YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – For Penguin City Brewing Co., the year 2022 was nothing short of momentous.
The company completed a $5 million renovation of a former warehouse in downtown Youngstown as its brewery, taproom and headquarters. It opened to the public in July. Funding was secured through Premier Bank and Valley Partners.
The 32,000-square-foot building at 460 E. Federal St. also has a 6,500-square-foot event center that has already hosted boxing events and festivals.
The Penguin City building also has two tenants: DOPE Cider House & Winery and KO Consulting.
The renovation of the building included the installation of heating-ventilation, electrical and plumbing, says Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki, who owns the company with her husband, Richard Bernacki. The 20-barrel brewhouse alone was a $1 million investment and allowed the company to double its annual production to 6,000 barrels.
In addition to the main brewing line, the company also installed a 3.5-barrel pilot system that it uses to brew test batches of new products and also beer for on-site consumption.
Previously, Penguin City brewed its beer in a much smaller facility in Youngstown and with other brewers under a contractual arrangement. Now, all brewing is done at the new downtown location.
The company took another major step early this year when it ended self-distribution and entered a contract with Heidelberg Distribution Co. to deliver its products statewide.
Lyras-Bernacki says the goal is to improve its reach in its current market footprint and then into the Cleveland area with Columbus and other Ohio markets following shortly thereafter.
Penguin City had previously entered contracts with Erme’s Distributing Co. for distribution in western Pennsylvania and Wine and Beverage Merchants for West Virginia.
The brewery staff expanded from 11 to 20 last year and more will be hired this year. William Zuschlag, formerly of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, was brought on board as vice president-sales. Ken Blair, former owner of Rust Belt Brewing, was hired as a head brewer.
Penguin City Brewery released its first beer, the flagship Penguin City Golden Ale in 2018. Penguin City Light and Penguin City Pale Ale soon followed.
The company is a partner, and sponsor, of Youngstown State University athletics and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and will release tribute cans for the teams in the near future, Lyras-Bernacki says. It is also will release some new seasonal brews and revamp packaging this year.
Pictured at top: Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki and Richard Bernacki own and operate Penguin City Brewing Co.