BY JIM CYPHERT & THE FLIGHT CREW
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Some argue beer is recession-proof. A more accurate description might be that it’s recession-resistant.
No one’s arguing that COVID-19 has affected us personally and professionally. But some reports show beer sales are up during this crisis.
R.L. Lipton Distributing’s Ed Carissimi says that during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown, sales ticked up for the business at 425 Victoria Road in Youngstown.
“Food, spirits and beer do well in tough economic times,” Carissimi says.
Sales at restaurants and bars are down because they’re open for pick-up only. Sales at grocery stores and retail outlets have risen. “We’re making fewer stops, but volume is up,” Carissimi says.
Time will tell how the industry holds up.
In the meantime, The Flight Crew has a job to do: Keep the Mahoning Valley up to speed on the craft beers available here.
Since we couldn’t get out to review a brewery or craft beer establishment, we practiced social distancing by reviewing R.L. Lipton’s offerings at home.
We arranged for a no-contact pickup at Lipton, which has taken extra precaution during the pandemic to keep its employees, customers and vendors healthy and safe. There was no direct Flight Crew contact during this sampling.
Carissimi and Lipton have supported The Flight Crew since Day One. We were hooked up with great beers from Alaska to Hawaii and from Ohio to Illinois. Here are the ones we enjoyed most.
Platform Haze Jude (6.8% ABV)
Jim Cyphert – Something about John, Paul, George and Ringo’s songs makes people feel good. The Beatles’ No. 1 smash, “Hey Jude,” is no exception. Platform Beer Co. is doing its part to generate some feel-goods, too. Haze Jude, its year-round New England-style IPA, is no exception.
From the first sniff to the final sip, this beer delivers what craft beer lovers crave. It’s brewed with Simcoe and Michigan Chinook hops and delivers a fruity aroma and citrus flavor. Flight Crew friend Paul Benner, who leads the Platform team, is on record as saying Haze Jude might just become “your new favorite IPA.” You won’t be disappointed if you give Haze Jude a listen … er, taste.
Platform GymDay IPA (3.8% ABV)
Jason Jugenheimer – With gyms closed, some beer drinkers might be looking for a way to cut back on the calories and carbs while still enjoying some beer. Now, I’m not big on many of the low-calorie beers. They just lack substance; drinkable, yes, but there’s not much to them. GymDay doesn’t fit that profile. The aroma hits you with scents of tropical and citrus fruit, letting you know there’s more to this beer. It pours hazy golden in color and releases more of the wonderful aromas of lemon, grapefruit, orange and melon.
The combination of Cashmere, Amarillo and Eukanot hops creates the citrus and tropical flavor profile, while a touch of honey malts adds a slight sweetness and smooths out the finish.
You might be skipping leg day right now, but you can do 12-ounce curls of this 98-calorie beer with three grams of carbs all day long.
Elysian Contact Haze (6% ABV)
Brian Long – During this time of social distancing, you won’t have to worry about getting a contact buzz from anyone drinking this beer. However, Elysian did make contact with the various hops used to make this hazy IPA.
This one has a full nose of tropical, fruity grapefruit. With each sip, I pulled the subtle flavor of passion fruit and a hint of guava. This hazy poured a little less cloudy than a lot of others, but the crisp fizzy citrus flavor makes up for the lack of haze.
Until we can make person-to-person contact again, you can still find this on shelves locally when you have to go out. Be safe and cheers!
Goose Island So-Lo IPA (3.0% ABV)
Dave Shively – I was drawn to this beer because of its name. It captures how many of us are feeling at the moment. So-Lo. With the government-mandated “shelter in place” initiative, social distancing has us all feeling isolated and solitary.
However, Goose Island’s So-Lo IPA has more to do with fewer calories and low ABV than a statement of our new normal. Low-cal IPAs have become the new sexy in one of the fastest-growing segments of the craft brew industry.
This beer has a 3% ABV and, at just 98 calories, is a great way to enjoy the citrus and hoppy profiles that craft beer lovers crave without all the added calories. With better days ahead, make Goose Island So-Lo a part of your summer beer rotation.
Alaskan Kolsch (5.3% ABV)
Roger Gillespie – This beer is a true hybrid between an ale and a lager. It’s brewed like an ale but stored cold like a lager.
It starts with the aroma of bread and malts and offers a clean, crisp taste. It has a bright, clear appearance with a straw-gold hue.
The Kolsch shines with a nearly perfect balance of malts and hops. It carries an ABV of 5.3% and only 18 IBU. Brewed year-round, it was formerly known as Alaskan Summer Ale. I was really looking forward to this one and was not disappointed.
Kona Brewing Aloha (4.4% ABV)
Joe Sanfilippo – Aloha from the big island of Hawaii. Here you’ll find the island’s best-known brewery, Kona Brewing Co. Founded in 1994 by a father and his son, this brewery has brewed many award-winning beers.
One of these winners is Big Wave Golden Ale. Aloha pours golden in color and has a tropical aroma. Galaxy and Citra hops are used, which makes this an easy drinker at 21 IBU.
So grab a wave and a six-pack. And get ready to enjoy Aloha all summer.