When Branch & Bone Artisan Ales opens in historic South Park (905 Wayne Avenue) in the first quarter of next year, it will add to the long list of existing breweries in the Miami Valley and will become the sixth brewery within walking distance of downtown, securing the Gem City’s reputation as a beer tourism destination. Kept mostly under wraps until now, the brewery, started by Brett Smith, John Joyce, and Kevin Kriegel, is already underway with renovations and has started assembling their brewing equipment. In this Dayton MostMetro exclusive, we ask the ten questions readers want answered.
What is behind the name?
Music and other expressive arts have a large influence on us. The name draws inspiration from the Simon Joyner song “Nostalgia Blues” on his album Grass, Branch & Bone. A lot of what we aim to do ties into music and art as brewing beer is our form of expression.
The crux of what we are can be found within the name. Branch & Bone Artisan Ales represents the connection of earth and human through fermentation. The art of brewing relies on the products of the earth. Yeast combines these ingredients to create beer. Our labor simply guides the yeast to do its thing. By selecting the right ingredients: malt, hops, water, and yeast, our influence on the finished product can be seen. In addition to those basic elements of beer, people can expect to see a lot of other earthly components in our beers including fruit, teas, coffee, foraged plants from our local forests, and wild yeast and bacteria from our area.
One aspect where we differ from most breweries is that our brew system is extremely manual. So, to bring it all together, we see Branch & Bone as a symbiosis of the ingredients of earth turned into a fermented beverage aided by our hard work.
Who designed your logo? How did you settle on the concept for it?
Our icon logo was designed by Joshua Minnich of Columbus, Ohio and our text-focused logo was designed by our good friend Greg Tobias here in Dayton. Artwork is integral to our brewery and it was important for us to work with local artists that we knew could create something that fit us. We went through various themes, many that we liked, but eventually landed on what you see. We feel that it captures what we want to portray our brand.
Your location asks visitors to extend the downtown entertainment district by connecting the Oregon with South Park. What was behind the decision to locate where you did?
We love the South Park Historic District. It’s a really interesting, eclectic neighborhood that we see a lot of potential in. We hope that the residents really enjoy having us as neighbors. In searching for a location, we wanted to be close to downtown. Developments in the area are driving people downtown and we want to be a part of that. The businesses along Wayne Avenue extending from the Oregon District seem to be driving traffic as you suggest. We looked at a few locations in that corridor, but the building we ended up in was just perfect for us. It has enough space for us to grow and gives us a lot of room to store oak barrels, which we intend to have many of.
There are a lot of breweries in Dayton now. What will be different about Branch & Bone? What will you offer that the area doesn’t already have?
People can expect a lot of what they love in other breweries at Branch & Bone, but we will have a focus on mixed fermentation saisons and wild ales, with a lot of beer aging in oak barrels. We will be making beers that we love to drink, so you can expect hoppy beers, saisons, wild ales, berliner/gose (often with fruit and other interesting ingredients) stouts/porters, barleywine (and other English style pub ales), beers infused with coffee, historical beers, lagers, and some very creative and off the wall beers that we dream up.
Walk me through your vision of the taproom—what can visitors expect to see?
Visitors will be greeted by a simple and clean space. They can expect a modern look with a rustic feel. Creating a customer experience, influenced by that of our favorite breweries, in the taproom beyond just beer will be a major focus. We want to create a very comfortable, fun taproom where people hang out with friends and family while feeling like our friends and family when enjoying our beers. Everyone can expect some fun events and we will always have good music playing!
Tell me about your beer styles. What do you envision your line-up to look like?
Our lineup will feature 8 beers on draft and will typically consist of a couple of hoppy beers, a porter or stout, a couple of berliner/gose style beers infused with interesting ingredients, a couple mixed fermentation beers, and we want to regularly feature a beer with coffee on tap.
As our oak aged mixed fermentation beers mature, people can expect to see more of those available on tap.
Do you intend to have several flagship styles? How about one-off variants?
We will have certain styles that are usually represented, but no real flagship beers. Some beers will make an appearance more often than others as ingredients/seasonality and popularity dictate, but variety and exploration drives our passion to create.
For the geeks out there, it’s time to get technical. Let’s talk specs—brewhouse size, fermentation tanks, expected annual output?
Our brewhouse is a 7-barrel brewhouse, very manual, created from modified dairy tanks. We will start with four 7-barrel fermenters and a 15-barrel fermenter. We will have a few tanks dedicated to infusing fruit into beer, and a decent amount of oak, including a foudre, to start. The barrel program will always be growing and will be a major focus for us.
Annual output will likely start out around 7-800 barrels and max out around 1500-2000 barrels/year.
What is your distribution plan? Will your beers be available outside of the taproom? Keg only or will you do bottle/can distribution?
To begin, our beer will only be available in our taproom but when we can, we will self-distribute kegs to establishments in the area known for their exceptional beer service. We look forward to having our beer involved in community events as much as production allows as well.
Bottles and cans will be available as limited release products through the taproom as production dictates. No timetable has been set for these releases.
How soon do you plan to sell to AB InBev?
When Limp Bizkit actually plays a show at the Sunoco across the street…
But on a more serious note, we are an independently owned and operated brewery. We aren’t beholden to anyone other than ourselves and that means there will never be an influence to sacrifice product and quality for profits. We are passionate about this industry and we believe ownership matters. “Craft beer” has experienced many changes as it has matured, even just over the past couple years. During that time, many acquisitions of small craft breweries by large conglomerates in the larger beer industry have occurred. This has caused a blurring of what we used to all know as craft beer. We take the same stand as many of the well-established independent breweries that inspire us. That stand is that brands owned by these mega corporations that employ shady business tactics serve to blur product distinction within the industry, limit access to raw ingredients, and stifle fair competition among market access for the small independent brewery. To sell your brand to a company actively acting against the interest of independent breweries while asking the consumer to continue their support for the brand under the illusion of that independence is disingenuous. We take pride in being an independently-owned brewery and will work to prove the value in that to our customers through creative exploration, commitment to quality and customer service, and active involvement in our local community.