- By Alexis Larsen Contributing Writer
The biggest food holiday of the year has come and gone, ushering in the biggest holiday season of the year.
With December taking center stage in just a few days, it often can mean meeting and hosting family and friends over the course of the month. But what to do and where to go?
Some of the best options can be destinations that feel a little bit more like an adventure. The Miami Valley craft brewing scene has exploded in the last several years and offers some creative settings that a little more unusual than the typical restaurant destinations — and which offer brewtastic views to grab a pint or a flight by. Some, not all, offer a dining experience to go along with.
Here’s a look at several local brewery destinations that offer the complete package — the setting, the beer and the food — for you and your holiday posse to pass the time.
Pro-tip: If you are traveling out of town for the holidays, download the Ohio On Tap app from the Ohio Craft Brewers Association. It’s a great resource to find Ohio breweries statewide while you are road tripping to your final destination. Visit ohiocraftbeer.org/app to learn more.
The list below is partial. I will follow up with part two of my recommendations next week.
Carillon Brewing Co.
1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton
937-910-0722 or www.carillonbrewingco.org
Beer: Carillon Brewing Company is the nation’s only production brewery in a museum. Each batch brewed is a historical recreation of the earliest beers made in Ohio’s breweries. If you haven’t been before, grab a flight of four beers for $7 to get a sense of what it’s about. Carillon Brewing Company ales use grain that has been floor malted just as it was done in the 19th century and, when available, Ohio-grown hops. All brewed in open copper kettles, fermented in oak barrels, and unfiltered. Most beers feature varying levels of tartness from the wild yeasts and bacteria that join in on the fermentation.
Food: This isn’t a menu that will blow you away, but it is solid and the setting is unparalleled — a living history exhibit fashioned after and inspired by the more than two dozen breweries built in the Dayton region during the 19th century. This will be a conversation destination for anyone who has never been before. The food too is similar to what would have been historically available in Dayton in the 1850s. The Brewers Sampler ($10) featuring seasonal cheeses, wursts, house-pickled beets, spent grain crackers and bread is perfect to share with others. The wurst platter ($12) featuring the choice of two wursts, topped with sauerkraut and two sides is a filling meal that can be split.
Who to take: History buffs and folks who crave something that’s a little off the beaten path. You really can’t beat the setting.
Crooked Handle Brewing Co.
760 N. Main St., Springboro
937-790-3450 or www.chbeer.com
Beer: With 14 taps dedicated to most of the styles of beer you’d expect — everything from ales to IPAs to porters to stouts — Crooked Handle is working hard to put its stamp on the local craft beer scene in the Miami Valley. Every Tuesday and Thursday is a Growler Grab Day featuring $5 off all 64 oz. fills.
Food: The taproom itself only has straightforward cheese and meat plates ($8-$9) available, but I am including this because Dorothy Lane Market in Springboro is right next door. It may not be a restaurant in the brewery, but what’s a 50-yard walk? With DLM’s Jack’s Grill, fully stocked deli, fresh sushi and salad bar next door you have everything you need to have one heck of a meal. Once you have it the helpful staff with offer suggestions on what to pair with your meal du jour. As Crooked Handle says of its neighbor, “Your menu is a grocery store, so imagine the possibilities!”
Who to take: Anyone who has never experienced the magic of a DLM or a large group with very different requirements and tastes when it comes to food.
Fifth Street Brewpub
1600 E. Fifth St., Dayton
937-443-0919 or www.fifthstreetbrewpub.com
Beer: Fifth Street Brewpub’s description says it all: “You will find a wide array of beers on tap at any given time of the year at FSB. From styles steeped in tradition to boundary-pushing techniques and ingredient combinations. Rest assured, all FSB beers will be brewed with the highest quality ingredients and held to strict quality control standards. Whether you’re new to craft beer or a seasoned beer geek, we have a beer for you.” With a warm bar and a great setting in St. Anne’s Hill Historic District, this is a sweet little spot place to grab a pint and some food.
Food: If it’s a weekend or it’s busy, you will want to get there early as seats can fill up fast. The menu is brewpub food with some healthy options thrown in that has a little something for everyone. The salads, vegan spinach wrap ($10), vegetarian lettuce wraps ($10) and pork or chicken lettuce wraps ($11) and salmon B.E.L.T. ($13, seared salmon, pecanwood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, and an over-easy egg with a housemade creamy garlic-herb aioli, served on a toasted telera roll) will all likely appeal to those with a healthy dining conscience. For everyone else, there are plenty of other options to tempt.
Who to take: Those looking to eat a little healthier or who are on a vegetarian diet, and those who love a historic setting filled with community co-op spirit.