Among the many sights and features around Dayton, we stopped by a museum that housed a working brewery. This was not just any brewery, though. Situated in picturesque Carillon Historical Park, Carillon Brewing Co. was a brick building that resembled an old factory. It actually reminded me of an old firehouse. The only fires involved in this place, however, were the ones used to prepare ingredients for completely house made beer, bread and cheese.
Carillon was a brewery dedicated to brewing both in the style and method of the 1850s. A few volunteers, among regular paid staff, dressed in period costumes and did most of the brewing and baking. All brick and wood, the main room was absolutely cavernous. The bakery and brewing area were directly in front of the door, separated from the rest of the brewery by a ring of barrels. There was a large fireplace surrounded by a bunch of wooden winches, shelving and paddles. The brewing area was up a flight of stairs above the brick oven, with a copper-banded wood barrel. Beyond the baking/brewing area was a full bar. The large seating area was full of hand-planed tables and chairs. There was also an upstairs, loft-like seating area that ringed the main floor. All the history in this place made me hardly able to wait to try their beer.
I ordered a flight, included in which they had several cask beers. Our server warned us that all of their cask beers were served in the 1850s style, which was to say, “flat and warm.” Being an open minded fellow, I decided I could deal with that and started with the Sour Porter. This one poured dark brown amber with no noticeable head. There was a definite sourness on the smell, with some chocolate as well. The taste was very sour at first. A touch of roasty chocolate flavor followed into a very mild middle. Light body and no carbonation lead to a mild and sour finish, with only faint chocolate trailing.
Next came the Coriander Ale. It poured cloudy orange with no head. It smelled rich and sweet, with a touch of spice. The taste was full of sweet spiciness that reminded me of pumpkin pie spice. The middle was very mild without much change from the beginning. The middle was also vegetal, like bitter squash-like flavor. Light-bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished light with slight spice notes.
Third, I tried the Irish Red Ale. This one poured cloudy brown, like a cider. Like the previous two, it poured with no head. Aromas of brown sugar, plums and spice got me excited for this drink. I was surprised that it seemed to be more carbonated than the others. It tasted very mild; so mild it didn’t taste like much of anything. The middle was equally mild, with light body and light carbonation. It finished with not much taste, other than a touch of sweetness. A little underwhelming from the promise of the aromas.
Last, and the one I thought would be most interesting of the bunch, the Squash Ale. It poured rich clear amber with no head. Almost no aroma came from the drink, other than a little spiciness. It tasted sour at first, almost like a cider. There were some spices and a touch of vegetable-like bitterness. Light body and no carbonation lead to a smooth, light finish, with a touch of bitterness trailing. For whatever reason, I expected more from this one. Interesting concept, though.
I very much enjoyed visiting this brewery. I also appreciated all the hard work both the volunteers and the employees put into keeping alive the traditional brewing techniques and use of handmade equipment.