Flight Crew

Paladin Brewing Focuses on Fundamentals

By Jim Cyphert and The Flight Crew

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio – Today, it’s more challenging than ever for a craft brewery to succeed.

New trends, unusual beers, evolving tastes and a lack of brand loyalty are among the challenges. The fact that there are more than 7,000 craft breweries in the United States – and nearly 300 in Ohio – doesn’t help. It’s enough to drive any craft brewer crazy.

Since opening in the summer of 2015, Paladin Brewing in Austintown has faced many changes – and challenges.

The brewery keeps holding its own. 

As Paladin celebrates its fourth anniversary, owners John and Abby Chandler are placing a renewed focus on the core of their business: what’s going on inside the brewery and in its tasting room at 6520 Mahoning Ave. in Youngstown.

Paladin opened with four beers on tap, served only in its tasting room. Then came an expanded offering of beers, a distribution agreement with R.L. Lipton Distributing and some local contract brewing work.

Paladin also dabbled in live music, events, food trucks and more over the years.

Lots of change for one small local business.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

“We’ve been through a lot,” says John Chandler. “We’re excited to go back to the basics of focusing on our core beers and encouraging people to visit our tasting room.”

There’s plenty to taste.

Paladin offers 20 beers on tap, from a blonde ale to a pale ale to IPAs to a Russian Imperial stout and various seasonals.

The Flight Crew is no stranger to this offering. Paladin’s been one of the Crew’s most frequent stops. We couldn’t wait to get inside the day the brewery opened.

It’s always fun to catch up with the Chandlers. On this visit – it was unanimous – the beers we sampled were among the finest we’ve had at Paladin. 

These are the beers we liked best:  

Granny’s Sweet/Peach Tea  (5.5% ABV)

Brian Long – Call it what you will, but this beer screams summertime. And time is running out! It’s a great beer for a craft newbie and, equally, a great thirst quencher for all. This crafted beer has both a strong peach nose and flavor, yet isn’t overly sweet as the extra-strong bitters, as in Cancer Sucks, really balance out this beer. Super mellow at 39 IBU and just 5.5% ABV, you can reach for Granny’s Peach Tea a few times before her fall cousin, pumpkin, takes things over. Cheers!

Bourbon Porter (6.9% ABV)

Roger Gillespie – As summer winds down, the beer seasons are also ready for a change. The lighter brews will gradually give way to the darker malty styles. Paladin’s bourbon porter is absolutely loaded with flavor. Oak soaked with Old Crow Bourbon brings something special to this Baltic porter. This beer delivers a very smooth mouthfeel with a nice aroma that carries a subtle 6.9% ABV. It’s a great beer for watching the leaves start to turn.

Ash Kickin’ Ale (4.7% ABV)

Dave Shively – There’s just something about the dog days of summer that navigates my choice in beer toward a clean, crisp pilsner to combat the heat and humidity. We gathered at Paladin on an evening with the temperature in the high 80s, so my choice of Ash Kickin’ Ale was pretty easy. This is a perfect summertime beer; it combines a hint of orange zest to go along with its clean, crisp malty profile. This thirst-quenching ale was also brewed in collaboration with the Austintown Local Fire Fighters Union #3356, with a portion of the proceeds going to causes that are close to our first responders. Drinking this beer is one of the few times that I don’t mind a real Ash Kickin’.

Imperial Knight Stout (9.0% ABV)

Jim Cyphert – Every beer in my flight was terrific. So, choosing only one to review was tough. I was close to picking Hopatherapy IPA. But, just one sip of Imperial Knight and I was hooked. Paladin’s words to describe this beer include “magnificent,” “deep” and “dark.” Who am I to argue? What made this Russian Imperial stout an even bigger treat was the fact that it had been aging for nearly two years. That this beer is not one of Paladin’s best sellers is amazing to me. And disappointing. It’s only going to be available for a few more weeks, so get to Paladin quickly before it’s all gone. 

D20 Cream Ale (5.6% ABV)

Joe Sanfilippo – The D20 cream ale is much more than a 20-sided die for Dungeons and Dragons. This cream ale pours golden in color; it’s clean and crisp and very drinkable. D20 has plenty of body, with a sweet malty aroma. John and Abby said it is best paired with pizza. I have to agree. In fact, even the judges at the annual Slice of the Valley competition voted it Best Beer with Pizza earlier this year. 

Pumpkin Ale (7.4% ABV)

Jason Jugenheimer – As the sun sets on summer and fall creeps in, a lot of beer drinkers begin to gravitate toward seasonal beers, which tend to get a little heavier and spiced. This pumpkin ale is spiced, but it’s not overpowering. It also doesn’t have a heavy mouthfeel, which makes it a great beer to enjoy more than one glass of sitting at the brewery or out by a fire. This pumpkin ale is brewed with 200 pounds of handpicked and roasted pumpkins. The spice is well balanced and subtle. Hints of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg shine through in this beer, and it finishes with a touch of graham cracker from the malts. Overall, it’s great addition to your fall beer portfolio and one you’ll enjoy as flannel weather continues to roll in. 

Jim Cyphert, Roger Gillespie, Jason Jugenheimer, Brian Long, Joe Sanfilippo and Dave Shively are The Flight Crew. They all share a passion for craft beer. Paladin Brewing is our first visit and review for The Business Journal. We’re excited about this new partnership. Watch for our monthly reviews of the craft beer scene here and the accompanying videos at BusinessJournalDaily.com. 

Pictured: The Flight Crew is Joe Sanfilippo, Brian Long, Jim Cyphert, Dave Shively, Roger Gillespie, Jason Jugenheimer. They drink (and review) beers from across the Valley.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.