Two short months after opening, Toxic Brew Co. is expanding. The brewery and tasting room on East Fifth Street in Dayton’s Oregon District has four seven-barrel fermenters on the way that will double its capacity.
As fast as Toxic Brew can make beer, it’s selling it. And the brewery, which features a skull and cross bones as its logo, is open only two days a week right now: Fridays and Saturdays.
“It’s awesome,” brewer and co-owner Shane Juhl said about the response. (See video below.)
Local bars are begging to carry the Toxic Brew brand, but it’s just not possible yet, he said. The brewery also can’t open more than two days a week or offer growlers until the expansion occurs, fearing that it would be drunk dry.
That expansion should be in place within a couple of months, Juhl said.
Toxic Brew, located in a gray building with hop plants climbing up the front, used to be a pawn shop filled with junk. That was before the brewery moved in and did a complete makeover.
Today, the attractive interior — the exterior, too, for that matter — is unrecognizable from its earlier incarnation, a testament to the amount of work put into designing and building the space. A couple of walls are exposed brick. Others are a deep yellow color or green. Artwork and beer posters hang on the walls, and giant windows in the front invite in light.
The wooden floor features red oak, fir and maple in succession, a quirk because some of the floor was in decent shape, yet two different kinds, while another portion had to be laid anew. The homemade bar top is Brazilian walnut.
The tasting room features high ceilings, which are simply the exposed dark wooden beams from the second floor.
There’s no television.
The brewhouse is behind glass, giving visitors a chance to peek at the seven-barrel brewing system.
As is the case in many tasting rooms today, a giant chalkboard hangs behind the bar and features the names, styles, ABVs, IBUs and prices for a four-, eight- or 16-ounce beer. Yes, Toxic Brew sells an eight-ounce version of its beers, mainly because some of them are high alcohol and there’s also a particularly spicy one of which folks may not want 16 ounces. More on that hot pepper beer later, though.
Toxic Brew is heavy on Belgian styles. There’s a Belgian-style tripel, quadrupel, India pale ale, pale ale and imperial IPA among the offerings. Belgians just happen to be Juhl’s favorite style and he’s using exclusively Belgian yeast right now so everything has a Belgian flare to it.
That will change as capacity expands, he said.
The Belgian-style tripel carries the name “Abby’s Cure.” It has significant relevance for the Juhl family. Abby is Juhl’s wife and a four-year cancer survivor. The Belgian-style quadrupel is named Abby XXXX.
Then there’s that inviting pepper beer.
Toxic Brew offers two versions: Porn or Pawn Pepper and Porn or Pawn Hot Pepper. The mild version — made with serrano and poblano peppers — has a big pepper aroma. The hot version — which also adds roasted habanero peppers — doesn’t. Tricky.
“You don’t get a hint of it until you drink it,” Juhl said of the hot version. “It’ll get to the back of your throat and kill your palate for a little while, but it’s not overly hot. We don’t offer 16 ounces of it, but people ask for it.”
The pepper beer has been quite popular and was the first beer Toxic Brew re-brewed.
Juhl’s favorite is the Abby XXXX.
“Hands down,” he said.