Dayton Beer Week celebrates all things beer

By Kevin J. Gray

Photo: The Fifth Annual Beer Pride Parade will begin at 4:30 p.m. at Dublin Pub on Sunday, Aug. 17

For Dayton’s beer lovers, the holiday season comes in late August, with the return of Dayton Beer Week and its headlining event, AleFest Dayton. 

For the uninitiated, Dayton Beer Week is how the Miami Valley celebrates craft beer. Nearly everyone involved in the industry participates, either by hosting events or with beer specials throughout the week. 

“The cool thing about Dayton Beer Week is it’s everybody’s week and everyone participates: the consumer, the breweries, the distributors, the resellers, the taverns and restaurants,” noted Joe Waizmann, founder of Dayton Beer Week and AleFest, and president of Warped Wing Brewing Company. 

The week’s festivities culminate on that Saturday, when the beer world celebrates at AleFest Dayton, the region’s largest annual craft beer event. The event features over 400 beers and ciders from more than 180 breweries and cideries from Ohio, the Midwest and around the world. For established beer geeks and aspiring newbies alike, the event features opportunities to sample new brews, relish old favorites and make friends with like-minded aficionados.

How did this one-day event, started 16 years ago, explode into a weeklong festival of all things craft? Waizmann credits the growth to three things: “A city of our size, we needed a few things. Number one: breweries; number two: a signature event; and number three: we needed this highly focused week. Those were what led to the creation of Warped Wing and other breweries; what led to the creation of AleFest, going back 16 years now and Dayton Beer Week five years ago. The concept is not unique; it happens in many other cities throughout the U.S., but it kind of felt it was high time Dayton put a tremendous amount of attention behind craft beer during a focused time period.” 

Yet, as befitting a man who has spent his entire career educating people on craft beer, Waizmann is quick to add, “Although, as far as I am concerned, every day is craft beer day here in Dayton.”

Don’t-miss events

Since its inception, Dayton Beer Week has seen exponential growth. Waizmann expects more of the same this year: “All told, if I had to guess, there will be over 200 events through the course of the week. Some will be stand-alone, single day events, each unique in its own right. And then there will be, based on last year, more than 50 weeklong events or specials featuring craft beer in or around Dayton.” 

A partial list of events, compiled at press time is listed below. Find the complete and up-to-date list at daytonbeerweek.com. Below is the DCP quick guide to some of the capstone events throughout the week to get your planning started:

Although Dayton Beer Week doesn’t officially begin until Sunday, Aug. 17, pregame at Warped Wing on Friday, Aug. 15. Dayton’s first large-scale craft distribution brewer paired with Athens-based beer icon Jackie O’s to create a series of collaborative brews. The first was brewed at Jackie O’s and was released the week of July 28. The second, which was brewed at the Warped Wing facility, will make its debut at the brewery Friday night. No tickets needed, but expect a full house – these are two very popular breweries!

Get whacky on the links Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Pints, Putters & Pink Balls event. For the fourth year, this Dayton Beer Week preview event will raise money for the Breast Cancer Foundation Local Chapter (the event has raised over $6,000 for the charity over the last three years). Join fellow beer geek duffers in teams of two for the two-club golf scramble at the Kittyhawk Golf Course, located at 3383 Chuck Wagner Lane. Here, teams will compete in a variety of ways, including the best score over 18 holes, the best shot off a beer can and the lowest score on worst shot, among others. A variety of canned craft beer styles will be available for purchase along the course. Register early; event participation is limited.

On Sunday, Aug. 17, get ready to take to the streets for the fifth annual Beer Pride Parade. Gather with your favorite beer geeks at the Dublin Pub between 4 and 4:30 p.m. The parade features a variety of floats from many of the area’s bars and restaurants. Mayor Nan Whaley will lead the march from the Dublin Pub, down Fifth Street to Thai 9, where a special tapping of several cask beers signals the official start to Dayton Beer Week. The event is open to the public. Wear your favorite beer gear and be prepared to make new craft beer friends. 

Combine fitness and craft beer on Tuesday, Aug. 19 with the Biking for the Beer of It event. Deschutes will sponsor this 10-mile bike ride, which starts in West Carrolton and rides to A Taste of Wine in Miamisburg and back, with craft beer and cheese tastings at the halfway point. Note, this event is also limited. 

After you’ve burned all those calories biking on Tuesday, try one of the various beer and food pairings throughout the week. Recharge in the Oregon District at Jay’s Seafood, where they host a series of Toxic Brew Company dinners on Wednesday, Aug. 20 and Thursday, Aug. 21. Each of the five courses will be paired with a Toxic Brew Company beer. Sample their Raspberry Blonde alongside pan seared trout in a lemon-raspberry butter, or go for a bold dessert pairing by coupling the Porn or Pawn Pepper Pale Ale with Jay’s chocolate dipped housemade lime gelato. Tickets are $55 each. 

Want to see your favorite beer folks in drag? Come to the fourth annual Firkin Drag Race at Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery on Thursday, Aug. 21, where reps from Premium Beverage Supply and New Belgium will square off to see whose cask ale kicks first. Loser wears a dress. Beers TBA, but tapping starts at 5 p.m. 

The final Friday of Dayton Beer Week has become known as Red Carpet Night, as brewers, brewery reps and distributors all mingle with the local craft beer illumanti at Trolley Stop. Pack the patio and knock back something rare and interesting at this annual late-night stop for wrapping up Dayton Beer Week before launching into AleFest. Just don’t go overboard – there are a lot of beers still to sample at AleFest the next day. 

AleFest Dayton

As with all things, a beer festival must grow and change to keep up with the times. This year marks a number of changes to AleFest. The most notable to attendees will be the venue change, held this year at Five Rivers Metroparks’ Wegerzyn Gardens. This isn’t the first time AleFest has moved locations, but the event is leaving Carillon Park after more than a decade, due to changes in the rental rate policies at that facility.  

Behind the scenes, ownership of the festival has also changed. Joe Waizmann (with constant help from his ever-patient wife Leslie) has run the festival for the last decade and a half. However, with the opening of Warped Wing Brewery in January of this year, Waizmann’s time was becoming too divided to help at the brewery and run the festival. Jen Dean and Amanda Pond bought the festival from Waizmann earlier this year, with Waizmann staying involved in a consulting role.

The types of beverages at the event have also morphed. With nearly a dozen breweries open or opening in the area, and scores more open in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, expect to see a larger emphasis on local and regional beers. Another flagship change will be the emphasis on ciders. Expect more than 20 ciders to flow at the event, including several from Vander Mill, Strong Bow, Ace and others. Look for the ciders as part of the gluten-free area. 

The event is expected to draw between 3,000 and 4,000 people this year. The event runs from 2–5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door and include 20 tasting tickets, a commemorative glass and a program. A portion of the proceeds go to benefit Epilepsy Foundation of Western Ohio and other charities.

Want to sample some of the beers in a smaller setting? Get a V.I.P. ticket. V.I.P. tickets are $50 and allow ticket holders to enter the event at 1 p.m. These tickets are limited to the first 500 sold, so check the website for availability.

With a 16-year history, it isn’t difficult to find veterans who can give tips about navigating AleFest. DCP offers a few of our own:

The beers flow freely at AleFest and some are quite strong, so your best bet is to plan ahead and have a friend drop you off or pick you up. There is ample parking, but be safe. Better yet, take a cab or catch a ride on the Tank’s shuttle.

This is August in Ohio. Although we’ve had what feels like a cooler-than-usual summer, there’s a good bet it will be hot at AleFest. Drink a lot of water. Swigging your rinse water between glasses may sound a little gross, but veterans swear by it as a good way to stay hydrated.

The event is rain or shine. Beer is served under tents, but if it looks a little overcast, grab an umbrella and shoes you don’t mind getting muddy, just in case.

Don’t go on an empty stomach. Your best bet is to have a filling lunch before the event, but if you get the munchies at the event, food is available from several vendors at AleFest. Pretzel necklaces have become popular at the event. Fashion be damned – give me carbs!

Full details about Dayton Beer Week can be found online at daytonbeerweek.com. Event details and ticket sales for AleFest Dayton can be found at AleFest.com.

Kevin J. Gray is Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geek. A firm believer in all things balance, 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

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