Warped Wing’s John Haggerty, our Daytonian of the Week, celebrates 25 years of brewing this weekend

John Haggerty came to Dayton specifically to be a part of the launch of  Warped Wing Brewing Company and has been the only lead brewer for the downtown Dayton brewery.

But he came here with plenty of experience under his belt, most notably a decade-long stint as head brewer of New Holland brewery in Holland, Michigan, and other brewing gigs at a number of regional breweries.

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His co-founders and friends at Warped Wing will be celebrating Haggerty's quarter-century in brewing with a special event they're calling "A Toast to Hags & Grape Creek Must Launch," from noon to midnight on Saturday, June 9. A commemorative bottle release of Grape Creek Must, Haggerty's Barley Wine that he aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels for 18 months, is a part of the celebration.

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We caught up with the busy brewer to ask him a few questions and to bestow upon him the lofty status of "Daytonian of the Week." Here's what John had to say:

How did you come to Dayton, and why did you decide to stay in and settle in the Dayton area?

I moved to Dayton in order to help establish the Warped Wing Brewing Co. I felt like Dayton had a lot of potential and was on the verge of reinventing itself, and I wanted to play a role in making that happen. So far so good, and being able to participate in the upswing in downtown Dayton has been very rewarding. Dayton has also been a fantastic place for my wife, Danielle, and son, Collin. They seem to really like it here as well. We have made a lot of really good friends and have been very happy living here.

What’s been your most recent professional challenge, and how did you push through the challenge?

The brewery is a constant set of challenges. It doesn’t really matter — there is always a technical or personnel or physical-plant or fill-in-the-blank something going on that needs some sort of attention, so it keeps you on your toes.

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Having said that, we are about to release a gose-style beer in a couple weeks. It is the first beer we will have done that uses microflora other than culture yeast at Warped Wing. It will also be the first "kettle sour" style beer that I have made, so there was a lot of research — reading, speaking with vendors, speaking with other brewers, etc. — that went into the process and recipe formulation for this, not only in order to make the beer, but also to ensure that the souring microflora would not spread and inoculate the other beers we make that are not sour (i.e. everything else). It is a real concern and risk when you do these sorts of things, so I think we have pulled it off. You guys will have to be the judges of whether we were successful or not.

What’s your guilty pleasure? 

You mean besides beer?

What are your favorite places to eat and/or drink in the Dayton area (besides Warped Wing, of course)? 

There are a ton of great restaurants and bars in Dayton, but my kitchen and my backyard are my favorites. Danielle, my wife, is a fantastic cook. Her family heritage is Italian so we eat pretty well at home. She makes pasta from scratch (not just the sauce but also the noodles). It is pretty hard to beat.

What inspires you about Dayton? 

I find the people of Dayton to be resilient and inventive. They are curious, enterprising and willing to take chances on themselves and their neighbors. There is a real desire among Daytonians to make Dayton the most awesome place it can be, and I believe they are succeeding!

What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?

Dayton, although already awesome, is going to be even more so in that time. Downtown is really starting to take off and become a super dynamic place to be. I expect this to continue as more and more people choose to live and work downtown. I am glad that I am part of what is going on and look forward to continued participation in what is certain to be a fantastic future for Dayton!

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