Dayton’s budding beer culture brews up big events
By Sara Mastbaum
While breweries are popping up at a rapid rate, Dayton’s calendar of beer events is more than keeping pace. From intro events to niche tastings, local beer lovers have plenty of chances to sample new brews – and in many cases, support a worthy cause at the same time. Thirsty? Here’s what’s coming up next:
Art meets beer: September’s Oktoberfest
Although it’s called Oktoberfest, the Dayton Art Institute’s annual fundraiser offers much more than just fall styles. You’ll find plenty of seasonals, but “the event offers a wide spectrum of beers, including mainstream beers and many craft offerings,” said Eric Brockman, the museum’s marketing and communications manager. “There’s really something for every type of beer lover.” Just as satisfying as a bottle of cool Märzen? Supporting the arts. “All proceeds from the event benefit the Dayton Art Institute,” Brockman said. Oktoberfest takes place this weekend, Sept. 27 – 29.
Rare finds: October’s Big Beers and Barleywines Festival
Dedicated beer geeks, take note. The Big Beers and Barleywines Festival, which takes place Saturday, Oct. 5, is all about rare finds, limited editions and one-offs. “[The event] has culminated into a great gathering of commercial brewers that bring very special and rare beers,” said Mike Schwartz, owner of Belmont Party Supply/BrewTensils, which co-organizes the event. Coordinated by Natalie Phillips of Belmont Party Supply and Pam Skelly of Resident Home Association, all of the proceeds directly benefit RHA, an organization dedicated to helping individuals with developmental disabilities.
Regional flavor: January’s Brew Ha Ha
Gearing up for its third year, Brew Ha Ha is the brainchild of DCP Resident Beer Geek, Kevin Gray. “For the last two years, we’ve focused on beers in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania,” Gray said. 2013 offerings included regional gems like Weyerbacher Merry Monks Ale and Fat Head’s Head Hunter IPA. Brew Ha Ha also supports a cause: Montessori School of Dayton. “The event benefits the school’s capital improvement fund – the school is a non-profit organization,” Gray said. “One of the things we like to ask people is, ‘When is the last time you got to drink craft beer in an elementary school?’”
Feed me: March’s AleFeast
Organized by Chairman Joe Waizmann, AleFeast focuses on pairing “excellent food with incredible craft beer,” Waizmann said. “For example, mussels steamed in saison, and the beer is served alongside them.” This type of event has long been popular in western Europe, where some of the world’s best beers are brewed. Waizmann said. “It’s a very unique food and beer experience … Dayton has an ever-growing beer culture, and it’s fun to be a part of it.”
Feel the draught: April’s Cask AleFest
Emphasizing quality over quantity, Cask AleFest is organized by Waizmann and Dave and Lori Camplin, owners of Chappy’s Tap Room & Grille in Moraine. It features about 15 cask-conditioned beers, and the crowd is limited to just over 200. One of the area’s few all-draught events, Cask AleFest emphasizes authenticity. “We want it to be comfortable and fun,” said Chappy’s general manager Larry Leonhardt. “People have the opportunity to try every single beer.”
Mood music: May’s Big Brews and Blues
Organized by Diabetes Dayton and Boston’s Bistro and Pub Owner David Boston, Big Brews and Blues is committed to keeping it local. “Since we are a local, independent diabetes association, we strive to keep the entertainment and beer local, too,” said Susan McGovern, Executive Director of Diabetes Dayton. With local beer culture flourishing, the event is able to offer plenty of craft beer options from right here in Dayton. “Our goal isn’t to be the biggest beer tasting,” McGovern said, “but to remain an upscale, all-draught event with great blues music.”
In Bruges: July’s Belgian Beer Fest
Some of the world’s best brews come from Belgium, and Belgian Beer Fest serves them up to benefit the Salem Avenue Peace Corridor and the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation. Co-organized by Schwartz and Jule Rastikis, chairman of the Salem Avenue Peace Corridor, the event is equally a Belgian food festival. “The event is one of a kind,” said Rastikis. “[When it started], I knew that our region didn’t do Belgian ale festivals, and definitely didn’t do Belgian ale/food festivals.” It’s held at the Miami Valley Golf Club, where the chefs create a menu to highlight Belgian brews.
All tastes welcome: August’s Great American Beer Tasting
New to craft beer? The Great American Beer Tasting prides itself on offering something for everyone: day-fresh Budweiser is on tap along with rarities like Widmer Brothers Marionberry Hibiscus Gose, one of the special samplings offered this past year.
The tasting started in 2008 and is held annually at Fifth Third Field in downtown Dayton.
The art of craft: August’s Dayton Beer Week and AleFest Dayton
Dayton Beer Week kicks off with a charity golf event – Pints, Putters and Pink Balls – which benefits breast cancer research. It continues with the Dayton Beer Pride Parade in the Oregon district and over 150 signature events throughout the week. To cap it all off: AleFest at Carillon Park, which in 2013 served up over 400 different craft beers. “AleFest Dayton was the [area’s] first beer-centric consumer event on any scale,” said Waizmann, the chairman of both Dayton Beer Week and AleFest Dayton. “AleFest is the signature event that wraps up Dayton Beer Week, but it is a stand-alone event that predates Dayton Beer Week. [The events have] grown dramatically, which mirrors the growth and acceptance of craft beers in the Dayton vicinity.”
Reach DCP freelance writer Sara Mastbaum at SaraMastbaum@DaytonCityPaper.com.