Warped Wing Brewing Co. has verticality. At least that’s what President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Waizmann says about the 35-foot high ceiling inside the new Dayton brewery, which opened last weekend in a two-story, red brick building downtown.
Waizmann, who's widely known for organizing the AleFest beer tasting events, might as well have used the word to describe the brand itself. Warped Wing instantly became the largest production brewery in the area and its ceiling is unknown -- thanks in part to talented brewmaster John Haggerty, who once headed the brewing operations for the well-respected New Holland Brewing in Holland, Mich.
Warped Wing certainly has set itself apart from the local competition. Dayton is now dotted with mostly nanobreweries, and many of them are operating out of strip malls in the suburbs. None come close to Warped Wing’s production capability, with its 30-barrel stainless steel brewhouse and 60-barrel fermenters.
Warped Wing, a production brewery and taproom, is filled with impressive, industrial visuals ranging from the non-working, giant yellow crane that hovers above to the glass block windows near the roof that welcome in ambient light. The brewery doesn't have to fake the industrial feel. The building, constructed in 1937, once served as the Buckeye Brass & Iron Foundry. ..
That high ceiling, blended with 18,000 square feet of floor space, provides an open factory-like set-up that bears more than a passing resemblance to Cincinnati’s Rhinegeist Brewery.
Waizmann and his partners love that industrial ambiance.
“This is really beyond our imagination,” he said about the atmosphere during a special VIP tasting Friday night.
The brewery plans to pump out draft beer for area bars and restaurants, and beer in 16-ounce cans, selling them in four-packs. The canning line hasn’t been fired up and Warped Wing hasn’t submitted its label designs yet to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for approval. Nick Bowman, the brewery vice president of sales and marketing, slyly wouldn't offer any label previews.
In the meantime, Warped Wing is selling its first three beers on draft: Ermal’s, a Belgian-style cream ale; Flyin’ Rye, a rye India pale ale; and 10 Ton, an oatmeal stout.
All are available at the tasting room, which features the requisite craft beer chalkboard and long tables where folks can sit and have a pint. Or buy a growler. There’s also a large garage door in the front of the building that can be raised in warmer weather.
The three beer names hold special significance for the brewery.
Ermal Fraze invented the pop-top can in Dayton in the late 1950s. Flyin’ Rye is a nod to the area’s aerospace roots. And 10 Ton is named after that imposing yellow crane that bears the stamp “10 Ton Box Crane.”
Plenty of debate went into the first beers, especially the Belgian-style cream ale. With a beer being named after inventor Ermal Fraze, Warped Wing wanted it to make a splash.
“It needed to be innovative and different,” the bearded Haggerty said. “We started kicking around some ideas about making a Belgian-style beer with corn and how do we make this and mash up a style of beer. That’s what we came up with.”
He added that they had to make an IPA.
“IPA is the new pilsner,” Haggerty said. “Everybody makes one. You’ve got to make one. You have to have one. We wanted ours to be a little bit different than a standard IPA which is why we made it a rye IPA. A little twist on standard issue fare.”
He described the beers as a “first effort. I’m happy with all of them but I know they will all evolve.”
The beers have been well-received so far. Tom Aguero, who writes the blog Queen City Drinks, called Ermal's an "Excellent combo of Belgian and cream" on Twitter. While @ScottHillGR Tweeted: "Dr. Haggerty knows his stuff."
The tasting room has 12 tap handles. So is the brewery planning to offer 12 beers down the road?
“No, but we’re not not planning on having 12, either,” Haggerty said. “There is no plan. The plan is to have three and let’s get open and start selling and we’ll make different stuff as we go along. The next question is obviously: When? When are you going to make something else, right? The answer to that question is I don’t know. A lot of it will be determined by demand.”
Warped Wing will concentrate on the Dayton area for now, Bowman said, with the goal to spread to Cincinnati and Columbus markets. He added that the beer will be offered at The Ohio Taproom in Columbus soon.