5 things Dayton’s beer scene needs for the next level

By Hayley Fudge

Photo: Asheville Brewing Co. in North Carolina, a beer and pizza mecca

Watching Dayton’s beer scene progress during the last few years has been amazing. To go from zero breweries to at least a dozen and counting in the last few years is nothing short of impressive. And now, seeing brewers testing the boundaries of traditional palates, breweries engaging the community in all sorts of events and activities, creative chefs bringing some inspirational eats and culinary pairings into the mix—these are all ways in which the Miami Valley’s breweries and craft brew scene continues to evolve.

As someone who travels the country regularly for my full-time career, I’ve been able to experience a number of breweries and beer-centric towns. Oftentimes, the hype of them is just that, and I realize we have a pretty great thing going on right here in Dayton. However, there are times when I visit somewhere that makes me think just maybe we have quite a bit of opportunity here to establish ourselves even further as a regional beer destination.

Here are a few ideas—some a little more far-fetched than others—of what I would love to see as additions here. Doesn’t hurt to dream…

Tunes, tents, and taps

There’s a village in upstate New York known more for baseball than beer, but Cooperstown boasts one of the most beautiful breweries I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit. The pastoral Brewery Ommegang, known for its Belgian-style ales, was built in 1997 on 136 acres of land that was formerly used as a hop farm. In addition to its café and brewery operations, it also boasts a large outdoor amphitheater with concert and camping space, drawing such acts as Ben Harper, The Lumineers, and The Avett Brothers with its annual summer concert series, where the beer flows and popping tents is encouraged. There’s still a lot of underutilized farm space in the Miami Valley, right?

Recreational brewery

If there’s ever a midsize city that knows how to do all things beer, it’s Asheville, North Carolina. In addition to the much-adored Wicked Weed Brewing, there are several other unique spaces and places to embrace. One such place is the aptly named Asheville Brewing Co. While the brewery has three locations, the one on Merrimon Avenue (home to its original brewery) is also a dine-in pizza mecca, operational movie theatre, decked-out game room, and microbrewery. Serving up a lunch buffet with pizza, sundae bar, and air hockey is a great way to draw in families. And, they also are happy to deliver pizzas along with six-packs and growlers to your front door. Aren’t there some old, abandoned bowling alleys in Dayton that could be repurposed for pins and pints?

Beers, beds, and breakfast

Just about an hour outside of Madison lies a small town in Wisconsin called Mineral Point with less than 3,000 residents and a strong mining history. Now, it’s also known for an old stone warehouse built in 1854 that has been beautifully transformed into a brewery and bed and breakfast operation. The inn’s five rooms are located above the brewpub/restaurant, and there are also a couple of outlying cottages. Brewing is done onsite in a modern, 15-barrel brewhouse, where they focus on lagers and ales. With several beautiful historic districts in Dayton and beyond, seems to me we could pull this off here, too.

Airport suds

Several breweries around the country have satellite locations in airports—Stone Brewing at San Diego International Airport, New Belgium at Denver International Airport, Kona Brewing at Honolulu International Airport are examples—but none do it quite like Tampa, Florida-based Cigar City Brewing’s satellite location in Tampa International. It is the only airport brewery in the U.S., that I’m aware of, where the brewing is done onsite, with special offerings served only at that location. With a solid pub food menu to match the quality beers, it makes flying out of Terminal C a much better preflight experience than the norm—you’re almost hoping for a delay. Dayton is the birthplace of flight, for goodness sake. Shouldn’t one of our local breweries set up shop at DAY?

Beer and religion

Beer is religion, right? Ohio already boasts a few amazing breweries in buildings formerly known as churches, including Urban Artifact and Taft’s Ale House, just down the road in Cincinnati, and Father John’s Microbrewery, in the small rural town of Bryan in northwest Ohio. These spaces have inherent character and warmth, and their large floor plans often allow for brewing operations, special event space, and outdoor entertainment in a unique and unmatched atmosphere. Here’s to changing the holy, in-church beverage of choice from wine to beer somewhere in the Gem City.

Hayley Fudge is one of Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geeks. An enthusiast of craft beer and the culture that surrounds it, Hayley aspires to share her love of beer with others by whipping up beer-infused cupcakes on the regular. Reach Hayley Fudge at HayleyFudge@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Hayley Fudge is one of Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geeks. An enthusiast of craft beer and the culture that surrounds it, Hayley aspires to share her love of beer with others by whipping up beer-infused cupcakes on the regular. Reach Hayley Fudge at HayleyFudge@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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