Penguin City Announces DOPE Cider House as First Tenant

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — When Penguin City Brewing Co. opens its new location this summer, customers can check out the area’s latest cider house and winery on site.

DOPE Cider House & Winery is Penguin City’s first tenant for its recently purchased warehouse on 460 E. Federal St. downtown. Hannah Ferguson will lease a 1,000-square-foot production facility and tasting room housed next to the warehouse, according to a release.

“Honestly, this has been very emotional for me,” Ferguson said. “I have been trying, unsuccessfully, for years to get my business going, and just when I felt like giving up, this opportunity presented itself.”

In 2017, Ferguson started DOPE Brands – Dwelling On Positive Energy – after completing the WE Create and WE Launch programs at the Youngstown Business Incubator, which are designed for women who are at the beginning stages of entrepreneurship. Ferguson is assistant brewer at Modern Methods Brewing Co. in Warren and will be the head brewer at DOPE.

A connection through Jacob Harver, a mutual friend of Ferguson and Penguin City co-owner Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki led to the partnership.

“This partnership with Hannah is a slam dunk,” Lyras-Bernacki said. “She told me she has been trying to find a place in Youngstown for over three years for her own business. When I showed her the space, I knew she found her dream spot.

“Our facility is more than Penguin City Beer; we are a part of the community, and we want to show that working together and helping each other out will build us all up and make our city stronger.”

Ferguson started as a home winemaker in 2013 and decided to pursue it professionally, according to the release. Her break came in July 2020 when a collaboration with Sundog Cellars Ciderhouse & Winery in Columbiana resulted in DOPE cider, a blend of strawberry, coconut and pineapple with an 8% ABV. The cider is periodically on tap at Sundog, as well as Homestead Kitchen & Cocktails in Columbiana, with DOPE receiving 10% of the sales.

When the cider house opens, Ferguson looks to have eight ciders on tap, as well as four varieties of wine, she said.

“I am very excited and overwhelmed,” Ferguson said. “This cider house and winery will be the first in Youngstown. I will be the first black- female-owned cider house in the state of Ohio as well. I’ve always wanted my business to start in Youngstown, and it’s finally happening!”

Penguin City will assist Ferguson in branding and helping distribute her product throughout the Mahoning Valley, and Ferguson will be assisting in brewing at Penguin City.

Julius Oliver, Youngstown’s first ward councilman, said he is ecstatic to support the partnership.

“This is the type of entrepreneurship that we as a city must support,” Oliver said. “Downtown and the entire Mahoning Valley will immensely benefit if we continue to invest in the city, and this is just one example of how working together benefits us all… entrepreneurs helping each other with support, resources and opportunities — reaching back to bring someone along as you ascend to success.”

DOPE Cider House & Winery is set to open alongside Penguin City in late summer. Ferguson and Lyras-Bernacki thank Lisa Resnick of Burgan Friedkin Commercial Group, and Penguin City’s brand manager, Michael Pontikos, on bringing the project together.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.