Breweries offer taste at Beer Festival
By jeanne starmack
Just inside the Covelli Centre, Matt Polinsky, Aly DeChristefero and Mark Ragozine made their first stop at Saturday’s BeerFest.
The floor of the arena was lined with booths featuring about 80 breweries that were offering samples.
In a primo spot at the beginning of the tour was Oskar Blues, a brewery out of Colorado, with Dale’s Pale Ale, its flagship beer; Mama’s Little Yella Pills, a pilsner; and Old Chub Scotch Ale. Their booth had caught the trio’s attention first.
Their verdicts? Polinsky and Ragozine, both of Girard, favored Old Chub, a dark beer that resembles Guinness stout.
“Old Chub — it rocks,” said Polinsky. “It’s a good, heavy winter beer.”
“It went down easier than Guinness,” observed Ragozine.
For DeChristefero, of Niles, Mama’s Little Yella Pills was the better choice. “I like a light beer,” she said.
They did not provide feedback on the flagship, but the brewery’s “brand ambassador,” Thomas Hill, was happy to describe it.
“It’s a Rocky Mountain Pale Ale with a nice, malty, backbone, which makes it smoother,” he said. It’s available in Northeast Ohio at any crafts beer store or at Giant Eagle, he said. Distributor Superior Beverage Group is donating 50 cents for every case of Oskar Blues beer sold during October to Colorado flood relief. Plenty of tasters, flowing in between 3 and 10 p.m. at the Covelli, would drink to that and to the music of Golden String Radio, an Internet station run by adults with disabilities that was streaming at a live remote there.
Then, those tasters would move on, because there was a lot more to sample.
Tempting craft beers were on hand from Full Sail Brewery, Erie Brewing, Crazy Mountain, Magic Hat, Cellar Rats and Troegs Brewing Co., to name a few.
From across the pond came Peroni, an Italian beer that is light with nutty, citrus flavors and goes great with a stronger cheese, said Nikkie Forni, a Peroni representative. “In Italy, it’s a high-fashion beer,” explained her counterpart, Courtney Stacy.
Closer to home, the Ohio beers — Great Lakes of Cleveland, Thirsty Dog of Akron and Lagerheads of Medina — definitely were holding their own among the competition, said Zac Richard of Versailles, Ohio. His recommendations: Great Lakes’ Octoberfest and Thirsty Dog’s Bark- toberfest.
Eli and Ashley Oliver of North Jackson were impressed by Great Lakes’ Pub Exclusive, a smoky beer.
“It had a little bit of a smoke flavor to it,” said Ashley.
“It was good!” added Eli.
The event was coordinated by Gatta Productions, and part of the proceeds will benefit Golden String, an agency that serves adults with disabilities.
“We’re a problem-solving agency for people with disabilities,” said Jimmy Sutman, a DJ for Golden String Radio and founder of the agency.
Sutman said Dominic Gatta, who owns the downtown Federal Building, wanted the event to come to downtown.
He said he is friends with Gatta, who asked for his help.
Sutman said he recruited Gregg Wormley, president of the Youngstown Home Brew Club.
“He supplied lots of volunteers,” said Sutman, who offered their expertise at the event. “We supported Dominic, who contacted the major beer companies.”