By Jim Cyphert & The Flight Crew
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. And, the most direct way to succeed as a small business is to determine your customers’ wants and needs, and work hard to meet and exceed them.
Contrary to its moniker, Crooked Tongue Brewing in Edinburg, Pa., hasn’t done much zigging and zagging since opening in 2015. Its straight-forward approach has resulted in increasing success.
A lot of blood, sweat and tears have been invested in the business by owner Cody Greene and his team, who’ve also put a premium on developing strong relationships with patrons to better understand the beers they craft.
The result: A well-respected craft brewery churning out excellent beers people come back for. The vibe and camaraderie also are second-to-none.
Crooked Tongue’s beer is available primarily at the brewery, about 20 minutes east of Youngstown. Installation of a new, larger brewing system last year enabled a bit more external distribution. And there are murmurs about a second brewpub.
Crooked Tongue also offers local mead, wine, rum and other spirits, along with a nice menu, which includes amazing burgers. A new kitchen is nearly complete.
Flight Crew members are no strangers to Crooked Tongue. Cody and brewmaster Ryan Iwanejko are an extension of our beer family. They talked us through their beers and walked us through the new production brewery, piquing our interest and dazzling our taste buds.
Rebecca Nicholson, Bryn Young and Jody Greene, Cody’s “Mum,” made sure we didn’t want for anything during our visit.
We were in our glory as we sampled beers ranging from a barrel-aged sour to an American IPA to a Scottish ale to a white stout.
These are the beers we liked best:
Dave Shively – “I’ll have what she’s having.” We’ve all heard the expression. It was made popular in the 1989 romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally.” I like to adopt that credo whenever I visit a local brewery. More specifically, I like to ask the owner or brewmaster what they’re drinking, and then follow their lead.
On this night, Cody was enjoying the Refrigerator Pale Ale. I said, “I’ll take one too.” This session IPA was both citrusy and hoppy, just the way I like it.
The hop profile on this beer was outstanding, which no doubt comes from the combination of Apollo, Mosaic, Citra, Amarillo and Cascade hops. The relatively low 4.2% ABV makes this the type of IPA that should be in your refrigerator at all times, which makes this beer aptly named.
Jason Jugenheimer – Deep, dark and delicious can be used to describe, or peddle, many things. Chocolate, brownies, fudge … okay, anything chocolate. This beer will add another category: barrel-aged sour beer. This phenomenal concoction pours a dark ruby brown with hints of berry and maple on the nose. Aged for months in a maple bourbon barrel with blackberries, vanilla and cinnamon, it develops an extremely complex flavor profile that really develops as you sip and the temperature of the beer warms.
The blackberry plays well with the vanilla, creating a unique sour beer that starts out with the tartness you’d expect before giving way to the creaminess of the vanilla. The addition of the cinnamon leaves a slightly warm sensation on the back of your palate. This guilty pleasure is definitely worth indulging in.
Roger Gillespie – I’ve actually heard folks stating that they don’t like “dark beer.” What a shame! Thinking of all the terrific porters and stouts that have crossed my palate, I can only shake my head. Well, Crooked Tongue has a beer for all of you who fear the dark side.
White Out Stout is a light, copper-colored coffee- and vanilla-infused stout that brings all of the flavor one would expect from a rich, dark stout. It’s light, refreshing and carries a modest 6% ABV. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed and, just maybe, you’ll learn to appreciate diversity.
Brian Long – I’m always looking for something unique and different when it comes to craft beers, as do many craft enthusiasts. This pomegranate and cucumber concoction from Crooked Tongue was just that. It’s where a summer veggie grown on-site meets up with a fall fruit, in a perfect, delicate manner.
This beer has a really nice, sweet cucumber aroma and flavor up front, with a subtle pomegranate tart finish. I’d say this would be a gateway beer, as it was super easy drinking. However, this little gem has a 6.7% ABV and goes down way too easy. Now on to the king of fall fruits: pumpkin beers!
Joe Sanfilippo – The choices were endless and the lineup was solid from top to bottom. From a New England-style IPA to a white stout to an easy-drinking blonde ale, sometimes choosing one is hard. But I was in the mood for a certain style of beer on this trip. So, the Edinburg Scottish 70 Schilling was the one for me.
This Scottish ale is amber in color with a nice balance of toasted oats and honey malt. With a nice clean finish, it’s definitely a must try.
Jim Cyphert – Have you seen the TV spot where people’s jaws and trucks’ tailgates drop when they see GMC’s automated tailgate? It reminds me of what I did when Cody first told me two years ago that Sweetside IPA had an IBU greater than 200. I think he actually had to push my jaw closed. This American IPA is smooth and mellow, but it has a tinge of hop bitterness. It’s nearly perfectly balanced by Mosaic hops and honey malt, and it has both tremendous aroma and flavor.
Do me a favor: If you see me at Crooked Tongue with my jaw agape, push it shut. I guarantee a few of my Flight Crew brethren would love to do that every now and again.
Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.