Movement to “drink local” means big business to Valley breweries

Christian Rineheart, CEO of O'Donold's Irish Pub and Grille, said he has seen a huge movement toward local breweries and distilleries

With the eat local movement, there has also been a move toward "drinking local."
With the eat local movement, there has also been a move toward "drinking local."

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The move to eat locally-grown produce continues to grow in popularity across the country, but what about drinking local?

Christian Rineheart, CEO of O’Donold’s Irish Pub and Grille, has been in the beer business for 13 years. He said he has seen a huge movement toward local breweries and distilleries.

“Everyone is looking for local,” said Christian Rinehart, CEO of O’Donold’s.

A few microbreweries and distilleries have popped up in the Valley, and several were featured at the St. Practice Day beer festival at O’Donold’s in Austintown.

“Paladin and Birdfish are actually comparable to any of the national breweries. Birdfish – their marketing is right on. Paladin is right down the street here in Austintown, and they’ve been doing phenomenal since they opened,” Rhinehart said.

Paladin Brewing opened this past fall on Mahoning Avenue. Bob Schott, a brewer at Paladin, said fresh ingredients and no additives make a real difference to the consumer. Business is doing well as a result, he said.

“Right now in the United States, there are one and a half new breweries opening a day… Ten years ago, there were probably 12 breweries in Ohio, and there 141 now,” he said. “It’s going very well. It’s very well accepted, and we all wouldn’t be out here if people weren’t buying it.”

According to the Brewers Association, the craft brewing industry has contributed more than $55 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014, creating more than 400,000 jobs.

The drinking local movement doesn’t stop with beer. Microdistilleries, which make hard liquor, are also growing in popularity.

Among the local distilleries is Candella Micro-distillery in Youngstown.

“People are just starting to pay a little bit more attention to what they are eating, what they are drinking, where it comes from,” said Nicki Lawson, northern Ohio sales manager at Watershed Distillery. “All of those things translate, not just to food, but in what we put in our bodies in alcohol, too.”

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