Dayton Belgian Ale and Food Festival returns to Salem Avenue

Try a taste of Belgium at Dayton Belgian Ale and Food Festival July 29; photo: Lew Hann

By Jim Witmer

The Dayton Belgian Ale and Food Festival has a tightly focused theme—a collection of world-class rated ales and food that complement their nuanced flavors. But the Dayton Belgian Ale and Food Festival, this year on July 29, is not your run-of-the-mill beer event. It may well be the only one in the U.S. where exclusively Belgian ales and Belgian cuisine are paired from appetizers to desserts.

On a larger scale, the theme extends way beyond Belgium to the Dayton area, specifically the Salem Avenue Peace Corridor and the possibilities that exist therein.

Proceeds from the festival’s sixth year will help fund a new sign at the entrance to the Peace Corridor to be erected at the intersection of Salem and Riverview Avenues. In addition, $1 from each ticket sale will be donated to the Gem City Market Co-Op (GMC), a full-service grocery launching on Salem Avenue late 2019.

The future Gem City Market will address the food access concerns of the area and assist in the incubation of business cooperatives in the near west side of the city of Dayton. A membership drive is open now to anyone, and the benefits are numerous, but the ultimate benefit is that it will serve Daytonians with a limited grocery budget. The market will sell 70 percent conventional products and 30 percent organic or specialty foods, including 15-20 percent local products, a rare hybrid of options and a rare concept, with the next closest in idea and proximity about an hour away in Cincinnati.

Jule Rastikis is the president of the Salem Avenue Peace Corridor LLC and organizer of the festival, who coordinates the lineup of Belgian beers.

“Nobody else is doing it,” Rastikis says of the festival. “When you have a great event, it doesn’t matter what side of town it’s in, people want to come in and enjoy the great beers.”

The beer is paired with food by Chef Jason Downey, whose dishes range from Flemish ragout of rabbit to a Liège waffles bar.

One of the major reasons for this event is to break down barriers, not just in terms of introducing rare beers, but to overcome stereotypes.

“It’s letting people know it’s OK to come over to Salem Avenue because it’s not dangerous—I think there is a perception problem,” Rastikis says, adding that, in spite of that problem, “every year we get over 25 different zip codes attending.”

It’s a common saying today that “beer builds community,” as evidenced recently throughout the U.S. with the swell of brewpubs breathing new life into areas that may have been timeworn. Beer is what Rastikis hopes will build a bridge from the Salem Avenue corridor to Daytonians whose perceptions can be changed.

Rastikis has been to Belgium three times in search of the beer and the food and culture to match, visiting monastic and commercial breweries and meeting with the brewers themselves. “The beer just has so much character,” he says. “The Belgians have been doing it for so long and so well.”

The lineup offers Belgian styles from the mother country, U.S., and the local region. For those experienced in the many flavors and aromas of Belgian beer, this event will be a paradise. For others, the unique styles may provide an awakening. These beers will run the gamut of earthiness, from spicy to floral to fruity, and to sour. Unlike the Germans, the Belgians never shied away from adding spices, sugar, and specialty grains. But above all, it is the yeast strains that define these beers. And like all beers, when it’s done skillfully, the flavors in the glass are harmoniously balanced.

All the beers presented are highly rated, so it’s pointless to pick out the stars of the show. (Although, I would not miss Bosteels DeuS Brut for its characteristics of both sparkling wine and a strong malty ale, achieved through a yearlong maturation in the Champagne caves of France. 11.5 percent. ABV. ‘Nuff said.)

There’s also The Holy Grail, the raffle formally referred to as “The Holy Grail of Trappist Beer” raffle featuring glasses and nine Trappist beers—including the coveted Westvleteren 12, which has consistently been voted the world’s best beer.

Beer List:

Bosteels DeuS Brut des Flandres

Bosteels Tripel Karmeliet

Boulevard Long Strange Tripel

St. Feuillien Triple

MIA Tourist Trappe Tripel

Maredsous Dubbel

Rodenbach 2012 Vintage Sour

Boon Geuze

Ommegang Rosetta

La Trappe Quad

Duvel Tripel Hop

La Trappe Witte

Spencer Trappist Ale

Dogfish Head Namaste

Delirium Tremens

Duvel Belgian Golden Ale

De Dolle Oerbier

De Dolle Stout

Unibroue Trois Pistoles

St. Feuillien Saison

Unibroue A Tout Le Monde Dry Hopped Saison

Local & Regional Beers (more to be announced):

Mother Stewarts

Toxic Brew Company

Fifth Street BrewPub

Woodburn Brewery

The Belgian Ale and Food Festival takes place Saturday, July 29, from 4 – 7 p.m., at Miami Valley Golf Club, 3311 Salem Ave. in Dayton. Tickets are $50 in advance, $60 day of the event. Designated driver tickets are $40. For more information, please visit BAFFDayton.com.

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Reach DCP beer writer Jim Witmer at JimWitmer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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