T he DCP Guide to Dayton Beer Week and AleFest
By Kevin J. Gray
To some, the end of August means back-to-school shopping. But to the area’s craft beer fans, late summer signals Dayton Beer Week and its culminating event, AleFest. Miami Valley’s myriad craft beer establishments play host to a weeklong celebration of all things craft beer, with AleFest headlining the week. Organizers are expecting more than 4,000 craft beer drinkers at this year’s AleFest, held from 2-6 p.m. on Aug. 25 at Carillon Historical Park. The event, now in its 14th year, offers opportunities to sample more than 350 individual beers from more than 160 breweries.
The Origins and Growth of AleFest
The story of AleFest and Dayton Beer Week is the story of the growth of craft beer. According to founder Joe Waizmann, in 1998, there were no craft beer events in the Miami Valley. When asked what drove him to create the event, Waizmann explains: “The ultimate goal is to share my passion for craft beer with others. We can do it one-on-one, we can do it in beer dinners and tasting environments, but an event environment with excellent beer and excellent attendees seems to make the most sense.”
So Waizmann set to work and in 1999, held the first AleFest. It was a small event held on a rainy Sunday afternoon, with about 175 people in attendance. The inaugural event offered samples of about 100 beers from approximately 50 different breweries. Over the last 14 years, the event has seen explosive growth, with more than triple the number of breweries and beers available and an enormous rise in the number of attendees.
Waizmann credits the growth with the rise in awareness and appreciation of craft beer: “It’s a barometer of craft beer in Dayton and the surrounding areas. There weren’t that many craft breweries available 14 years ago.” He goes on to explain that “we are really just scratching the surface with breweries, but it mirrors our thirst for better beer. We have a fairly mature market here in Dayton, which surprises the daylights out people in California, the Pacific Northwest, Chicago and the East Coast. But we have a rocking climate for craft beer. You can see it in the proliferation of craft beer retail outlets, craft beer taverns and restaurants. People are jumping on board by the day, opening new ventures or retrofitting existing ones and bringing it into the craft.” As evidence, Waizmann notes that there were fewer than 15 ticket outlets for the first AleFest; today, there are more than 70.
Dayton Beer Week
One can also measure the rise of interest in craft beer by the proliferation of Dayton Beer Week events. In its third year, Dayton Beer Week offers close to 80 separate and unique events throughout the greater Dayton area. The events offer opportunities for beer drinkers to try rare beers at special tappings, to sample beers paired with foods at beer dinners, and to meet brewers, brewery reps, and distributors.
A few events break the mold for traditional beer tastings. On Saturday, Aug. 18, check out the second annual Pints, Putters & Pink Balls. This two-person, two-club golf scramble raises funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation Local Chapter. The event takes place at the Kittyhawk Golf Course, where each team will compete not only for the best score over 18 holes, but also for a variety of dubious honors such as best shot off a beer can and lowest score on worst shot. A variety of canned craft beers styles will be available for purchase along the course. Note that the event is limited to the first 72 participants.
On Sunday, Aug. 19, gather at the Dublin Pub between 4 and 4:30 p.m. for the annual Beer Pride Parade. The parade, which features a variety of floats from many of the area’s bars and restaurants, marches through the Oregon District to Thai 9, where a special tapping of several cask beers signals the official start to Dayton Beer Week. The event is open to the public, so wear your favorite beer gear and be prepared to make new craft beer friends.
Combine fitness and craft beer on Tuesday, Aug. 21 with the Biking for the Beer event. Goose Island sponsors a 10-mile bike ride from West Carrolton to A Taste of Wine in Miamisburg and back, with craft beer and cheese tastings at the halfway point. Note that the event is limited to the first 80 cyclists.
Art lovers and foodies alike should check out the Dayton Art Institute’s Brewer’s Art tasting. This inaugural event pairs Trappist ales, fine food and art. Area chefs have designed a six-course dinner menu around the beers of La Trappe, the only Trappist brewery outside of Belgium. Seating is extremely limited, so reserve a spot early.
Finally, warm up for AleFest at The Trolley Stop’s Red Carpet Night on Friday, Aug. 24. This event has become the annual late night stop for wrapping up Dayton Beer Week before launching into AleFest. Meet multiple brewery representatives and drink killer beers in a laid back setting.
New This Year To AleFest
How do you improve each year on a successful event? Waizmann has some great additions this year. As interest in gluten-free beers has been on the rise, the 14th Annual AleFest has a dedicated gluten-free beer zone. Sample each of the growing numbers of gluten-free beers in this area.
The beer selection will be more expansive than ever, and this year, all seven of the Trappist beers that distribute to the U.S. will be present. In addition, look for more cask and draught beers. One of those Dogfish Head draughts will be attached to Randall the Enamel Animal, a unique device that makes Dogfish Head beers even hoppier.
Finally, there are some cool prizes in this year’s raffle, including a trip for two to the Yuengling brewery. Each guest is automatically entered into the raffle with their entry ticket.
For those of you who have not yet been to AleFest (seems unlikely) or who went last year but maybe don’t remember parts of the event all that well (um, seems more likely), some things to keep in mind. First, get there early. There will be a line, but it moves quickly. Once you are inside and have a beer in hand, Waizmann offers this advice: “Browse the event guide and get a feel for what you want to sample. Get a feel for the layout. Step outside of your comfort zone. Try breweries you haven’t seen, beer styles you haven’t had before . . . This is your opportunity to sample a whole host of things you wouldn’t find in one place.”
A few other pro tips:
-Get a ride to and from the event. Parking on-site is limited, so a good bet is to have a friend drop you off and pick you up at the event gates. Take a cab or catch a ride on the Tank’s shuttle.
-It will be hot, so drink a lot of water. Drinking your rinse water between glasses is a good way to stay hydrated.
-Eat something. Ideally, have a filling lunch before the event, but food is available from several vendors at AleFest. You’ll see many AleFest veterans with necklaces made of pretzels—a little odd looking, but a great way to keep your belly full during the event.
Reach DCP freelance writer Kevin J. Gray at KevinGray@DaytonCityPaper.com
The following represents a full listing (as of press time) of the Dayton Beer Week events. Many events have limited seating, and some have entry costs. See the most up-to-date list, with expanded details and contact information for each event, at daytonbeerweek.com.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Pints, Putters, & Pink Balls-2 Club Golf Scramble: Registration at 12:30 P.M. sharp; 1:00 P.M. shotgun start.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Beer Pride Parade: begins at 4:30 Wayne Avenue & 5th Street @ Dublin Pub.
Thai9: Special Tapping/Opening Ceremonies at 5:00 p.m.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Rue Dumaine: Goose Island Beer Dinner
Blind Bob’s: Weihenstephan night
Chappy’s Tap Room & Grill: Dogfish Head, Stone Brewing Co, & 3 Floyds
The Filling Station (Troy): Samuel Adams draught sampling
Beef ‘O’Brady’s (Centerville): Great Lakes tap takeover & beer trivia night
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Biking for The Beer of It: Goose Island sponsored 10-mile bike loop with tasting at midpoint (A Taste of Wine in Miamisburg)
Chappy’s Tap Room & Grill: Founders extravaganza featuring rare bottles & draught.
Dorothy Lane Market Oakwood: Great Lakes Beer & Food Pairing
Jay’s Seafood Restaurant: Left Hand Beer Dinner
Jimmie’s Ladder 11: Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Draught
Dorothy Lane Market Springboro: Stone Brewing Meet & Greet with Brett Collier.
Spinoza’s Pizza & Salads: 3 Floyds & Friends beers; Music by BJSR
The Pub at The Greene: Samuel Smith dinner
Cubby Hole: Bluegrass Bourbon Barrel Stout tapping
Cadillac Jack’s Centerville: Great Lakes Tap Takeover
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Dayton Art Institute: “Brewer’s Art” LaTrappe Food Pairings
South Park Tavern: Goose Island Tap Invasion
Dorothy Lane Market Oakwood: Great Lakes Food Pairing
Thai9: A’Chouffe Tap Takeover
Spinoza’s Pizza & Salads: Tröegs Beer Dinner
Chappy’s Tap Room & Grill: Brewkettle Tap Takeover
South Park Tavern: Founders beers on draught
Pour Haus: New Holland Pint Night
Jimmie’s Ladder 11: Weyerbacher Pint Night
Archer’s Tavern: Smuttynose Summerweiz
Fieldhouse: Magic Hat tapping.
Bunkers Bar & Grill: Widmer tap invasion
Bunkers Bar & Grill: Great Lakes Tap Takeover & Ohio Beer Trivia
King’s Table: Samuel Adams Pint Night
Culinary Company: Monk’s Blood & Brew Free or Die on tap
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Jimmie’s Ladder 11: Goose Island tasting
Jimmie’s Ladder 11: Great Lakes Beer Dinner
Archer’s Tavern: Year of Beer Party begins
Blind Bob’s: Dark Horse Brewing Co. taps
Chappy’s Tap Room & Grill: Sierra Nevada Brewery sampling
Chappy’s Tap Room & Grill: Great Lakes Casks
King’s Table: New Holland cask and draughts
Dorothy Lane Market Springboro: Unibroue Beer Dinner.
Lucky’s Tap Room: Firkin Drag Race
Champps Americana: Great Lakes Tap Takeover
Jay’s Seafood: Hinterland Beer Dinner
Meadowlark Café: Left Hand Beer Dinner
Milano’s Brown Street: Great Divide Yeti Night
Pour Haus: Victory draught sampling
Fox-n-Hound: Sam Adams Stein Hoisting Competition
The Melting Pot: Mt. Carmel Beer Dinner
Spinoza’s Pizza & Salads: Hoptimum tapping and live jazz
Brixx Ice Company: Great Lakes Tap Takeover
Taste of Wine: Gluten-Free Sampling
Friday, August 24 2012
South Park Tavern: Belgian Happy Hour
Chappy’s Tap Room & Grill: Great Lakes Casks
Spinoza’s Pizza & Salads: Flights of Beer Floats
Trolley Stop: Red Carpet Night!
Dorothy Lane Market (Washington Square): Unibroue tasting
Jimmie’s Ladder 11: Great Lakes Beer Dinner
Scene 75/Radar’s Bar & Grill: Victory Tasting
Weeklong beer specials from CoCo’s Bistro, Bargo’s Grill & Tap, McIntosh’s Pub & Grub, Spartan Spirits, Kramer’s Party Supply, Van Buren Tap Room, Coyote’s Pub & Grub, Fieldhouse, Double Deuce, Century Bar, Lights & Sirens, Bolt’s Sports Café, Buffalo Wings & Rings, The Bridge, Sweeney’s Seafood, Champps Americana, Carver’s, Buffalo Wild Wings Troy, Soft Rock Café, Buckin’ Donkey BBQ (see specific details about specials at daytonbeerweek.com)
Saturday, August 25, 2012
14th Annual AleFest Dayton℠
More than 350 craft beers from over 160 international craft breweries
featuring six rare casks & more than 30 craft draught beers.
Admission $35 in advance, $40 at gate includes 20 samples of craft beer,
live entertainment, sampling glass,& event guide.
More info: www.AleFest.com & Facebook/AleFests.com