Birthday beer

Carillon Brewing Co. turns one

By Kevin J. Gray

Photo: Brewster Tanya Brock oversees all production at Carillon Brewing Co.

Carillon Brewing Company, the nation’s old museum brewery, celebrated its first anniversary earlier this month. Dayton City Paper sat down with brewster Tanya Brock about what she’s learned, and what’s next for the brewery.

What has changed in the year since you opened?

Tanya Brock: Since opening, it has been a year of constant adaptation. Initially, we didn’t anticipate the phenomenal business and attention from the community. In the first half of the year (in particular) this meant we had to brew more often than anticipated and hire more staff to keep up with kitchen duties. We also learned that being the only museum with a full production brewery, and the only brewery replicating historical processes and recipes, was something that wasn’t always easy for visitors to understand. For us, we thought the historically recreated building and brewing equipment would be an obvious way for people to realize what we were doing. However, we found because what we were showing people was so far outside of what they had come to expect in a brewery (modern stainless tanks), they didn’t realize we were actually brewing right in front of them. Daily, folks asked where the brewery was located—all while standing right in front of the equipment. We have taken these responses as a signal that we need to better prepare folks before they come in and help define what they are watching being recreated.

What has turned out to be the biggest and most surprising challenge?

TB: In addition to helping people gather the full extent to which we are replicating the brewing history, the biggest challenge has been getting drinkers to realize they are drinking historical beer. We have found it has been a challenge for some to leave their modern definitions and expectations for beer at the door before tasting history. We realize not all drinkers will find a new favorite brew from those we make. However, what we want is for folks to find what we are brewing as a chance to go on a historical adventure. Take time to taste how some beers, like our Sour Porter, are very different than a modern beer, and others haven’t changed much at all. We encourage people to talk at their tables and contemplate how beer has changed. Not just in taste, but in the journey it has taken from being kettle brewed by housewives to large commercial breweries and now back to small batches crafted by local breweries. We see our beer as more than beer. It is history by the pint.

What has been the most enjoyable aspect of the brewery museum?

TB: It has been amazing to talk with people about every aspect of what we are doing. People are fascinated with how we built this place, the amount of research put into every detail and the energy it takes produce the beer. We have had people come here from all corners of the state, country and globe. It fills me with pride when people note that they heard they just had to come check us out. When the door opens and folks walk in, I get tickled to watch their faces light up with amazement as they process the space and the sensory atmosphere. Things I never imagined pique curiosities and start conversations.

What would you do differently if you could go back, knowing what you know now?

TB: If I could turn back the clock just before opening, I would’ve put together a stronger marketing campaign to celebrate what a great feat we’ve accomplished with Carillon Brewing Co. and focus on defining for people the historical aspect of what we are doing. I would’ve made sure that press interviews and messaging prepared people to realize they would be stepping back in time with each visit to us. I think this would’ve given people a cleared set of expectations and understanding that we are truly a living history museum and not just a kitschy themed restaurant. This is part of what we are working on with future brand identity.
What can we look forward to in the next year?

TB: Year two is a time where we begin providing more programs to further celebrate brewing heritage and science. We have already started our Trivia Nights held on the 2nd and 4th Monday [of each month] at 7 p.m. We soon will announce dates for our dinner series pairing beer, history and food. We are also launching a new food menu comprised of about 95 percent of house-made items. Everything from the pickled beets, fresh ground burgers and sausages, applesauce and more will be hand crafted with the same care food was made with in the past. Of course, we will also continue to turn out new brews from the 1850s. We are also getting the last items in place to begin our house-made historical wines and hard ciders.

Any other personal notes you’d like to add?

TB: This has been a remarkable experience to fully breathe life into not just the historical recipes but also understanding the grand impact beer had on the development and growth of communities like Dayton. Each time I think I’m going to simply research one particular fact I end up getting tangled in an endless web of information, stories and connections. I am honored to have the duty on behalf of Carillon Historical Park to bring these histories to the public. The ever-growing support of staff, volunteers and the community astounds me.

Carillon Brewing Co. is located at 1000 Carillon Blvd. in Dayton. Their hours are 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit


Kevin J. Gray is Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geek. A firm believer in all things balanced, when Kevin isn’t drinking craft beer, he’s hiking or biking to keep his beer belly in optimal shape. Reach Kevin J. Gray at KevinGray@DaytonCity

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