By Jim Cyphert & The Flight Crew
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Amazing! Ballistic! Like Christmas!
These are the words Justin Homer, owner of The Casual Pint Youngstown, used when he described how things have been going of late for his establishment.
Business was outstanding in the summer. Homer was expecting September’s final numbers to be at record levels.
“Since COVID-19 hit in March, people had been pent up,” Homer says. “They needed a safe place to enjoy themselves.”
The Casual Pint came through.
Homer and his team handled social distancing the “European Way.” A large tent was installed behind the plaza. Tables and bar stools were cleared out inside. They raised the garage door to open things up.
“We didn’t want people to worry about their safety,” Homer says.
COVID-19 gave The Casual Pint staff an opportunity to slow down and make some updates. They remodeled the kitchen, redesigned the back room and reconfigured the packaged beer.
Phill Reda, former owner of Vintage Estate and Magic Tree Pub & Eatery, often gets mentioned in Flight Crew articles. For good reason. He recently gave Homer a bit of good advice.
“Phill said in my third year in business, I’d begin to look at things a little differently,” Homer says. “It’s kind of like raising a child. Sometimes you need to take a step back and let things happen.”
It’s worked remarkably well.
Homer has seen some beautiful acts of humanity during the pandemic. He says the local craft beer community is even closer now than before.
The Casual Pint is one of the best places around for that community to congregate. As expected, Homer and his team had some unique, hard-to-find beers for The Flight Crew to enjoy.
Here are the beers we liked best:
AleSmith Speedway Stout with Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee (12.0% ABV)
Jason Jugenheimer – Do you know what you get when you take an award-winning stout and add cold brew made with rare beans from a world-renowned coffee factory in Jamaica? A marriage made in Beer Heaven, mon.
This beer pours a deep black with a tan head with a bouquet of roasted coffee and semi-booziness in the aroma. Hints of chocolate, caramel, nuts and fudge pair perfectly with the coffee to create an unforgettable beer experience that will leave you feeling like you’re sipping a full-bodied cold-brew coffee under a beach umbrella.
Modern Methods Sunbeam’s Shadow Dry Hopped Rice Lager (5.0% ABV)
Jim Cyphert – The Casual Pint loves to collaborate. Justin also previously teamed with Biker BrewHouse, Birdfish Brewing and Noble Creature.
This beer is like nothing you’ll find in the Mahoning Valley.
The Japanese term komorebi describes the phenomenon of light shining through tree leaves. Even through the darkness of COVID-19, a beam of light shines. Komorebi and traditional Japanese lagers inspired Sunbeam’s Shadow.
Adam Keck and Jeff Constantine at Modern Methods brewed this beer with rice to lighten it up and elevate its crispness. And it was dry hopped with experimental hops, giving it a tropical flavor and aroma.
Think mango and guava. You’ll find this only at The Casual Pint.
Toppling Goliath Sun Reaper Imperial Double NEIPA (7.8% ABV)
Roger Gillespie – Sun Reaper is an Imperial Double New England-Style IPA brought to us by Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. I fell for this beer at first sip. It pours a hazy golden with just the right amount of carbonation. It brings the aromas of pineapple and the tropics. It drinks semi-sweet with a crisp, piney finish. The lacing remains throughout and I appreciated the low bitterness. The 7.8% ABV is very well hidden in this gem. It’s very easy to drink for a double.
Ellicottville Brewing Pumpkinville Latte (6.5% ABV)
Dave Shively – Fall foliage in western New York draws thousands of visitors to the region as nature lovers show up in droves to get a glimpse of the spectacular scenery. One such town that draws the leaf peepers is Ellicottville.
I’d argue that a small brewery in this town has created a similar buzz, causing the craft beer faithful to also flock to the area. Ellicottville Brewing Co. has created a seasonal sensation it calls “Pumpkinville Latte.”
This ale is crafted by using locally sourced pumpkins and coffee, creating a bold, roasted flavor with just the perfect amount of spices to remind you that fall is in the air. This is a limited seasonal release. So just like the leaves, be sure to get it now before it’s gone until next year.
Bookhouse Brewing Brighten the Corners Farmhouse IPA (4.2% ABV)
Brian Long – The things I enjoy about Farmhouse ales are the varied flavor profiles and awesome hues I’ve seen. This Farmhouse IPA was just that.
It poured a vibrant yellow and had quite an intense tropical fruit aroma. The aroma of a light sweet pear, however, after the first sip was deceiving. A few more sips in, it pulled some faint citrus and blueberry flavors, with a hint of pineyness. Although Farmhouses tend to be summertime crushable beers with light, crisp and refreshing qualities, I could definitely entertain this one anytime.
Flying Monkeys Paranormal Imperial Pumpkin Ale (10.0% ABV)
Joe Sanfilippo – You don’t see this often: a 95 on RateBeer for a seasonal. But this imperial pumpkin ale scores just that.
This isn’t the only high-ranking beer from Ontario’s Flying Monkeys Brewery. Our friends at Esber Beverage in Canton hooked Justin up with this one. Paranormal Imperial Pumpkin Ale is the perfect beer for autumn. It comes in at 10% ABV, giving you that haunting feeling when you drink a pint. Paranormal pours orangish in color and has amazing spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, providing a familiar pumpkin taste. Stop into the Casual Pint and get this chilling beer.
Pictured: Justin Homer, owner of The Casual Pint, sits with Jim Cyphert of The Flight Crew.