By Jim Cyphert
The word cavalier brings to mind a wide range of thoughts in the Mahoning Valley.
Some recall the popular J-Car built from 1982 through 2005 by hardworking autoworkers in Lordstown.
Others conjure up memories of the franchise that brought Northeast Ohio fans their first professional sports championship in more than 50 years.
To those in the know about all things hops and malts, the word equates to the “craft beer authority” — Cavalier Distributing.
Cavalier has been distributing great craft beer since 1992. The company offers craft beers from some of the finest breweries across the U.S. — and throughout the world.
Devon Ketchum represents Cavalier in the Mahoning Valley. He helps customers, including craft beer bars and retail outlets, take their offering up a notch.
“We make it possible for our customers to serve some of the very best craft beers available,” Ketchum said. “Craft beer customers in the Mahoning Valley are becoming more appreciative of and educated about good craft beer.”
Cavalier does its part to meet that need.
Cavalier represents mainstay craft beer brands Dogfish Head, Fat Heads, Heavy Seas, Jackie O’s, Kentucky Ale, Left Hand, MadTree, Revolution, Stone — and dozens more. The distributor also is well known for its international arsenal.
Headquartered in Cincinnati, Cavalier serves the Mahoning Valley from its warehouse in Richfield. The distributor covers all of Ohio as well as Indiana and Florida.
When we talked to Ketchum about getting together for a review, he suggested we meet at Vintage Estate (VE) in Boardman. VE is a solid Cavalier customer with a wide variety of the distributor’s offerings for sale in bottles, cans and on tap.
As always, VE’s Jeff McDevitt and James Sforza, were impeccable, knowledgeable hosts.
Here are the Flight Crew’s thoughts on the Cavalier beers we sampled:
Schneider Weisse Aventinus Weizenbok (8.2% ABV, 16 IBU)
“Sampling American craft beer at breweries, events and restaurants, I often get lost in the “craft” title. I search for the next hop slap of an IPA or the dark roasted malts of a higher gravity stout. Devon reminded me there are great European beers I’ve been robbing myself of. Aventinus is an example. It’s balanced and consistent. It pours a beautiful dark and unfiltered caramel color, yet maintains an almost white head. The aroma provides notes of wheat and fruit, reminiscent of a Belgian ale. It’s semi-sweet on the palate due to the wheat and clove flavors, but the flavor transitions toward darker fruits and caramelized bananas. It finished slightly dry. This great beer, that’s been brewed with this recipe since 1907, will find some shelf space at my house.”
Dogfish Head Sea Quench Ale (4.9% ABV, 10 IBU)
“Sea Quench Ale is a Session Sour brought to us by Dogfish Head Brewing. It’s a tart, slightly sour, lime-infused, low-alcohol beer with a dash of sea salt. It’s brewed with the goal to rehydrate drinkers. Research shows beers with less than 5 percent alcohol do not have a major dehydrating effect. Sea Quench Ale fits that criteria at 4.9 percent ABV. It also weighs in at 140 calories, less than a full-bodied IPA. Men’s Health named it an editor’s choice as best low-calorie beer for men. I haven’t been a fan of the recent trend toward sour beers, but Sea Quench Ale is refreshing and easy to drink. The low ABV is great for a long day at the beach. I need a long day at the beach!”
Jackie O’s Mystic Mama (7.0% ABV, 80 IBU)
“Conventional wisdom tells us to never mess with a good thing. The folks at Jackie O’s Brewery in Athens, Ohio, must have missed the memo. In April 2017, the brewery decided to take its signature flagship West-coast Style IPA, Mystic Mama, and alter the recipe. The result, I must say, was a home run. By nearly doubling the amount of dry hops to the brewing process, Mystic Mama now has a more complex hop profile, with the presence of grapefruit and pine aroma that hopheads will adore. Jackie O’s quest to continually reinvent its craft beers, by brewing beers with purpose, is what makes it a beacon in the world of craft breweries.”
Brouwerij Bosteels Tripel Karmeliet (8.4% ABV, 16 IBU)
“I had to pinch myself. Had I died and gone to heaven? I got to review one of the highest rated beers in the world this time around. This Belgian Tripel is rated 99 out of 100 on ratebeer.com and it scores a 95 on beeradvocate.com. This wasn’t my first sampling of this outstanding beer, and it certainly won’t be my last. It’s brewed using a recipe created in the 17th century by the Carmelite monks of Dendermode. It pours medium gold with a creamy white head, and it has a dry, crisp and refreshing flavor with aromas of citrus and spice. Its restrained hop bitterness is probably what keeps me coming back. Give it a try!”
Stone Tangerine Express IPA (6.7% ABV, 75 IBU)
“Don’t let the name Tangerine fool you ... this is Stone. This IPA is citrusy, fruity and hoppily balanced, and it’s as solid as its producer. Tangerine Express’ aroma is amazing, but the fruitiness ends there as a well-balanced bitterness finishes this nice treat. If you’re a fan of Stone’s beers, you should definitely give this one a try!”
MadTree Hoppy Amber (6% ABV, 30 IBU)
“Hoppy Amber from Madtree Brewery in Cincinnati is an American Amber Red Ale. It’s very easy to drink with plenty of aroma. A nice tangerine and grapefruit scent is the first thing you smell when pouring this one. If you get a chance, give this — or any one of MadTree’s other great selections — a try.”
Recommended Flight Pattern: Get some of the craft beer authority’s products in your life; Cavalier brands are available across the Mahoning Valley.