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Recipe Revival

Early American Brewing Survives at Museums.

David Nilsen


Before Carillon Brewing Company could open on the grounds of Carillon Historical Park, a history museum in Dayton, Ohio, in 2014, founding brewer Tanya Brock spent over a year researching every facet of 19th century brewing. A period-correct wood and brick barn was erected, and a tiered, gravity-fed brewing system was built atop a series of wood-fired brick ovens to heat the copper mash tun and kettle. Carillon is no ordinary brewery. It’s a living museum to brewing techniques that haven’t been used in over a century and a half. Brock has since moved on, and her former assistant Kyle Spears is now Carillon’s head brewer. When Spears graduated with a degree in history from Ohio State, he never imagined he’d be a professional brewer. He’s still a historian, though, only his research texts are now long-forgotten beer recipes.

A brew day at Carillon finds Spears and his assistant brewers—all in period dress—chopping wood for the fires, hauling grain in woven baskets up a staircase to the mash tun, and hand-ladling wort for the sparge. Carillon uses only heritage six-row malt, and roasts it in-house over the same fires that heat its kettles. The beer ferments in young oak barrels, and a potpourri of resident microorganisms provide a lactic tartness and some rustic funk to several of the beers, which include a sour Porter, a coriander ale, and a Berliner Weisse.

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#130 (November 2017)

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