I have been trying to capture the soul of this city called Dayton and I have been fortunate enough to see its spirit really show itself in its breweries. Now how can I write about the breweries of Dayton without starting with the first, Toxic Brew Company.
I had the good fortune of having a sit down with the owner and operator of Toxic Brew Company, a Mr. Shane. He was kind enough to allow me a tour of his brewing facility and bar and I must say, I was beyond impressed. The smells of barley and wheat brewing in large vats took me all the way back to Belgium. Before I left I was sure to try his Belgian style fair, my favorite of course, and I am going to be honest with you. If you put it next to any other Belgian brew, I would say it was straight from the Flemish country side. No way could this come from America! And here I stand as a witness, this material engineer turned Brew Master has won over my heart, and in the very center of life of the city I currently call home, Dayton, Ohio! The atmosphere of this brewery is pretty chill. I think of it as the rust belt classic. Part crazy, part blue collar, and 100% beer loving. If you are looking for a specific brew recommendation, I am particularly fond of Abby XXXX (Belgian Quad) 11.3% ABV. Full,with a not too sweet flavor that frankly will make sure you’ll need to Uber your way home.
Below I have transcribed a small Q&A I had with the Shane and a few pictures of his beautiful establishment. Enjoy!
(Juan M.)So Shane, please tell me what did you do before this?
(Shane J.)Before I was a material engineer working at WPAFB as a research scientist in the material and manufacturing directorate, so it was a pretty cool job. I got see a lot of technology and do a lot of fun stuff in the lab with other companies and things like that. Satellite Materials, Fill polymer systems, bio materials, optical materials, electrical materials…
JM-Sounds like a lot of science! haha!
SJ-All the science!
JM-So how do we go from material science to brewery?
SJ-There are a lot of… similarities… Basically I was just tired of bureaucracy and things like that so I decided to do my own thing. Being a material scientist is half chemist/half mechanical engineer, so all the chemistry, the biochemistry behind all the ingredients that we use, all the grains, all the enzymes, all the reactions, the yeast, a good understand of chemistry and the mechanics of things… I designed and fabricated locally, our brew-house is made here in Dayton. Our fermenters were spun up in Toledo [OH]. I put everything together down to the wiring, so when anything breaks, I am the guy that fixes it.
JM-Was there a eureka moment where you thought “brewery is what I want to do”?
SJ-Started home brewing about 6 years before I opened up this place. That’s a completely different world and I definitely got in over my head coming from that world. Lots of new things to learn but that’s the thing, I like learning curves. I like the beer. I think its turning out really good these days [an understatement if you ask me]. The business side of things was new. I fell in love with home brewing in the process. I had it much more automated that this thing here. My [personal] brew house ran off my laptop, with all the motors and pumps that move, but brewing is pretty hands on. You are always moving, always doing something. So I set up cleaning systems and things like that even on that [small] scale.
JM-Were you always a Daytonian? Why here in the Oregon District?
SJ-I call Dayton home now. I spent most of my life in Eastern North Carolina. I was a military brat so I grew up all over. I came here after college, doing fuel cell research and that lasted for about 6 months and that turned into bio optics and many other things. Then I did some demographic research on breweries and Dayton didn’t have any! I researched why that was and looked at a couple other places around the country but Dayton came back as number 1. The craft brew scene was going on every where and not here and I knew someone was gonna open up soon and take off. The community here in Dayton was stronger than any other town I had ever been to and it just feels right. Right when I started to break ground on this building here, there was not even a whisper of what was going on but then word got out a year ahead of time. It took us two years to open this place. Then Dayton Beer Company opened up in Kettering [OH] and Yellow Springs Brewery in Yellow Springs [OH] and we were the first here in Dayton in 50 years and that feels really good.
JM-What are you thinking as far as a future for the [Toxic] Brewery?
SJ-We are almost at capacity here and I got thoughts about doing a little bit of upgrading. Hope to apply to an augmentation of the brewing licence to get other people’s beer, wine and liquor and that should get rolling in the next few months. Looking to get a production facility down the road to increase production, something the size of Warped Wing and that would be stage two on the big plan.
JM-Any Final thoughts on Dayton?
SJ-Dayton people are awesome. They are super supportive of local. The Oregon District itself is an awesome little community and is 100% independently owned businesses, no chains any where on this street. A little family down here, great food, great everything. The brewery community is super supportive of each other, we are friends with Warped Wing, Yellow Springs and all the guys & gals [in the business]. It’s a really fun time to be in this industry, I feel really lucky.
JM-Well thanks for the little interview and the time man! I really appreciate it!
Photos Below by my good friend David Suter! If you are in the Dayton Area and want to work with him Leave a comment below and I will get you in contact with him! 🙂