Big Brews and Blues

Shake your butt and tip back a pint (for charity)

By Kevin J. Gray

Sample over 30 kinds of beer.

Kick off the outdoor festival season Friday, May 20 at Carillon Park, when Diabetes Dayton hosts its second annual Big Brews and Blues. The all-draft beer tasting runs from 5 to 9 p.m. and features 30 craft beers, specialty foods, a disc golf tournament and live blues music all evening long, with proceeds going to help the local charity.
Diabetes Dayton is a locally run organization with a mission dedicated to the support and assistance of those lives affected by diabetes. Working under the slogan, “Until there’s a cure, we help you live,” the organization provides free education classes, resources and referrals for those dealing with diabetes, and a Diabetes Emergency Supply Assistance Program (DESAP). Proceeds from their signature event fund the group’s largest endeavor: camps for children living with diabetes, where, according to the organization’s website, the group seeks to make it so “that any child living with diabetes can attend camp, regardless of their ability to pay. Camp for these kids means making friends with other children living with diabetes, becoming more independent, receiving the best medical care 24/7, and enjoying all the fun camp can offer.”

The Brews

Event entry comes with 15 tasting tickets, as well as a commemorative glass ($20 in advance, $25 day-of). Approximately 30 beers make up the dance card, with six beers serving as flagships. Below are notes on the flagship beers; check out the tasting guide at the event to learn more about all of the beers.
Bell’s Oberon Ale – While most brewers go lighter for their summer beers, Bell’s makes a stronger-than-usual summer wheat beer. A hazy golden body with a huge, frothy white head, this beer has hints of spice and citrus.
Goose Island India Pale Ale – India Pale Ales were originally English beers high in alcohol and hops, preserving the beer for the long trek to India. Goose Island IPA leads with huge hop notes before settling into a malty middle, with a return of the hops in the finish.
Mt. Carmel Amber Ale – Mt. Carmel started as a basement nanobrewery. Today, the brewery offers six year-round beers and a trio of seasonal offerings. The Amber ale lives true to its name, with an amber/ruby hue. Toasted flavors dominate this smooth, easy-to-drink beer.
Great Lakes Holy Moses White Ale – Part of the brewery’s seasonal lineup, the prolific Great Lakes Brewing Company releases Holy Moses each April. Its combination of orange peel, chamomile and coriander flavors pair with warm late spring/early summer afternoons.
Rogue John John Juniper Ale – A long-time innovator, Rogue brews their Juniper Pale Ale with real juniper berries. This iteration is aged in barrels previously used to produce Rogue’s Spruce Gin, with a result that has hints of cucumber, oak and spruce.
Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning – Pilsners are generally medium alcohol lagers known for their mild malt character and crisp hoppy bite. Clipper City Brewing ratchets up the alcohol and hop character in this Heavy Seas version, making a complex Imperial version of the style.
In addition to the tasting, check out these other beer-related activities:

  • DRAFT, the Dayton homebrewing club, will be providing homebrewing demonstrations, teaching attendees the techniques needed to replicate the beers in their hands.
  • Gordon Strong, president of the Beer Judge Certification Program and the highest-ranking member of that organization, will be presenting awards for the BrewTensils Brewster’s Cup homebrewing competition and will be autographing copies of his latest book (awards start at 7 p.m.).

The Blues
Miss Lissa & Co 5:00-5:45 p.m.  – This local group got its start in 2007, when vocalist Melissa Young sat in with guitar maverick Eric Henry at the Oregon Express. Joined by Joe Edwards on bass and Aaron Hemmert on drums and inspired by the likes of Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, the band showcases an array of standards and originals.
Mississippi Red & The Bumble-Bee-Licious Blues Band 6:00-6:45 p.m. – A main attraction at last summer’s Michelob Blues Festival, the ensemble plays rocking traditional blues. Frontman Mississippi Red belts out lyrics over keyboard licks while the backing band lays down gritty guitar, bass, and drum solos.

Average Joes 7:00-7:45 p.m. – The Average Joes, comprised of guitarist Joe Hill, bassist Jeff Chambers and drummer Wade Beck, mix blues, funk and rockabilly. The trio blends covers with original material and is in the process of mixing their latest CD. Check them out at the event to get a preview.

Low Rent Blues 8:00-9:00 p.m. – A Dayton blues institution, the Low Rent Blues dates to the early 80s, born from a monthly Monday night jam session at the Oregon District’s Trolley Stop. The band has been through several iterations and the list of musicians who have contributed is too numerous to list out, but look for a big sound and prepare to get down.

FlingFest for Diabetes
The once stand-alone event has been coupled with Big Brews and Blues. The 18-hole disc golf tournament offers challenges for both novices and more experienced players. Competition starts at 5:30 (registration starts at 5 p.m.). Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 day-of, or $25 for a combo ticket that includes registration, beer tasting tickets and the commemorative glass.

Reach DCP freelance writer Kevin K. Gray at

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