Brewing has become a competitive business in the Dayton region, forcing beer makers to partner with other businesses and breweries to expand their customer bases.
Dayton-area breweries have partnered with coffee roasteries, candy makers mustard companies, whiskey bars and more to expand their brands and increase revenue opportunities.
Some examples in the Dayton area include:
• Eudora Brewing Company on Wilmington Pike makes Sky Ale, an exclusive beer available only at Sky Asian Cuisine.
• Toxic Brew Company on East Fifth Street serves a beer named after Practice Yoga.
• Crooked Handle Brewing Co. in Springboro developed a beer with DiSalvo’s Deli in Kettering.
• Woeber Mustard Manufacturing Company makes a craft beer mustard using Warped Wing Ermal’s Cream Ale.
Warped Wing collaborates with about five breweries and other businesses per year, co-founder Nick Bowman said. One of the most well-known is the yearly holiday collaboration with Esther Price Candies.
The first edition of Esther’s Lil Secret was a scotch ale brewed with Esther Price caramels in 2014. Bowman grew up with the grandchildren of Esther Price CEO Jim Day, so Bowman approached Esther Price about a collaboration soon after Warped Wing was up and running. The beer uses a different Esther Price ingredient every year and the ingredient remains a secret until the release.
It’s challenging for the brewery to develop a new beer every year, but Bowman said it keeps the collaboration interesting.
“We like to think that we hit more home runs than not, and so far, we have, but you never know how people are going to receive it,” Bowman said. “But the feedback we got last year online was people love that stuff and it’s exciting to them. I think what I’ve seen is maybe some other beers, especially holiday beers, is it kind of runs its course … You’re never going to get bored with Esther’s Lil Secret.”
Esther Price makes a small profit off the beer when Warped Wing buys the ingredients, but the greatest benefit to the company is the marketing, said Esther Price Accountant Peggy Weaver .
“They really are the ones that approached us and came up with the formula and all that, and their marketing team did the design of the cans,” Weaver said.
Warped Wing has also collaborated with the owners of Wood Burl Coffee, who own Press Coffee. The result was “Pirogue,” a Belgian-style Tripel ale containing a Wood Burl cold brew.
The brewery has worked with The Century Bar on Jefferson Street twice. One of those releases — the whiskey barrel-aged imperial stout Whiskey Rebellion — is now Warped Wing’s most sought-after barrel-aged beer, Bowman said.
When Warped Wing collaborates with other businesses, members of both teams discuss the flavor and style of the beer. The brewers at Warped Wing work out the technical details.
“They trust us to know the profiles of the beers, the raw materials, the malts, the hops we’re using, and then we trust them to know the flavor profiles of the chocolate, or the cream, whatever it may be,” Bowman said.
Springboro-based Crooked Handle Brewing Co. has several collaborations of its own. It brews Crooked Stag with Springboro Scottish restaurant The Highland Stag. Crooked Handle has also worked with The Wandering Griffin Brewery and Pub.
The Springboro brewery recently developed a beer with DiSalvo’s Deli in Kettering. The Italian-style ale is available at both locations, and Crooked Handle co-founder Jason Moore said the brewery just tapped a new batch.
“People were digging it,” Moore said. “It’s not something they’d seen before. We didn’t know much about Italian grape ales ourselves until we started doing a little more research.”
The inspiration for the beer was came from Heineken, Grolsch and Peroni, which are three favorites of Rinaldo DiSalvo, a co-owner of DiSalvo’s Deli. The collaboration brew has a grapefruit finish and is popular with deli customers.
Though businesses and breweries benefit from collaborations by introducing their products to new customers, they say that’s only part of the motivation. Collaboration allows them to create something with their friends and meet new people.
Gaining new customers from collaborations is a “fringe benefit”because the main goal is strengthening community ties, Bowman said.
“Dayton’s already a really proud city,” Bowman said. “For us, that’s what gets us the most excited – not, you know, picking up a few new fans … The reason we do it is our town.”
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