Dayton Brew Ha-Ha raises money for Montessori School

By Hayley Fudge

If drinking in a school gymnasium has ever appealed to you, the upcoming Dayton Brew Ha-Ha may just be your kind of event. The largest fundraiser for the Montessori School of Dayton (MSD), held annually since 2011, celebrates regional beer offerings in an approachable way.

“We want to make sure we have something for everyone,” says Kevin J. Gray, co-organizer of the Brew Ha-Ha. “We have some phenomenal entry-level beers, but also plenty that will draw the true beer geeks.”

This year’s theme is Midwest Mash-up, primarily showcasing the goods from breweries in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky. Support for the event comes from lead sponsor Cavalier Distributing Company and many other local breweries, establishments and distributors.

“Brew Ha-Ha features not only great local craft beers, but also great Midwest and regional craft beers,” says Giri Dodballapur, regional sales manager at Cavalier. “We worked with Ohio’s award-winning Fat Head’s Brewery to have a cask beer made especially for this event.”

Organizers also brewed their own special beer for the event at Eudora Brewing Company, Dayton’s only brew-on-premise facility. The Belgian IPA has been aptly named to give a nod to the school’s mascot.

In addition to the unique offerings and vast variety and local flavor, there will be “a lot of big-ass beers,” says Brew Ha-Ha co-organizer Michael Taylor. While the beer list is kept mostly under wraps until the event, a few hints of what’s to come are trickling out on the event’s Facebook page at

Ever keeping in the school theme, this event is unique in that it involves several elements and opportunities designed to combine craft brew and education.

The Dayton Regional Amateur Fermentation Technologists (D.R.A.F.T.), Dayton’s home brewing association whose mission is to share the love and knowledge of home brewing with other locals who want to learn the craft, will be on hand to offer home-brewing guidance and advice, as well as group membership information, to those interested.

In addition, representatives from Carillon Brewing Company, the nation’s first licensed production brewery located in a museum, will bring a living history lesson on brewing and how it has evolved, as well as highlighting Dayton’s brewing heritage.

The event’s craft beer ambassadors, many of whom double as parents of the Montessori School of Dayton’s students, are even put through a training session before the event to ensure they understand the various beer styles, flavor profiles and tasting notes.

“We give them a crash course guide to beer,” says Gray. “We want them to be able to make recommendations about what’s hoppy, what’s malty, what’s good for newbies or even what’s good for those wanting a unique badge on Untappd.”

MSD offers educational programs for children toddler-aged through eighth grade. Programs focus on providing an atmosphere where children can learn at their own pace, are encouraged to explore a wider variety of subject areas and are driven to build relationships, learn from each other and develop self-discipline.

The classrooms are organized and structured with free access to teaching materials to allow students to explore and learn from each other and for themselves. Funds raised from the Brew Ha-Ha go to the school’s capital improvement fund, which helps support projects such as expanding and modernizing classrooms and refurbishing the gymnasium and school stage with new flooring, stage curtains and lighting. The school is also exploring the possibility of solar-powered roofing and eventually becoming the first school in the region to achieve LEED certification.

Those attending the Brew Ha-Ha can expect little downtime in activities. In between tasting the more than 50 beer offerings, there will be school-carnival style games with beer prizes, as well as a silent auction with many quality offerings for both beer geeks and non-beer geeks. Bring some cash for the games; the auction has an accompanying app for bidding abilities and also accepts credit card payment.

If the typical beer festival pretzel necklaces don’t provide enough sustenance, downtown Miamisburg’s One Bistro will be on hand serving up five beer-centric food options that can be paired with local beers.

“They are crafting entrees specifically designed to highlight local beers, as well as doing some of the cooking with them,” says Gray.

One Bistro is a natural choice to supply food for this event, as the organizations’ missions go hand-in-hand. “If you go into their restaurant and you can’t pay for your food, they have jobs you can do to pay for your meal right then and there,” says Taylor. “One Bistro fits perfectly with Montessori School of Dayton’s core beliefs of community service and paying it forward.”

New to this year’s festival is the addition of VIP tickets, which have been going fast. For those lucky enough to secure one, the doors open an hour early, and there will be special access to small batch and very limited or unique offerings. VIP attendees also receive an additional five tasting tickets.

As with most all beer fests, lining up an Uber ride or a designated driver is highly recommended. Designated driver tickets are $10 and can be requested by e-mail through the Brew Ha-Ha website. All designated driver ticket requests can be picked up at the will call station on the night of the Brew Ha-Ha.

Dayton Brew Ha-Ha takes place Saturday, Jan. 30 from 6-10 p.m. (5 p.m. start for VIP ticket holders) at the Montessori School of Dayton, 2900 Acosta Blvd. in Kettering. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $50 for the VIP tasting tickets. General admission includes a half pint tasting glass and 10 tasting tickets. For more information or to purchase tickets please visit

Hayley Fudge is one of Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geeks. An enthusiast of craft beer and the culture that surrounds it, Hayley aspires to share her love of beer with others by whipping up beer-infused cupcakes on the regular. Reach Hayley Fudge at

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Hayley Fudge is one of Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geeks. An enthusiast of craft beer and the culture that surrounds it, Hayley aspires to share her love of beer with others by whipping up beer-infused cupcakes on the regular. Reach Hayley Fudge at

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