By Jim Cyphert
Mahoning Valley Flight Crew
The father-son team behind Trumbull County’s first brewery since Prohibition bring a perfect combination of smarts and skills.
Craig and Zach Dean opened Clubhouse Brewing in Warren last December. This veteran-owned brewery that supports causes including Veteran’s Outreach has continued to grow since.
Father, Craig, mastered brewing techniques in Germany in 1980 while serving in the Army.
Son, Zach, earned a master’s degree in accounting from Case Western Reserve University after being injured in Afghanistan serving in the Army.
As many have learned during the craft-beer explosion, it takes more than just great beer to succeed.
“You need a smart business plan and great beer,” said Zach. “We didn’t want to start too big. We’ll expand, as needed, as we grow.”
Clubhouse has a five-barrel brewing system. Clubhouse beers are available in its tasting room, and the brewery self-distributes to 11 locations from Conneaut to Columbus.
Having the right products is key.
“I’m a fan of traditional German-style beers,” said Craig. “Zach is into newer craft-beer styles. So, we have a really nice variety.”
If You Go
Establishment: Clubhouse Brewing Co.
Address: 668 N. River Road NW, Warren
Hours: Sun., Tues., Weds. & Thurs.: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fri. & Sat.: 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
What They Offer: Craft beer, meat and cheese trays, merchandise.
Every beer lover should find something they like at Clubhouse – styles range from a Pilsner to a Doppelbock to IPAs to a Russian Imperial Stout.
We enjoyed Craig and Zach’s stories, and encourage the Mahoning Valley – beer lovers or not – to hear them firsthand.
We were thrilled to taste the labors of love of these veterans, especially our Roger Gillespie, a Marine Corps veteran. Our flights were a beautiful cornucopia of colors and styles.
As Veterans Day approaches, please remember and honor the veterans who served. And, pay it forward at Clubhouse with a “Pass It On” purchase for a veteran.
Here are the beers we thought were the best during our visit:
Knuckledragger Double IPA (6.0% ABV)
Roger Gillespie (Marine Corps – 1970-1972): “A special ‘Thank You’ to the folks at Clubhouse for the respect shown to veterans and all who serve. My favorite beer of the evening was a brew aptly called Knuckledragger. It has a fantastic hop profile while offering only 6 percent ABV. Adding dark malts and a touch of chocolate brings this fine brew together into a rich, smooth, very-dark, Imperial-style Double IPA. It’s a great autumn beer.”
MK2 Pineapple Whit (5.0% ABV)
Dave Shively: “The MK2 Pineapple Whit was named after the most popular style of hand grenade used in combat because of how much an MK2 resembles a pineapple. But you won’t find any black powder in this beer! This refreshingly smooth Belgian-style ale further earned its name because 31 pineapples were added during the brewing process. This light-bodied, crisp ale was the most refreshing beer I sampled all night.”
Valhalla’s Finest Russian Imperial Stout – Served on Nitro (14.0% ABV)
Jason Jugenheimer: “I’ll see you in Valhalla my brothers ...” – or a variation – has been spoken since the age of warrior Vikings. Valhalla, the ‘Hall of the Fallen,’ is where those warriors in Norse mythology would meet in death. Valhalla’s finest were those warriors fit to hang with Odin. This Valhalla’s Finest is a Russian Imperial Stout fit to be served as their ale.
“This beer is a labor of love … enjoying a brewing process that takes upward of 30 hours. The final product really showcases that process. It’s dark and rich, with hints of roasted coffee and dark chocolate. The touch of French oak chips soaked in bourbon add a silky smoothness that provides a nice warmth as it leaves your tankard and takes its final voyage toward your belly. This is definitely a beer to enjoy as the nights get longer and Viking winters set in.”
Reaper Octoberfest (7.0% ABV)
Brian Long: “Reaper jumped out at me, which is odd as the Octoberfest style is normally not one of my favorites. However, the extra time spent brewing this one changed my mind ... rather, my palate. Reaper poured as dark as the reaper himself. It was a super-deep-dark-reddish brown. Upon my first sip, this beer had a solid body with some spice notes I could not place. The flavor was so unique, it left me wanting another taste. This was one of the most well-rounded Octoberfest beers I’ve encountered and it almost ... almost ... made me happy fall is here. So, listen to some Blue Oyster Cult and (Don’t Fear) The Reaper. Grab a pint and enjoy it ... before it’s gone.”
Blue Falcon Blueberry Porter (7.5% ABV)
Joe Sanfilippo: “For all who have served this great country, we thank you. For those who serve at Clubhouse, we thank you as well. This Blue Falcon won’t stab you in the back, but it sure will taste good on a nice, crisp day. This Porter has a deep, dark pour with a malty start and a solid blueberry finish. The Blue Falcon is, for sure, one to try.”
Deuces Wild Doppelbock (8.0% ABV)
Jim Cyphert: “Sixty-one pounds of local honey. That’s what stuck in my head as I sipped Clubhouse’s No. 1-selling beer. It’s what gives Deuces Wild its distinctive, sweet flavor. Deuces Wild outsells every other Clubhouse beer 3-to-1, and it’s easy to see why. Craig brews this one using Old World techniques picked up in Germany when he was serving in the Army. It’s a crisp lager with a carmel color and body. You pick up hints of banana, and it’s got a pristine finish.”
Recommended Flight Pattern: Remember and honor the bravery of our veterans on Veterans Day – and every day. And, get to Clubhouse Brewing to meet Zach and Craig and try their outstanding beers.