By Jim Cyphert & The Flight Crew
WARREN, Ohio – Thousands of small businesses have felt the negative effects of COVID-19. Count Clubhouse Brewing on North River Road in Warren among them.
“Business is at only about 30% of pre-COVID levels,” says owner Zach Dean, who was injured in Afghanistan while serving in the Army.
While some things have changed, much has remained the same.
That includes brewmaster Craig Dean’s meticulous approach to the brewery’s five-stage, Old-World brewing process, which can take up to 30 hours.
“I like to really work the grain to get its full body and flavor,” says Craig, who mastered brewing techniques in Germany in 1980 serving in the Army.
There are no shortcuts at Clubhouse, no filtering and no artificial ingredients, flavors or colors.
That was tough when supplies were limited. But Clubhouse stuck to its brewing instincts.
Soon two new beers will be on tap, a Peppermint Pattie stout and a Scotch ale.
While things have been challenging at the brewery, Zach Dean has seen success as an author. His series of Redleg in Space books have been picked up by Audible.
Clubhouse maintains a five-barrel brewing system. Clubhouse beers are available in its tasting room. The brewery itself distributes to 11 locations from Conneaut to Columbus.
Every beer lover should find something he likes at Clubhouse. Styles range from a Pilsner to a Doppelbock to IPAs to a Russian imperial stout.
We were thrilled to taste the labors of love of this father-son team of veterans, especially our Roger Gillespie, a Marine Corps veteran.
Our flights were a beautiful cornucopia of colors and styles.
Don’t forget to remember and honor on Veterans Day the veterans who served. And, pay it forward at Clubhouse with a “Pass It On” purchase for a veteran or first responder.
Here are the beers we liked best during our visit:
Valhalla’s Finest Russian imperial stout 14.0% ABV
Roger Gillespie (Marine Corps 1970-1972): Clubhouse offers us this excellent Russian imperial stout that’s full of coffee flavor, with a noticeable hint of chocolate.
Poured from a nitro tap, it flows dark with a rich, soft, caramel-colored head. The lacing stays thick with a lingering taste of bourbon.
In mythology, Valhalla is the palace of immortality for the souls of Norse heroes slain in battle. Thanks to Clubhouse for all they do for veterans and cheers this month of Veterans Day to all who have served. Semper Fi, my brothers.
C5 Galaxy milk stout 7.0% ABV
Dave Shively: The C5 Galaxy milk stout is named after one of the largest military aircraft in the world. This milk stout is aptly named because, just like its cargo-carrying namesake, it delivers. It combines a large flavor profile of roasted chocolate malt, with just a touch of sweetness. This one poured out almost black.
One common characteristic of the beers handcrafted at Clubhouse Brewing is that they’re all full-bodied. This one won’t fly under the radar. So make sure to add it to your next flight.
Deuces Wild Doppelbock 8.0% ABV
Jason Jugenheimer: This beer has a wonderful and playful freshness on an Old World style.
It dances on the high side of ABV for a Doppelbock and pours a deep, dark caramel color with a thick, tan head.
Deuces Wild incorporates a beautiful earthy nose highlighted by the star of this beer – 90-plus pounds of honey, all Ohio sourced through Blue Sky Bee Supply in Ravenna.
On first sip, you pull a light hop flavor as it hits your palate, with little to no bitterness.
This beer is malty and semi-sweet, with a smooth, yet complex profile and mouthfeel that will finish with traces of honey sticks that linger on your tongue.
This is definitely one to experience.
Reaper Octoberfest 7.0% ABV
Joe Sanfilippo: We’d like to thank our troops for serving our great country. We’d also like to thank the Deans for a warm welcome and a wonderful flight. As fall continues and temperatures drop, you can still find this Octoberfest on tap. The Reaper Octoberfest was my favorite of the evening.
It pours light brown in color with a tan head. It has a ton of flavor with hints of caramel at the beginning and the nice traditional Octoberfest finish on the back end. Coming in at 7.0% ABV, you’ll need to hurry out to try this one.
Blackjack IPA 8.5% ABV
Brian Long: This sweet, yet all-so-smooth IPA from Clubhouse is a must have on your next visit here. Not only was this the very first beer Zach and Craig brewed in 2005, it’s one that’s always on tap, with good reason. The beer poured moderately light, cloudy saffron yellow with just a slight head. At first sip, you catch light citrus and sweet honey (which is locally sourced) up front and as it lingers in your mouth, another hint of a more subtle honey and bitterness on the back end. Just make sure you order the “beer” blackjack. Otherwise, you may end up getting hit upside the head with one.
Hellfire Helles lager 7.0% ABV
Jim Cyphert: The Hellfire air-to-surface missile is designed to destroy high-value targets. Clubhouse’s Hellfire Helles lager provides the perfect high-value target for finicky craft beer lovers. We often ask in advance what the brewery owner’s favorite beer is. But I didn’t realize Zach and I were drinking the same beer until after I selected it for my review.
We agreed it is perfectly balanced for an evening of friendly conversation. Just looking at the unfiltered beauty of this beer, I knew it was my style. German Helles lagers remind beer lovers that the simple things in life can be most rewarding. I was completely satisfied. Lock into Hellfire Helles lager. You definitely don’t want to miss this target.
Recommended Flight Pattern: Honor the bravery of our veterans this month of Veterans Day – and every day. Get to Clubhouse Brewing to meet Zach and Craig and give their outstanding beers a try.
Pictured: Craig and Zach Dean are the father-and-son brew team at Clubhouse Brewery in Warren.