Local Beers on Tap in the Miami Valley
By Kevin J. Gray
Last August’s beer column wondered when Dayton would see locally-produced craft beer again and introduced the Toxic Brew guys, who were just getting started on the process. Now, just over six months later, the Miami Valley is slated to see not one, but three craft brewers in 2012: Toxic Brew in the Oregon District, Dayton Beer Company in Kettering and Vitruvian Brew Company in Yellow Springs. DCP caught up with each of these local brewers to discuss their exciting futures.
Toxic Brew: Shane Juhl & Jason Hindson
What should people expect to see when they walk into Toxic Brew?
We don’t really have a theme. With a name like Toxic Brew Company, we could go all out and have skull and crossbones, but we actually want a very inviting place. We want people to be drawn in, whether for the beer, the atmosphere or the décor. We want to have a comfortable place where someone can come have a few good drinks and food. [Shane Juhl]
What kinds of beers will you brew?
Shane and I both get pretty excited about beer styles that are higher alcohol content. We’re really passionate about Belgian and German style beers. That’s something we’ve identified ourselves with. [Jason Hindson]
What is your focus as a brewer?
We focus on experimentation, and we like having people in to see what it’s like to see the evolution of dry hop flavors in the cask. To educate more people about the craft of brewing and craft beer has excited me, and definitely an endless possibility of things can happen. [SJ]
How big will Toxic Brew be?
Starting between 500 and 1000 barrels a year, and going from there. We’ll have a 7-barrel system and multiple fermentors. [SJ]
Where are you in the process?
We are slated to open mid-May. We are working on building permits and brewing permits now. We’ve been cleaning the place, getting it ready to build it back up. Just the other day, I pulled the trigger on ordering fermentors. The brewhouse will be fabricated at the same time. [SJ]
What’s the vision for Toxic Brew?
To have locally-produced craft beer. We definitely focus on the higher end beers, as far as gravity and limited release, but we’ll still have a lot of approachable beers. But we want to be a destination spot. Yes, you will see the beer in the stores and in bars, but [the establishment] will be an inviting place where people can come in, sit down and talk about beer. [SJ]
What about the other breweries opening in the area?
We are pretty excited to have more breweries in the area. We’ve reached out to Pete [Dayton Beer Company] and Shane [Vitruvian Brew Company] and they’ve been very receptive. We’ve got a good opportunity here — Dayton was in a vacuum, but now we’ve got three coming in — to have a community of brewers. We are in competition in some ways, but we can leverage the excitement — have brewery tours, beer clubs — so that [craft beer] becomes a reason to visit, bringing people to Dayton. [SJ]
How do you envision educating the brewing process to the public?
From my perspective, when we talk about wanting to educate the consumers, it would be being able to share the information we’ve gained with others who may not know, who might be new to craft beer. We want to share the knowledge ourselves, and through the people we employ. Making sure the people we employ are able to talk intelligently about the beer. [JH]
What’s the first thing you want visitors to see?
Our brewhouse will be the first thing you will see [when you walk in], where all of the work is done, not just static fermenters or bright tanks. You will see people scraping out grains, the pumps in action. etc. [SJ]
Dayton Beer Company: Pete Hilgeman
What’s your vision for the Dayton Beer Company?
I’d like to be the next Great Lakes, ideally. I want to be Dayton’s go-to brewery. When people say they are from Dayton, they’ll associate Dayton Beer with Dayton. [Pete Hilgeman]
What styles of beer do you brew?
All kinds. I have 12 or 13 recipes. My go-to recipes are blonde ale, hefeweizen, robust porter, IPA, pale ale, dunkelweizen, brown ale, IIPA and barleywine. [PH]
How big do you see yourself in the first year?
Small. We’re just going to brew a small batch. We’ll brew it on a 40-gallon system to start, just to get into it and see how well we’re received. We’ll do that for the first 6 to 8 months, just to introduce our beers. Then ramp up to 5 to 7 barrels. [PH]
How has the change in Ohio licensing laws that allows breweries to offer samples figured into your opening process?
We weren’t going to have a tasting room, but now that we can get it with our license anyway we might as well add it into the brewery itself. It’s only going to take up about 400 sq. feet of our space, so it’s not a significant amount. We’ll have a service counter where people can come in and buy cases or six packs or kegs, and we’ll also have a bar, with the tasting there. You can come in and enjoy a pint, a couple of pints, or samples. [PH]
Where are you in the process right now?
The brewery should be done and ready to brew in the next two weeks. We applied last month [for the license], we’ve been getting letters from the state updating us on the process. Hopefully we’ll get it in the next three to four weeks. [PH]
When are you hoping to open?
Mid-march, assuming no snags in the licensing. [PH]
How did you get into brewing in the first place?
I worked for a company called Party Source down in Kentucky. One of my coworkers there was a brewer. I was always interested in beer. So I tried it a little bit and I just taught myself over the last four years. [PH]
Tell me about the transition from homebrewing to Dayton Beer Company.
Well, it’s obviously a lot larger scale. It’s really not too challenging to scale up the recipes and increase your yield. The hardest part has been the business aspect, in terms of licensing process, permits, everything of that nature. [PH]
Are you working with restaurants to do brews for them, or to get on tap there?
I’ve got about half a dozen that I’ve talked to. Some of them are interested in special beers just for them, or we’ll introduce a new beer at each establishment that would be unique to them. [PH]
How do you see the other brewers opening in town? Do you see them as competition or as helpful?
A lot of people would rather be alone in the market. But I view it as a positive. For one, the craft beer market, I mean, people are either going to like your beer or not. It doesn’t matter if they are from the same city or not. For me personally, I love craft beer, so having more options, especially local options, is good. I like having at least one other [brewery] around Dayton. People will want to try the other guy out, too, and we’ll both benefit. [PH]
What are you personally most excited about in this process?
Bringing great beer to Dayton. I am more excited to talk to everyone about it. Have them come in, talk to me about it, enjoy the beers, and give back, I guess. I love the craft beer industry and I love how locally we don’t have anything, so I want to be open to anyone who wants to talk to me about it. I want to be out there, engaging in the community. Hopefully we can act a little like Buckeye [brewing] has. They’ve really engaged the community. [PH]
Vitruvian Brew Company: Jacqui and William Shane Creepingbear
What is the vision for Vitruvian?
The VBC has goals of being a highly efficient and sustainable brewing operation. We are beer history enthusiasts and we would like to add to the global and local culture of this very old tradition. Serving our local community comes first. [Shane Creepingbear]
What should customers expect from the Vitruvian brand?
The Vitruvian brand will offer a quality hand-made product to the Yellow Springs and Dayton metro area. It will offer a unique visit experience and travel destination for beer enthusiasts that enjoy the art of the hunt. [SC]
What beer styles will you specialize in?
We will specialize in the hybridized “American Beer” genres: IPAs, ales, porters, stouts and unique seasonals that are respectful of classic styles. Our initial line includes a brown and a pale ale for session drinking and a high ABV IPA. [SC]
How many barrels are you planning to brew initially? Long term?
Start with 10 and expand to 80-100 bbls over a 5 year period. [SC]
Where are you in the process? When do you see opening?
We are very much in the initial stages of the process and we should be in full production within the closing of the year. [SC]
What are you most excited about?
I must reiterate that the most rewarding aspect of this process, to us, is enjoying the finished product. I would encourage everyone that enjoys beer to make it for themselves. You will be impressed with what you can do. [SC]
How did you get started in brewing, and what made you want to open a brewery?
Jacqui and I (William Shane Creepingbear) got started in brewing after our own passion for chasing quality beer was ignighted. We would get mixed six-packs of beer we had never heard of and critique them between ourselves. After we brewed our first batch, Jacqui and I were elated at our results. It was an amazingly satisfying event in our lives; since then we have been developing this idea and wondering how it could become a reality. [SC]
What are the biggest lessons learned from the process?
This is a huge learning process for anyone that has not opened a brewery, be aware, and be ready to adapt. [SC]
Reach DCP freelance writer Kevin J. Gray at KevinGray@DaytonCityPaper.com.