[EDITOR’S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
WARREN — Clubhouse Brewing Co. is a veteran-owned microbrewery with a mission to serve the veteran community through donations and outreach.
Zach Dean, owner of Clubhouse Brewing Co., and his father, Craig Dean, head brewmaster, both served in the Army before starting the brewery. Zach’s mother, Debbie Craig, serves as co-owner.
“My big push when I got out [of the military] is I wanted to help other veterans in the area. We took care of each other when we were still in uniform … I didn’t see a reason why that needed to stop after I got out,” Zach Dean said.
Dean said the taproom was created in a way that would “immediately register” with almost every veteran, like the open space layout for veterans who don’t like closed spaces or crowds.
“We wanted to make sure the space was nice and open. A place where veterans of all stripes, of all backgrounds, would feel comfortable coming in,” Dean said.
“We’ve got a pass-down board that people from the community can come in and buy a beer for veterans, law enforcement officers and first responders. And then the next time we get one of those three categories in, their first beer’s on the community to thank them for their service,” he added.
Additionally, the decor of the brewery, 668 North River Road Northwest, is almost entirely donated by veteran patrons who want to “leave their mark on the brewery and make it feel more like home.”
Clubhouse Brewing Co. also hosts donation drives and donates a portion of all sales back to Veterans Outreach of Youngstown.
“What we love about it is anything that gets donated stays right here in our community,” he said.
Dean’s interest in brewing beer came from his father who learned to brew beer from a brewmaster while stationed in Germany in the 1980s. Now, together they bring those classic German flavors and techniques to their own brewery.
“The whole time I was in the Army, when [I’d] come home, [brewing beer] was one of the things that we would do together,” Dean said.
“Traditional German brewing is a longer process that actually draws out more sugars from the grains, which means all of the beers have a higher alcohol content. We range anywhere from 5% to 16.5% with our average sitting right around 7% or 8%,” he added.
This fall, Clubhouse Brewing Co. has a traditional German-style Märzen Oktoberfest on tap.
“A lot of Oktoberfest here in the states are golden lagers that have allspice or some kind of pumpkin flavor added. We went a slightly different route and did a traditional German Oktoberfest,” he said. “[Märzen] is a little bit darker, but it is straight beer. There’s no spice component to it.”
“Then our everyday best-seller is probably our Helles lager. That’s another one that’s just a nice middle-of-the-road carmel-y beer that’s really good any, any time of the year,” he added.
Dean graduated from West Point in 2010 as a certified engineer before serving in the army as an officer. He was stationed in Fort Bliss where he went to Iraq with the 177th Armored Brigade, then to Afghanistan with a training team.
Dean told Mahoning Matters he was injured in Afghanistan, which put a halt on his military career.
“I was helping train the Afghans on how to use mortars and ended up going through some stairs that collapsed probably 30 or so feet into a granite mountaintop,” he explained.
Dean said he left the military looking for familiar support and ultimately found inspiration to start his own business. He graduated with his master’s degree in accounting from Case Western Reserve and in 2018 he opened Clubhouse Brewing Co.
“[My dad and I] were sitting there brewing and I’m like, ‘Hey, Dad, why don’t we do this?’ and he goes ‘You make the business plan, I’ll make the beer.’”
Clubhouse Brewing Co. seats 50 people inside and an additional 10 people on the patio. The brewery is split into two sections, the taproom and the brewery.
Dean said the brewery also serves a different smoked sandwich each week. Last week the bar featured a smoked pork tenderloin sandwich with apple chutney and smoked gouda. Each sandwich comes with a pickle, bag of chips and a side of either potato salad, macaroni salad or smoked baked beans.
Clubhouse Brewing Co. is also launching their butter pecan porter this week just in time for Veterans Day.
For Dean, Veterans Day is a reminder of why it’s important to support veteran-owned businesses and initiatives.
“I would say one of the big reasons to support and help out veteran organizations is because they, in turn, are supporting and helping out the community in which they’re located. So by the simple act of just patronizing one of these businesses you’re giving back to the community in which you live.”
Clubhouse Brewing Co. is open Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. For information, visit their Facebook page.