Toxic Brew Company, the first craft brewery in downtown Dayton, celebrated its 10th anniversary on Saturday, June 10 with a free block party featuring a variety of music, food, vendors and with the release of ISO-HELL, a hazy imperial IPA.
Growth of Ohio brewery scene
In the last 10 years, the Ohio brewery scene has grown from 58 breweries in 2013 to 427 breweries now, said Justin Hemminger, deputy director of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association.
2013 was a very popular time to start a brewery, Hemminger said. Most of the breweries at that time were in Northeast Ohio. Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland was the first modern brewery to open in 1988 and Hemminger said their success paved the way for others in that area to go all in and open their own small breweries.
Another contributing factor to the brewery boom around that time was the creation of the A-1C permit. Brewery owners previously only had the option to get a A-1 Manufacturer of Beer permit costing around $4,000.
“There was only one brewery license available in the state,” Hemminger said. “Our association wanted to lower the barrier to entry for smaller breweries and take some of that cost burden off of them.”
The Ohio Craft Brewers Association in conjunction with other industry groups and in support of lawmakers created a new permit class called A-1C. This permit is $1,000 a year and allows breweries to have a tap room on premises and to self-distribute their beer to retail stores, bars, restaurants, etc., Hemminger said.
The A-1 permit is for those producing more than 31 million gallons per year and the A-1C is for those producing less than 31 million gallons per year.
The start of Toxic Brew Company
Shane Juhl, the owner and CEO of Toxic Brew Company (who the employees refer to as dad), had a dream to open a brewery after falling in love with the process of brewing beer. He was willing to take the risk in Dayton at a time when not many people were moving downtown.
Juhl bought the building at 431 E. Fifth St. after it sat vacant for six years. After two years of remodeling the space, Toxic Brew Company opened in June 2013. At that time, there were a handful of breweries in the Dayton area including Yellow Springs Brewery in Yellow Springs, Dayton Beer Company in Kettering, Thirsty Dog Brewing Company in Centerville and Miami Trail Brewery in Xenia.
When asked why there wasn’t a brewery sooner in downtown Dayton Juhl said, “I don’t know. There was a really strong homebrew community here in Dayton and that’s how I started. I fell in love with the process of brewing beer.”
Juhl grew up primarily in eastern North Carolina and moved to Dayton for a job as a material scientist. At first he was planning to work both jobs, but quickly realized he didn’t have the time to do both.
He recalled the first day they opened their doors when he was the bartender. He said they were overwhelmed with the demand for the four to five beers on tap.
“People wanted to know what the first brewery in the city was going to do,” Juhl said. “It was during the big hype of IPAs and I came out with all Belgium beers. I got thick skin really quick.”
Putting the community first
Over the last 10 years, the interior, decorations and number of taps may have changed, but the value of putting the community at the forefront has never waivered.
“I think what we have always taken pride in is that we’re like a melting pot of the Oregon District,” said Tyler Glicher, a Toxic Brew Company partner and taproom manager. “We’re a place where anyone can come and feel comfortable and that’s what (Juhl) has always promoted.”
This will be represented in the block party on Saturday with an eclectic list of musical performances. The musicians, food vendors and other vendors have all brought people into the brewery and the team wanted to open their space up to honor them as well.
“It’s always been ingrained in me to take care of your people and take of your community,” Juhl said. “I rely on this community to pay the bills and so I give back to that same community.”
Jessica Sands, public relations and marketing manager for the Downtown Dayton Partnership, said Toxic has really made a name for themselves in the Oregon District.
“They’re really doing what they can to help other businesses,” Sands said.
From allowing chefs like Dane Shipp to pop-up weekly at the brewery to opening their doors for festivals and partnerships, Sands said they are deeply invested in the community.
Breweries are more than a place to drink beer
“The people who get into this industry, generally care a lot about beer and bringing people together over beer,” Hemminger said.
But, that’s not all breweries represent. Breweries are a gathering place for families and friends, a place to listen to local talent, a place to take out of town visitors and a place that represents the city it is in.
“It’s hard to underestimate how impactful I think the brewery culture has been overall for communities like Dayton,” said Stephanie Keinath, vice president of strategic initiatives for the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.
She said a lot of the local breweries have been really thoughtful about where they choose to locate.
“Often times they’re taking and rehabbing formerly vacant spaces or industrial spaces that were no longer in use,” Keinath said. “They’re really anchoring some parts of our community that are undergoing a real renaissance.”
When a brewery opens up in the Dayton area, Keinath said we often times see restaurants, entertainment and a real sense of community vibrancy follow.
Economic impact of breweries
Ohio breweries had a $1.27 billion economic impact in 2022 compared to $880 million in 2020, according to the Ohio Craft Brewers Association. This includes money spent in taprooms, travel and jobs supported by the industry. The association conducts an economic impact survey every two years.
“When you put a destination as a center piece like a brewery into a small town or neighborhood, beer people will find it and they will find all the things there is to do around that brewery,” Hemminger said.
Jacquelyn Y. Powell, president and CEO of the Dayton Convention & Visitors Bureau, said craft breweries are a popular trend for visitors and residents alike as they explore various communities.
There are 38 active breweries in the West Central region, which includes Montgomery, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Logan, Miami, Preble and Shelby counties, Hemminger said.
“People have always loved beer. It’s easier than ever to find that audience,” Keinath said. “I think we have developed a really strong craft beer audience in Dayton.”
“It’s really exciting and humbling to see the support that we have,” Juhl said. “The DORA (designated outdoor refreshment area) has helped out and the street closures for Out on the Fifth have helped out.”
As for what’s next with Toxic Brew Company, Juhl said he is considering owner-operator and franchise deals, but nothing is official.
“Right now we’re going to keep streamlining the processes,” Juhl said. “More people are coming in here, so we got to keep up with that.”
Toxic Brew Company is not the only brewery that will soon celebrate their 10 year anniversary. Warped Wing will hit 10 years in Jan. 2024.
“Dayton is not the same community that it was 10 or 15 years ago,” Keinath said. “We’ve really done a good job at playing to our strengths. We’re a small community with a ton of amenities with a really great quality of life.”
By the numbers:
- 427 breweries in Ohio
- 38 breweries in the West Central region
- $1.27 billion economic impact in 2022
- 1,185,678 barrels of craft beer brewed in Ohio in 2021
- 600 barrels of craft beer brewed at Toxic Brew Company
Toxic Brew Company Block Party
When: Saturday, June 10
Where: 431 E. Fifth St. in Dayton
Details: Music begins at 3 p.m. inside Toxic Brew Company with outdoor performances beginning at 4:30 p.m. on a stage located at Jackson and Fifth Streets. Guests can come early for special performances between noon and 4 p.m. organized by The Oregon District and Rhythm of The Oregon District.
Toxic Brew Company will release ISO-HELL, a hazy imperial IPA, which will be on tap and in 16-ounce cans. There will also be a variety of food and other vendors.
At 11 p.m. there will be an Irish whiskey toast to celebrate the brewery’s 10 year anniversary.
For more information, visit www.toxicbrewcompany.com or the brewery’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages.