Timothy R. Gaffney learned quite a bit while researching his new book "Dayton Beer: A History in the Miami Valley."

First and foremost, he discovered that ... well ... history is fragile.

"Little remains of the breweries that once dotted the Miami Valley, and many of their brewers’ stories are almost lost to history," he said. "Many of the records I consulted from the 19th century were handwritten and sometimes badly deteriorated. We’re a nation that prides itself in looking forward, but we often fail to appreciate, and preserve, our past."

Despite some of those stories disappearing long ago, Gaffney was able to unearth enough of them to fill 192 pages as he explores the history of brewing from the first rudimentary brewery that popped up next to Newcom's Tavern in the early 1800s to the present day craft brewery boom that includes the likes of Warped Wing in Dayton and Mother Stewart's in Springfield.

Dayton Beer (The History Press, $21.99) will be released Monday (July 22). Gaffney, who serves as communications director for the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, admitted that he's no beer expert or connoisseur. He's much more intrigued by history, and he got interested in writing the book because of how the modern-day breweries are tying their stories to local history.

The book is filled with black-and-white photos and the tales of beer barons long-gone such as the Schiml, Schwind, Olt and Schantz families. It also includes interviews and brief profiles of modern-day breweries.

Gaffney shares interesting stories about the end of breweries — there were a lot of ends. For example, when Piqua residents voted the community dry in 1908, the Carl Schnell brewery responded by rolling out its barrels and breaking them one by one into the Great Miami River.

"Legend has it bystanders on the bridge wept as the current carried beer under their feet and down the river," Gaffney writes.

He also shares how temperance crusader Eliza Daniel "Mother" Stewart likely isn't pleased that her name now is used to promote beer-making. Mother Stewart's co-founder Kevin Loftis shrugs off any criticism, saying his brewery has returned her name to prominence.

"People 40 and under had no idea who she was," he tells the author. "Now everybody knows."

Gaffney was surprised at other discoveries, including that many of the early breweries were led by women.

"None received the recognition their male counterparts enjoyed, and their stories were difficult to ferret out because they were often identified only by their first initials, which disguised their gender, and their obituaries — if they got one — never identified them as business owners," he said. "These were not simply ale wives, but business managers and owners. I found seven such cases. The earliest was Martha Vorce in Springfield, who inherited the family brewery in the early 1860s. But I also found examples in Dayton, Piqua and Sidney."

Gaffney said his research took him back to the Ice Age, "when glaciers bulldozed the Miami Valley’s landscape and created the aquifers that supply much of our drinking water today. Humans didn’t begin arriving until the glaciers receded about 12,000 years ago. It was only in the last few centuries of that period that Europeans came and took over the land. It didn’t surprise me that most of the early brewers were either immigrants or first-generation natives. But it drove home the notion that, really, we’re all recent arrivals. We're all immigrants, and we all just got here."

Gaffney said he was uneasy several years ago about whether craft breweries were reaching a saturation point in the Dayton area. Today, there are 14 breweries in Montgomery County — not counting those in the outlying region.

"When I began working on Dayton Beer, I worried that half of them might be closed by the time I finished it," he said. "Instead, more have opened just in the few months since my book went to press. So, I think it’s hard for anyone to predict the future of craft brewing in any detail, but I do think the local brewing industry has finally recovered from Prohibition, and in the long run, future writers will view the century that followed it as an interesting aberration in the history of brewing, both locally and across the country."

Gaffney is visiting area breweries as part of a book tour. Here's where you can find him:

• Aug. 7 at 5 p.m.: Warped Wing Brewing in Dayton.

• Aug. 15 at 5:30 p.m.: The Barrel House in Dayton.

• Aug. 23 at 5:30 p.m.: Star City Brewing in Miamisburg.

• Sept. 10 at 6 p.m.: Eudora Brewing in Kettering.

• Sept. 18 at 6 p.m.: Lock 27 Brewing in Dayton.

• Oct. 5 at 3 p.m.: Carillon Brewing in Dayton.

• Oct. 12 at 1 p.m.: Moeller Brew Barn in Maria Stein.

• Oct. 17 at 6 p.m.: Mother Stewart's Brewing in Springfield.