By Jim Cyphert & The Flight Crew
WARREN, Ohio – Earlier this year, things were humming along for Adam Keck and Modern Methods Brewing Co. in downtown Warren.
Sales were up. Beer was consistent. Customers were happy.
Then along came COVID-19.
“When we had to close our tasting room, we knew we needed to pivot,” says owner Adam Keck.
The brewery pivoted as effectively as Kareem Abdul Jabbar did in the paint for the 1971 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.
“We figured out a way to survive and grow in a time when 60% of our revenue was gone in an instant,” Keck says.
COVID-19 crippled many small independent businesses. Yet the pandemic demonstrated what a solid foundation this two-time Ohio Craft Brewers Cup-winning brewery was built upon.
Keck and his team kept on brewing, increased fermentation capacity, canned more beer and increased sales outside the brewery.
While the taproom still isn’t open, cans are now sold onsite at Modern Methods’ “Lemonade Stand,” which is open Thursday through Saturday. The brewery also focused on its online sales presence.
Modern Methods’ beers can be found at about 10 bottle shops, grocery stores and brew-thrus throughout the Mahoning Valley and at restaurants and craft-beer bars.
Keck’s plan is to continue to brew and package five days a week to keep up with increased demand.
“If we were to open the taproom right now, we’d be sold out in a weekend,” he says.
The Flight Crew always has a blast spending quality time with Keck. On this visit, we thoroughly enjoyed a warm summer evening in David Grohl Alley sampling some of Modern Methods’ finest offerings.
Here are the beers we liked best:
Panthertown Pilsner (4.5% ABV)
Jason Jugenheimer – The Modern Methods’ brewing team’s love of tradition is pronounced in its beer. They love to brew Old World styles, crisp and clean beers, which would be the pride of any European pub. They also love the tradition of Warren, evident in many of their beer names and their blue-collar brewing style. Panthertown is no exception. Brewed and named to honor the Warren Harding Panthers from 1957-1999, before the merger with Western Reserve, this beer is an easy-drinking German pilsner. It’s light on hop flavor and easy to put back. An extremely crushable beer with a slight malty sweetness on the finish, it’s perfect for a warm summer day or a fall tailgate.
Levi Irish Ale (6.4% ABV)
Dave Shively – With all of the social unrest in America today centered around racial inequality, it would appear that Levi Sutliff was a man ahead of his time.
Sutliff was a lifelong resident of Trumbull County, a devout abolitionist, who in the 1830s formed an anti-slavery society in Ohio and was a conductor of the Underground Railroad. Modern Methods pays homage to this hero with Levi Irish Ale, using traditional Irish malts, to form the backbone of this beer. This beer pours beautiful reddish brown and the taste is slightly sweet and malty. Now available in cans, Levi should be celebrated year round, not reserved just for St. Patrick’s Day.
Roast Beast American Stout (6.0% ABV)
Roger Gillespie – Roast Beast is an American stout that offers a fantastic blend of coffee and chocolate in a very drinkable, any time, any season stout. It pours deep, dark and rich, with a light-tan solid head. It brings an ABV of 6%, but drinks easy and light. It’s truly one of my favorite beers. For a real treat, stop into the brewery to have one on nitro and say hello to Adam and the crew.
Darlene American Lager (5.5% ABV)
Joe Sanfilippo – Darlene is an American lager and it’s Keck’s flagship beer, for many reasons. It’s indeed one that you’ll need to try for yourself to see exactly why.
In the nose, you get a little sweetness. It’s golden yellow on the pour with a very nice head. This beer has a very slight hint of hops. The can has ‘Crisp-Clean’ on it and, after one sip, it’s easy to see why. This beer can be bought in cans at the brewery and at several locations throughout the Mahoning Valley.
#hopfart Hazy New England IPA (7.7% ABV)
Jim Cyphert – When it was time to select a beer to review, there were several ways I could go. Two of Keck’s flagship beers – Scrappy German Hefeweizen and Dub-City IPA – were still on the board. Instead, I went with the all-star rookie, #hopfart. I really love some New England IPAs this summer. Then again, who doesn’t? But this is one of the best around. It’s got just about the perfect balance of tropical sweetness and hop bitterness. Beer tasters at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County’s third annual Brew Ha Ha agreed; #hopfart got the most votes for best beer of the night. Citra, Mosaic and Mandarina Bavaria hops leave #hopfart bursting with juicy, tropical and citrus flavors that practically jump out of your pint glass. As long as it’s jumping down my throat, I’m OK with that.
Rodina Lager (5.7% ABV)
Brian Long – Head brewer Jeff Constantine’s attention to detail with this beautiful beer is sure to please any beer enthusiast across the land. From its unique name to its feisty amber color, there’s a lot to love about Rodina. Brewed once a year around the time of Youngstown’s Simply Slavic Heritage Festival, this beer has an exquisite balance of light floral aromas on the nose as it, as Adam put it, “cascades into the subtle bready and raisin flavors” from the Bohemian malt. So, next time you’re looking to slake that thirst, reach for this full-bodied, easy-to-drink, flavorful beauty. She never disappoints.
Pictured: The Flight Crew keeps their distance at Modern Methods Brewing Co. From left are Jason Jugenheimer, brewery owner Adam Keck, Brian Long, Dave Shively, Jim Cyphert and Roger Gillespie. Not pictured is crew member Joe Sanfilippo.