Carillon Brewing Company (CBC) is the first licensed production brewery in a museum. Dayton History’s newest project, this 10,000 square foot living history exhibit and restaurant replicates every detail of the brewing techniques of the 1850s as a means to celebrate Dayton’s brewing heritage. Daily brewing and food way presentations create a platform for connection to all facets of this heritage by using replica equipment, historical recipes and ingredients, and costumed staff. Each pint and plate of hearty fare served are stories of immigration, daily life, transportation, and scientific processes.
CBC opened its doors in August 2014 as an extension of Carillon Historical Park—a 65-acre historical park preserving and interpreting the history of Dayton, Ohio and Montgomery County. This new building was designed to create a new immersive exhibit while meeting modern needs. The goals were to provide adults with a sensory way to connect with Dayton’s history, to increase visitation to Carillon Historical Park, to be the leader in interpreting brewing history and science, and to generate revenue to help sustain Dayton History.
In the first year, CBC welcomed 150,000 visitors. Located just north of Cincinnati, Daytonians often hear of Cincinnati’s strong, rich brewing heritage. While in conversation in CBC, they learn how their own city once produced and consumed more beer per capita than their neighbor to the south. Beyond gaining historical knowledge, CBC provides visitors with sensory access to the past. Historic recipes are brought to life before guests using researched heirloom ingredients. The beer that is served is a vehicle for time travel. Initially it was projected that only a few kegs of beer would be needed to allow visitors a chance to taste history. However, after only a few days of pouring historical beer, it was realized that the concept of tasting history was in high demand, and within the first year CBC produced 780 kegs of beer (or 97,500 pints).
Situated in a city that is currently experiencing a boom of breweries, Dayton History’s Carillon Brewing Company is poised to be a cross roads of where historical meets modern history. Drawing both history lovers and beer lovers, 150,000 visitors passed through it within its first year. The general role CBC plays as a restaurant meets the needs of the community and park visitors by serving food while the historical interpretation of the building and its products engage visitors in a historical museum. The experience connects visitors to the larger context of the Dayton community both past and present.
CBC has become integral in Dayton History’s mission of interpreting the region’s past. Nowhere else in the region or country can visitors find such and immersive and comprehensive experience that shares Dayton’s (and America’s) brewing heritage story. It has already been identified as a source of pride for local and statewide residents alike. Since its addition to the institution, Dayton History has seen a 20% increase in membership as well as a $330,620 profit that help sustain and further the ability to fulfill mission.