Today Dayton is home to a growing brewing industry. This growth is not new. Daytonians have had a thirst for ales and beers for centuries.
Dayton’s peak for the brewing industry was in the 1880s with as many as 14 breweries in operation. It was a time when steps of the brewing process were being mechanized. Advertising campaigns were established to generate competition in the market. Bottles were filled and shipped out of town. Smaller breweries were bought out by, or partnered with, larger breweries. It was a time when brewery names we know today opened their doors—N. Thomas, Hollencamp, Sachs-Pruden, and Schantz-Schwind.
Those breweries were significant and lasting but what about the story of the breweries that came before them? The breweries that grew with the city by taking a product readily made in homes and changing it into a commercial opportunity during a time of industrial and population evolution. Dayton History opened Carillon Brewing Company as a means to tell the history of those earliest breweries.
As early as 1810 breweries have been part of Dayton’s landscape. Settlers found opportunity to turn drink into business. Settlers like Col. George Newcom who built a brewery adjacent to his tavern and offered travelers a meal, drink, and night’s boarding.
With each year, population grew and industry did as well. By 1851 the city’s 10,976 citizens were proud to call Dayton their home. The city offered streets lighted by gas. It was a peak year for the Miami and Erie Canal having 400 boats in operation bringing goods and travelers to and from the city. The Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad was busy connecting Dayton to Springfield and Sandusky. Businesses such as the Car Works (later known as the Barney and Smith Car Company) provided jobs. For a would-be brewery entrepreneur, it was an ideal time to build and open a brewery. And, many did.
The brewery owners during the first half of the 19th century were primarily English-descent or English immigrants. The drinks they produced were ales—the drink of choice for America’s founders and centuries of drinkers in England. Ales were a perfect product for the time. It required little to no refrigeration (which hadn’t been invented yet) during fermentation. The yeast fermented relatively fast and therefore provided a drink that could be produced and sold in a short time frame. This was great considering it didn’t ship well. So, ale produced in Dayton needed to be sold and drank in Dayton before it spoiled.
The 1840s and 1850s brought thousands of new residents from Germany. Several of these new residents found room for even more breweries in Dayton. In addition to ale they also produced a new drink for the city—lager. Different from ale this drink required cooler temperatures and longer time for fermentation. And, thanks to the J. & M. Schiml brewery, it was brewed in Dayton for the first time on December 13, 1852 thus changing the local brewing heritage forever.