Columbiana, OH – The Mahoning Valley Flight Crew, in conjunction with Birdfish Brewing Company, hosted a Breast Cancer fundraiser this past Thursday at a packed house in this tiny town of about 6,400 residents.The Flight Crew is a group of local men who met as neighbors in 2009 over beers on founder Jason Jugenhemier’s deck. A shared love of craft beer led to them establishing a neighborhood beer club, which has slowly evolved over time from simply gathering to taste and sample beer from all over the country to writing about it in a monthly column for the local Youngstown Vindicator Newspaper, a Facebook page, a blog on vindy.com, and spots on morning shows on local Youngstown TV stations.One of the first places they reviewed when they started it was Birdfish. They formed an instant bond with owner / brewer Josh Dunn, and Birdfish became one of their favorite breweries in the area to frequent and promote. So when an opportunity came about to team up on a fundraiser for a local breast cancer center, the fit was perfect. The six man crew would bartend for the evening behind the small but picturesque bar in the tiny 1 barrel brewery in historic downtown Columbiana, Ohio. They would donate all their tips for the evening to the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center. Jugenheimer, also a home brewer, had his Blueberry Outstanding Oatmeal Stout scaled up and brewed by Birdfish, and the proceeds of sales of that beer (dubbed B.O.O.B.S.) donated as well.
Mahoning Valley Flight Crew members are David Anderson (Canfield), Jim Cyphert (Austintown), Roger Gillespie (Austintown), Jason Jugenheimer (Canfield), Joe Sanfilippo (Austintown) and Dave Shively (Austintown).
The event raised $1,505 total in four hours off tips, cookie sales, sales of a limited edition B.O.O.B.S. t shirt, and various auctions every half hour, including several ceramic growlers donated by local Columbiana Growler Company.
This was our first trip to Birdfish, which opened in 2015. The small brewery only this year started opening up a third day a week, from 6-10 on Thursdays. They are also open 4-10 on Fridays and 1-10 on Saturdays. Even in this tiny town in Columbiana County, they are finding it tough to keep up with the demand.
Currently there are only 5 beers on tap at any given time, but the brewery has cranked out over 120 unique beers since their opening, including their fantastic Generations Coffee Milk Stout, made with coffee beans from a local coffee shop. Other staples are the Ganesh Mango Peppercorn IPA, Bitches Be Trippin Belgian Tripel, Rupert’s Vanilla Bean Brown Ale, and Too Hip To Sip, their first foray into the newer, and highly sought after New England style Of IPA. All were fantastic and we had a hard time deciding which to take a growler home of. The limited selection should not be seen as a negative, as it gives thirsty Craft Beer enthusiasts a reason to keep coming back to try the newest creation. Birdfish also recently announced that they are expanding and building a 7 bbl production facility right around the corner from the present tasting room, which will help them better meet the demand.
The tasting room itself is small but cozy, and finished with reclaimed wood walls and tables, a concrete bar top, and a gorgeous galvanized steel ceiling. A large rack sits behind the bar with a huge selection of vinyl records for your listening pleasure. Four small fermenters and the entire tiny one barrel system are on display. There is a patio out back for the summer months but we did not go out to it this trip. They don’t serve food but there are bowls of pretzels at the bar and you can bring food in from local establishments. Flights run $8 for a sample of all five.
Below are more pictures from inside the tasting room and from the fundraising event itself. If you’re ever down near Columbiana, be sure to check them out.