Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Beer: Swingin' into Jungle Jim's

For those that aren't familiar, Jungle Jim's is a HUGE -- seriously, ridiculously huge -- grocery store, international market and liquor store all smashed into one (and there are lots of smaller sections as well, like a cigar area). Last weekend, my wife and I had to drive her brother back to Miami University in Oxford, OH. Oxford is only about 20-30 minutes from Fairfield -- a Cincinnati suburb that's home to Jungle Jim's -- so it seemed like an ideal time to make our first trip there.

From the moment you turn off the road into the parking lot, you feel like you're going to an amusement park. There's even a bus loading area, for God's sake! After making the trek in from the parking lot, I tried to make a beeline for the beer section. The olive bar beckoned, though, so I had to stop briefly before continuing to the beer, only to be sidetracked again by the cheese shop!

The beer section at Jungle Jim's is very large, but the wine section is even bigger. My wife and I decided to split up, so while she took off to check out the wine, I circled the beer area. One wall had shelves labeled for areas of the country but the vast majority of the selection is disorganized. For example, there was a shelf of selections from AleSmith on one side while clear across on the other side were stacked cases of their IPA and YuleSmith. If you go in there looking for something specific, it might take you a while to find it. The beer area also features a walk-in cooler with many beer selections, including growlers of beer from a local brewery (sorry, can't remember the name).

The shopping itself was a different process than I typical use. Given that Jungle Jim's is very far away and I don't know when I might be going back, I circled and circled, scanning all the shelves, not wanting to miss out on some hidden gem. I wanted to be particularly diligent because Jungle Jim's stocks a lot of beer that's distributed in Ohio but not in Indiana.

One thing I couldn't get a handle on was the prices; some seemed very high while others were the best prices I'd ever seen. There was Brooklyn Black Stout for just $8.99, but I knew I could easily get that back in Indy so I passed on it. Then Hopslam was priced pretty high at $15.50, and there were cases and cases of it. Good thing I'm already stocked up on Hopslam!

I easily could have gotten three times as much beer as I got, but this is what I walked out with:

AleSmith IPA
Weyerbacher Old Heathen Imperial Stout
Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale (I've had this but I love it and it was just $2.99 per 24 oz bottle!)
Brooklyn Monster Ale
Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

I've already had the Hop Rod Rye and I can tell you that it's very, very tasty. I'll definitely be grabbing more of that on a future trip. You might not guess from the name, but it's an IPA. Highly recommended if you ever see it, as is Jungle Jim's in general! We were in a bit of a rush on this particular trip, so I hope to be able to spend a little more time checking out the rest of the store on a future trip. If you're ever in the area, Jungle Jim's is a place you really have to experience!


rodney said...

While Jungle Jims is awesome on just about every level a grocery store can be awesome (have you checked out their hot sauces?), The Party Source is really the place to get beer in the Cincinnati area. Kentucky has lower alcohol taxes and The Party Source is about the size of O'Malia's except dedicated entirely to alcohol. Check it out next time you're in the area: http://www.thepartysource.com/

braingirl said...

I looked into Party Source last year when I was looking for Shiner Bock and I wasn't very impressed. (This was while on the great Shiner quest.) Don't know if ultimately their selection or prices are better, but they weren't really helpful when I called them. (And I'm cursing that I didn't ask Chris to pick me up a case of Shiner Bock.)

re: Prices
I find the same thing with Jungle Jim's wine prices. Some are priced really well, others in line, and a few others weirdly high.

rodney said...

You do know you can get Shiner Bock at like every grocery store in that area, right? ;)

rodney said...

Also as an addendum, I would recommend that you give the Party Source a shot besides just calling them. Their prices and selection easily top anything in Cincinnati. I quickly learned from my fiancée who grew up in Cincinnati that the Party Source is the quintessential source for all things liquor related in the area. Asking for Shiner Bock at The Party Source is kind of like me calling Kahn's and asking if they have Barefoot. It's a valid question but the wrong clerk may have been irritated.

Matt said...

Man I will be in Cinnci in June, I will have to check out all these places.