Taste Responsibly

Big Brews and Blues Fest Invades Carillon Park

By Kevin J. Gray

Back for its third year, Big Brews and Blues Fest kicks off the outdoor party season at Carillon Park on Friday, May 18th. Smoking hot bands, craft beers on draught that spotlight Ohio breweries and delicious food punctuate this yearly fundraiser for Diabetes Dayton.

Diabetes Dayton is a locally run organization that supports and assists those affected by diabetes, working under the slogan, “Until there’s a cure, we help you live.” The charity 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. The organization 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 Pre-Party

Big Brews and Blues Fest takes place during American Craft Beer Week, which runs from May 14 through May 20. Boston’s Bistro and Pub (7500 N. Main St.), an event sponsor and one of the area’s first craft beer bars, has a long history of providing quality beers to thirsty Daytonians. To celebrate American Craft Beer Week and the lead up to Big Brews and Blues, Boston’s is tapping rare beers all week, including vintage Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree IPA, vertical tastings of Great Lakes Blackout Stout and more. Check the bar’s website for details (www.bostonsbistro.com).

The Beers

The main event kicks off at 5p.m. on Friday evening. Big Brews and Blues admission includes 20 tasting tickets and a commemorative glass. This year’s expanded beer selection features nearly 40 craft beers, with a focus on Ohio brewers — and the all-draught format allows for individual samples or full-sized offerings. The Buckeye State has a growing brewers movement, and this event is a great opportunity to sample what they have to offer. Below are notes on the flagship Ohio breweries, but check out the tasting guide at the event to learn more about all of the beers (including national favorites such as Stone Brewing, Great Divide, Founders, Bells and Southern Tier).

Brew Kettle Brewing Co (Strongsville) — This northern-Ohio favorite started mainly as a brew-on-premise, but has taken off as a production brewery in recent years. White Rajah is a powerhouse West Coast style-IPA that rivals the best the left coast has to offer.

Christian Moerlein Brewing (Cincinnati) — The Christian Moerlein brand dates back to pre-prohibition days. Try the Exposition Vienna Lager, the Saengerfest Miabock and the Friend of the Irishman Stout.

Elevator Brewing (Columbus) — Dubbed “the most gorgeous brewpub in Ohio” by Rick Armon, author of Ohio Breweries, Elevator Brewing is a destination in and of itself. Until you make it to Columbus to see for yourself, try the Three Frogs IPA.

Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland) — Known for their highly sought-after Christmas seasonal, GLBC is an Ohio brewing staple that makes solid beers year round. Hop-heads should be sure to try the Commodore Perry IPA.

Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery (Athens) — A tiny brewpub in the midst of a college town, Jackie O’s is a darling of the craft beer set, making sought-after beers that push the envelope.

Mt. Carmel (Cincinnati) — The very definition of a micro-brewery, Mt. Carmel started in the barn of brewer Mike and Kathleen Dewey’s 2-acre property. Today, they’ve grown to a 4,000 barrel a year local brewery and have begun experimenting with bigger beers as part of their Snapshot Series.

Ohio Brewing Company (Akron) — Originally opened as a brewpub in the late 1990s, Ohio Brewing has weathered the ups and downs and now brews as a production brewery. Try the Twice Bitten Strong Ale.

Rivertown (Cincinnati)— In 2009, two home brewers met via a mutual friend in their home brewing club and the brewery was hatched. Rivertown has been expanding into more Ohio markets with beers such as their Roebling Imperial Robust Porter.

Thirsty Dog Brewing (Akron) — Although the Miami Valley location closed some years ago, the Thirsty Dog brewers still crank out great beers in their northern Ohio location. Check out their exclusive Wee Heavy Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale.

Wooden Shoe Brewing (Minster) — Wooden Shoe, like Christian Moerlein, is an old brand that has seen a recent resurrection. The Wooden Shoe brewers focus on German-style beers, like their flagship Wooden Shoe Bock.

Interested in making your own beer? In addition to the tasting, DRAFT, the Dayton home brewing club, will be providing home brewing demonstrations, teaching attendees the techniques needed to replicate the beers in their hands.

The Blues

While sampling the craft beers, make your way over to the sound stage for some hot blues. Dayton native Noah Wotherspoon (8p.m.) returns home to headline the music portion of the festival. Miss Lissa & Company (7p.m.) is back this year by popular demand, playing an array of standards and originals. Uptown Blues Players (6p.m.) features a trio with power and finesse, with experience measured in decades, not years. And kicking off the event are the Silver Kings Blues Band (5p.m.), blues rockers from Riverside.

(All the information you need and pre-sale tickets for $30 can be found at BigBrewsandBlues.com. Tickets at the door are $35 for the beer tasting, or if you just want to come enjoy just the music and enjoy a beer by the glass, admission is just $5. No charge for designated drivers.  You must be 21 to participate in the beer sampling.  Gates open at 5p.m.)

Reach DCP freelance writer Kevin J. Gray at KevinGray@DaytonCityPaper.com.


Twenty Years of Drinking for a Good Cause


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