Introducing the Crew

story tease

By Dave Shively

It all began with a boy, a deck and a dream. The Mahoning Valley Flight Crew can trace its humble beginnings back to the summer of 2009. It was then when our founder and club president, Jason Jugenheimer, summoned a few neighbors to join him on his deck one evening to enjoy a beer, after he had just finished manicuring his lawn. Jason had just signed up for a “Craft Beer Challenge” with a local retailer, whose mission was to get patrons to try 100 different craft beers, by the end of the year. So, with the recruitment of a few neighbors, and the addition of a few friends, our local neighborhood beer club took root.

For the past seven years, this dedicated and diverse group of six friends has agreed to meet once a week, on each other’s decks, from May through October, for the sole purpose of trying new craft beers. And while most organizations and clubs prefer to grow their membership base, the Mahoning Valley Flight Crew consists of only six members. Why only six you ask? Well, it just so happens that most craft beers are sold in six packs. Additionally, this even number perfectly complements our strategic business model. Every week, three members each bring a different domestic craft beer six-pack, to a particular member’s house. Then the following week, the remaining three members, each bring a different six-pack, to the house of the next member in the rotation. Rinse and repeat.

Over the course of the past seven years, our group has tasted more than 1,000 different craft beers from 47 different states. The craft beers currently on our Most Wanted List would need to be born in either the state of Arkansas, Kansas or South Dakota. At first, many of the beers we sampled were dumped over the deck railing. But over time, our taste buds became more sophisticated, and yes, in the process we became “beer snobs”, a remark which we now take as a compliment!

What’s in a Name….

So how did we become the Mahoning Valley Flight Crew? During the cold winter months, our group enjoys taking field trips to regional breweries to learn more about their processes and sample “flights” of beer. A flight is typically a sampling of up to five or six different types of beer, each served in a four-ounce glass. This allows the consumer the opportunity to select and sample a beer, which they might not purchase otherwise.

We also noticed that over the past couple of years that the craft beer craze is booming! According to The Craft Brewers Association, the craft beer industry grew at a rate of 12% in 2015. Local craft breweries are popping up all over the place, with each brewery looking to differentiate itself by creating a unique experience for its patrons. What was missing, in our opinion, was a medium to communicate this growth to the public.

So, we approached the Vindicator about partnering with our beer club to allow our group to provide reviews of local breweries, and to help them tell their story. And with that, the Mahoning Valley Flight Crew was pre-prepared for take-off…..

Who We Are …

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). Watch for future blog posts featuring bios of each Flight Crew member.