By Jim Cyphert & The Flight Crew
AUSTINTOWN, Ohio — It may sound trite, but things are shifting into high gear at Biker BrewHouse.
The reason isn’t simply the novelty of being the first and only brewery inside a Harley-Davidson dealership in the country (it’s in the back corner of Biketown Harley-Davidson at 5700 Patriot Blvd. in Austintown).
It’s that Biker’s beer keeps getting better and the extra emphasis of the brewery on distribution, which ensures its beer keeps getting out to the masses.
Sales have increased each year since the brewery opened in February 2017. Last year, sales were up 51% from 2018. That year, Biker BrewHouse produced 104 barrels of beer. In 2019, production jumped to 212 barrels.
“Things are going fantastic,” says owner Larry Wilson. “In 2020, we expect to produce 300 barrels.”
Since Day One, Wilson has pushed hard to make sure many in the Mahoning Valley get a taste of his motorcycle-themed beers.
It’s working, as Wilson continues to assemble a team ready to go full throttle with that push. Tim Beauchamp is brewmaster and Mike Rendziniak was hired late last year to oversee distribution.
Recently, several classic Biker beer recipes were reworked and Beauchamp and Wilson incorporated an all-grain approach to brewing. The results are noticeable.
“Our focus has been on improving quality and consistency,” Wilson says. “We’re managing our growth in a disciplined and sustainable way.”
In addition to the tasting room at the dealership, Biker BrewHouse beers are now available at 84 other locations, including the Whistle & Keg in downtown Youngstown, the Casual Pint in Boardman, the Prop House in Lake Milton and many other craft beer hot spots in the Mahoning Valley.
The evening the Flight Crew visited Biker BrewHouse, we found 11 beers on tap. There was something to make all six of us happy. Plus, any time we get together with Larry and Tim, there’ll be plenty of laughs and smiles.
Here are the brews we liked best that evening:
JD’s Rumblin’ Red (5.0% ABV)
Jim Cyphert – With St. Patrick’s Day upon us, it seemed fitting that I should review JD’s Rumblin’ Red. This one’s a sweet, malty Irish red ale with tons of great flavor. It’s one of Larry and Tim’s biggest sellers, for good reason. What makes it that much more special is that it’s brewed in honor of Larry’s late father, JD. Irish reds were one of JD’s favorite styles of beer. So, here’s to JD during this week of St. Patrick’s Day festivities. And, here’s to Larry and Tim for keeping JD’s legacy alive and for brewing this delicious beer. JD would most certainly approve. Cheers!
Road Rash (5.0% ABV)
Roger Gillespie – It’s been a very long time since I first experienced “road rash.” It was a much more enjoyable experience this time. I always take a pretty good pull when sampling beers and I was pleasantly surprised by the subtle-but-true strawberry flavor and just how smoothly this beer went down. With a nice 5% ABV and a great aroma, Road Rash Strawberry Creme Ale is a real winner. And the bar – what an atmosphere! You’ve got to check this place out.
Whitewall Stout (6.0% ABV)
Joe Sanfilippo – There’s nothing quite like getting that Harley all cleaned up and those whitewalls shining for that summer ride. This Whitewall is a little different than those on the bike – it’s a white chocolate-vanilla stout. Brewed with coffee from local coffee shop High Octane, you get some nice flavor of coffee on the back end. At the beginning, you get a sweet white chocolate-vanilla taste. This stout pours golden in color with a sweet aroma to the nose. For sure, you stout lovers need to give this a try.
Hot Blonde Habanero (4.7% ABV)
Brian Long – Biker BrewHouse, without a doubt, revved up this blonde ale by adding some heat from fresh habaneros along with a little extract for a special extra kick. This beer has a slight fruity and peppery nose, but that’s just the beginning. From the first sip, you get a tinge of heat on the lips, followed by a smooth crisp finish. And just when you think it’s over, you get an extended warming finish on the backside. As you continue drinking, you’ll find the sweetness of the pepper starts coming through. You might think, “No way, this is too weird.” But at least give this little blonde with heat a 5-ounce try. It’s one of my favorites from Biker.
Hopster IPA (6.0% ABV)
Dave Shively – Full disclosure. I’ve never ridden a Harley or, for that matter, worn black leather pants. Barring a mid-life crisis, I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. But that doesn’t stop me from looking forward to visiting Biker BrewHouse, where good beer is my drawing card. On this night, Hopster IPA was my runaway favorite. This light-bodied and light-colored 6% ABV American IPA derives its sweet taste from a combination of Munich, Pale and Caramel malts, with hints of toffee, grapefruit and lemon in its profile. Hopster might sound like the name of a bike found in the “cruiser” category of motorbikes on the showroom floor. But trust me, you’ll only find Hopster inside the brewery, where it’s worth cruising on over to discover.
Steel Crank Stout on Nitro (4.2% ABV)
Jason Jugenheimer – This beer is a revved-up version of a dry Irish stout. First, it’s on nitro, which already gives it some great visual appeal. Watching the frothy brown head dissolve into a pitch-black stout is a fun way to get started on a beer. The nitro also adds another depth to the beer, a light creaminess that pairs well with the slight bitterness of the stout. This is not a heavy beer though, featuring a light mouth-feel with a semisweet and semidry finish. That, paired with the low ABV, means you can sample more than one and not feel like you can’t move from the stool. This is a stout that can be enjoyed in any season.