by Amelia Robinson
I’ve crowned Dayton as Ohio’s beer capital — and I am not the first.
The owners of AleFest, an annual downtown craft beer extravaganza, are among those declaring the Gem City the state’s rightful brew mecca.
Yeah, yeah, other cities produce MORE beer, but we do it better in Dayton and have more breweries per capita — 13 — than our friends in the Big Cs.
Proof that Dayton is beertastic can be found in the fact that businesses are popping up to serve the growing industry.
One such business is Little Miami Farms in Spring Valley.
Jamie and Kristia Arthur — the farm’s chief hoperating officer and eternal hoptimist — and their partner Dayton resident McPherson Town resident Amy Forsthoefel, the head of marketing hoperations, recent harvested from 500 plants in a half-acre chunk of the 75-acre farm.
Little Miami began planting hops in 2014 and is only one of two Greene County farms doing so.
Jamie Arthur says the other farm, Spanky’s Hops Farm in Jamestown, started planting hops — the green flower that gives beer that bitter, tangy taste — around the same time.
He estimated there are only about 50 hop farmers in the state, including five in counties that touch Montgomery County.
Little Miami has been producing corn, soybeans and hay since 2002. It began experimenting with barley for beer this year.
More and more people want to know where the ingredients in things they eat and drink originate.
Likewise, Jamie Arhur said farmers want to know where their food goes.
“We don’t know if it becomes corn oil or seatbelts,” the retired business development director at Teradata said.
He’s been a full-time farmer for a year.
Forsthoefel said local ingredients naturally add another level of integrity to declaring a beer local.
“You can make it local, but why not make the ingredients local, too,” she said.
Named for the pub’s General Manager Dave Tickel, the beer is made from 30 pounds of fresh hops from Little Miami. It is the first time a brewery has made a beer only with hops from the farm.
“They took a chance with us,” Jamie said. “I would call it a major achievement for a little grower like us.”
Amy Forsthoefel says the seed for hops was planted three years ago.
“We brainstormed all kinds of crazy things,” she said.