By Jim Cyphert & The Flight Crew
BOARDMAN, Ohio – Support local. It’s a phrase heard everywhere these days. Especially in the world of craft beer.
Few are as dedicated to that cause as John Rudy and his team at Magic Tree Pub & Eatery, 7463 South Ave. in Boardman.
Rudy, born and reared here, has operated a few establishments in the area over the years.
He also had the pleasure of living in Cleveland doing the same and came back home with all his experience to work with Magic Tree.
Out of the blue one day, he received a message from Sandy Reda that encouraged him to join the growing team at Magic Tree.
“Sandy was persistent,” Rudy says. “So, I met the Redas. They’re amazing people and are like family today.”
Early in 2018, Rudy became operations manager at Magic Tree. Nine months later, he bought the place.
That’s great for the Mahoning Valley craft beer community and local businesses.
Rudy continues the tradition, begun by Phill and Sandy Reda, of supporting local businesses. “We like to support local breweries,” Rudy says.
Beers from Biker, Birdfish, Modern Methods, Noble Creature and Sandy Springs are often on the board.
Magic Tree head chef Jake Moyers makes his own nitro coffee by using beans roasted locally by Youngstown Coffee Co. Magic Tree works with local businesses including Premium Pastured Meats, Amorette Farms and Walnut Hill Farm.
Magic Tree supports local charities, including Second Harvest Food Bank and Inspiring Minds Youngstown. During the pandemic, Rudy and his team also donated meals to the Ohio National Guard and both St. Elizabeth hospitals.
We at the Flight Crew always enjoy our time with Rudy. This visit was no exception.
Here’s more about our favorites during our latest visit to Magic Tree:
Left Hand Brewing Flamingo Dreams Blonde Ale on Nitro (4.7% ABV)
Brian Long: The old saying, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, obviously has never met Left Hand Brewing. I’ve known this brewery to have some great stouts and porters on nitro. This raspberry blonde ale, however, was something unique. It has a very aromatic, fresh raspberry nose with the famous white, fluffy nitro head. At first sip, you get a tart, yet lightly sweetened, raspberry bite that literally fluffs up in your mouth and finishes with a silky berry creaminess. It’s not a tailgater; but is definitely a must try. So, next time you’re at the end of you meal or looking for a dessert beverage on the lighter side, might I suggest this strange-looking bird? Solid enough to stand on one leg! Cheers!
Coronado Brewing Pineapple Farm Hazy IPA (6.8% ABV)
Dave Shively: On a night when the outside temperature on the Magic Tree patio registered a tropical 84 degrees, I wasn’t quite ready to transition into the fall beers on the menu. To my delight, I discovered Pineapple Farm Hazy IPA from California’s Coronado Brewing Co. I found this beer to be a juicy, fruit-forward island vacation in a glass. This New England-style IPA burst with a citrusy aroma and pineapple flavor.
It also served as a perfect companion when paired with a side of wings dripping with Magic Tree’s signature vanilla porter barbecue sauce. I encourage you to treat yourself to an island vacation without leaving the mainland.
Clown Shoes Brunch Exorcism Imperial Stout (10.2% ABV)
Roger Gillespie: Aged in bourbon, Irish whiskey and maple bourbon barrels – throw in a hint of coffee – and what could you possibly expect? Deep, dark and aromatic: This sweet malty stout carries an ABV of 10.2%%. Brunch Exorcism showcases a thick tan head that leaves plenty of lacing. This is a very solid stout from start to finish and it’s guaranteed to be demon-free.
Sandy Springs Hometown Imperial Brown Ale (8.5% ABV)
Joe Sanfilippo: You could name several things Magic Tree and Sandy Springs Brewing have in common. Both have great food. Both have great beer. Both have a great atmosphere. But the biggest thing Rudy, owner of Magic Tree, and Andy and Amanda Conrad, owners of Sandy Springs, share is their love of supporting local businesses. On this visit, I was pleased to find Magic Tree had Hometown Imperial Brown Ale on tap. Coming in at 8.5% ABV, this imperial brown ale has tons of flavor, beginning with a hint of caramel and chocolate on the front end, topped off with a nutty roasted malt on the back end. You can support two locals on one stop.
Noble Creature Thin Lips on Peaches Berliner Weiss (4.5% ABV)
Jason Jugenheimer: This is one of my favorite Noble Creature beers – no matter which version – and one of the most versatile beers I’ve drunk. Open fermented with owner Ira Gerhart’s house funk – this beer is awesome as it stands. But the “Basement Troll” doesn’t stop there.
Thin Lips has had a multitude of dry hops or fruits blended into its variations. This one is finished with peach, creating a beautiful marriage of funky fruit flavor, which starts off tart then finishes semisweet. It’s the color of an unfiltered sunrise. If summer has to end, this is the beer I want to be drinking when it does.
Octopi Barrel-Aged S’Mores Stout 12.7% ABV
Jim Cyphert: If only I had eight arms. Each would pick up a snifter of this amazing find from Waunakee, Wis. When our flights were delivered, I did my customary sniff of the offerings.
When I came to this one, I turned to Brian. I’m not sure if our eyes or mouths opened wider. Aged in bourbon barrels from a beloved Kentucky distillery for more than a year, it’s bigger, bolder and boozier than the original S’Mores Stout. “Therefore, it may be better,” says Octopi.
I don’t see how it could get better than this. It’s everything you’d hope for in a barrel-aged stout. And more. I hope it’s on the board when you visit.
Pictured above: From left are Flight Crew members Jim Cyphert, Jason Jugenheimer, Joe Sanfilippo and Roger Gillespie; Magic Tree owner John Rudy; Flight Crew members Brian Long and Dave Shively.