Belgium comes to Dayton on July 30th with the 5th annual Belgian Ale and Food Festival (BAFF). Arguably one of the most underrated beer fests in the Gem City, this high-end festival pairs some of the best Belgian and Belgian-style beers in the world with quintessentially Belgian dishes in the beautiful 1920s setting of the Miami Valley Golf Club. Explore the wooden walls of the grand ballroom while quaffing a St Louis Fond Tradicion Geuze paired with Roast Lemon & Rosemary Chicken. Or, if you want something heftier, how about a St. Bernardus Barrel Aged ABT 12 with a beefy, carmalized Carbonnades Flanandes? Go classic by pairing a saison with Moules Frites, Belgian steamed mussels and fries. And sample the best local interpretations of Belgian styles with beers from Toxic, Warped Wing, 5th Street Brewpub, Eudora, Yellow Springs Brewery, and Dayton Beer Company.
The BAFF is the brainchild of Jule Rastikis and is a fund-raiser for Salem Avenue Peace Corridor, a neighborhood non-profit with the goal of revitalizing the Salem Avenue area. Rastikis, a local entrepreneur and the president of the Peace Corridor project, is passionate about reestablishing Salem Avenue and the adjacent neighborhoods as a thriving community. In the group’s mission statement, they draw upon the United Nation’s definition of peace, calling for “a vitalization effort to intentionally cultivate our Shared Destiny of safety, prosperity, a great quality of life, and a strong spirit of community.”
Rastikis is a bona fide beer geek who, five years ago, realized the craft beer renaissance was leaving Dayton’s west side largely behind, despite the region’s stabilization and its nascent revitalization efforts. Rastikis wanted to share the vision of his neighborhood and was motivated by “getting people to cross the bridge.” Channeling Kevin Costner in Field Of Dreams, Rastikis explains that, “If you do the right event, people will come.” He wanted to prove that he could draw attendees from more than just the immediate area, and has been overwhelmingly successful. Attendees from each of the last four events have come from 25 different ZIP codes.
As for why Belgian beer? “Because that’s what I like,” quips Rastikis, adding that “no one else is doing it.” His love for all things Belgique began with a Beer Bon Voyage trip through the country, where he and his wife sampled beers from monasteries and centuries-old breweries. An evangelist for the beers, Rastikis has lined up a tasting list that includes the best of Belgian styles (including Piraat, one of his favorites) and foods that accentuate the beers. Attendees can also purchase raffle tickets for the Holy Grail of Belgian beers, a beer package that includes brews from nine Trappist breweries: Spencer, Gregorgius, Achel, Chimay, Rochefort, LaTrappe, Orval, Westmalle, and Westvleteren. (The raffle includes the highly sought after and hard to obtain Westie 12). The event also offers attendees the chance to experience Rastikis’ life-changing trip for themselves—the purchase of a ticket enters the ticketholder into a drawing for a Belgian beer cruise, with airfare for two from New York, this October.
The event takes place Saturday, July 30th from 4-7 pm at the Miami Valley Golf Club (3311 Salem Avenue Dayton, OH 45406). The event is limited to 200 people, so get tickets early or risk the event being sold out. Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased online at www.daytonbaff.com. For more information about the Salem Avenue Peace Corridor, visit their website at www.peacecorridor.com.