Big Beer and Barley Wines moves to the Greek Orthodox Church
This weekend’s upcoming Big Beer and Barley Wines festival, the Miami Valley’s only beer tasting that focuses exclusively on hard-to-find beers, has a new home.
In the past several years, the Miami Fairgrounds Roundhouse has housed the event. With the sale of the fairgrounds and an uncertain future about the Roundhouse, Dayton’s most exclusive rare beer festival has relocated to the Greek Orthodox Church Memorial Center (500 Belmonte Park N, Dayton, OH 45405).
Along with the new venue, there is a renewed interest in serving the most interesting and hardest to find beers, including pub exclusives and beers brewed specifically for the event. “Since we had to move the festival to a smaller venue this year, that means that we need less beer,” explains Gus Stathes, co-organizer in charge of beer for of the event and General Manager of the Centerville tap house, Ollie’s Place. “The end result is a more tightly curated list of fantastic beer with less ‘filler’ than in previous years. “
The beer list, which can be found here is heavy on rarity. “We’ve been working closely with local and regional breweries to secure limited releases that you don’t see on the shelf every day,” notes Stathes. Look for beers like Three Floyds Crack the Skye, Jackie O’s BA Cellar Cuvee, and 50 West’s 10&2 Barleywine (which just won gold at GABF). You can also expect beers from Hoof Hearted, Streetside, and many other local, regional, and national favorites.
Expect this year to bring the heat and to be different from earlier events: “In previous years, the festival had a ‘the bigger the better’ mentality, focusing on alcohol content. This year, and moving forward for years to come, the spotlight is going to be shifted to quality and rarity over heavy-hitting alcohol,” says Stathes. “There’s a world of incredibly complex beer under the 8% ABV threshold,” he adds. “Why limit ourselves from sharing those beers just because they don’t fit under the “Big Beer” umbrella?”
Big Beers and Barley Wines traces its roots to 2009, when Mike and Donna Schwartz, owners of Ollie’s Place Craft Beer and Whiskey, Belmont Party Supply, and Brewtensils, first teamed up with Resident Home Association (RHA). Established in 1966, RHA, an Ohio non-profit, provides homes, daily living support and services to individuals with developmental disabilities. The money raised supports individuals with developmental disabilities served by RHA.
Peter Roll, RHA’s Executive Director, explains how this event helps the community he serves, “We are extremely thankful for the patrons and sponsors of Big Beers. It is through their generosity that we are able to enhance the services we provide to our residents with developmental disabilities. This year and into 2018, we have some ambitious plans to renovate homes and expand our day program space to better serve our clients.”
Big Beers and Barley Wines is a primary fundraiser for RHA. “One hundred percent of the proceeds of Big Beers stays with the Resident Home Association and allows us to invest in services that helps improve the quality of life for those we serve,” explains Roll.
Big Beers is also a Who’s Who of the Dayton craft beer scene where volunteers from the area’s craft beer-friendly establishments work tables, serve beer, and mingle with the crowd along with brewers and representatives from highly acclaimed breweries. Guests can order food from one of several restaurants at the event and listen to a live band while sampling their beers. Also offered are door prizes and a variety of raffles to take home souvenirs from the event and support Resident Home Association.
The relaxed atmosphere of years’ past is certain to carry over to the new location, in part because of the passion that drives it. “This beer festival means so much to me; to us who plan it,” explains Pam Skelly, RHA’s lead organizer for the event. “It’s fun and more importantly, it’s the Dayton craft beer community coming together to support individuals with developmental disabilities. I’m so proud of the people who continue to support this festival year after year. Proceeds help us to increase the quality of life for the people we serve. It’s the little extras in life: a night out for dinner and a show, tickets to see a concert by a favorite singer, presents at Christmas for those with little to no expendable income, a new coat. . . . these are just a few of the little things Big Beers supports.”
Although VIP tickets are sold out, there are still general admission tickets available and can be purchased at www.bigbeersdayton.com. General admission tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the door (if available). General admission starts at 5 pm. Those holding VIP tickets can get an early taste of the beer list, starting at 4 pm.
Sponsorships, donations, in-kind support or items for raffles are still being accepted and are greatly appreciated. Reach out directly to Pam Skelly at [email protected] to enquire how you can help the RHA meet their goals.