Local beer groups educate drinkers about craft beers and home-brewing
By Kevin J. Gray
Dayton is a great town for craft beer—the local bars offer rare and interesting taps, there are five breweries or brewpubs in various stages of opening in the Miami Valley, our retail shops stock an amazing selection from around the U.S. and the world and the city plays host to a week-long beer celebration and a number of notable beer festivals. But it’s the people that really make the Dayton beer scene what it is. Two notable local groups are working to expand the reach of the “beer people” through education and awareness of craft beer: DRAFT and Brew Sisters.
DRAFT: The Wright Flight of Beers
DRAFT is one of the area’s oldest beer-related groups. The organization promotes homebrewing and craft beer education in the Miami Valley and is organized exclusively for educational, scientific and social purposes. The group has several stated purposes that drive club activity:
-To promote education and enhance public awareness of the craft of home-brewing.
-To provide beginning, intermediate and advanced homebrewers with information, advice and training appropriate to their skill level.
-To encourage members to train for Beer Judge status under the guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).
-To hold tastings and contests.
-To enjoy the company of fellow beer brewers.
-To promote the appreciation of real beer among non-brewers.
-To actively promote responsibility in the use of alcoholic beverages.
In addition, the group encourages brewers to step outside the box and out of their comfort zone in an effort to enhance creativity and understanding.
The group holds monthly meetings on the second Friday night of each month at the local German Club Liederkranz-Turner building, located at 1400 East Fifth Street in downtown Dayton. Meetings start at 7:00 p.m. The meetings generally have an educational presentation at 7:30 with a brief business meeting at 8:00 p.m. Food is available for an inexpensive donation ($1.00 to $2.00).
The club claims about 65 active members, with as many as 50 attending meetings regularly. The DRAFT meetings are typically a relaxed atmosphere. Members and guests bring some beer to share, a tasting glass, and an open mind. The meetings are a great way to learn about beer styles and can be very helpful for homebrewers looking to troubleshoot or hone in on a recipe.
In addition to the monthly meetings, there are other ways that the group seeks to educate Dayton about homebrewing and craft beer, including outreach at local beer-related events. At the Boonshoft Museum’s “Hops Over the Moon,” DRAFT worked in conjunction with Miami Valley BrewTensils to provide samples of homebrewed beer and demonstrated making beer on-site. The group has a presence at most local beer-related events.
Brew Sisters: Women in Beer
The earliest brewers were women. Sumerian women made alcoholic beverages as far back as 1800 BC. In the Middle Ages, women played pivotal roles in household brewing. Yet, in modern times, beer remains fairly male-dominant. The Brew Sisters seek to change that.
Modeled after national groups like The Pink Boot Society and Barley’s Angels, Brew Sisters is an organization of women for the education of craft beer to advance the female craft beer enthusiast. Natalie Phillips, beer manager for Belmont Party Supply, and Pam Skelly, organizer of the Big Beers and Barleywines festival, founded the group in May of this year.
Although the fledgling group is social in nature, the goal of the organization is education. Phillips explains, “This can be something where women can get together and talk about homebrewing, and talk about craft beer, and go out and have a good time while you learn.” The group focuses on all aspects of craft and homebrew and has planned events like brewery tours and homebrewing demonstrations for future meetings (a tour to Cincinnati’s Rivertown Brewery is already in the works).
The group will meet bi-monthly, with rotating locations so that they can patronize the Miami Valley’s craft beer bars. Each meeting will include discussions of different beer styles, as well as pairings of beers with food. The first meeting, held in early June, was at The Trolley Stop and featured eight different beers, ranging in style from hefeweizen to IPA to imperial stouts—all paired with foods. The inaugural meeting drew more than 20 women, of whom 5 were already homebrewers.
One of the best ways to learn about beer is to start brewing, and the best way to meet other brewers is at a brewout where local homebrewers gather to bring their gear and create beer. This month, DRAFT will host a brewout at Miami Valley BrewTensils (2617 South Smithville Rd.) on July 14, starting at around 9 a.m. If you homebrew, bring your gear and hang out with other brewers. If you don’t homebrew, come anyway to meet others and to learn more about the process. Members of both DRAFT and Brew Sisters will be onsite and actively brewing and answering questions. Bring a tasting glass and some beer to share.
For those interested in learning more about DRAFT, check out the group’s website: http://www.daytondraft.org. For those interested in joining Brew Sisters, follow the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BrewSistersDayton.
Reach DCP freelance writer Kevin J. Gray at KevinGray@DaytonCityPaper.com