ventures past some interesting sites, including a restored coal company town called Eclipse in an area known as The Plains, Ohio. Here you’ll find a stellar craft beer hall called the Eclipse Company Store, where folks gather for family game nights, pool tournaments and music on an outdoor stage under the stars.
Jason Werner pours a German Weihenstephan, one of 35 beers on tap at the Eclipse Company Store, a beer hall that opened alongside the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway in March. “We get a lot of people off the bike trail,” Werner says. “They’ve burned some calories and it’s a great excuse for people to rest and have a beer.”
The food menu at the Eclipse Company Store is as varied as the beer selection with such choices as locally raised, grass-fed beef burgers, homemade pierogis, breaded eggplant tots, and a garden burger topped with red baggage and pickled radish.
Tyler Sampson prepares a meal at 9 Tables in an area of Athens County called The Plains, Ohio, just off the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway. “We seat nine tables at a time and close the restaurant after a fine, seven-course meal,” says Sampson, owner and head chef.
A serving of mussels in white wine sauce is one of seven courses at 9 Tables. Other delicacies on the November menu include rosemary-potato soup, filet mignon with mustard cream sauce, and a flourless chocolate torte.
Situated at the northernmost point of the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway is the city of Nelsonville, Ohio. Founded in 1814, its history is rooted in coal, salt and clay, as seen in the star-patterned bricks embedded in the sidewalks. The bustling Historic Public Square is home to a restored opera house, art galleries, notable eateries and a new brewery.
Fresh off the bike trail, Kate Mendenhall and Dave Plessinger of Cincinnati enjoy beers and takeout food at Multiple Brewing in Nelsonville, Ohio. The couple says they’ve been to all of the breweries on Brewed on the Bikeway. “It seems like more and more people are into the bike-and-beer movement,” says Plessinger, sporting a cycling T-shirt that reads “Life behind bars.”
Husband-and-wife team Jason and Michelle Warren opened Multiple Brewing last year near the bike trail in Nelsonville, Ohio. “We make approachable, balanced American-style craft beers that aren’t overly hoppy,” says Jason, who’s the brewmaster at the 1,100-square-foot brewery.
Coffee, comfort food and cookies can be found at FullBrooks Cafe in Nelsonville, Ohio’s Historic Public Square. Located in a historic hotel, FullBrooks boasts hospitality and serves as a gathering point in this tight-knit, artistic community.
Also in Nelsonville’s Historic Public Square is Rhapsody, an upscale yet casual restaurant operated by students of the Hocking College culinary program. “We get people right off the bike trail coming in for dinner,” says server Jerome Wlodarczyk of Cleveland. Pictured here are plates of salmon and scallops served over a lobster bisque risotto.
No need to haul a bike to Athens, Ohio, to participate in Brewed on the Bikeway. Instead, visit one of several rental shops in the area including Black Diamond Bicycles in Eclipse, Ohio. The family-owned bike shop offers adult and kid bikes and pull-behind buggies for hour and day rentals.
Rick Valentine of Athens Bicycle fits Jenny Sokoloski of Columbus, Ohio, for a bike to ride while experiencing Brewed on the Bikeway. The full-service bicycle shop is one of several spots on the trail to rent bikes. “People come from around Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia to make a day of it,” says Valentine of the ale trail. “They ride, drink beer and eat. It’s been enormously popular.”