Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Establishment: Vintage Estate Wine & Beer
Address: 7317 South Ave., Boardman
Hours: Mon.-Weds.: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Thurs. & Fri.: 11 a.m.-midnight; Sat.: 10 a.m.-midnight; Sun.: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Available for Purchase: Flights, pints, growlers, merchandise, food, pick-a-six packs
By Jim Cyphert
Mahoning Valley Flight Crew
When you’re the best bottle shop in the state, eyebrows raise. When you’re one of the best places for a beer in the country, people do a double-take.
When you’ve been named the best beer retailer in the entire world, others want to emulate you.
Mahoning Valley residents sometimes take for granted that we have one of the best craft-beer retailers in the universe right here in Vintage Estate Wine & Beer, affectionately known as VE.
Owner Jeff McDevitt and Advanced cicerone James Sforza are on a mission to enhance the Boardman shop’s already impressive status.
Two hours of chatting and sampling with Jeff and James solidified the Mahoning Valley Flight Crew’s understanding of just how fortunate we are to have this gem right here.
Phill and Sandy Reda, owners of Magic Tree Pub & Eatery, founded VE in 2008. Jeff was a regular for years. In 2015, he purchased VE after 15 years of selling insurance.
“Beer is 1,000 times more fun than insurance — no, make that 1,400 times more fun,” said Jeff, referring to VE’s selection of 1,400 bottled beers. “I’ve visited some of the world’s best craft-beer locations. I’ve learned things to do, and a few things we shouldn’t do.”
Evidently, VE is doing many things right. In January, it was named best bottle shop in Ohio and one of the best places for beer in the U.S. by ratebeer.com. In 2010, VE was named best beer retailer in the world, a spot above its second-place 2009 finish.
James is one of only 40 advanced cicerones in the world. The certification requires a solid understanding and distinctive expertise of beer. He’s working on unique beer and food pairings for special events in the coming months.
One of VE’s biggest events of the year will take place July 28 to 30, the Admiration Collaboration, when VE will host Jackie O’s, Athens, which was voted the best brewpub in Ohio earlier this year.
The Flight Crew asks a lot of questions, and we put our listening ears on when we’re around craft-beer experts. When we asked Jeff and James, “What do you recommend?” They didn’t disappoint.
Here are our favorites from the 34 craft beers VE had on tap:
Fat Head’s/MadTree Genera l Sherman Rye Pale Ale (6.4% ABV, 64 IBU)
Dave Shively: “This is what you get when two of the best craft breweries in Ohio collaborate on a unique rye pale ale. This small-batch creation was introduced in mid-May. I had the good fortune of experiencing this copper-colored, unfiltered pale ale, which ended up being my favorite! It had a distinct hop profile and was crisp and refreshing. The name is derived from the General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest and fattest tree. Some of the greatest craft beers aren’t created by the largest breweries with the fattest wallets.”
Founders Sumatra Mountain Brown (9% ABV, 40 IBU)
Roger Gillespie: “Choosing six beers for my flight was difficult. Choosing my favorite was easy. This is an Imperial brown ale with an ABV of 9 percent. I was drawn by its deep, dark color and thick, dense foam. While it has the aroma of chocolate, the addition of rich Sumatra coffee takes this fine brown ale to another level. Highly recommended!”
Dark Horse Toonilla Coffee Vanilla Cream Stout (7.5% ABV)
Jim Cyphert: “I ask craft beer experts what they like. So, when choosing six beers for my flight, I turned to Jeff. This was one of his favorites, so I went for it. Boy, was I glad I did! Deep and rich in color, this beer’s flavor matched its look. It had a nice coffee flavor, finished by a touch of vanilla. Creamy and smooth is the best way to describe it. Delicious!”
Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 (8.5% ABV, 100+ IBU)
Joe Sanfilippo: “This one’s a refreshing IPA from Stone Brewing Co. It’s a good one for all the hop lovers out there. It pours with a golden color, and is brewed with Centennial hops and Azacca, which gives this beer a tropical fruit, citrus, pine and melon taste. This one checks in at 8.5 percent ABV and over 100 IBU.”
Founders Blushing Monk (9.2% ABV)
David Anderson: “It was a nice surprise to see this on the board. I’d wanted to try it for a long time, but it had always eluded me. It was worth the wait. It had a ruby-red color. Raspberries dominated the aroma and taste. Even with the ABV at 9.2 percent, this was a crisp, refreshing beer that was very easy to drink. This is great to pair with cheese or desserts. Do yourself a favor and sample this tough-to-find beer while it’s in the area!”
Short’s Slurm New England-Style IPA (6.5% ABV, 75 IBU)
Jason Jugenheimer: “Fans of ‘Futurama’ will recognize Slurm as an “It’s Highly Addictive” drink with minor side effects such as glowing, green radioactive skin. Short’s Slurm doesn’t produce any side effects that severe. The brewery does, however, produce a juicy unfiltered IPA that pours hazy, almost matching its head. Tropical flavors of mango and pineapple come through in the hop profile. As far as New England IPAs are concerned, “It’s Highly Addictive!”
The Mahoning Valley Flight Crew recommends scheduling a visit to VE, one of the best craft-beer retailers in the state … in the country … in the world! You never know, you just might see us there.