Friendly Faces, Fine Food and Fantastic Beer

By Jason Jugenheimer & The Flight Crew
BOARDMAN, Ohio – We may be a long way from Boston but partners Lisa Lorelli and Mark Taylor had a familiar vision for Riser Tavern & Grill, 1135 W. Western Reserve Road in Boardman. “We strive to be the Cheers bar in our area,” Lorelli said with a smile.

With roughly 100 drinking establishments within a 10-minute drive, it’s that mentality of getting to know their customers like family that keeps the tavern full of familiar and new faces.

Riser opened in August 2016. As the owners get ready to celebrate five years in their current location, they are also getting ready to open a second spot.

They soon will be expanding to The Links at Firestone Farms in Columbiana with 20 beers on tap and a much larger kitchen playground for chef Lindsey St. Pierre to craft more of her amazing food. Their family of staff will also need to increase from the 20 employees to 40 or 45.

The second site will have a full-service bar and there are plans to add golf simulators in a portion of the space.

Click HERE for an exclusive video of the Flight Crew’s visit to Riser Tavern & Grill!

Supporting the local craft beer industry allowed Riser to weather the COVID storm, its owners say. 

The Boardman tavern and grill features 12 rotating taps. Holly Rolla minds the beer, keeping a couple of mainstream beers on tap for loyalists, but focuses on bringing in beer from the local craft breweries.

“We try to dedicate the majority of our taps to local breweries,” Lorelli says. “The ecosystem of local business is always a prominent thought in the choices we make at Riser. We recognize how important it is to support each other and the community. That support is what makes it possible for us all to grow together. Modern Methods, Noble Creature, Birdfish, Biker Brewhouse, Penguin City, Numbers and Paladin are all on tap at Riser on a regular basis.”

The owners’ dedication to supporting local has allowed Riser to weather the COVID storm. Lately, the bar has seen an upturn. “Business is certainly much better now and I feel that business is only going to improve with time,” Lorelli says.

No one yelled, “Norm!” as we walked in. But the Flight Crew felt like we were family as we spent an enjoyable evening hanging with Lisa, chatting about beer, growth and some crazy good food.

Here’s a little more about the beers we liked best:

Birdfish Beer Co. Larry Birdfish Blonde Ale: 6.9% ABV

Jim Cyphert – Growing up in western Pennsylvania, I didn’t have a Pittsburgh professional basketball team to watch. Seemingly every Sunday on CBS Sports in the 1980s, the Lakers and Celtics would battle it out.  I watched the rivalry very closely. While I loved Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers, there was just something about the Celtics and their little band of misfits. Larry Bird became a favorite of mine because of his smooth play and incredibly well-rounded game. Well, Larry Birdfish is just as smooth and well rounded. And it’s fitting, of course, that it’s a blonde ale – with little hops. 

This is my last regular contribution to the Flight Crew beer reviews. I’m sure I’ll make an appearance now and again. But I’d just like to thank The Business Journal, the folks who make up the Youngstown craft brewery scene and the rest of the guys in the crew for making my nearly five years of reviewing local craft beer an experience that I’ll never forget. Cheers, Mahoning Valley!

Heavy Seas TropiCannon: 7.25% ABV

Joe Sanfilippo – The transition from winter to spring is always pleasant – and what better way than to have a Heavy Seas TropiCannon Citrus IPA. On this visit to Riser’s, the board had one and I could not pass it up. TropiCannon has multiple fruits including blood orange, grapefruit, mango and lemon. As soon as my nose got near this one, I knew it was going to be something special. The combination of these citrusy hop flavors gives it a very tropical fruit-forward taste. This beer is perfect for sitting out on the patio and enjoying one of Riser’s very delicious smash burgers. 

Modern Method Brewing New Techniques Blood Orange Hefeweizen: 5.3% ABV

Brian Long – As the weather warms back up, Modern Methods has created yet another crushable creation. It took its flagship Scrappy German Hefeweizen and packed it full with a heaping helping of blood orange puree. This has catapulted the already great beer to a whole new level. This is a beautiful bright golden beer that has a great balance of the banana and clove flavor from the yeast with a citrusy twist. Pairs well with – anything! Old or “New Techniques” – keep cranking out these delicious beers. They are guaranteed to brighten up your day.

Noble Creature Cask House Fawkes Feathers Farmhouse Sour: 6.3% ABV

Jason Jugenheimer – The basement troll truly is a magical being. His wizardry with wild yeast strains and open fermentation makes Noble Creature a destination for craft beer fans who enjoy a funky experience. This hazy Farmhouse Ale is a magical concoction of ginger, turmeric and lemon zest that pairs with a little smokeyness and a little heat from the cayenne pepper. It definitely packs more funk than burn, though, and finishes clean with just a subtle touch of heat. It’s just another exemplary beer that rises from the ashes of the basement of Noble Creature.

Recommended Flight Pattern: Don’t miss the opportunity to check out some great local beer and amazing food.

Pictured: Mark Taylor and Lisa Lorelli are partners who operate Riser Tavern & Grill in Boardman.