WYSO

Book Nook: Dayton Beer - a History of Brewing in the Miami Valley, by Timothy R. Gaffney

Aug 14, 2019

When I was a child I didn't keep track of the days of the week before I began going to school. When I was about four years-old I began to recognize when it was a Friday. That was the day that my dad would come home from work with a six pack of beer. His brand was Budweiser. Years later I tried some of his beer, just a sip, and I spit it out. It was awful stuff; I could not understand the attraction.

One day when I was finally old enough to legally consume beer I tried a taste of some German beer. It was Hofbrau Oktoberfest. I thought it tasted quite good. I started trying some others and found that while I would sometimes enjoy sipping an imported brew I rarely could stomach our mass produced American variants; Schlitz, Grain Belt, Miller "High Life," and their ilk. They were lacking in appeal.

Then one day I tried an American beer from the Anchor Steam Brewery in San Francisco. I was stunned to realize that it had complex flavors. That experience gave me hope that someday we Americans could have our own tasty domestic beers, too. And so we do now.

Prior to the enactment of nationwide prohibition of alcoholic beverages in 1920 there were many local breweries in America. I understand that some of the beer that they were brewing was probably quite drinkable. The Dayton region was once well endowed with local breweries and in his new book "Dayton Beer" Tim Gaffney takes a look back at the history of beer brewing in the Miami Valley and shows us how all those businesses were eventually forced to shut down. It has taken nearly a century for the industry to recover locally. Gaffney takes readers on a tour of some of our local microbreweries. They are thriving.

During this interview we speculated that it could be really fun to harvest some wild hops that are growing locally and produce a beer with it. I hope some clever local brewer decides to try doing exactly that.

The Book Nook on WYSO is presented by the Greene County Public Library with additional support from Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro LibraryWright Memorial Public Library, and Microsun Lamps.