By Marah J. Morrison
What started as a project between a husband and wife has developed into Penguin City Beer. Co-owners Aspasia Lyras and Richard Bernacki have worked together to come up with a Youngstown-based signature beer that everyone will soon be tasting.
Lyras said she enjoys marketing and promoting things while her husband enjoys making craft beer. She said her husband started to learn how to make and brew craft beer and the name of the beer followed.
“Right now, Penguin City Beer is one beer,” Lyras said. “It’s called a ‘crisp, golden ale.’ It’s five and a half percent [alcohol], and we wanted to have something that would appeal to a lot of people.”
Lyras said she and her husband wanted to create a beer everyone could drink with ease and still be able to enjoy themselves. She said they have more ideas for new beers in the future.
“I think coming up with this brand was very exciting to us because we really love this town,” Lyras said. “We were always a part of the downtown scene even when no one was there.”
Lyras said to actually build a brand that represents Youngstown, their love for Youngstown and beer has been an exciting experience. She said being a part of the other breweries in Youngstown is a way to put their name in the hat.
“I would like to see it grow,” Lyras said. “I just want to see the pride behind it and people being excited about a beer in Youngstown.”
Bernacki said he’s excited about the city of Youngstown being able to have a beer people can identify with. He said the idea of a nice, session beer has been something they wanted to strive for.
“Nothing too wild,” Bernacki said. “Just something tasty and smooth. It took me a while to get to the specific recipe that it is now.”
Bernacki said he hopes this beer kicks off and that it’s something people from outside of Youngstown can see and already know the name.
Michael Pontikos, who does the marketing and branding for Penguin City Beer, said being a part of this has been a lot of fun. He said it’s been a great experience.
“My dad and Aspasia’s dad worked together back in the day,” Pontikos said. “It was kind of a no-brainer when they asked me,” he said.
Pontikos said he wants to see Penguin City Beer progress to the point where it’s everywhere. He said they are making a solid beer for solid people.
“People tend to look at craft beer completely different, but once you taste it, you know that wow, this is something that I can have all day long,” Pontikos said. “It wasn’t so much about the beer, but more about the experiences that you’re having with everybody else.”