New Cans, New Beer on the Horizon for Penguin City

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Penguin City Beer is sporting a new look for football season, and owners say a new variety of beer is in the works.

Richard Bernacki and Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki, co-owners of Penguin City Brewing Co., say they are working on a new variety beyond the brewery’s standard golden ale. They plan to announce it during an Aug. 30 event at which they will begin rolling out their flagship ale in limited edition cans commemorating the national title-winning 1994 Youngstown State University Penguins football team.

“We’re going to start hinting at it throughout the month and then reveal it at the can release,” says Lyras-Bernacki.

The event is scheduled for Aug. 30 at 1 p.m. at the B&O Station downtown where Penguin City has been brewing since May. Prior to that, it had been brewing on a contract basis with Paladin Brewing in Austintown.

Also in May, Penguin City announced it would be the first locally brewed beer to be sold at Stambaugh Stadium on YSU campus, as well as the Beeghly Center during YSU men’s and women’s basketball games.

To celebrate the milestone, the brewery designed a limited-edition can featuring YSU red, the YSU logo, Pete the Penguin and the scores to the football team’s 14-0-1 finish to the 1994 championship season, “to make it more like a commemorative keepsake kind of thing,” says Michael Pontikos, brand manager for Penguin City.

ysu football penguin city beer
Richard Bernacki and Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki (right), co-owners of Penguin City Brewing Co., with Michael Pontikos, the company’s brand manager, and Pete the Penguin.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of that season. Penguin City worked with the YSU Athletics Department on the design, and “they loved it,” Pontikos says. “They thought it was cool that we were actually taking that step.”

“The Youngstown State University Athletic Department is extremely excited about the partnership with Penguin City Beer. They will be a great addition to our Penguin Family of partners and certainly enhance the fan experience at our concession stands inside Stambaugh Stadium,” said Rick Love, associate athletic director, in an emailed response to a request for statement. “The can design helps celebrate the 25th Anniversary of YSU’s 1994 NCAA National Championship team and we certainly believe will be a keepsake for long-time Penguin fans. Penguin City Beer has certainly embraced the partnership and we look forward to a great fall at the Ice Castle.”

The commemorative can will be available at Stambaugh Stadium and Beeghly Center in 16-ounce cans, as well as six-packs of 12-ounce cans at retailers. It’s the second tribute label so far for the company, the first being the label it designed for the Simply Slavic festival in June.

August also marks one year since Penguin City Brewing started operations. The company has consistently increased its production volume and sales since opening August 2018. In May and June, the company brewed about 131 barrels, up from 126 in April, and delivers five days weekly to its 275 accounts.

While a few of those accounts prefer bottles, Penguin City is looking to shift to cans, Bernacki says. They recently invested in an $80,000 canning line that will arrive later this month.

“I prefer the cans for a few reasons,” Bernacki says. “There’s less packaging, less materials altogether. It’s lighter, more durable” and prevents so-called “skunk beer,” he continues.

The canning line includes a quality control measure that automatically rejects any cans that don’t fall within weight standards and adjusts the flow based on that data.

“I’m big on quality control. We’re going to get delicious beer every time,” he says.

In addition to the YSU can release, Penguin City is inviting the public to celebrate its one-year anniversary at 6 p.m. that day with live music from local bands East 9th and Whiskey Pilot. Brewery tours will be available along with sales of Penguin City merchandise and beer. The Boxcar Lounge will be open for food and drinks.

“Being able to celebrate these milestones with our city is so important to us,” Lyras-Bernacki says. “Especially during a time where people might not believe in what Youngstown can accomplish as a city. We want to be a company people can depend on and trust that we’re not going anywhere. Youngstown is our home, and we will continue to make it our home and strive to make this city and the Mahoning Valley the best it can be.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.