By JIM CYPHERT
Heidelberg Youngstown is on an important mission.
It’s a labor of love that craft-beer enthusiasts throughout the Youngstown area truly will appreciate.
The distributor, at 1265 Crescent St., has honed in on creating memorable craft-beer experiences for Mahoning Valley residents. A recent move to add one of the hottest craft-beer brands in the nation to its portfolio is proof of this.
Heidelberg Youngstown is distributing craft beers and ciders from Cincinnati’s Rhinegeist Brewery throughout the Mahoning Valley.
An official distribution deal between Heidelberg Youngstown and Rhinegeist took effect Oct. 17. Rhinegeist was distributing on its own in the Mahoning Valley for about two months before the agreement.
The Rhinegeist deal is not Heidelberg’s first move to bring quality craft beer to Youngstown.
Jim Mook, a Heidelberg Youngstown sales representative, said his company has been aggressive about connecting its passion for craft beer with the people of the Mahoning Valley for some time.
“The breweries Heidelberg represents are not your standard lagers and light beers,” Mook said. “We have a strong craft-beer portfolio. When we see people try something new and can see on their faces how much they like it, that’s what we truly enjoy. We like to see that people have expanded their horizons to include craft beer.”
Last month, at the latest craft-beer event in the area – the Mahoning Valley Brew Fest – Mook said that providing new taste experiences and supporting the community are part of the shared mission of Heidelberg Youngstown associates.
“We’re a Youngstown-based organization, and we’re all about supporting this community,” Mook said. “As the craft-beer community grows here, we grow. Together, we all win. We believe Rhinegeist is an important element of that growth. And we continue to look for new opportunities to support craft beer growth here as we support our community.”
Mahoning Valley Brew Fest proceeds supported the American Cancer Society.
Employing about 40 at its 26,000-square-foot facility near downtown, Heidelberg Youngstown is part of Heidelberg Distributing Co., Dayton, one of the largest beer, wine, spirits and nonalcoholic beverage distributors in the Midwest.
Heidelberg Distributing is a family-owned and operated company that markets and delivers beverages to retailers throughout Ohio and in Kentucky. The company operates warehouses and office facilities in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Lorain, Toledo, Youngstown and northern Kentucky. The distributor employs 1,600 associates, offers 18,000 beverages, has 2 million square feet of warehouse space and 300,000 square feet of cooler space, and distributes to more than 26,000 retailers.
Heidelberg Youngstown serves retail outlets, bars and restaurants in a five-county region including Columbiana, Harrison, Jefferson, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
The Heidelberg Youngstown portfolio includes dozens of craft-beer offerings, including products from 21st Amendment Brewery (San Francisco), Atwater Brewery (Detroit), Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Chimay (Belgium), Deschutes Brewery (Bend, Ore.), Great Lakes Brewing (Cleveland), Rogue Ales (Ashland, Ore.), Samuel Smith (England), Sierra Nevada Brewing (Chico, Calif.), Thirsty Dog Brewing (Akron) and Uinta Brewing (Salt Lake City).
Multiple media outlets, including USA Today and Thrillist and the Boston Globe, have recognized Heidelberg Youngstown’s latest craft-beer arrival – Rhinegeist. Earlier this year, the brand was ranked No. 2 in a USA Today readers’ poll of the 10 best new breweries in the country.
Rhinegeist distributed about 10,000 barrels of craft beer in 2014. That figure jumped to more than 30,000 barrels last year. Unofficial estimates call for about 50,000 barrels to be shipped out of the brewery this year, with a little help from Heidelberg Youngstown. A barrel is 31 gallons of beer.
Rhinegeist signed the distribution deal with Heidelberg mainly because, in addition to Youngstown, the distributor has a presence throughout the entire state.
Rhinegeist mainstays Truth IPA, the brand’s flagship beer, and Cougar blonde ale are now available in the Mahoning Valley via Heidelberg Youngstown, in addition to ciders. Next up will be Dad, a hoppy holiday ale, and Panther porter, with more to come.
Through Heidelberg Youngstown, Rhinegeist beers and ciders are available at Mahoning Valley retail outlets and bars including Chalet Premier in North Lima, Magic Tree Pub & Eatery in Boardman, Giant Eagle stores, Vintage Estate Wine and Beer in Boardman, and other locations.
“We’re excited to be a part of bringing Rhinegeist to Youngstown,” said Mook. “Rhinegeist is one of the fastest-growing and best craft-beer brands in the country. This fits right in with our ongoing commitment to bring excellent craft-beer experiences to the residents of the Mahoning Valley.”